This is a frightening time for people throughout the world as the COVID-19 turns our routine lives inside out. There is uncertainty for ourselves and our loved ones, and we are caught without having had time to get services in place for children with visual impairments. Fortunately, teachers, Orientation and Mobility specialists, parents, and others are rising to the occasion to share ideas and resources to help us all get through this!
Online Teaching: How to Provide Virtual Services
As instruction goes online, one of the first challenges is to be sure that what you're providing is accessible.
- Accessibility Tip Sheets Dr. Yue-Ting Siu guidelines to make materials and activities accessible. Includes Classroom Best Practices; Documents Accessibility; Multimedia Accessibility; Universal Design, and more.
- Resources for Teaching Online Due to School Closures Kathleen Morris shares tips for daily structure options; guidelines for setting up a virtual home base or online platform; tools for virtual learning, and more.
- Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19 Aimi Hamraie shares ideas on: Online Teaching and Accessibility; If Your Course Is Lecture-Based; If Your Course Is Discussion-Based; Tips on Checking In with Students.
- Preparing for Virtual Instruction Diane Brauner shares tips for TVIs to prepare for teaching students through distance instruction.
- Teaching Students Through Virtual Services TVI Juli Greenleaf shares tips to teach students with visual impairments through virtual services, using Zoom web conferencing for instruction in braille, Orientation and Mobility, use of Bookshare, and study skills.
- How to Design a Small Group Activity In the Zoom Classroom
From start to finish, Dr. Ting Siu demonstrates the process of setting up an in-class, small groups activity in the synchronous Zoom classroom. Her demo uses the following tools: iLearn (Moodle), Google Drive, Google Slides, and Zoom. The following timestamps are provided as a table of contents for the tutorial:
Activity Ideas for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Teachers and Orientation & Mobility instructors across the country have stepped up to share ideas. A number of these are Google Docs, which will continue to be updated. Please add your ideas to these lists, so that others may benefit from the wealth of community experience.
- Virtual Activities for Teachers and Families COVID-19 Susie Tiggs and the team from Texas Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services share a Live Binder full of activity ideas and resources.
- VI Distance Learning Ideas TVIs Jacquie Mitchner and Jessica McDowell share a Google Doc with a focus on ideas for high school students, including resource ideas, suggested apps, project ideas, living skills, social skills, and more.
- Virtual Classroom Activities Diane Brauner shares ideas and resources for virtual learning for students who are blind or visually impaired.
- Remote O & M Instruction Ideas Chris Tabb has put together a Google Doc to share remote instruction ideas for Orientation and Mobility.
- Virtual Instruction: O&M Diane Brauner shares tips for virtual instruction for Orientation and Mobility.
Math Games & Activities for Home for Students with Visual Impairments Math teacher Susan Sullivan from Perkins School for the Blind shares ideas for math games and activities to try at home.
National Homework Hotline for Blind/Visually Impaired Students (NHH-BVI) In response to the wave of K-12 school closures across the United States due to COVID-19, a few concerned teachers of the blind and advocates got together to organize a free, homework help hotline for students who are blind or visually impaired.
Free Tools Available During School Closure
There are many more items available than we can list here, but we wanted to highlight two that will be of particular interest to teachers and families of students with visual impairments.
- ObjectiveEd Offers Free Distance Learning for Students with Visual Impairments ObjectiveEd will be providing free access to their digital curriculum to schools and teachers to use with their students with vision impairments through the end of the current 2019/2020 school year.
- Zoom Video Conferencing Zoom is temporarily lifting the 40-minute time limit on free Basic accounts for schools affected by the Coronavirus.
- Accessibyte is offering free access to their full range of apps during this time.
Online Resources for Educators (General)
There are many, many other online resources for educators. Here are a few of our favorites.
- PBS Distance Learning Resources
- Facebook Group: Educator Temporary School Closure for Online Learning
- Google Doc: Amazing Educational Resources
- Facebook Group: Amazing Educational Resources
Policies and Guidelines
- Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities during the Coronavirus Disease Outbreak The U.S. Department of Education has provided these guidelines for service provision to students with disabilities.
- U.S. Department of Education Releases Webinar, Fact Sheet for Protecting Students' Civil Rights During COVID-19 Response (March 17, 2020)
Supplemental Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities (U.S. Department of Education: March 21)
Information about Coronavirus and COVID-19
- "Flatten the Curve" Graphic in Accessible Format Download this tactile graphic and emboss or print on swell paper.
- Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus NPR (National Public Radio) shares an audio comic to explain the coronavirus to kids. It is now available in various languages around the world. Learn more. TVI Rebecca Sheffield created braille files .brf of some of this.
- Teaching About Coronavirus: 3 Lesson Plans for Science, Math, and Media Literacy
We are adding new ideas and resources all the time here at Paths to Literacy. We don't want to overwhelm you with too many newsletters, so please check the site often to see what's new. We will also be sharing LOTS of ideas on our social media platforms of activities to try at home, so please follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with it all.
Stay safe and be well! The most important thing is to take care of yourselves and your families during all of this.
Please contact us if you know of other resources that should be included on this list.