Dr. Cay Holbrook Shares Thoughts on “Us” and “Them” Becoming “We”


A large group of enthusiastic literacy professionals gathered in Providence, Rhode Island this past week for the biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference.  Dr. Cay Holbrook, one of the original founders of the conference, delivered the final showcase address, where she shared some thoughts on the importance of Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired partnering with General Education Teachers to provide comprehensive literacy instruction.

Cay’s Top Ten List

10.  Identify yourself as someone who has an important role in literacy instruction.  We can’t separate code instruction from teaching reading and writing.

9.    Recognize expertise of other people in reading, writing, and related disciplines.

8.    Work to build bridges.  Think of ourselves as a great mosaic in which our separate parts complement each other and make a beautiful whole.

7.    Find ways to increase your knowledge of general literacy instruction.  Attend an International Reading Association Conference or meet someone in your school district and cultivate a friendship.

6.    Find ways to provide information to people in General Education.  UEB is a great opportunity right now to open up a conversation.  People are interested in the fact that a large global change is haappening.

5.    Look for ways we can use general education information in our work.  We can use something from the general population, but not in the same ways.

4.    Think of this process as being lifelong.  The connection of “us” and “them” to “we” must be the way we exist in the world.

3.    Participate in research.  This can be in the capacity of field testing, as well as leading research projects.

2.    Work together to make sure that we are knowledgeable as a field about things that have an impact on our students.  As in the case of standardized testing, we need to be part of the conversation from the beginning.  We don’t want to be an extra wing on a house that doesn’t have a door!

1.     Don’t be overwhelmed or paralyzed by the practical “gotchas” that limit our ability to take advantage of what is possible in the face of what is practical.


In the words of Billy Brookshire, past president of AER:  “And now we stagger home, refreshed…”