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Sharing Our Accessibility Literacy Journey…Resumed

Sandy Gillam is a mom of two boys, a TSVI, advocate, and long time author/contributor to Paths to Literacy. Read about her latest adventures.

Sandy, Liam, and family

A Community

To the Paths to Literacy community, I am known as “Liamsmom”. I am thankful for this site and
what it means to me and to other families and staff that work with children with vision
impairments. Paths to Literacy is a place where people can share ideas, gather ideas, learn, feel encouraged, and find comradery with others in the field. It is a site that supports accessible
literacy for all children with vision impairments.

My name is Sandy Gillam. I am a wife and mother of two boys. My oldest, Liam, is now 14
(deafblind) and my youngest Finn (typical vision and hearing) is 11. I have worked in the field
of education for 16 plus years (general education and special education both). The last 5 years
have been spent as a TSVI for a school district in the city in which we live.

Liam and his brother outside, he is holding his cane.

Our Story

For those of you not familiar with our story, Liam became sick with Meningitis when he was 2 ½
years old. This caused him to spend months in the hospital. Due to complication from his fight
with Meningitis, he became deafblind. I always tell the story about Liam coming home from the
hospital, now newly deafblind, and finding his favorite box of books (he loved to read!). He
could no longer see the pictures on the pages; he could no longer hear his mom reading the
words on the page. He threw his beloved box of books across the room. It was heartbreaking. It
was from that moment; I knew I was going to find a way for him to love reading again. I was a
mother that, at the time, knew nothing about braille or accessible literacy but was determined to
get accessible books into his little hands.

It was then I started my journey towards accessibility. I had a passion and desire for sharing my
ideas with other families and staff that work with children who are blind/deafblind. During that
time, I shared all my ideas and all my creations that I made for Liam. I researched and learned
about new (new to me) strategies on how to support and teach early braille literacy skills to my
son. This was a very lonely time in my life. I found courage, purpose, friends, and community
through sharing my ideas on Paths to Literacy.

Liam at school using his refreshable braille

The Posts

Many of my posts for Paths to Literacy have been pre and early literacy focused. I love looking
back at some of my writings; it is like a journal of happy literacy memories with my son. Even
though it was a very challenging time in my life, I cherish that time and the memories made.

These writings/posts are organized using the following categories: Activities to Try at Home,
Birthdays, Kitchen and Shopping, Assistive Technology, Braille Calendars and Organization,
Christmas Ideas, Craft Projects and Other Holidays, Creating and Adapting Books, Early
Childhood, Games Inclusion, Language and Communication, Math Ideas, Recreation, Science,
Story Boxes, Story Boards and Story Bags, Tips for TVIs, and Writing.

The Sharing Resumes

About five years ago, I began teaching full-time as a TSVI. I took a pause from posting and
sharing my ideas during this time. Even though I was not new to the field of education I was a
newbie TSVI and it took much of my focus and energy being a working mom at this new
position. I have now begun to find my groove and my balance again between home and school
and am ready to “un-pause” from sharing our literacy journey. I have a new zeal for accessible
literacy, this time concentrating on middle school and high school aged topics.

Discover all of Sandy’s articles:

Liamsmom, Sandy Gillam – Paths to Literacy

Sandy with her family on the beach.
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Metal spoon
Tips and guides

Routines as Instructional Strategy

A young girl and her teacher use a sequence box to organize the steps of a routine for making dog biscuits.
Tips and guides

Make It Routine

Daily object calendar
Tips and guides

Activity Calendars