MONMOUTH – Through a competitive proposal process, The Teaching Research Institute of Western Oregon University has been awarded a 5 year ($122,000 per year) grant from the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The purpose of the grant is to provide technical assistance and support to Oregon’s young children and students with deaf-blindness, their families and the service providers who serve them.
The Oregon Deafblind Project will promote efforts to identify children who are deafblind, especially amongst the population of children who have multiple disabilities and children who are deaf/hard of hearing and may have Usher Syndrome. Registration of a child with the project entitles the child’s family and team to no-cost training and technical assistance from the project. Technical assistance is provided via phone, e-mail, or face-to-face. Training for a child’s team, including family members, is a five-to-seven-session face-to-face training that occurs over the course of a year.
All technical assistance and training is highly individualized to suit the needs of a specific child, and to support the family and educational team. The project will work with specially trained service providers from each of Oregon’s eight educational regions, and from the Oregon School for the deaf and the Oregon School for the Blind. There is also emphasis on the development of partnerships with other agencies – state and national. All project efforts are to ensure that children who are deafblind become an integrated part of their communities and lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.
No single portrait can be painted to represent a typical child with deaf-blindness. Currently, there are over 10,000 children who are deaf-blind across the country and they are as varied as the number reported. Deaf-blindness is a unique disability that has a tremendous impact on a child’s ability to understand and interact with the environment and this lack of access to impacts all areas of their development. Over 90 percent of children with deaf-blindness have one or more additional disabling conditions. Children and students with deaf-blindness are an extremely diverse group with a broad continuum of needs and learning styles. The delivery of intervention requires not only a knowledge of the impact of deaf-blindness on the child’s development, unique needs and learning style, but also of effective instruction, accommodations, and assistance technology that incorporates strategies in recognition of the child’s deaf-blindness.
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Lyn Ayer, Ph.D.
Director, Oregon Deafblind Project
Director, Teaching Research Institute