MAER 2015 Conference
"Drawing Parallels Across the Lifespan"

Thursday and Friday
April 23-24, 2015
Livonia, MI



Click here to download the April 23/24, 2015 registration form

2015 Conference Schedule- Word

About the Speakers - Word


Vender Program Final - Word


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Time Room Session
7:30 a.m. Michigan/Huron Continental Breakfast – Sponsored by the Michigan Optometric Association
7:30 a.m. Michigan/Huron Exhibitors - open all day
8:30 a.m. Ballroom Welcome – President Susan Langendonk

Keynote Address: Teaching Students to Become Self Determined

Dr. Karen Blankenship


Although self-determination (SD) is a key indicator for positive adult outcomes, research in the field of visual impairments would suggest a low level of instruction for this student population. This presentation will explore the constructs of SD and provide resources and activities for participants.

9:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. Ballroom Vendor Highlights
11:00 a.m. BREAK
11:15 a.m. Salon B

Thinking Outside of the Box: Enhancing Instruction for all Blind/VI Learners Using Educational Products

Julie Unatin


This session will take a look at what typically comes "inside a product box, and get you thinking outside the box to enhance instruction both inside and outside of the classroom. Participants will leave with ideas for product use to build on creative strategies to enhance all kinds of instruction.
Salon C

Transition Assessment of Blind Youth

Lydia Schuck

Handout 1

Handout 2

Assessment for transition is a required component of IEP planning with blind and visually impaired youth. This presentation includes information on transitions for youth who have other disabilities in addition to blindness. Participants will connect examples of transition assessment results with postsecondary goal-setting, annual IEP goals, and transition activities and services required by IDEA.

  Salon D

Lifehacks for the Kitchen: Tips and Techniques to Simplify Common Kitchen Tasks

Elyse Conners 


With home budgets shrinking and the move towards buying fresher, more local foods, many of us are spending more time in the kitchen. Whether you enjoy being a home chef or place kitchen tasks only slightly above a root canal, lets join together for a fun, interactive time of sharing lifehacks for the kitchen. “Lifehacks” are strategies and techniques that are adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily living activities in a more efficient way. Join the WMU VRT students as they share some ideas and products that organize and simplify common kitchen tasks for persons with vision loss. Come willing to share your own unique ways of approaching kitchen tasks, and learning from our collective experiences!
12:30 p.m. Ballroom Lunch / MAER Annual Business Meeting
2:00 p.m. BREAK
2:15 p.m. Hotel Lobby

O&M: Feet on the Street with Trekker Breeze

Erica Ihrke, Sarah Arch, Leslie Hoskins

Trekker Breeze has been making travel for people who are blind or visually impaired accessible. Auditory announcements of street names and route guidance has been changing the way people travel. Refresh your skills or learn how to get started with this tool in this feet on the street session.
  Salon B

Pre-Braille/Braille Activities for Early Intervention/Students with Additional Impairments

Julie Unatin and Sarah Stargardt


Pre-Braille and Braille activities for the very young student as well as those with additional impairments requires an "out of the box" approach.
Activities are designed to engage, and provide opportunities for success through timed activities that encompass tactile, auditory, fine motor and gross motor activities.
  Salon C

Math Image Description: How Much is Too Much?

Rob Wall Emerson and Dawn Anderson


This presentation will present results of an ongoing exploration of how description of images in math textbooks impacts students' acquisition of content knowledge. Blind students listened to math content including an image description that ranged from none to an expansive description and answered questions about what they heard.
  Salon D

Technology Supports Transitions Through the Lifespan- You CAN Take It With You!

Beth Kennedy and Jennifer Bigelow-Stambaugh


Throughout the student's lifespan (early intervention through adult services), staff turnover and changes in placement can make providing consistent services difficult. This presentation will provide possible solutions for overcoming these obstacles through the use of confidential team websites.
3:45 p.m. Salon B

Practical Tips for Using the New Mexico O&M Skills Inventory

Amanda English and Dawn Anderson


Bring your laptop or simply yourself; be ready to learn how to use the first O&M skills inventory that quantifies data in a manner that supports your IEP writing. It is so precise a measure that it is being used to demonstrate progress during a single report card period.

  Salon C

Issues in TCVI

Join TCVIs from around the state to discuss current issues in the field.
  Salon D

Windows, IPad Mini and Android

Priscilla Miley, Marcie Brink-Chaney and Kareem Hopkins


This presentation compares and contrasts tablets using 3 different operating systems: Windows, Android and IOS.  The goal of this discussion is to determine which tablet best fits an individual’s needs.
5:30 p.m. Salon A


MAER Conference


Hospitality Event



Friday, April 24, 2015

Time Room Session
7:30 a.m. Michigan/Huran Continental Breakfast         

Exhibitors – open all day

8:00 a.m. Ballroom

Recruitment in Jeopardy

Audrey A. Dannenberg


There is a national shortage of vision professionals. The AER Professional Personnel Recruitment Committee published four recruitment flyers in 2013. What is the Committee’s next goal? Who needs to do the recruitment? Where should these activities occur? How does one recruit? Let’s talk solutions and continue to take action!

9:00 a.m.   BREAK
9:15 a.m. Salon B

Assessment and Scoring of the CVI Range

Lynn Pensari and Johanna Anand


Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is the leading cause of visual impairment in first world countries. The ability for an educator to identify and assess students with CVI is not only necessary but critical for proper educational planning. This session will answer questions regarding this unique assessment and scoring guide
  Salon C

iOS Mobile Books: BARD, Learning Ally, and Bookshare

Scott Norris and Stephanie Wambaugh

Handout 1

Handout 2

Learn how to access mobile books from three prominent sources. Compare and contrast BARD, Learning Ally, and Bookshare features to determine which is preferable for your clients.
  Salon D

Issues in O&M

Join orientation and mobility specialists from around the state to discuss current issues in the field.
10:30 a.m.   BREAK
10:45 a.m. Salon B

Guiding Principles for O&M Instruction with Students Who Have Cortical Visual Impairment

Cynthia Barker and Susan Bradley

Handout 1 - Word

Handout 2 - PowerPoint

As an awareness of Cortical Visual Impairment increases, and students are assessed and identified, there is a growing need for Orientation and Mobility assessment and program recommendations. This presentation will help you become familiarized with the CVI Orientation and Mobility Resolution Chart and provide you with numerous ideas for environmental adaptations.

10:45 a.m. Salon C

An Overview of the Bridge Program J-Say and its Use with Jaws and Dragon Naturally Speaking for Computer Access

Jessica Klenk


These programs are vital for increasing independence and quality of life for individuals with a visual impairment and a physical impairment. Their use requires an understanding of how each program functions and a separate set of voice commands for control. Installation recommendations, demonstrations, and a phrase list will be provided.

  Salon D

Building Capacity with Early Intervention

Karen Blankenship


Although we know that birth to four years of age is a critical learning window most states have moved to a generic service provider model for early intervention (EI). This session will explore possible strategies to build capacity of EI programs to meet the needs of our student population.
12:00 p.m. Ballroom Lunch / MAER Awards Luncheon
1:30 p.m.   BREAK
1:45 p.m. Salon B

Accommodations and Interventions for all Phases of Cortical Visual Impairment

Naomi Welborn and Chaesa MacWilliams


The participants will learn about the different accommodations and interventions for students/clients who have CVI. Accommodations for all three different phases within CVI. Presenters will give examples of different materials used throughout the three phases.

  Salon C

What's it Like in Their Shoes?

Kathy Slee and Laura Homminga


This session will explore various school based eligibility areas and teach how to better support students in the learning environment. You will gain a deeper understanding of how a disability can impact learning. We focus on classroom learning experiences, outcomes, and educational practices to meet the needs of students
  Salon D

Creating Measurable Goals Using Checklists

Amanda English


Creating measurable goals can seem daunting. Come check out several pre-made checklists and learn how to create your own useful checklists for developing meaningful, measurable goals and data driven IEPs.

3:00 p.m.   BREAK
3:15 p.m. Salon A

Poster Session

Come take an opportunity to become familiar with a variety of camps available for students: Camp Abilities, Camp Tushmeheta, Leader Dogs, Lions Bear Lake Camp, Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind/Visually Impaired, Braille and Talking Book Library, Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, National Federation of the Blind, and Western Michigan University


  Salon B

Understanding Optic Nerve Hypoplasia: Perspectives from Physician-Parent and a VI Teacher

Dr. Wilhelmine Wiese-Rometsch and Georgia Bledsoe-Beneicke



Optic Nerve Hypoplasia is a leading cause of visual impairment (VI), affecting 12% of VI children. ONH extends beyond visual impairment and is associated with significant brain abnormalities. Understanding of the medical complications associated with this condition will assist in maximizing the effectiveness of the resources provided to affected children.

  Salon C

Discussion on the Use of Assistive Technology on State Level Assessments, Inventory and Future Directions

John Jaquith and Jennifer Paul


The participants will develop an understanding of the types of assistive technologies used,
identify current barriers to participation in statewide assessment online, and voice concerns and recommendations to the MDE regarding the use of assistive technology with state assessments.

  Salon D

Issues in VRT

Join VRTs from around the state to discuss current issues in the field.




Please be sure to turn in your evaluations and SCECH/ACVREP forms.