Dropbox Folder of Presentations and Handouts


M.A.E.R. Annual Conference

Thursday & Friday, May 1 & 2, 2014



THURSDAY- 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast

Sessions: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

FRIDAY- 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast

Sessions: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


For Hotel & Registration Information or Issues:



Call Mary Beth Kullen at (313) 272-3900 or email: kullen@gdabvi.org




For Program Information:  

Erica Ihrke

e-mail: eihrke@leaderdog.org

(248) 659-5053  




The Marriott at Laurel Park Place
17100 Laurel Park Drive North · Livonia, Michigan 48152


Thursday, May 1, 2014


Continental Breakfast

7:30 Exhibitors - open all day
8:20 Welcome - President Erica Ihrke
8:30 - 9:30

Keynote Address: The Importance of the Team Approach When Helping People with Low Vision

Dr. Bill Takeshita

This lecture will be designed for all attendees to help them to understand the importance of the roles of all professionals that help students and adults with low vision to achieve to their fullest potential.


Keynote Address - MP3

9:30 BREAK

9:45 - 11:00

Update on Michigan Assessments – With Implications for VI

James Griffiths & John Jaquith

Staff from the Division of Accountability Services within the Michigan Department of Education will provide an update on State Assessments in Michigan and discuss the performance of students on MEAP and MME and end with a question and answer session.

Professional Learning Communities: Collaborative Brain Power!

Amanda English & Erin Kanouse

Professional Learning Communities are becoming a fantastic alternative to the ever grueling staff meeting. Come find out how Kalamazoo RESA VI staff has integrated these monthly meetings to increase team efficiency, create common practice, learn new concepts, and share tools with regional VI teams

First PLC Meeting Evernote Handout - Word

MAER Presentation PLC - Power Point

Self-Advocacy Checklist 2011 VI - Word

VI Professional Learning Communit1 - Word


Letting Your Child's Wild Side Out

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

Created and presented by the bilingual mother of a blind child, this unique multimedia session is a five-year case study of how one family embraced early intervention services and created an environment and philosophy resulting in the girl’s early mastery of her body in space and self-confidence to learn anything.

Letting Your Child's Wild Side Out Handout Power Point


Using Tactile Communication Systems with your Students with Visual Impairments

Johanna Anand & Stephanie Steffer

Tactile symbols are graphic forms of communication for people, places, actions and objects. They allow the learner to communicate their needs, act as a functional literacy program as well as serve as a precursor to formal Braille instruction. These systems are based on a student’s need therefore, have the ability to be used for a wide range of students.
11:00 BREAK
11:15 - 12:30 Vendor Updates - Join us to hear the latest news from the vendors.
12:30 Lunch/ MAER Annual Business Meeting
2:00 BREAK
2:15 - 3:30

O&M: Feet on the Street

Erica Ihrke, Allison J. Walker

In the field of orientation and mobility it’s important to critique your instruction, timing, and style through self-reflection to accurately assess the overall effectiveness of your instruction. How do you think you can improve instructional delivery?  Let’s go back to basics by stepping into our clients shoes and revisiting the world of being a student.  So grab a cane, some sleep shades, and get those feet on that street.  It’s time to reflect!

O&M Feet on the Street Handout


Letting Your Child's LITERATE Side Out

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

In a rare presentation for teachers/parents, Latina mother of a blind child shares in-home strategies adopted from age 1 to 12 that ensured her daughter would grow to LOVE reading in Braille, creative writing (stories, poems, song lyrics) and mastery of the BrailleNote/Mountbatten Brailler.  From the creator of “Letting Your Child’s Wild Side Out” DVD. 

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists: The Most Underutilized Resource in the Vocational Rehabilitation Process

Dr. John McMahon

This is an interactive presentation that uses examples and dialogue to help attendees understand the bridge between teaching blindness skills in one's home and how those same tasks are essential in the workplace or volunteer setting. For example, how is being able to successfully pour a glass of juice, discussing one's eye condition, and organizing one's pantry connect to employment or volunteering?
3:30 BREAK
3:45 - 5:00

Accessibility Challenges on State Assessments

Linda Howley

Michigan is committed to the inclusion of ALL students, including students with disabilities, in large-scale accountability systems.  This session will focus on accessibility challenges students encounter on statewide assessments, and what Michigan is doing to ensure all students have the supports and tools they need in order to fully access Michigan’s assessment system.


Accessibility Challengers Handout PDF

Accessibility Challengers Power Point


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.

Issues in O&M

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

What’s New in Low Vision Optometry?

Dr. Bill Takeshita

This lecture will inform attendees of why they should have a low vision examination to improve their vision and to protect the health of their eyes. During this lecture, Dr. Takeshita will discuss the latest in visual aids to help people with low vision to read, write, use the computer, travel, and in some cases drive a car. He will discuss the latest in low vision aids as well as assistive technology.


What's New in Low Vision - MP3



Friday, May 2, 2014


7:30 Continental Breakfast
  Exhibitors - open all day
8:00 - 9:00

Survival Tactics for Ensuring Home Visit Safety

Marty Bledsoe & Georgia Bledsoe-Beneicke

In the home delivery model for the VI student, O&Ms, VI teachers, and other ancillary staff need to have a strong feeling of safety and personal protection. In these increasingly unsafe times, situations must be assessed and advanced planning made in order to determine successful outcomes.
9:00 BREAK
9:15 - 10:00

What Research Tells Us About Blind and VI Youth and Their Adult Outcome

Lydia Schuck

Looking at the adult outcomes of blind youth can help us to reflect on the way these youth move through our school systems.  Although transition planning varies widely among districts, required components of the IEP and related services contribute to better adult outcomes. Broaden your knowledge of effective transition practices for blind and VI youth in this participatory discussion of transition.

Research Outcomes Blind Youth - Word

MAER Predictors Outcomes - XPS Doc


The Psychological Impact of Vision Loss

Margo Siegel

This presentation will explore the psychological impact of vision loss.  What factors influence a youngster’s acceptance/denial of visual challenges?  What mental health disorders are prevalent within this population? Which therapeutic interventions are appropriate for coping with varying degrees of vision loss?  Participants are encouraged to bring questions for discussion.

The Psychological Impact of Vision Loss - Power Point


Michigan’s New VI Consortium & Updates from the Office of Special Education and Low Incidence Outreach

Collette Bauman

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has developed a visual impairment endorsement in partnership with multi-state universities, schools and agencies for the blind. Come and learn about this new initiative to provide more teachers in the field of visual impairment. In addition, hear about the latest updates from the Office of Special Education and Low Incidence Outreach.

Interveners: The Ultimate Access for Students Who Are DeafBlind

Beth Kennedy & Jennifer Bigelow-Stambaugh

Interveners are trained 1:1 supports for students who are DeafBlind.  They are currently working in six areas across Michigan.  There is now a national credential for interveners.  Interveners are likely to be included in IDEA when it is reauthorized.  This session will provide an overview of the benefits of intervention.

Interveners: The Ultimate Access - Power Point

10:30 BREAK
10:45 - 12:00

Encouraging Discourse to Promote Thinking

Erika Lusky & Julie Rains

ENBRIGHTEN, an engaging and thought-provoking comprehension game designed to empower students with the tools necessary to approach and ultimately understand both narrative and informational text.  ENBRIGHTEN also encourages the development of metacognition, critical thinking, listening, and speaking skills within the classroom environment.  

Common Core Matrix (2) Word

Venn Diagram - Word

VI Presentation - Power Point


MDE-LIO’s Assistive Technology Curriculum for the Visually Impaired/Blind

Ann McKay-Bacon

This presentation will formally provide an overview of the new MDE-LIO’s website based AT Curriculum for students who are visually impaired/blind and it’s benchmark components. It’s a useful tool in assessing a student’s skill in relation to the METS and IEPT planning for Pre-school to 12th grade.

Building Capacity with Early Intervention

Dr. 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 Lunch/ MAER Awards Luncheon
1:30 BREAK
1:45 - 3:00

Inclement Weather:  Contingency Plans for O&M Lessons

Panel TBA

Plans for outdoor orientation & mobility objectives can be compromised when the weather does not cooperate. Be it rain & thunderstorms, snow & ice, or extreme temperatures contingency lesson plans are necessary when goals must be met. The panel will discuss ideas for contingency plans when working with adults or children.


Issues in the TCVI Field

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

Using the iPad in Early Childhood

Sarah Stargardt & Jessica Kusku

This workshop will focus on ways to use the iPad with the Early Childhood population. Topics will include ideas for making circle time accessible, internal accessibility features within the iPad, apps that are ideal for the child with low vision, and apps to use to target specific goals/skill areas. This

session will focus primarily on students with low vision.

MAER Guided Access - PDF

MAER Presentation - PDF

MAER Slideshark - PDF

3:00 BREAK
3:15 - 4:30

Issues in VRT

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

Creating a School to Work Summer Program for Secondary Students with V.I.

Kenneth Ferguson & Carol Walker

The Detroit Public Schools V.I. Program has successfully run a School to Work Summer Program for visually impaired secondary students for more than a decade.  Please join Ken Ferguson, TVI, and Carol Walker, COMS, as they share the success stories and growing pains of developing and maintaining such a program. 

Creating a School to Work Summer Program - Power Point


Tricks in My Trunk

Lisa Pelc, Ted Lennox, David Bowden, Paula Wolf

This session will assist new teachers and experienced TC/VI O&M Specialists by introducing multi-purpose lessons in the areas of Braille, Nemeth Code, Early-On, SSXI, Low Vision, Adaptive Daily Living Skills, Technology and Orientation and Mobility Skills. The session will teach teachers how to pack their materials in their car to develop the most effective lessons for TC/VI O&M Specialists by targeting IEP and IFSP goals & objectives by matching core curriculum standards for our large caseloads in a timely manner.

Tricks in My Trunk - PDF