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Sensory Learning: Identifying Opportunities for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabi


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Title: Sensory Learning: Identifying Opportunities for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabi

Sensory Learning Identifying Opportunities for
Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple
Disabilities to Engage in Literacy Activities
  • Weekends with the Experts
  • Amy R. McKenzie, Ed.D.
  • Florida State University
  • January 19 20, 2007

Presentation Outline
  • Welcome Introductions
  • Background Information on the Speaker
  • What is Literacy?
  • Determining Sensory Literacy Needs
  • Learning Media Assessments
  • Interactive CD Cathy
  • Diagnostic Teaching Assessment
  • Sensory Communication Assessments
  • Reporting Assessment Results
  • Interactive CD Sara

Presentation Outline
  • Stages of Literacy Development
  • Encouraging Literacy Development Identifying
    Environments, Teaching Strategies Activities
  • Environments
  • Strategies Activities for Fostering Early
  • DVD Literacy Episode
  • Functional Literacy Planning
  • DVD Literacy Episodes

Presentation Outline
  • Conclusion Our Next Steps
  • Teacher Perceptions
  • IEPs
  • Service Delivery
  • References/Resources
  • Question Answer

  • Friday Afternoon Break 300-315pm
  • Saturday Morning Break 1030-1045am
  • Saturday Afternoon Break 300-315pm

Background Information on the Speaker
Past and Current Research
  • Emergent literacy opportunities for students who
    are deafblind or visually impaired
  • Investigated
  • Environment
  • Activities and strategies
  • IEPs and Assessments
  • Professional Perception
  • Knowledge and skills of TVIs for supervising
  • Inclusion perceptions of pre-service general
    education teachers

Overview Fundamental Truths
  • All team members must have an open mind about the
    literacy development of students with visual
    impairments and multiple disabilities.
  • Keep all options open!
  • (Koenig Holbrook, 1995. p. 81)
  • Consider the needs of the student, not the needs
    of the team or placement environment.

The Fundamental Truths
  • By Cay Holbrook Alan J. Koenig
  • Truth 1
  • Every child who is blind or visually
  • impaired has the right to attain
  • literacy to the greatest extend of his
  • or her abilities.

The Fundamental Truths
  • By Cay Holbrook Alan J. Koenig
  • Truth 2
  • All students who is blind or visually
  • impaired have the right to
  • literacy instruction from a
  • qualified teacher of students
  • with visual impairment.

What is Literacy?
Three Facets of Literacy
  • Emergent Literacy
  • Academic/Conventional Literacy
  • Functional Literacy

Emergent Literacy
  • Emergent literacy is the process of developing
    literacy that begins at birth and ends when
    children begin to engage in conventional or
    functional reading and writing (Sulzby Teale,

Academic Literacy
  • The basic reading and writing skills taught in a
    conventional literacy medium during elementary
    and middle school years (Koenig Holbrook, p.
    265, 2000)

Functional Literacy
  • The application of literacy skills and the use
    of a variety of literacy tools to accomplish
    daily tasks in the home, school, community and
    work setting (Koenig, 1992).
  • This definition relates more to academic students
    applying their literacy skills to daily tasks.

Functional Literacy
  • Functional Literacy
  • For students with visual and multiple
    impairments, both the application and the
    vocabulary are functional in nature.
  • It is meaning-centered reading that focuses on
    the readers knowledge and experience. The
    emphasis is on deriving meaning from what is
  • (Rex, Koenig, Wormsley Baker, 1994)

Literacy for Students with MI
  • A broader definition of literacy is needed due to
    the fact that
  • Not all students will be traditional readers and
    writers, but they will have literacy!
  • Communication is often the primary need of
    students with multiple disabilities.
  • A variety of communication modes are used by
    students with multiple disabilities.

Langleys Definition of Literacy
  • literacy is communication especially when the
    concepts and issues are applied to students with
    visual impairments and additional disabilities.
    In this respect, then, literacy is the most basic
    foundation for all learning, for receiving and
    imparting information, and for initiating
    interactions with others. What is more important
    for students with visual multiple disabilities
    is that literacy opens the doors to personal
    relationships, shared interests, leisure
    activities, learning strategies, partial to full
    independence at home and in the community, and
    vocational possibilities (Langley, 2000, p. 1)

Various Aspects of Literacy
  • Reading is the complex, recursive process through
    which we make meaning form texts using semantics
    syntax visual, aural and tactile clues context
    and prior knowledge (p. 75).
  • Writing is the use of a writing system or
    orthography by people in the conduct of their
    daily lives to communicate over time and space.
    It is also by the process or results of recording
    language graphically by hand or other means, as
    by the use of computers or braillers (p. 77).

Various Aspects of Literacy
  • Speaking is the act of communicating through such
    means as vocalization, signing or using
    communication aids such as voice synthesizers (p.
  • Listening is attending to communication by any
    means includes listening to vocal speech,
    watching signing, or using communication aids (p.
  • Viewing is attending to communication conveyed by
    visually representation (p. 76).

Various Aspects of Literacy
  • Each of these aspects demonstrates an integrated
    language-communication approach to literacy, as
    suggested by Rex, Koenig, Wormsley Baker (1994)
    for all students in Foundations of Braille
  • Language and Communication Activities Literacy
  • Literacy Activities
  • Language and Communication Activities

Expanding the Framework
  • We all have to step outside of the box when it
    comes to our philosophies and teaching of
    literacy to students with multiple impairments.
  • The conceptual framework for literacy must be
    expanded beyond academic reading writing!

Determining Sensory Literacy Needs
Determining Sensory Literacy Needs
  • Determining these needs can be accomplished
    through a number of assessments including
  • Learning Media Assessment
  • Diagnostic Teaching
  • Sensory Communication Assessments

Learning Media Assessment
Why Conduct a LMA?
  • 1 IDEA says so!

Why Conduct a LMA?
  • 2 It is an objective way of documenting the
    following elements of IDEA mandates
  • An evaluation of the students
  • reading and writing skills
  • An evaluation of the students
  • reading and writing needs
  • An evaluation of the students
  • reading and writing media
  • (Koenig and Holbrook, 2000)

Why Conduct a LMA?
  • 3 It is an objective way to observe and
    document the students preferred sensory
  • 4 It is the first step in the development
  • of an appropriate, assessment-based communication
    and literacy programs for students with visual
    multiple disabilities.

Why Conduct a LMA?
  • the first step to designing literacy programs
    and discovering methods for ensuring appropriate
    literacy opportunities for students with
    additional disabilities are a comprehensive
    assessment of the need for literacy media and a
    functional analysis of the students response to
    options and opportunities for

Why Conduct a LMA?
  • embedding literacy instruction and practice
    whether reading, writing, or use of other
    literacy tools in all learning environments.
    These steps should lead to the functional and
    age-appropriate design, adaptation and
    application of materials and strategies that will
    enable the student to engage in literacy
    activities with his or her peers (Langley, 2000,
    p. 1).

Initial Assessment
  • Forms needed
  • Form 1 General Student Information
  • Form 2 Use of Sensory Channels
  • Form 8 Functional Learning Media Checklist
  • Form 9 Indicators of Readiness for a Functional
    Literacy Medium
  • Form 10 Initial Selection of Functional Literacy

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • This is the first step of a Learning Media
    Assessment for all students with visual
  • The students preferred sensory channel for
    learning is determined through extensive
    observation of student behaviors
  • This process is beneficial to all students,
    regardless of disability area!

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Cornerstone of the initial selection phase
  • In this step, the education team will
    objectively determine a students primary and
    secondary sensory channels for learning (p. 21)

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Purpose
  • Provide the basis for selecting appropriate
    general learning media.
  • Help inform, but not dictate, the decision on the
    students literacy medium or media. (Koenig
    Holbrook, 2000, p. 120)
  • Be cautious This is the students preferred
    sensory channel, not the most efficient!

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Use Form 2 from LMA Manual
  • Data Gathering Environments
  • Three or more observations
  • 15-20 minutes for each observation
  • Variety of environments, including
  • Structured and unstructured times
  • Familiar and unfamiliar environments
  • Indoor and outdoor settings

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Data Gathering Participants
  • Include all team members
  • Especially parents if they are interested!
  • Allow for a brief training including
  • Review of the forms and purpose
  • Coding of joint observations
  • Coding of video tapes

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Data Gathering Procedure
  • Only observable student behaviors should be coded
  • Student behaviors can include reactions or motor
  • Record behaviors in the order they occur
  • Be comprehensive and objective when recording
  • Code each behavior V, T, A as well as primary or
    secondary sensory channels

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • Data Interpretation
  • Gather observation forms from team
  • Looking for consistent pattern across the
    observations in both primary and secondary
  • If inconsistent, look at observations themselves
  • Also, investigate if a student is not using one
    sensory channel may not have the opportunity to
    use it!

Determining Preferred Sensory Channels
  • If it is evident that this student inconsistently
    uses his or her senses, and/or is considered to
    be at a communication level lower than 18-months
    consider using the sensory assessment portion of
    Every Move Counts to enrich this information.
  • Note This is not a substitute for the Learning
    Media Assessment process!
  • We will discuss Every Move Counts in a few

Functional Learning Media Checklist
  • Use Form 8 to collect information regarding the
    students use of various learning media for both
    near and distance tasks in a variety of settings.
  • Consider current future IEP goals and
    objectives when determining which media to
    observe involve other team members.
  • Complete this form for all students!

Indicators of Readiness for a Functional Literacy
  • Use Form 9 to determine if a student is ready to
    progress into a functional literacy program this
    must be a team process and determination!
  • Complete this form for all students!
  • If behaviors towards the bottom of the list are
    consistently demonstrated, the student is ready
    for a functional literacy program move into
    Form 10.

Indicators of Readiness for a Functional Literacy
  • If Form 9 behaviors are not consistently
    demonstrated, consider continuing with a
    communication assessment. The LMA at this point
    will result in the identification of the
    students preferred sensory channels and learning
    media channels visual, tactile, and/or
    auditory. Also, report the results from Form 9 to
    show growth over time.
  • If the Every Move Counts assessment was used, its
    results can be reported in the LMA.

Initial Selection of Functional Literacy Media
  • Use Form 10 to determine the students functional
    literacy medium. Again, this must be a team
    process and determination!
  • Observe the student in a variety of settings
    note the students natural choice of sensory
    response mode and working distance.

Making an Initial Decision
  • As with all Learning Media Assessments, the end
    factor for interpretation is relying on your
    professional judgment! These assessments do not
    generate a hard and fast score of any type.
  • Even at the point of interpretation, the
    students needs must be the primary issue at

Continuing Assessment
  • A continuing assessment is only for a student who
    has had a full, comprehensive LMA previously
    conducted and the need for a functional literacy
    program was determined.
  • Use all forms described in the previous section,
    except Forms 9 10. Instead, proceed with the
    use of Form 11 Continuing Assessment of
    Functional Literacy Media.
  • If the student was not ready for a functional
    literacy program, conduct another Initial
    Assessment for continued assessment.

Diagnostic Teaching and Assessment
Diagnostic Teaching
  • According to Koenig and Holbrook, 1995
  • Students with MIVI have limited experiences
  • Students with MIVI need longer time to respond to
  • Students with MIVI have multiple factors
    influencing their performance on any one task.

Diagnostic Teaching
  • Diagnostic teaching simply guides a teachers
    instructional practices as though each
    interaction with a student, whether instructional
    or not, is an opportunity to engage in an
    integrated assessment (Koenig Holbrook, 1995)

Diagnostic Teaching
  • Example
  • Hunter is a five year old student with
    deafblindness and motor impairments, as well as
    developmental delay. His TVI is using diagnostic
    teaching to determine his ability to use real
    objects as part of a a choice board. Hunter is
    having difficulty associating the objects with
    the activities.

Diagnostic Teaching
  • Using the diagnostic teaching model, how would
    you proceed in determining the factors that might
    be contributing to Hunters inability to succeed?

Diagnostic Teaching
  • The process of diagnostic teaching
  • Takes place over a period of time
  • Is never 100 conclusive and
  • Is an evolving, on-going process.

Sensory Communication Assessments
Communication Assessments
  • Every Move Counts Sensory Based Communication
    Techniques (Korsten, Dunn, Foss, Francke, 1993)
  • The Callier-Azusa Scale (Stillman et al., 1978)
  • Communication A Guide for Teaching Students with
    Visual and Multiple Impairments (Hagood, 1997)

Every Move Counts
  • For students who are at less than an 18-month old
    level of communication development.
  • Two step assessment
  • Sensory Response Assessment
  • Communication Assessment
  • Communication intervention curriculum

Every Move Counts
  • The purpose of the Sensory Response Assessment is
    to determine a students response (reactive or
    proactive) and response pattern to a variety of
  • Reactive reflexive response
  • Proactive purposeful response

Every Move Counts
  • This information can then be used to help
    identify the stimuli that a student enjoys. These
    stimuli can be incorporated into communication
    and learning activities and the environments.
  • After all, we are more likely to be an active
    participant if there is an enjoyable aspect of
    the activity!

Every Move Counts
  • See Sensory Communication Assessment Excerpt
    of Every Move Counts handout
  • Lets take a look at page 24 this is the
    coversheet of the Sensory Response Assessment.

Every Move Counts
  • Things to consider
  • Do not interact with the child other than to
    preview the presentation of stimuli physical or
    verbal anticipatory prompt.
  • Team members should have a clear view of the

Every Move Counts
  • Observe the students biobehavioral state for 15
    second prior to presentation of the stimuli.
    (Pretask Condition)
  • For more information on biobehavioral states, see
    Biobehavioral State Management and Assessment
    for Student with Profound Impairments in
    Teaching Students with Visual and Multiple
    Impairments A Resource Guide, 2nd Edition (Smith

The Carolina Record of Individual Behavior (CRIB)
  • State 1 Deep Sleep
  • State 2 Intermediate Sleep
  • State 3 Active Sleep
  • State 4 Drowsiness
  • State 5 Quiet Awake
  • State 6 Active Awake
  • State 7 Fussy Awake
  • State 8 Mild Agitation
  • State 9 Uncontrollable Agitation

Every Move Counts
  • Observe the students reaction to both the
    presentation and removal of the stimuli.
  • Provide a score of the overall reaction see
    page 20.

Every Move Counts
  • Lets try an example.
  • Amy is presented with the olfactory stimuli of
    mint extract. She is in a calm state prior to the
    presentation. Upon presentation of the extract,
    she crinkles up her face and begins to cry. After
    removing, she is calm.

Every Move Counts
  • Lets try another example
  • Prior to the presentation of tactile stimuli, Amy
    is in calm, relaxed state. Upon presentation of
    the vibro-tactile toy on Amys arm, her entire
    body becomes rigid. After removing, her body

Every Move Counts
  • EMC also contains a Communication Assessment see
    page 28
  • The score of this assessment does not give you a
    developmental age-level. Rather, it serves as
    baseline data for future, ongoing assessment to
    measure growth in the area of communication.

The Callier-Azusa Scale
  • There are two main scales G and H
  • Scale G includes the domains of Motor
    Development, Perceptual Abilities, Daily Living
    Skills, Cognition, Communication Language, and
    Social Development
  • Scale H is exclusively a Communication Assessment
    including the domains of Representational/Symboli
    c Development, Receptive Communication,
    Development of Intentional Communication, and

The Callier-Azusa Scale
  • Both can be used for assessment of sensory and
    communication abilities
  • Sensory Communication Assessment Excerpt of
    The Callier-Azusa Scale Cognition, Communication
    and Language handout
  • For ordering information, go to
  • http//

Communication A Guide for Teaching Students with
  • This book includes both a communication
    assessment and teaching strategies/ curricular
  • Chapter 2 focuses on a process approach to
    assessment designed as a tool for planning and
    assessing change. It collects info on
  • Communication form, content and social aspects
  • Change in communication
  • Functional language, developmental readiness and
    learning priorities

Communication A Guide for Teaching Students with
  • Five step process for gathering information
    regarding a students communication abilities
  • See Sensory Communication Assessment Excerpt
    of Communication A Guide for Teaching Students
    with Visual and Multiple Impairments handout

For more information
  • Although it focuses on students who are
    deafblind, consider reviewing the communication
    assessment information available in Remarkable
    Conversations A Guide to Developing Meaningful
    Communication with Children and Young Adults who
    are Deafblind (Miles Riggio, 1999)
  • Provides a comprehensive process for
    communication assessment not a tool.

Reporting Assessment Results
Reporting Assessment Results
  • Writing the assessment report is one of the most
    vital steps in the overall assessment process.
  • It is important to remember this is your one
    medium to convey the important findings of the
    assessments you conducted.

Reporting Assessment Results
  • Writing the LMA Report
  • Two overall formats
  • Written following the Functional Vision
    Evaluation, in one document, as part of an
    initial eligibility or reevaluation
  • Written alone as an ongoing, annual report to the
    IEP team

Reporting Assessment Results
  • Writing the LMA Report
  • The LMA report should cover, in detail, the
    information gathered on each form.
  • It is a good idea to use form titles as headers
    for the report. This will ensure that you have
    reported all needed information.
  • The LMA Report must include Recommendations
    directly related to the assessment results!

Reporting Assessment Results
  • Writing the LMA Report
  • If Every Move Counts was used as part of the LMA,
    consider reporting the results as part of the LMA
    Assessment report
  • If communication assessments were used, report
    these as a separate report but refer to the
    results in the LMA assessment report.

Encouraging Literacy Development Identifying
Environments, Strategies, and Activities
Environments Organization
  • Print rich environment with extensive labeling
  • Organization of the classroom into areas or
  • Centers or areas should be labeled in an
    appropriate and accessible format
  • Each center should contain literacy props, or
    literacy related items for reading, writing and

Environments Organization
  • The environment should be labeled in the
    assessment-based communication mode/literacy
    media for all students in the classroom
  • Labels can include print, large print, braille,
    real objects, tactile symbols, pictures and
    Mayer-Johnson symbols, etc, on one large piece of
    cardstock or cardboard.

Environments Centers
  • Classroom Library or Book Center
  • Writing Center
  • Dramatic Play or Daily Living Skill Centers
  • Block and Puzzle Centers
  • Math and Science Centers
  • Listening Center
  • Art/Tactile Center
  • Music Center
  • Class Large Group Area

Environments Centers
  • All centers should include literacy props that
    are appropriate for the students, based on
    assessment results
  • For example, a writing or office center would
    include a braille writer for a student who will
    be learning braille or a 20/20 pen and bold line

Strategies and Activities for Fostering Early
Note Much of the fostering early literacy
information in the following section was
developed by Dr. M. Cay Holbrook Dr. Alan J.
Koenig (2002)
Fostering Early Literacy
  • Four main areas of focus
  • Providing enriched early experiences
  • Reading aloud
  • Shared reading
  • Providing early literacy experiences

Providing Enriched Experiences
  • Home, school and community
  • Students must be active participants in the
  • Ensure that students are using a variety of
    senses during the experience.

Providing Enriched Experiences
  • In sequential experiences, students should be
    involved start to finish.
  • Provide accurate consistent vocabulary
    throughout the experience.

Reading Aloud
  • Read early and read often!
  • Choose books that are interesting to your
    students are based on real life experiences.

Reading Aloud
  • Pick a daily time for reading aloud make it part
    of a routine at home and school!
  • Model your enjoyment of reading include others
    who enjoy reading.
  • Make the reading aloud process as multi-sensory
    as possible! Include tactile symbols or real
  • Model book reading behaviors page turning,
    holding the book, etc.
  • (Newbold, 2000)

Shared Reading
  • Shared reading is the process of an adult and a
    student reading together in some capacity.
  • Use stories with predictable patterns or a
    repeated story line, as well as familiar stories
    or rhymes.

Shared Reading
  • Make the reading aloud process as multi-sensory
    as possible!
  • Use alternative or augmentative communication
    systems as part of shared readings.
  • However, the use of alternative or augmentative
    communication systems must be done so in a
    meaningful way!

Provide Literacy Experiences
  • Including
  • Experience stories
  • Book bags or boxes
  • Shared writing or scribbling

Experience Stories
  • Joint story writing process based on an activity
    or event experienced by the student.

Experience Stories
  • Arrange an experience.
  • Take time throughout the experience to explore
    using all senses collect artifacts.
  • Sit down with the student and write a story based
    on the experience.
  • Turn the story into a book and read!

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Books Bags or Boxes
  • Bags or boxes with objects associated with a book
    or story.
  • Use the objects while reading the book or story
    either in a reading aloud or shared reading
  • The type of objects should be based on students
    communication needs!
  • See Tips for Creating Story Boxes handout

Shared Writing or Scribbling
  • Shared writing or scribbling is a vital component
    of literacy development.
  • Model writing for students whenever possible.
  • Think of activities where you can model writing
    what comes to mind?
  • Have plenty of paper, crayons, pencils, paints
    and a braille writer in a location accessible to
    students in a variety of locations.

Unique Needs of Students with Visual and
Multiple Disabilities
  • Activity or Schedule Calendars
  • Choice Boards
  • Braille Readiness/Early Braille Activities

Functional Literacy Programs
Note All of the information in the following
section was developed by Dr. Diane P. Wormsley
Functional Literacy Planning
  • Create a text rich environment
  • Select the individualized reading and writing
  • Create word boxes or flash cards and teach the
    first key words
  • Teach letter recognition skills
  • Assess phonemic awareness
  • Teach phonemic awareness

Functional Literacy Planning
  • Develop writing skills mechanics and process.
  • Create functional uses for reading and writing
  • Create stories
  • Keep detailed record and use diagnostic teaching
  • On going assessment and monitoring is key!

Conclusion Our Next Steps
Teacher Perceptions
Teacher Perceptions
  • The perceptions of teachers who work with
    students who have visual and multiple impairment
    varies in terms of their thoughts on what entails
    emergent literacy.

Teacher Perceptions
  • For students with visual and multiple
    impairments, we are often so focused on their
    uniqueness that we forget that they are children
    who have the many similar developmental needs as
    all children.

  • Although teachers are working on many of the
    skills and activities suggested in the previous
    sections, they are not being highlighted as
    literacy activities and skills in IEP
  • As a field, we need to change this! If IEPs equal
    accountability, then we are shortchanging our
    efforts in the area of literacy by ignoring this
    on the IEP.

Service Delivery
Service Delivery
  • As we discussed at the beginning of this
    presentation, all students with visual
    impairments deserve quality literacy instruction
    and support from a certified Teacher of Students
    with Visual Impairments
  • This can come in the form of consultation, but it
    also means direct services to all students
    including those with multiple impairments.

Service Delivery
  • Ask yourself, would you every consider providing
    consultation only services to an emergent braille
    reader who does not have multiple impairments?
  • Then why it is acceptable to provide consultation
    only services for students who do have multiple

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