By Al Pietrolungo, Chair
Hello PCB members and friends.
In October, at our recent convention and conference, the Education and Employment Committee presented a panel discussion regarding the delivery of special education services to visually impaired students in our state. We offer this report both to benefit those who were unable to attend and to review some of the valuable information provided by our panelists. Of course, you can review the entire presentation by listening to the recording available on the PCB website.
Our first panelist was Doug Williams who currently works as an educational consultant, but who previously worked for thirty years as a teacher of the visually impaired. Doug explained that the intermediate unit is an entity which serves the different school districts in its geographic region. These intermediate units have no taxing authority, so their funding is provided by the school districts. The teachers of the visually impaired, (TVI), attempt to provide students with the specialized services, which are included in the Individual Education plan or IEP. He frankly discussed impediments which sometimes prevent the TVI from accomplishing all these assignments. These impediments include a significant shortage of teachers, extensive travel to reach these students, and a large amount of extra paperwork.
Doug suggested that PCB members should consider mentoring blind students in our communities as a way to help many of these students deal with their relative isolation from other blind people.
The second panelist was Sue Hart who is a retired educator. She spoke about the variety of jobs she held during her 42-year career. Sue described her work with deaf blind individuals. She commented that 30 years ago, professionals in this field were talking about the critical staffing shortage, and we are still discussing this shortage today. She encouraged us to do more!
Sue and Doug responded to several interesting questions from the audience, and we thank these panelists for giving us valuable information.
Please remember that thanks to the work of Doug Hunsinger, you can review information regarding our 2015 conference and convention which is available on the website.