Eagle Update February 2020

Eagle Update February 2020

Image Description: Students sitting around a table, holding instruments and wearing green Braille Challenge t-shirts that says “Leap for Braille” and a picture of a frog.

It’s All About Braille!

Mr. Jon Harding/Ms. Aundrayah Shermer

February 2020 

Upcoming Events: 

  • Boys and Girls Weekend is March 27 -29, 2020. For more information go to the Boys and Girls Weekend Page.
  • KSSB Prom will be held at “A Secret Garden” on April 24, 2020
  • State Board Visit is held at KSSB on April 15, 2020
  • FREE Family Forum is held at Emporia State University on April 25, 2020. Hear from several speakers including Kristin Smedley, a parent and author of Thriving Blind: Real Stories of People who Succeed without Sight. Slots will fill quickly! – Register Early. For more information and how to register for this amazing event go to the Family Forum Events Page
  • Graduation at KSSB on May 13, 2020
  • Extended School Year June 8-26, 2020. The application is due by March 10, 2020. For more information contact your child’s teacher and go to the ESY Page

The highlight of the month… 

The Braille Challenge is an event, unlike any other. It is designed to motivate students in their study of braille, rewarding their success with fun-filled local and national activities. Any student with a visual impairment who reads braille, including those who are learning braille, are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Kansas Sunflower Regional Braille Challenges.

Image Description: Students sitting on the floor wearing their Braille Challenge t-shirts. The list of Braille Challenge sponsors is listed on the backs of the shirts.

Severals students sitting on the floor, wearing the braille challenge t-shirt, with their backs facing the camera to show the sponsors listed on the back of the shirts. .

This year the Braille Challenge was held at 52 different sites throughout the United States and Canada, including in Kansas City, KS on February 14, AND in Derby, KS on February 29.

Image description: Children eating lunch in a school cafeteria during the Wichita Braille Challenge Event.

Students sitting and visiting with each other and sitting at round tables in the cafeteria at a Wichita Middle School.

These preliminary rounds are open to students of all skill levels. From those events, the top-scoring 50 contestants nationally will be invited to Los Angeles in June for a Final Round.

Braille Challenge categories include spelling, reading comprehension, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.

This year in Kansas, we offered both the ABC’s group for the youngest new braille readers and a Rookie group for older new braille learners. Also, we held a Spelling only session for several of our participants in both regional events.

Image Description: A young child using a braille writer.

A young child smiling while sitting in front of a braille writer.

The high school and transition students provided a demonstration to parents and guests of their favorite cooking, labeling and organization tools. The big hit was the Induction Portable Cooktop and the PenFriend Voice Labeling System

Image Description: 5 students standing behind a table facing an audience. On the table are several cooking tools, including strainers, splash guards, cutting tools and labeling supplies.

Several Students standing in front of a long table containing a variety of cooking and labeling tools.

At the KSSB Braille Challenge, the parents were provided a tour of the new MakerSpace tools where students are learning employment skills such as screen printing, laser cutting, and 3D printing.

Image Description: A student looking closely at the mug inside the screen printing machine designed to place an image on ceramic coffee mugs.

A student bending over a mug label machine.

The Braille Challenge is a celebration of Braille Literacy. While this is a competition, our emphasis in Kansas is on braille literacy.  KSSB celebrates all the participants as well as young visitors who hope to participate in the future.

Highlights from the classroom…

Sandra Craig

My new favorite DIY project is to create a printable magnetic math sheet – similar to Math Window. To create this math manipulative, start with a Google Doc or Word document. Add a table to create a grid of seventy – 1” squares. To create this grid as a magnetic sheet, I use printable magnetic paper. Download and print the example Google Doc Grid 1” squares onto the printable magnetic paper. After printing, cut the squares apart and cut off the right corner of each square so the student will know the correct orientation of the braille numbers or symbols. 

Apply the symbols from the APH Feel ‘N Peel Nemeth Code Symbols to each 1” square on the grid. For any mathematical symbols not available as an APH Feel ‘N Peel sticker, insert the APH Braille Label into a braille writer and create the symbols that are needed – including braille lines or other larger symbols needed for math computation or formulas. Using a slate and stylus on laminating or contact paper will work as well as the APH braille label sheets. 

Image Description: A student’s hands reading Nemeth code on small 1 inch magnetic squares attached to a cookie sheet.

Students with hands on Nemeth Code magnetic squares set on a cookie sheet.


  • Feel ‘n Peel Stickers: Nemeth Braille/Print Numbers 0–100 1-08876-00
  • APH Feel ‘N Peel Nemeth Basic Math Symbols: 1-08892-00
  • APH Braille Label 1-08874-00
  • Avery Printable Magnetic Sheets-3270 from Amazon

Highlights from the ECC…

Transition students continue their efforts to build entrepreneurship and employment skills. During the month of February, they decided to sell Candy Grams for Valentine’s Day. The students created a design consisting of a card with braille heart shapes and a handful of candy.  Based on their design, they developed a budget, established a method for customers to place orders, purchased supplies and made the Candy Grams. This was such a huge success that the students needed to close out orders early to avoid going over budget and have enough time to make and deliver their product.  It was a Big Success.

Image Description: A card with 3 brailled hearts and a plastic bag decorated with hearts and a truck.

A card with three braille hearts and a plastic bag with hearts and a truck image on the front.

A student in the life skills classroom is making homemade dog treats for a local animal shelter and KSSB staff who request the treats for their beloved dogs.  Students prepare all of the ingredients, bake the treats and deliver them in person. 

Image Description: A student pouring flour from a bowl into a bowl of liquid ingredients. A student with hands on a round bowl, pouring flour into another bowl filled with moist ingredients.

Highlights from the community…

This month, six students from KSSB went to Blue Valley Southwest High School to share the game of goalball with students in Erik Jones’ Fitness Foundations Class. The KSSB students played one game to demonstrate how goalball is played. Then the Blue Valley students got a chance to play.  One of the comments we heard the most was, “That’s a lot harder than it looks!”  

Image Description: Students on a gym floor wearing blindfolds – 3 in squat position and one standing. An adult holding a goalball.

Five students on a gym floor wearing blindfolds and ready to play goalball.

To learn more about this amazing sport, view this YouTube video from the United States Association of Blind Athletes.  You may want to follow the United States Paralympic Goalball team as they travel to Toyoko Paralympics August 25-September 6, 2020.  See the Goalball Schedule. Meet the members of Team USA Men and Team USA Women teams.

Forensics and Debate students continue to hone their skills and build community partnerships. KSSB and Bishop Ward High School debate teams were provided a topic in advance and asked to prepare both sides of an issue. This was a fun new experience, where participants engaged in a two on two public debate forum. What is this you ask? Competitors were given topic cards and required to quickly formulate a position for or against random topics. This was excellent practice speaking and analyzing issues while also quickly thinking on their feet. The students experienced how two sides of a problem can be debated in a friendly non-confrontational way. All of the participants had a great time! In addition, Bishop Ward High School students had the opportunity to find out more about individuals who have a visual impairment and see first hand what a person who is blind can do. The students look forward to future interactions and developing a friendly competition with the Bishop Ward forensics/debate program. Go Eagles!!

Highlights from across the state…

Orientation and Mobility: When Walmart does a renovation and completely rearranges the store, it can be helpful to snap a picture of the updated map to use for navigation. 

Image Description: A student taking a picture of the Walmart store map hanging on a wall above the rows of shopping carts.

Student using the camera on her phone to take a picture of a map on the wall in Walmart.

The KanLovKids Project offers Low Vision Collaborative Clinics (LVCC) and Low Vision Collaborative Clinics + (LVCC+) to children from ages birth through 21 who reside in Kansas. These clinics offer a functional and multidisciplinary approach. Parents, teachers, and therapists are encouraged to attend and bring questions. All services are supplementary to the child/student’s primary eye care provided by their local ophthalmologist or optometrist and it is important that you continue to keep regularly scheduled appointments with them. For additional information go to the KanLovKids Page.

The image on the left: An adult holding a baby and showing the child a LEA Doll. The image on right: A young child putting a plastic 2D square into a slot on a flat circle.

An adult holding a baby who is wearing plastic green glasses and looking at a black and white LEA doll. A young child sitting at a table and putting a plastic square through a slot in a yellow circle.

Highlights from the Kansas Deafblind Project…

A Reflection: Attending the International CHARGE Syndrome Conference

By Lisa Collette, Family Engagement Coordinator, KSDB Project

The 14th International CHARGE Syndrome Conference called “Deep in the Heart of CHARGE” was held in Dallas, TX in August 2019. The experience was so wonderful that the adventure still lingers within me.

This was my family’s second CHARGE Syndrome Conference. The first was four years ago in Chicago. It is such an amazing feeling going to the gathering because we get to be around other families like ours. No one is looking at us when our daughter is having a sensory meltdown or spinning in circles or flapping her hands because she’s excited and this is the gesture, she uses to show that. We don’t have to worry about people telling us they’re “sorry” because she’s deaf or because she has combined vision and hearing loss or because she’s tube-fed. The families that attend are like ours, but with their own twists.

Attending the convention allows us to see other families who have become our friends on our journey in the world of exceptionalities. It’s great being able to catch up in person instead of always talking online and being able to attend sessions that are given by some of the top professionals in the field. You learn so much; new techniques to new research that could potentially make things a little easier for your child.

Going to conferences is like a vacation for families like ours who may not be able to take one otherwise. In a world that keeps turning, the conference allows families to be able to just stop and take a breath — At least, it does for me.

(Photo: Left to Right. David Brown, CHARGE Syndrome Guru on all things Deaf-Blind and the vestibular and proprioception senses, with my daughter, myself and my son)

Family sitting near the floor posing for a picture in a large conference room space.


This scholarship supplements the registration costs or other expenses for attending training or conferences related to a child’s deaf-blindness or disability. A parent of a student on the KSDB Project census is eligible to apply. For more information, please email: ksdeafblind@kssdb.org 

The contents of this deafblind information were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education #H326T180051. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Susan Weigert, Ph.D.


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