Hello Fellow Parents of Adorable Children who happen to have a diagnosis of CVI,
If you found yourself standing up in front of 50 Teachers of the Visually Impaired, what would you want to tell them?
This week, I am going to Burlington, Vermont to the North Eastern AER conference.
AER (the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) is the professional membership organization for TVI and Orientation and Mobility Specialists. AER offers approval to teacher preparation programs that meet AER standards. There are AER chapters in many states or regions across the U.S. and Canada. AER conferences are where education professionals in the field of vision loss can get together to learn, to share and to network.
At the North Eastern AER conference, Ellen Mazel and Peggy Palmer are both presenting on different aspects of CVI. They are very kindly allowing me to have 10 minutes to address their audience of educators.
I am going to Vermont because, as Ellen Mazel says, “Our kids can’t wait.”
But, we all know they are waiting.
I hope to ask the TVI about the number of children they see with CVI. I am genuinely curious to hear what they have to say.
As experienced teachers, they know that kids with CVI are already in the classroom.
They have been for decades.
They can learn.
They need teachers who believe in their abilities.
They need teachers to have high expectations for them.
They need teachers who recognize the need to get more training to be able to bring the world to these children. The fact that these educators signed up for Ellen and Peggy’s presentations means that they are aware of the need for improvement.
And, the saying goes, “It never hurts to ask… TVI to take the classes to become CVI Endorsed.”
Okay, I added the last part.
At the risk of becoming the broken record all CVI parents become, CVI has been discussed and researched for decades. CVI is the most common visual impairment in the Western world.
Yet, only last year did AER, the professional organization for educators for blind and low vision students, agree to form a provisional committee on Neurological Visual Impairment.
There is a disconnect here somewhere. I think the disconnect is the lack of urgency for real progress in the education of children with CVI.
The national office of AER is in Washington D.C. Since I live close to D.C., I recently made an appointment with the Executive Director, Lou Tutt. I wanted to find out about AER’s stance on how to prepare their members to teach children with Cortical Visual Impairment. Mr. Tutt and Ginger Croce, Deputy Executive Director, very kindly took the time to answer my questions.
What I took away from the meeting was the following:
- AER takes guidance from its members. According to Mr. Tutt, if enough members demanded more information and training on CVI, then AER would comply.
- Reaching out to the head of the Neurological Visual Impairment committee would be a good way to continue the conversation. I have not done this yet because I wanted to attend the conference first and get more information.
If there is a disconnect, maybe parents are the connection. Maybe our urgency is what is needed to get CVI addressed by the organizations that create policy and teacher programs.
Let’s see what happens in Vermont. I will get the chance to ask a group of members to strongly encourage AER to approve more training for teachers who will be teaching children with CVI. I will suggest they get the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement. I will offer them pie.
I will let you know how it goes.
And, remember, if you have something you would like to tell them, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org.