First of all, Michigan teachers, are you going to the Michigan meetup on the 29th? I will most likely be attending - just need to confirm schedule-type things - and I'd love to see lots of us there! I had such a fabulous time at the first meetup in Lansing, and I know this one will be just as excellent.
Second, I'm looking for some help/advice here. I am going to have a new student next school year who is completely blind (he can see some shadows, apparently, but that's it). I have never had a student with this type of total visual impairment before (I have students now with visual impairments, but their vision is functional with corrections). I am nervous and unsure...this is the one impairment I feel the least qualified to teach. Give me the severe physical impairments, profound Deafness, sensory and behavior disabilities...I am feeling at a loss with this one, though! Since he will be in my classroom, it is safe to say he also has a moderate to severe cognitive impairment. I have not seen his IEP yet though I have a brief description of him and his functioning level (for example, he is working on pre-Braille skills such as sorting by and differentiating textures), so I will feel a little better once that happens, but I will still need some help!
So, any teachers out there who have worked with students with blindness/total visual impairments: I'd love your advice! My classroom right now is set up to be heavy on the visual supports, because that's what my other students need. Obviously this will not work with this student! So:
>>What are some of the essentials for a classroom setup for a student with blindness?
>>What are some things I should definitely do to help ease a transition for a student who cannot see his new classroom/teachers/classmates?
>>What are some other ways to support pre-Braille skills (and I'm hoping some can coincide with our pre-academic/academic focus on alphabet and "sight" words)?
>>Are there any great resources out there you can point me towards (I've done some googling, but the majority of support resources I found are aimed at individuals with blindness and not teachers, or individuals with normal cognitive functioning)?
I don't even know what other questions I should be asking. We have one VI support staff and one O&M (orientation and mobility) person in our building, but they don't work the summer program so I can't tap into their resources until the school year begins and my new friend is already in my class. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give me :)