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7/25/22 Back to School Updates
Welcome back TVIs, SPED admin, and other colleagues!
I hope the Summer break was exactly what each one of you needed, leaving you refreshed and ready for the new school year.
With schools starting back up over the next few weeks, I am sending this email so there is time for you to know all of the latest RCVI updates and related things to know for your students with visual impairments. As always, as you read through this information if you have questions that come up or there might be a way for us to be helpful to you, reach out and we will do everything in our power to be responsive to those needs! You can reach me at [email protected].
Director of Accessible Instructional Materials and Outreach Services
Tennessee School for the Blind
Beginning of School
Please read ALL of the following:
- Order Braille & Large Print books your students need ASAP. The RCVI cannot guarantee books ordered will be available for the start of school, but we will place orders immediately as they are received.
- Contact RCVI if there are new TVIs, Special Education supervisors, or ordering personnel in your districts.
- Return unneeded books and materials from last year/past years to be used by other students across the state and help RCVI avoid unnecessary spending.
- Books/materials from previous school years can be Transferred for use by other students in-district for 22-23. Simply let RCVI know 1) what the items are, as well as 2) the students they are transferring FROM and TO.
- Replacement braillers are available at RCVI if needed. Document issues you are experiencing on our Perkins Brailler repair insert and return any broken/faulty braillers using a Free Matter for the Blind shipping label. Email [email protected] that you are sending braillers back for repair, and we will send replacements right away.
- Federal Quota funds spend down - The spend down date for Federal Quota funds is Friday September 9th. Please prioritize ordering APH materials immediately for eligible students. The APH products catalog can be found at this link. We encourage sharing this catalog with classroom and special education teachers who work with your Federal-Quota eligible students daily and having them tell you what items would assist their instruction of these students.
- Updated Forms - the RCVI's Application for Service, Federal Quota Consent, and Federal Quota Eye Exam Documentation forms have been updated for 2022-23. Please download a copy from the RCVI Homepage.
- 2023 Federal Quota Census - APH announced updates to student grade and reading medium codes. These are described on the RCVI Federal Quota program webpage.
- Updated Outreach Department webpages - Visit the Outreach Department's new homepage for a refreshed look at our services and programming, as well as new, fillable Request for Services form.
Save the Dates for Professional Development in 2022-23
Unity Conference is Back!
We are pleased to announced that the Unity Conference is back on the calendar! Unity will take place on November 17-18, 2022 (half day Thursday & full day Friday), IN PERSON and on-campus at the TN School for the Blind. Block out these dates NOW and start making your plans to attend! Look out for registration information and a call for presenters to come out over the next few months.
Y'all, we so look forward to seeing everyone face to face again, and I also especially want to invite those who have not attended the Unity Conference before. TVIs, district staff, and parents are all welcome!
Tennessee Visual Impairments Virtual Academy (VIVA) Rebrand
Many of you are familiar with the Unity Virtual Academy of online professional development and informational sessions that have been held over the last two school years in response to the Unity Conference not being held. These online learning opportunities will continue for 2022-23 and the foreseeable future, but they will now be re-branded as the Tennessee Visual Impairments Virtual Academy (TN VIVA) to avoid confusion from the common "Unity" wording.
For 2022-23, TN VIVA is pleased to announce that it has added to its partnership with the addition of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, which greatly enhances the ability of VIVA to conduct, disseminate, and outreach about its programming. The partnership now consists of the Tennessee School for the Blind, Vanderbilt-Peabody College Program in Visual Disabilities, and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. The schedule for 2022-23 is being finalized now and will soon be updated on the RCVI events page. A similar list of TN VIVA sessions will also become available on the VKC website soon.
As a reminder, recordings of past sessions can be found on the RCVI's videos page.
FYI Items and Other Events
RCVI Lending Library
The RCVI is excited to announce a new Assistive Technology Lending Library service for students with visual impairments in Tennessee!
This new lending library is primarily intended to provide vision-specific assistive technology to students who do not qualify for the Federal Quota program (i.e., students with low vision and are not legally blind) and thus cannot have APH products ordered for them. Knowing this existing gap in the RCVI's services, we are fortunate to now be able to provide useful access technologies like video magnifiers to all students with visual impairments, no matter what their visual acuity levels may technically be.
Guidelines and procedures for requesting video magnifiers from the AT lending library are being finalized, but look out for a separate message in the coming weeks. Students will need an IEP in order to request a device from the lending library.
The Center for Assistive Technology Training (CATT) is an organization based in Alabama that is funded to provide assistive technology supports to states in the southeast region. CATT will be holding its first event in Tennessee, the Learning Experiences with Accessibility for Families (LEAF) Conference, on September 13-16, 2022 in Pigeon Forge, TN for families of children who are blind/visually impaired (ages preschool through 2nd grade) and deaf/hard of hearing (ages birth to 3). This conference is FREE of charge to participating families.