Our Mission

Dr. Karen A. Waldron

This project is the result of a collaborative among educators in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Its Mission is to provide a Resource for professionals, families, and university students involved in educational and societal inclusion of children and youth who are Vision Impaired/Blind and Hard of Hearing/Deaf.

This website has a long history:  From its creation in 2005 through today, many experts in Vision and Hearing have contributed to its continuation as a source for professional training and practice/application in schools and homes. 

With our reliance on Virtual interactions and training during the most active stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian colleagues Dr. Michael Steer and Dr. Frances Gentle, and Professors at Trinity University in Texas, Dr. Rocio Delgado and Dr. Heather Haynes Smith, contributed updated Research and Practice, so that we would continue towards our goal of educational and societal inclusion of students with sensory involvements.

We continue to welcome Submissions from all international professionals involved in validated Research and Practice for students with Vision and Hearing loss, including interventions for those living in lower-economic communities and/or from diverse language, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.  (See the “Submission Guidelines” section of this website for Topics, Formats, and Dates.)

My special thanks to Trinity University for its invaluable ongoing support. With his expertise and wisdom, Benjamin Harris (Dean of the Library) has maintained and updated this site over many years. As Teaching and Research Support Librarian, Bradley Dusing continues Dean Harris’ exceptional work in expanding its contents and directions.

 

 

Three children listening to an adult reading an open book on her lap

 

Child wearing a hat

 

 

Vision Impairment/Blind


 

Hearing Loss/Deaf


Karen Waldron, Michael Steer, and Dolly Bhargava in the Renwick Centre campus Library, in New South Wales, Australia


Professor Karen Waldron,  Professor Michael Steer, and Master's Candidate Dolly Bhargava, in the Renwick Centre campus Library, in New South Wales, Australia.  
 

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children logo

 

Trinity University logo with tagline
Our Story

Where we started 


Karen A. Waldron


As I later wrote for the University magazine “Trinity” (Spring, 2005),  the story of our international collaboration and the subsequent creation of this website began in 2004:

I was on academic leave for the fall semester, spending four months in Australia and New Zealand, as I worked with my 30-year colleague and friend, Dr. Mike Steer, to compile best Research and Practice for teachers and families of students with vision and hearing losses.  

Due to meningitis and deliveries of very premature infants, more children with vision and hearing issues were appearing in schools.  Yet, with funding cutbacks in the U.S. and Australia, fewer specialists were available to teach them.  

In Texas, the “Generic Special Education Endorsement” for Teacher Preparation programs did not include more than an occasional “Survey” lecture in vision and hearing losses, as these had developed into separate certificates.  So I was concerned that my Trinity students would be unprepared to teach this population unless we provided additional training.

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Dr. Steer and I share a passion for Inclusion, believing strongly that despite a disability or any type of difference, all children have the right to be educated with their peers whenever possible.  But in order for teachers to be successful, they need state-of-the-art information.  In Vision and Hearing, these resources were abundant on Mike’s campus, in the Renwick library.

The college sat on a small suburban Sydney campus, part of the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Blind.  Housing a school, assessment and research center, it provided one of the best training grounds in the world for master’s and doctoral programs for educators of children with sensory disabilities.  These dedicated professionals arrived annually from throughout Australia, New Zealand, many African countries, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor, staying in dormitory rooms far away from their families, in order to become teachers, researchers, professors.  Some were accompanied by their own children, who were Deaf and/or Blind, with the hope of gaining a more fulfilled life.

Also far from his native home in England, Dr. Mike Steer directed Renwick programs in Vision Impairment – only one aspect of his brilliant Educational career that has spanned continents and decades of Advocacy and Intervention to develop Inclusive programs for every student, regardless of need or background.

Also collaborating at Renwick was Dr. Breda Carty, the only Regional Deaf Professor preparing educators of the Deaf.  Having studied at Gallaudet University, she presented critically important lectures through rapid sign language, an interpreter by her side.

As part of her Master’s Thesis, graduate student Dolly Bhargava joined us in the writing and editing process.  The daughter of a family from India, she grew up in Africa and then relocated to Sydney.  Her training at Renwick prepared her to be a knowledgeable Specialist in Vision and Hearing.  We appreciate her fine work on this project.

Because my research typically focuses on children’s Learning and Behavioral needs, these new colleagues invited me to lecture at classes, conferences, and dinner meetings across Australia and New Zealand.  Some very warm memories:  After a Sydney session, attendees stood and shared what my presentation had meant to them personally as educators.  Then they honored me with “Deaf applause,” hands raised high in the air as if to clap, but never touching.  Another evening, as I concluded my dinner talk for the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment (SPEVI), I heard champagne corks pop as the group serenaded me with Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees.  I experienced the wonderful warmth and the commonality of compassion among all educators across our world.

At a Sydney conference, I met Sharon Barrey Grassick, a wise and passionate American educator, relocated to Australia, who invited me to travel 3000 miles to Perth, to lecture and consult with families and educators of children with medical and physical syndromes.  While these Western Australia lecture audiences ranged across those working in Early Childhood to Geriatrics, it was a Perth luncheon meeting with mothers of babies with severe disabilities that reinforced their commonality with families in San Antonio:  Stories of painful stares at their children in everyday life, yet compassionate support at times from complete strangers.  

Weeks later, after arriving on an overnight ship from Sydney, I drank coffee in a picturesque café in Hobart, Tasmania, with directors of early childhood, behavior, autism, and vision impairment programs for the State.  In that conversation, my University and School District colleagues in San Antonio could have shared so many of their own similar experiences! Tasmanians were grappling with the best methods for Inclusion of their students with disabilities.  And aren’t we all? I thought quietly, as they planned to host the upcoming national Australian Special Education Conference.  

As a result of that conversation, the following month I flew back to Tasmania to deliver a keynote address and concluding remarks to 600 lively and passionate educators.

I began my talk with a video recording created earlier with the fantastic support of Pat Ullmann, an Expert in Instructional Media at Trinity.  It included poignant photos of children and grandchildren of my colleagues at the university, with background music from the Oakridge Boys’ song Thank God for Kids. (We had created this video for my “Food for Thought” community lecture in San Antonio and luckily stored it on my computer).  

That morning, watching this moving video across the world in Hobart, Tasmania, Special Educators wiped away tears of love for all our children.  They also wrote Research and Practice pieces that appear on this website, sharing their knowledge and experience with us all.  

A month later and a continent away, I was greeted warmly in Christchurch, New Zealand, by teachers at the Elmwood Visual Resource Centre.  We discussed the hardships faced by families of students who lived in distant areas of their West Coast. With special programs difficult to find,  they told me that teachers from more populated areas might have to leave their own families for weeks at a time to demonstrate techniques instructors can use with children with vision impairments.

On New Zealand’s South Island, educators gave me their compiled Resources, and some wrote sections to share with you on this website. After my return, I thought of the similarities of these fine educators as my Trinity graduate students and I visited the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Subsequent meetings in St. Louis, at the Central Institute for the Deaf and to St. Joseph’s Institute for the Deaf introduced me to an additional world of passionate Deaf Educators, who share their state-of-the-art knowledge and teaching strategies with us in this website.

Dr. Eleanor (Terry) Robertson, Director of Trinity’s School Psychology program, wrote chapters in the critical areas of Counseling students with vision and hearing loss. 

Subsequently, the culmination of our work was my students’ own research and writing on best Research and Practice in teaching children with sensory losses. Immeasurably proud, we  include their contributions to this website.

Note: In updating this website, we are respectful that nomenclature preference across Communities changes over the years.  (For example, “hearing impairment” has been phased out and replaced by “hearing loss” or “hard of hearing.”)  We have changed all title and section names to reflect current usage.  While we cannot alter authors’ words in earlier pieces written for this site, all recent and future submissions will reflect these changes.