Deaf-Blind Summer Institute 2023

2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute

Register now: 2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute

The 2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute is fast approaching. This annual two-day event will be on June 22-23 at the Idaho Water Center in Boise.

Registration is open now.

Download the 2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute flyer (PDF)

We sat down with organizer Dr Lane McKittrick to discuss the Summer Institute and what attendees can expect this year …

What is the Deaf-Blind Summer Institute?

Lane: Each year the Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness (ICYDB), in collaboration with Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind (IESDB) and Idaho State Department of Education, hold a Summer Institute.

It’s an opportunity for those who work with kids with low incidence disabilities in Idaho to get together for professional development and – most importantly – networking.

I’m especially excited this year for two reasons. One: it’s my first Summer Institute since I started in July 2022. I’m looking forward to meeting more of the amazing educators who work with our students who have combined hearing and vision loss. And two: due to the pandemic, the Summer Institute hasn’t been able to be in-person since 2019.

That’s awesome – what an exciting change for attendees! And who will be presenting this year?

Lane: This year Gwyneth McCormick from Positive Eye in the UK will be presenting at the Summer Institute. She will be speaking on Thursday and Friday [June 22 and 23].

Then on Saturday, her ‘friend’ Marvin (one of her Marvin Story Time Show characters) will put on his Story Time Show for families!

For those who may not be familiar, can you tell us a bit more about Positive Eye and the Marvin Story Time Show?

Lane: Positive Eye offers a range of services with a unique and practical approach to both consulting and hands-on training.

Gwyn, (the company’s founder and Certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments) through her work, shows how to improve learning outcomes and measure progress. Positive Eye partners with organizations throughout the world including many of the State Deaf-Blind Projects like ours.

And the Marvin Story Time Show is an inclusive opportunity for the whole family to participate in a meaningful, fun story time. It’s an opportunity for children with complex needs to have fun and participate in accessible story time shows alongside their typically developing siblings, family and/or friends.

It touches on all the literacy access skills for children – tactile, fine motor, language, book and story, concept development, etc. Marvin’s Adventures are linked to everyday experiences making them a starting point from which to build concepts and meaningful literacy opportunities.

It’s great that Gwyn is coming all the way from the UK! How did you initially connect with her?

Lane: I met Gwyn during the pandemic when she presented at the National Family Association for Deaf-Blind. She was doing the Story Time Show (the one she is doing on Saturday for us) and I loved her passion and engagement.

Even on Zoom, it was incredible to see how engaged all the kids are – even the kids that typically were having problems engaging virtually were smiling and loved hearing their names called out. Seeing this impact that Gwyn had on children with significant and sensory disabilities changed my life. I knew I must work with her.

She also did a webinar series for SESTA back in Fall 2022 called Multi-Sensory Approach to Literacy. I always knew she would be the perfect Summer Institute presenter, but after the webinar series, I began planning to make it a reality for her to come to Idaho.

She sounds like an engaging presenter. What attendees can expect from Gywn and this year’s event?

Lane: Gwyn is not your typical speaker. She doesn’t even use PowerPoint. She brings a huge suitcase of fun materials with her. She’s very hands on and passionate about what she does. Attendees will walk out of the two days [conference] with practical ideas they can begin to use immediately. 

As a Teacher of Students with Vision Impairments, Gwyn, in her Positive Looking course, will focus on motor visual skills and visual perception skills – fully explaining the skills and resources.

Who is the Deaf-Blind Summer Institute for and why should they attend?

Lane: That’s the best thing! As a family member myself, I think this is one PD that is also really great for families. So, I hope we get some families attending as well as general and special educators and related service providers.

Plus, Gywn is such a fun presenter. She’s so full of energy. She presented last year at the Southeast States Deafblind Summer Institute. It sold out immediately! June will be the first time she’s been to the Pacific Northwest. 

And, we can’t forget that University of Idaho will also be offering CEU credits.

It sounds like there will be a lot of information and opportunity that is relevant to families and professionals, which is fantastic! Is this your first year organizing the Summer Institute?

Lane: Yes! Well, sort of. I started in July 2022 and last year the event was held virtually in August. I helped with the planning of that.

This is the first in-person Summer Institute I have organized here in Idaho. I am really looking forward to meeting more people from around the state.

Was there anything new that you’d hoped to bring to planning this year’s event?

Lane: It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to hold this event in-person.

I hope we can all walk out energized and excited about the work we do together. I hope everyone can find at least one thing they can easily put into practice right away.

That’s great! This is going to be an exciting event for everyone who wants to attend. Let’s just remind everyone about all the details. When and where will it be held?

Lane: The event is Thursday, June 22 and Friday June 23 from 9 am to 4 pm MT.

This year we are holding the event at the Idaho Water Center Legacy Point room in Boise. It’s centrally located and close to food, etc.

Then on Saturday afternoon, we will be having the Marvin Story Time Show at Pondarosa Elementary in Meridian. This will be followed by a family BBQ hosted by IESDB.

Is registration required? If so, how can they register and when does registration close?

Lane: Yes, registration is required for both the Summer Institute. It is open now via U of I Marketplace.

Registration will also be required for the Marvin Story Time Show family event. We will get that set up shortly, so stay tuned to the ICYDB website.

For more information about Story Time or the Summer Institute, you can email me at

Thanks for your time, Lane. We’re all looking forward to this year’s Summer Institute!