July 20, 2023 By CDHD Positive Looking offers positive results for Idaho educators The 2023 Deaf-Blind Summer Institute presented by the Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness (ICYDB) kicked off on June 20 at the Boise Water Center. This year’s event featured 16 hours of training provided by Gwyneth McCormick from the UK’s Positive Eye, Ltd. CEU’s were also offered through the University of Idaho. 14 educators took part in the institute featuring Positive Looking training. It focused on easier access learning through the promotion of visual skills every day by everyone. Gwyn is a Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired but the strategies she taught are applicable to all students. “Finally a training for teachers like me. I work in a classroom working with kids with significant support needs and it’s hard to find PD [professional development] opportunities that are relevant for me. I walked out of the training with new, simple strategies that will be good for all my students, not just those with hearing or vision loss, “ said one participant. This two-day course covered the hierarchy of visual skills and included demonstrations on how to develop each skill. Gwyn also demonstrated ideas and activities to support teachers planning targeted interventions and observation points. Day one kicked off with information on how to be “vision ready” – simple tips educators can use to engage students with low vision. In fact, did you know that wearing red lipstick can be an effective technique? Gwyn showed how such a small detail can be so effective, presenting information with and without lipstick. The red lipstick made her mouth much more visible, which helped to increase engagement. The training ended with participants getting into small groups for some hands-on fun. Each group worked together to create a short story that utilized Positive Looking techniques and strategies. The stories were then presented to the larger group. “Gwen is a low vision teacher and yes, those are the kids she has in mind creating her program, but these are really principles of engagement and access for students who have difficulty with those things. Attending to a task or remaining checked-in inside a group is where these students will get the most. “The visual process is so much more solidified in my understanding because of Positive Looking, “ said another training participant. Family Day In partnership with IESDB, The ICYDB hosted a family BBQ at Ponderosa Elementary in Meridian on Saturday, June 24. With more than 50 attendees, families were treated to Gwyn’s famous Marvin Story Time Show. Sign language interpreters were also on hand to ensure everyone was able to enjoy the show. These accessible performances came out of a need during the pandemic when families were looking for accessible activities for their children. Gwyn has been hosting her story time shows online since then and has a huge following! “When you start by meeting the needs of those that need it most to be included, beautiful things can happen,” said an attending parent whose child has been participating in the Story Time Show for a few years. Each story time adventure uses a simple, structured format that encourages participation. They also strengthen core literacy skills. “One of the coolest things for me as the Director of ICYDB was to see how students were able to engage and participate through the entire 45-minute show,” said Dr Lanya McKittrick, who was instrumental in organizing both the 2023 Summer Institute and Family Day. Families of children who have combined hearing and vision loss qualify to get access to the Story Time Show for free. Other families can purchase a subscription. Subscriptions are also available for schools or districts. Visit the Positive Eye website or email Dr McKittrick (email@example.com) for more information. Funding for the 2023 Summer Institute and Family day was provided by the CDHD and ICYDB* in partnership with IESDB and ISDE. *Funding is provided by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (Grant #H326T180029).