STORY BY RYLEE BRETTON
VIDEO BY GRANT ROWLEY
On Friday, November 13, Fort Hays State University education majors met in the Black and Gold room to hear about the Kansas State School for the Blind. KSSB serves as a “network of services” that includes both an outreach team to serve students across the state of Kansas and as a campus that offers short and intensive short-term activities for students.
It also serves as a “purpose school” for students 3-21 years of age who are visually impaired. These students are also referred by their local school district for evaluation at KSSB in consideration for placement decisions. All of the services provided by KSSB are free to students who qualify.
Dr. Betsy Crawford reached out to KSSB with a sole purpose.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for my students to learn more about visual impairment,” Crawford said. “We read chapters and discussed visual impairment in class; however, I do not have access to all of the tools and toys The School for the Blind was able to share with us.”
Along with having classes to assist these children, they have gadgets and toys as well. Some of these gadgets include different types of electronic devices. They have different “homemade items” that they have made in their “MakersSpace.” Some of these include music boxes and blocks. When making these items, they include different patterns and designs on the outside that are attractive to students.
This was a learning opportunity for students.
“I wanted my students to get a better understanding of visual impairment in general; how to provide access to your future students and to see the technologies that can be used,” Crawford said.
The experience was worthwhile for students as well.
“I now know that I don’t have to try and figure things out on my own. There is a school that will help me find the right resources and give information to the parents that will help better their students academically,” FHSU student Alyxius Torres said.
For FHSU student Collin Sharpe, he learned more than just the concept of visual impairment.
“Since I am going to be a physical education teacher, I asked questions that were geared towards my major,” Sharpe said. “I learned about different sports and physical activities. I also learned about equipment I can utilize if these issues arise in my classroom.”
For instructor Crawford, this event served as a learning experience for her as well.
“I found it fascinating. I also really enjoyed seeing and playing with the STEM toys and finding out how those with visual impairments are able to use and program them,” Crawford said.
Students took away key aspects from this presentation, while also learning different hacks they can use in their future classrooms.
“This presentation reassured me that I will also need to be prepared while educating students. Getting a new student is always a game of chance,” Torres said. “What I mean is are they going to have an exceptionality or are they going to have behavioral issues? Knowing that they are sensory games I can have on hand to make their educational experience better is what I am going to strive for in the future.”
KSSB is available to all schools who have visually impaired students. For more information go to kssb.net.