Texas Tech’s Sowell Center Hosts Dutch Expert in Deafblind Education

How does one educate a child who is both deaf and blind? As a parent or teacher, reaching and teaching children with dual sensory impairments remains an ongoing struggle.

Texas Tech University's Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Visual Impairment is hosting Dutch educatorJan van Dijk for a seminar and workshop March 30-31 at the Region 17 Education Service Center, 1111 West Loop 289. With more than 40 years of experience in working with students who are deafblind, their educational teams and families, van Dijk will help educators and parents unlock the mysteries of teaching students with dual sensory impairments. During the two-day workshop, "Using Child-Guided Strategies for Assessment of Students Who Are Deafblind or Those with Multiple Disabilities," he will individually assess what children who cannot communicate for themselves may be communicating through their behaviors.  Representatives from the Division of Blind Services, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Regional Service Centers, as well as teachers and parents are expected to attend to observe his direct assessments of children and to learn about practical approaches that can be used to teach, communicate and enhance the lives of students with deafblindness. Amy Parker, a research associate in Texas Tech's College of Education, said that sometimes, in rural regions of the country, it is hard to find professionals with in-depth knowledge of certain unique disabilities.  "Dr. van Dijk brings a wealth of experience, humor and compassion to his lectures and assessment of children," said Parker. "The really great thing about this event is that he will be working with children directly as the audience watches and learns. This will be a hands-on approach to assessment and teaching. He will also explain what he is doing to assess the students and why he is using the methods that he uses. So not only will audience members learn about strategies that they can use, the children who are participating will come out of the experience with assessments that their teachers can use for planning instruction." Training will feature direct assessment with students with conversation about approaches used. Topics will include: biobehavioral states, orienting responses, habituation, developing anticipation with children, routines-based learning, social interactions, communication and problem solving. Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu. CONTACT: Amy Parker, research associate, College of Education, Texas Tech University, (806) 445-6836, or parkeamy@gmail.com.