Launched in 2016, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI works to increase access and equity for students and families who are impacted by blindness or deafness. The Outreach Center helps to connect resources, training, supports, and relationships so that communities can empower and equip students with what they need, when they need it, to grow, learn, and live their best lives.
“What we found was that many people didn’t know about all of the supports and services available and how to navigate the information out there,” said Christine Croyle, the Outreach Center’s Program Director. “We also knew some regions around the state needed more support. Most of the expertise in sensory disabilities has been centrally located in Ohio. Our task with the Outreach Center is to regionalize the expertise and to build regional capacity.”
The Outreach Center builds capacity across the state by connecting people to the resources they need, creating resources that are not already available, and facilitating training for professionals and families around literacy, assessment, and transition as they serve learners who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) or blind/visually impaired (B/VI).
“Our job is about building relationships, connecting people, and developing resources to support those who serve learners and we love doing just that,” said Croyle.
The Outreach Center recently developed guidance documents to support professionals and families with learners who are D/HH or B/VI, including:
- The Communication Planning Guide for Students Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Guidelines for the Assessment and Educational Evaluation of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- 2017 Ohio Guidelines for Working With Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
The team also compiled a list of university programs in Ohio and surrounding states that provide educator preparation programs in the area of deafness or blindness,
Led by Christine, the Outreach Center team includes teachers and specialists in the fields of deafness and blindness, including a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), a teacher of the deaf (TOD), a certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS), interpreters, an educational administrator, and a family support liaison. The team also has access to support from the other centers at OCALI to move the work forward.
“I am in awe of this team,” said Christine. “Not only is our team extremely knowledgeable in the areas of deafness and blindness, but they are passionate and collaborative, which creates a great environment to do the work. Their enthusiasm is contagious. When others see our passion and drive to serve people with disabilities, they know we are committed to doing what’s best for students and they are excited to join in.”
“One of the things I am most proud of with our team and the growth of this Center, is how we have worked together to share the vision for building statewide capacity while developing resources with those in the field who are using the resources. The end result of this work is that learners and those who support them will have what they need where they are.”
When asked about how the Outreach Center is helping to spread OCALI’s mission of inspiring change for people with disabilities, Christine said, “My ultimate dream is to see that a family with a learner who is D/HH or B/VI walk into a school anywhere in Ohio and have the principal be able to confidently say, ‘Our school can provide what your child needs.’ I know our team is inspiring change as they influence others in their beliefs of what is possible.”
New Outreach Center Facebook Group
Connect with the Outreach Center’s team and engage with other families and professionals who care for and support learners who are impacted by sensory loss through this new Facebook group.
For more information about the Outreach Center’s resources and training opportunities, visit https://deafandblindoutreach.org/.