DCPS Partners with DC Public Library and Others to Create Afterschool Program for Blind and Visually Impaired 

January 14, 2011

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District of Columbia Public Schools is partnering with the DC Public Library and other DC government agencies and community-based organizations to sponsor an afterschool program for secondary and transitioning students who are blind and visually impaired.

Starting January 24, 13 blind and visually impaired students will spend their Monday afternoon in the DC Public Library’s Adaptive Services Division. There they will be improving their reading and technology skills, exploring careers, college and adult services, and practicing self-advocacy skills.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our DCPS students to learn the skills they need to be successful both in – and out – of the classroom,” said Dr. Richard Nyankori, deputy chancellor for special education at DCPS. “I thank our community partners for their support in preparing our students with disabilities to become successful adults who live independently, have meaningful careers and are fully engaged in the community.”

The library is proud to support education in the District from birth to 24 and beyond,” said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the District of Columbia. “This partnership helps students fall in love with reading and connects them with the technology and people that will assist them long after this program concludes.

The DC Public Library’s Adaptive Services Division is for the blind and visually impaired, as well as for the deaf and hard of hearing. The technology devices available ranges from low-tech devices, such as books printed in Braille, to high-tech devices, such as screen readers that read aloud text on a screen.

Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind will be transporting students to the library each week in a 15-person passenger van. Friends of the DC Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will provide dinner for students. The DC Rehabilitation Services Association is providing students with text-to-speech devices that download books. They also are leading a session about transition services for the students.

Other partners are the National Federation of the Blind-DC and the Youth Empowerment Advocacy Resource Center, which was established by the Inclusion Research Institute.

The first event will teach students about transition services. In the following week, they will discuss Internet safety and etiquette, social networking and blogging. The program runs through June 13, 2011. For more information, please contact Norma Villanueva, (202) 270-5403.

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