California Deafblind Services

Fall 2012 (Vol. 17, No. 2)


We invite your feedback about these articles -
please see the comments section at the end of the page or post on our Facebook page.

Using the iPad and a Sequence of Apps for Young Children with Multiple Disabilities

By Cristi M. Saylor, DHH Itinerant Teacher and
Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, CDBS Educational Specialist


Tablet computers, and in particular the Apple iPad and its applications, have opened new doors for students with special needs. This has become evident from our observations of the many creative ways these devices are used both at home and in schools.

In the case of young children with multiple disabilities, this technology presents several challenges. An effective way to overcome these challenges and to increase the benefits of using tablets is to raise the awareness of the adults who work with these children.   Strategies must then be developed to introduce these devices to children using a systematic approach.

The purpose of this article is to describe insights gleaned from the authors’ experiences using the iPad as a tool for learning, engaging, and communicating with young children with multiple disabilities. The authors worked with children who were diagnosed as deaf-blind or deaf/ hard of hearing with cognitive disabilities and / or motor impairments. The areas of focus for this article will include (1) benefits of using the iPad; (2) challenges of using the iPad and solutions to these challenges; and (3) introducing the iPad to young children, with or without disabilities, using a sequential approach.

This article is appropriate for parents, educators, therapists, educational technologists and technical assistance providers. We will provide guidelines to assist them in educating students who have multiple disabilities, young children who are just starting to use the iPad, children for whom English is a second language, and children who require an informal assessment for a variety of reasons (e.g. children who don’t have formal language due to deaf- blindness or deafness, and/or have emigrated from another country and have never been to school).

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 Closing Ceremony 2012 “Student Reflections” 

by Julie Maier, SFSU-CDBS Endorsement Program Coordinator, and Interns

The following reflections were written by the nine members of our fourth, and final, cohort of students enrolled in the SFSU-CDBS Deaf-Blind Endorsement program. The selections were compiled from reflections written by the students in response to course readings and presentations from CDBS staff as well as fieldwork experiences. We found that each piece selected is a strong representation of each candidate’s unique experiences, philosophies, and approaches to the fields of deaf-blindness and education.

Alyson Furnback reflected upon the ways in which views and behaves towards young adults with significant disabilities as unique individuals were validated through her participation in the endorsement program.

To be completely honest, the way I behave with my students has remained somewhat similar in nature to when I began the CDBS/SFSU endorsement program; however, the way I view my behavior and interactions with my students differs greatly from when I began. The CDBS/SFSU endorsement program coursework has validated the way I feel about and behave with my students. I have always felt a connection with people who are not considered “typical,” I believe this is the reason I was drawn to special education.

During my time at the ARC, I worked with a wide range of abilities, but I was constantly amazed by the creativity and joyful expressions of the clients most significantly impacted by their disabilities.  “Joni” who was deafblind, was consistently one of the biggest transformative participants in the class.  She was silent, still, and incredibly passive whenever I observed her outside of the dance studio.  During class she would smile widely, laugh, sway her arms, clap, and stamp her feet to the rhythm.  When it came time for her to create movement, I would hold her hands, follow her rhythm, then let her go, and watch in amazement as she moved.  The dance studio we worked in had a sprung floor (this is a common feature in most dance studios, to prohibit dancers from hurting their joints during impactful movement) and amazing acoustics.  When the class mimicked Joni’s movements her body and facial expression glowed with joy. The impact of that many people moving together made the room vibrate with rhythm. I knew nothing about working with people with deaf-blindness or sensory disabilities when I started teaching this class.  The only thing I knew is that what I was doing felt right. 

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Observations and Reflections After Attending “Interpreting Strategies for Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind” at the Helen Keller National Center

By Karen Sue Nyquist,
Intern in the SFSU-CDBS Endorsement Program for Learners with Deaf-Blindness

Recently I attended “Interpreting Strategies for Individuals Who are Deaf-Blind,” which was a training seminar held at the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) in New York aimed at professional interpreters. The facilitator was Susan Morgan, who is the project coordinator for the New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative.

Taking the HKNC interpreter training underscored and augmented what I had already learned from the SFSU-CDBS deaf-blind endorsement program. Having completed both, I am now well prepared to teach and sign with learners who are deaf-blind. By the time these students reach my high school class, they may have already lost much of their vision and/or hearing. It is important that these teens be able to connect and communicate with me, their teacher. An intervener or an interpreter may be necessary, but they won’t replace the relationship that I can have with these students, just as I have with all my others. That is so important.

Even with all of the strategies that the endorsement program covered, I was still dubious as to what these children and teens could achieve and what their prospects as adults would be. While at the Helen Keller National Center, however, I met many individuals who opened my eyes. Several were presenters during the training and they shared their life stories and their experiences with interpreters in different situations. Others were trainees in the programs there who we met through casual conversations at meals or between classes. Wow! What stories they shared.

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Topic: reSources Fall 2012

Date: 10/22/2012

By: Gail Leslie

Subject: reflections

How great to read these after meeting on Saturday. I think your collective interest in staying connected as professionals now that the Endorsement program is finished has enormous potential to cultivate leadership.


Date: 10/22/2012

By: Wyoming Irwin

Subject: very cool

It was inspiring and joyful to watch Karen independently communicating with Bipam at the Symposium last Sunday. Who knows how these ripples created at CDBS Endorsement program will impact peoples' lives.