A Motion to Amend the Constitutional Bylaws of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairments
Dr. Derrick Smith, President of the Division on Visual Impairments
and Dr. Diane Pevsner, President Elect of the Division on Visual Impairments
Dr. Amy T. Parker, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Deafblindness
And Members of the Committee on Deafblindness
September 19, 2013
The proposed amendment:
The DVI Deafblindness Ad Hoc Committee proposes an amendment to Article I of the Division Constitution and Bylaws. We propose to change the name of our division to include the word “deafblindness” in the title. The proposed change is that the name of our division would become: The Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness with DVIDB as the official Division acronym.
Along with the changes to the Article I, we also propose all changes in related terminology throoughout the Constitution and Bylaws, including:
- Changing "Division on Visual Impairments" to "Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness" throughout;
- Changing "DVI" to "DVIDB" throughout;
- Add "and deafblindness" to all appropriate places where "visual impairment" is located as a descriptor of professionals or services related to the Division's mission and goals.
The rationale for such a change is grounded in DVI’s history, its mission, and its potential for growth as a division.
For many years, the members and leadership of DVI have demonstrated an interest and commitment to the needs of students who are deafblind and the professionals that serve them. Indeed, many members in the division have had years of experience in serving students who are deafblind as professionals in visual impairment. Most all of the personnel preparation programs in visual impairment, include specific coursework or topics in that emphasize teaching strategies for children who are deafblind. Other programs in visual impairments have expanded to develop full graduate certificates or undergraduate coursework in the areas of deafblindness.
Currently, there are recognized sets of knowledge and skills competencies for professionals and paraprofessionals that serve students who are deafblind. These competencies were developed, reviewed and accepted through the leadership and membership of DVI and these are published in CEC’s Redbook.
Finally, through the leadership of DVI, there have been published position papers developed by experts in the areas of deafblindness which are used often by professionals who are developing programs, writing grants, or seeking a current synthesis of knowledge on the best practices for serving students who are deafblind.
The Mission of DVI:
As a professional division within the Council for Exceptional Children, DVI is concerned with the educational success of children and youth with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments. It enacts this mission by strengthening, educating, and connecting the professionals that serve students with visual impairments and their families. As a professional community, the organization is able to co-create and refine standards for educators and paraeducators thereby increasing the opportunities for students with visual impairments to be supported by the most qualified educators.
Recently, there has been some evidence that teachers of the visually impaired feel challenged in serving students who are deafblind in the areas of assistive technology and literacy (Durando, 2008; Zhou, Parker, Smith, & Griffin-Shirley, 2011). Because of the challenges faced by educators specific needs in preparing teachers to serve students who are deafblind have also been identified by leaders in the field of deafblindness (Bruce, 2009; Blaha, et. al., 2009).
Potential for Growth as a Division:
Within the heterogeneous group of professionals who serve students who are deafblind, there is a growing recognition of the need for specially trained teachers and paraeducators who can provide effective instruction and support within local school systems. These grassroots efforts, that include the advocacy of parents of children who are deafblind, have led to initiatives to increase the recognition for professionals and paraprofessionals who serve students who are deafblind directly (National Consortium on Deafblindness, 2012).
Like all divisions with CEC, DVI faces challenges in maintaining and growing its membership base. Though the reasons for this are complex, involving both economic and demographic shifts, DVI is challenged to make its services and connections relevant to the professional community that it serves. Concurrently, many professionals in deafblindness are looking for a professional “home” and a place where, despite the challenge of serving one of the lowest incidence disability groups, they may both contribute and grow as professionals.
By amending the division name, to include specific recognition of the growing number of professionals who have expertise in serving students who are deafblind, DVI stands to increase its relevance and outreach.
*a note about the term deafblind versus deaf-blind- Sometimes, the word deaf-blind is used in place of deafblind. Deaf-blind is an older term that is related to statute and regulation in the United States. Many in the United States are beginning to use the term deafblind because of the recognized combined effects of vision and hearing impairment that create a unique disability. Internationally, the term deafblind is more accepted. Because CEC is an international professional organization, the term deafblind is appropriate and consistent with the trends in the United States.
Blaha, R., Cooper, H, Irby, P., Montgomery, C. & Parker, A. (2009). Teachers of students with deafblindness: Professionalizing the field. Council for Exceptional Children: D.V.I. Quarterly. (54) 3, 49-51.
Bruce, Susan M. (2007). Teacher preparation for students who are deafblind: A retrospective and prospective view. Deaf-Blind Perspectives, 14(2), 9-12.
Durando, J. (2008). A survey on literacy instruction for students with multiple disabilities. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 40-45.
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness [NCDB]. (2012). Recommendations for improving intervener services. Retrieved from http://interveners.nationaldb.org
Zhou, L., Parker, A.T., Smith, D.W., & Griffin-Shirley, N. (2011). Assistive technology for students with visual impairments: challenges and needs in teacher preparation and teacher practice. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 105, 197-210.