Internship Reports

NCLVI Fellow: Tiffany Wild – The Ohio State University

Location: Internship Experience at the National Federation of the Blind – 2007

This summer I was given the opportunity to complete an internship within the education and research departments of the National Federation of the Blind.  Much of my work centered on the research and implementation of the Youth Slam program.  The Youth Slam program was the largest gathering of blind youth ever.  Youth were paired with a blind mentor for the week as both participated together in programs centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics on the campus of Johns Hopkins University from July 30th – August 4th, 2007.  My work in the research department centered on preparation of literature reviews to be utilized in future conference proposals and research articles reporting the research that is being conducted to evaluate the Youth Slam program.  I also conducted many phone calls to follow-up on missing paperwork and questions surrounding the research.  I will continue to work with the research department in this important research!  I look forward to the results.

In preparation for the Youth Slam, I worked on making phone calls for missing paperwork as well as coordinating the Showcase of Talent Night that was presented during the Slam.  You can hear the wonderful talent of the students that I worked with at http://www.blindscience.org/ncbys/Youth_Slam_News.asp?SnID=1681831471

Photo: Mr. Wentworth teaches students about consellation in the tactile planetarium he created.)

Mr. Wentworth teaches students about consellation in the tactile planetarium he created.

While at the Youth Slam, I was able to attend the astronomy track of instruction.  This was most important to me as this is the focus of my dissertation.  I was able to interact with the students and meet the leaders of astronomy education for the blind.  One of those leaders, Mr. Beening L. Wentworth III, was instrumental in my studies in teaching blind youth astronomy.  In 2001, I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show about Disney’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year.  Mr. Wentworth was being profiled for his work in teaching blind students astronomy.  He had a tactile planetarium that allowed students to touch the stars   I never forgot seeing this segment on television.  To my surprise, he was one of the instructors of the course!  He also brought the very tactile planetarium that had inspired me.  Another instructor, Ms. Noreen Grice, is the author of several tactile astronomy books that I have used in the past.  I felt very honored and lucky to be gaining valuable methodology for current and future research from two instructors and a classroom full of blind students eager to participate in learning astronomy.  What an inspiration!

This experience has allowed me to gain invaluable experience in teaching science to the blind as well as meeting professionals that I hope to continue working with well into my future career.  

Thank you to the National Federation of the Blind for this unforgettable experience! 


NCVLI Fellow: Holly Lawson - University of Arizona at Tucson

Location: Fiji Society for the Blind
July 18- August 16, 2007

Photo: Ms. Akeneta Rekitikiko, director of the Vision 20/20 Office of Fiji Society for the Blind.

Ms. Akeneta Rekitikiko (pictured above) is the director of the Vision 20/20 Office.

Bula! (Welcome/life). I visited Fiji this summer from July 18th-August 16th to learn about services for children with visual impairment. Most of my stay was in Suva, the capital of Fiji, at the Fiji Society for the Blind (FSB). FSB is the only organization in the country dedicated to the education of children with visual impairment and it operates a special school for the blind. In addition, FSB employs community field workers who work in remote villages to identify children with visual impairment. They provide some direct services, such as counseling, and refer children to the school for the blind. I was fortunate enough to spend one week traveling to various sites with the field worker coordinator, Ms. Vilisi Qevia. During that time, I met several of the field workers and participated in a few home visits.

Numerous other organizations offer a variety of services to children with visual impairment, such as Project Heaven and Vision 20/20. Of particular interest, Dr. Jill Keeffe from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) set up a low vision clinic at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. This clinic is the first of its kind in the Pacific region and Dr. Ana Cama, CERA graduate, will be conducting low vision clinics on a weekly basis.

Photo: picture of Jone and Lino, two hard-working students at the FSB School for the Blind

Pictured above is of Jone and Lino, two hard-working students at the FSB School for the Blind. Interestingly, I saw many Fijians who have albinism…seemed like nearly every day.

For my dissertation project, I hope to develop culturally appropriate teacher and family training modules related to low vision. Specifically, the modules will be designed to promote use of remaining vision in all daily activities. We all know that vision skills must be taught. My goal is to empower educators and family members to gain understanding of the implications of low vision and learn strategies for maximizing use of functional vision. The project is part of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment: The Educational for All with Visual Impairment Initiative (ICEVI EFA-VI).

Over the course of my visit, I became friends with some wonderful people and was humbled by the generous Fijian hospitality. Thanks to all of those who made me feel so welcome! Vinaka (Thank you).

Vision 20/20’s main objective is to promote awareness of visual impairment. Recently, Vision 20/20 launched an awareness campaign on low vision!

I was honored to be invited to the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) to give a presentation about education of children with visual impairment. PEI is the Pacific’s first training program for eye care professionals.

Photo: Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) students NCLVI Fellow Holly Lawson.

The students (pictured above) are from all over the Pacific region and will be providing much needed eye health services. Holly is in the center with the light blue top.


NCLVI Fellow: Amy Freeland

Summer, 2007 

Location: Pennsylvania College of Optometry: During the summer of 2007 I had the opportunity to participate in an internship program at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) entitled, “Public Health Higher Education Internship Program.” This internship was designed to support the development of an interdisciplinary, distance education Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program designed specifically as a degree extension for the programs provided at the Pennsylvania University of Health Sciences/Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO).  The program promises to bridge the gap between service delivery and public health activities providing the fields of audiology, optometry, BVI, and Physician Assistant with the tools and depth of knowledge necessary to impact public policy, healthcare administration, research, and evidence based practice both regionally and globally.

Participation in this internship focused primarily on program development activities related to need and demand definition from the perspective of the blindness and visual impairment field.  The internship provided me with independent study opportunities related to program needs assessment, curriculum reform, and university degree program development strategies. My activities included: an extensive literature review in the areas of curriculum benchmarking and evaluation; the modification of a public health curriculum framework using a modified Delphi method involving leaders in both the public health field and the field of blindness and visual impairment; the implementation of an online survey to assess U.S. BVI personnel preparation programs in the area of public health core domain areas; and data analysis followed by dissemination of the survey results. This internship experience has deepened my interest in the link between public health and BVI, and has reinforced the need to better align the fields in an effort to provide people with visual impairments and blindness the tools necessary to live healthy, independent lives.

Photo: NCLVI Fellow: Amy Freeland at Harvard University

Location - Harvard University School of Public Health:  This summer I was accepted to the Harvard University School of Public Health summer program to study “The Economics of Health Policy.” I studied with approximately 20 other students from eight different countries on Harvard’s Longwood campus in Cambridge, MA, learning policy economics from the nation’s leading health policy economists and presidential health policy strategists. I was able to share with fellow students, faculty and staff the particular policy concerns of our field and build relationships that promise to strengthen my professionalism and scope of practice. The knowledge and skills I acquired will be essential as I analyze policies that significantly impact our field.


NCLVI Fellow: Rebecca Renshaw

Location: American Foundation for the Blind Public Policy Center, Washington, DC.
April 30th to June 1st, 2007

I completed an internship at the AFB Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. from April 30 through June 1, 2007.  During my internship, I scheduled appointments on Capitol Hill; met with key congressional and federal agency staff concerning low vision aid exclusion and accessible prescription labels; prepared correspondence and briefing materials; drafted summaries of meeting notes for distribution to appropriate personnel; participated in coalition meetings within and outside the field of vision loss; worked with tools for conducting policy research; and performed an exhaustive review of the state laws pertaining to accessible prescription labels.


NCLVI Fellow: Tessa Wright Carlsen- Vanderbilt University

Location: North Carolina Central University; Durham, NC
May 30th to June 30th, 2007

I interned with Dr. Diane Wormsley,  Brenda Brodie Endowed Chair and Professor at North Carolina Central University during June 2007. I organized data that we had collected over the past year for the hand movement subsection of the ABC Braille study. I coded tapes, created a database, and ran statistical analysis on the data collected. Additionally, I assisted with the literature review and have drafted a research report on my findings that I will submit for collaboration with other members of the research team.

The ABC Braille Study is  a longitudinal study seeking quantitative and qualitative information about the differences in students who were initially taught contracted braille as opposed to  uncontracted braille. It was a collaborative project housed at Vanderbilt University with a dedicated  research team that spanned the United States and Canada. The American Printing House for the Blind was the primary funding body, but the American Foundation for the Blind, and the Canadian Braille Literacy Foundation and Special Education Technology in British Columbia also generously contributed financial resources.


NCLVI Fellow: Rebecca Renshaw

Location: American Foundation for the Blind, Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
Supervisor: Mark Richert
Dates of internship: April 30, 2007 to June 1, 2007 Roles and Responsibilities:

I am working closely with the Public Policy Center staff on a variety of tasks, but principally I am involved in meeting with key congressional and federal agency staff; scheduling Hill and other appointments; preparation of correspondence and briefing materials; drafting short newsletter articles for distribution via the web; participation in coalition meetings within and outside the field of vision loss; and working with tools for conducting policy research.


NCLVI Fellow: Amy Parker, Texas Tech University

Location: American Foundation for the Blind Public Policy and Research, Washington, D.C.

  • I was one of the many lucky fellows to have been an AFB policy and research intern this summer. My experiences in working with AFB's staff have fully convinced me of the essential role that leaders in the field of vision loss have in shaping, creating, and influencing broad-based policies that affect people with vision loss at all stages of life. It is through the ongoing efforts of organizations like AFB that the field is protected, sustained and represented in a highly complex political system - one where the needs of a low-incidence disability can easily be overlooked without systematic, persistent advocacy.
     
  • As a part of my internship experience, I was given the opportunity to work with AFB's Coalition partners who represent diverse disability groups seeking to improve access to technological equipment, programming, and telecommunication services for people with sensory loss or other disabilities. Within this effort, I attended numerous meetings with legislative staff and coordinated several accessible deafblind technology demonstrations. AFB also allowed me communicate with agency representatives at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the considerations for people with vision loss, including older Americans with vision loss, during the digital television transition. Additionally as a part of AFB's ongoing support of the National Coalition on Deafblindness, I was allowed to pursue and successfully obtain a 2 million dollar amendment in House Labor-HHS budget for technical assistance and dissemination for children who are deafblind. The learning opportunities, guidance and mentoring from AFB staffcreated a rich and fulfilling educational internship for me. I was truly honored to have been a small part of their continued efforts to support all people with vision loss.
  • The photograph shows Jason Corning, a deafblind self-advocate who interned at the Transportation Security Administration this summer, and me thanking Texas Congressman Randy Neugebauer for his support of the 2 million dollar amendment that was offered by Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas.
  • The photograph to the right shows Jason Corning, a deafblind self-advocate who interned at the Transportation Security Administration this summer, and me thanking Texas Congressman Randy Neugebauer for his support of the 2 million dollar amendment that was offered by Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas.

NCLVI Fellow: Stacy Hack

Location: American Foundation for the Blind Public Policy and Research, Washington, D.C.

  • I recently completed an AFB public policy and research internship at the AFB Public Policy Center in Washington, DC. As an AFB public policy and research intern during the summer of 2007, I spent everyday interfacing with key congressional staff members. I attended coalition meetings within and outside the field of visual impairment. I have a better understanding how research contributes to public policy and how public policy drives research. The experience as an AFB intern at the Public Policy Center in Washington, DC was invaluable to me as I prepare for a career in the leadership of the field of blindness and visual impairment.  It was a wonderful internship experience.

NCLVI Fellow: Holly M. Lawson

  • During June of 2006 I interned with the American Foundation for the Blind in their Public Policy Office in Washington D.C. The experience offered me the opportunity to train with Bobby Silverstien, disability advocate and Former Staff Director and Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy. In addition, I learned more about the network of disability advocacy organizations and attended a few planning meetings sponsored by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. Upon completion of the internship, I had a better understanding of the legislative process and the role of researchers and disability rights advocates in shaping public policy for persons with visual impairment.
     
  • Rural Mobile Health Program - Starting in October 2006, I began an internship with the Rural Mobile Health Program (RMHP), which is part of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. The goal of the Mobile Program is twofold: 1) to provide primary healthcare to the medically underserved and 2) to assist communities in establishing their own healthcare service systems. Through its collaborative efforts with other agencies, the RMHP has assisted several communities in establishing permanent health clinics. One of my primary internship responsibilities is to help conduct eye exams for uninsured persons with diabetes. The program incorporates state-of-the-art teleophthalmology screenings. I educate clients about eye complications related to diabetes and low vision resources in the community. The opportunity has given me more insight into the complex policy issues surrounding health inequality.

Amy Freeland - Western Michigan University as presented at the NCLID Research Summit, September 2006, Vail, CO.

  • Transition of Youth with Visual Impairment, Multiple Impairments, or DeafBlindness: National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 - doc, PDF
  • Internship Summary - During the month of June, 2006 I had the opportunity to intern with the American Foundation for the Blind in Washington, DC.  While there I delivered appropriations recommendations for FY 2007 to many offices on Capitol Hill, arranged and attended meetings with my home state congressmen and the staff of the telecommunications sub-committee on the House side, attended disability-wide coalition meetings, assisted the AFB research staff with a literature review for a grant on secondary transition research, and prepared reports regarding the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 for publication on the AFB website.  This experience has been a highlight of my educational career.  It has reaffirmed that research and legislation are intimately connected and I look forward to contributions in the future.
  • Poster - PDF

NCLVI Fellow: Tiffany Wild, from The Ohio State University

Location: American Foundation for the Bline, Washington, DC

  • I recently returned from Washington D.C. where I was completing a 6 week internship with the American Foundation for the Blind.  While I was working with the foundation, I attended House hearings on No Child Left Behind, continued work on research projects in progress at the foundation, attended coalition meetings concerning upcoming disability legislation, developed a legislative brief, made Hill visits with Senate and House leaders for my state and district, as well as networked with many individuals advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Washington.  The experience was invaluable to me as I begin to make plans for a career after graduation.  I now know without a doubt that I belong in Washington D.C. to continue to advocate for persons with visual impairments. 

NCLVI Fellows: Tiffany Wild and Shawn Sweet Barnard

Location: 2006 OSEP Project Directors’ Conference

From July 31 – August 2, 2006,  Tiffany Wild and Shawn Sweet Barnard were able to attend the 2006 OSEP Project Directors’ Conference thanks to the generosity of the OSEP office. While in attendance, both were able to listen to presentations concerning many of the projects in which OSEP provides funding. Data were shared by the various projects as well as ideas concerning future research that needs to be conducted.

Discussions were also presented about areas of concern within the field of special education such as the over representation of minorities in special education, the future of special education, issues of equity, challenges in training, aligning standards, and many others. Some of the projects areas included:

  • Improving Education Results through partnering with parents
  • Scientific and Evidence Based Evaluations
  • Achieving literacy
  • Personnel Preparation
  • Attrition rates in special education
  • NIMAS
  • Testing for students
  • Early intervention
  • Rural special education
  • Curriculum policy
  • The role of Paraprofessionals
  • And many more…

Thank you to OSEP for sponsoring attendance at the conference!


NCLVI Fellow, Tiffany Wild from The Ohio State University

Location: American Foundation for the Blind, Washington, D.C.

I recently returned from Washington D.C. where I was completing a 6 week internship with the American Foundation for the Blind.  While I was working with the foundation, I attended House hearings on No Child Left Behind, continued work on research projects in progress at the foundation, attended coalition meetings concerning upcoming disability legislation, developed a legislative brief, made Hill visits with Senate and House leaders for my state and district, as well as networked with many individuals advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Washington.  The experience was invaluable to me as I begin to make plans for a career after graduation.  I now know without a doubt that I belong in Washington D.C. to continue to advocate for persons with visual impairments. 


NCLVI Fellow: Amy Freeland-Western Michigan University as presented at the NCLID Research Summit, September 2006, Vail, CO.

  • Transition of Youth with Visual Impairment, Multiple Impairments, or DeafBlindness: National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 - doc, PDF
  • Internship Summary - doc, PDF
  • Poster - PDF

Shawn Sweet-Barnard, Externship Experiences

  • 7/25/06-8/11.06 - National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) Extern
    • Participated in organizational activities; reviewed, contributed and provided feedback on a variety of documents pending publication (e.g. reviewed Meeting the Needs of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Educational Services Guidelines and contributed to a side-by-side comparison of the 1997 and 2004 IDEA Regulations), attended several meetings outside of NASDSE (e.g. Congressional Hearings for the reauthorization of NCLB and Education Secretary Spellings’ meeting to announce the release of the IDEA Regulations), and independently represented NASDSE at meetings (e.g. American Association for People with Disabilities ADA Anniversary celebration). Attended the Office of Special Education Program’s Project Director’s Meeting. 
  • 9/25/06-10.28/06 - American Foundation for the Blind Policy Center (AFB) Extern
    • Met and corresponded with key congressional staff,  federal agencies and disability advocates; corresponded and prepared briefing materials; drafted fact sheets for distribution via AFB's website; participated in coalition meetings within and outside the field of vision loss; and used tools and methods to conduct policy research. Attended the “Future of Disability Statistics: What we Know and Need to Know" conference and an informational meeting sponsored by the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U. S. Department of Education.

NCLVI Fellow: Julie Durando

My one month externship with Dr. Diane Wormsley at North Carolina Central University consisted of two primary objectives. First, I sought to gain an understanding of the training methods used by Dr. Wormsley to prepare personnel to use an individualized, meaning-centered approach to teach braille literacy to students who are blind and have additional disabilities. My second objective was to develop tools to evaluate the implementation of this method. Additionally, I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Deborah Hatton and was introduced to the video data collection software used for her research at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. One of the most valuable and unexpected benefits of my experience was having the opportunity to observe the day-to-day activities of Dr. Wormsley, an experienced professor beginning a new job at a university. This small perk lead to a great deal of incidental learning for me which will help me know what to do, ask, and expect when I  begin a new job at a university.


Internship Products

  • "The Social and Economic Status of Working-Age Adults (21-64) with Sensory Disabilities" based on Cornell University's 2005 Disability Status Reports. This document focuses on individuals with sensory impairments. Our thanks to Shawn Barnard, an AFB Policy and Research Intern, for her work on this document.
     
  • "Transition of Youth with Visual Impairments, Multiple Impairments, or Deaf-Blindness: National Longitudinal Transition Study 2" we have condensed the information from the June 2005 report to show how youth with visual impairments or deaf-blindness/multiple impairments experienced transition. The document narrative contains links to statistical tables. Our thanks to Amy Freeland, an AFB Policy and Research Intern, for her work on this document.