Yearly, OCDBE sponsors a weekend Parent Retreat for parents of children with deafblindness, ages 3 through 21 years. The retreat is designed to provide parents with opportunities to network with other parents of children with deafblindness, learn new information regarding deafblindness, and develop skills for working with their children.

Topics presented at Parent Retreats have included: strategies to use in working with children with deafblindness, information related to the development of a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), transition of children from early intervention to school-age and from high school to adulthood, Universal Design for Learning, and more.

Parent input is used to design each year’s Parent Retreat, incorporating relevant content, delivery formats, opportunities for networking among parents, and opportunities for respite. Parents’ attendance at the Retreat is supported through stipends, which are intended to offset child care and related costs, and by covering the costs of overnight lodging, meals, and meeting materials.

The 2017 OCDBE Parent Retreat

During the weekend of May 5–7, The Ohio Center for Deafblind Education hosted the 2017 Parent Retreat at Deer Creek State Lodge and Conference Center. The retreat is held yearly, bringing together parents and professionals for a weekend of learning, networking, advocacy, and support.

This year, participants walked away with a better understanding of universal design for learning (UDL), alternate assessment, transition, and IEP development. The 55 attendees included parents, teachers, DB-TAP consultants, and OCDBE staff.

During the retreat, participants had the opportunity to hear from knowledgeable and engaging speakers.

  • Sharing information about UDL, Rhonda Laswell, M.Ed., the Coordinator of Universal Design for Learning for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, presented “UDL: The What, The How, The Why?” of Universal Design for Learning. Ms. Laswell talked about how this approach can make instruction inclusive and effective for all students. She explained what works for those at the margins will work for everyone.
  • Sonya Hill, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and Cory Adkins, Counselor for the Dear/Hearing Impaired, spoke on behalf of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD). These speakers explained that a student between the ages of 14-21 years of age can seek services through OOD to explore transition services or create and individual plan for employment.
  • An Early Intervention Specialist with the Cleveland Sight Center, Barbara Williams considered another significant transition point for students. Her presentation, “Onward and Upward: Navigating Your Way from Early Intervention to Preschool” provided parents and other attendees with valuable insight about this critical point in students’ schooling. An informal approach to this session enabled participants to share thoughts about IEP development and related matters such as specialized services for students with deafblindness.
  • Malinda Johnston, consultant with State Support Region 16, shared information on the alternation assessment and reviewed the state requirements related to student participation in Ohio’s alternate assessment. In addition, parents learned about the extended standards and how they are used to assess student knowledge.
  • The requirements for the development of a student’s IEP were presented by Joe Farry, consultant with State Support Team 11. Parents asked questions related to specific information required in the development section of the IEP and how their information and participation were important parts in the development of IEP goals.

Networking, which promotes pare-to-parent learning and encouragement, is one of the most important features of the Retreat. A beautiful setting and great meals contributed to everyone’s enjoyment of the event.

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