GWYNTUCKY: Kentucky, Tennessee and Carolina Deafblind Program Training Tour – USA

The Kentucky DeafBlind Project, part of the Early Childhood/Special Education/Rehab Counselling dept,  was honoured to have Gwyn McCormack from the United Kingdom here on campus to present on a range of teaching and learning approaches appropriate for all children which are inclusive of those with special educational needs. Gwyn is founder and director of Positive Eye www.positiveeye.co.uk  which is the leader of educational consultancy and training for professionals working with children and young people with vision loss and special educational needs.  Positive Eye travels worldwide.

Gwyn started her 12 day adventure in Louisville with parents and professionals for a three day training.  She introduced the weekend with a performance of her children’s story book of Marvin’s Market Adventure and Grandma’s Special Birthday Picnic.  Marvin’s story is a multi-sensory experience in literacy. Gwyn spoke of building concepts through teaching the critical features using the notion of the “ness” of people, places, activities, shape, form, and colour that need to be taught to children while developing their auditory language, fine motor, tactile, , vision, and book and story skills.  Families and professionals created object story bags, shoebox models, and tactile books based on two well-known storybooks.  Families shared: “this was a great experience!  Thank you so much for sharing your passion and experience for us” “Such an amazing experience!  The biggest thank you to all who made this training experience possible”.

Gwyn’s next stop was the University of Kentucky for three full days of training and presenting to classes in the Visual Impairment Program, Early Childhood Education Program and Special Education Program.

Gwyn first covered the essential early life experiences which underpin the development of literacy and communication.  She went on to speak about her award winning program that is used across special schools in the United Kingdom called Positive Looking.  Positive Looking is a program which supports the development of visual skills in children with vision impairment.  She had time to stop by the Early Childhood Lab to perform the story of Marvin to the children.  The interactive story was enjoyed by everybody.  She completed her visit to UK with a presentation about Step-back.  Step-back is a whole school approach to support the learning and teaching of all children and young people with additional learning needs to become independent learners.  Step-back is a partnership with South East Wales.

Knoxville is the final destination for a multi-state collaborative event.  The Kentucky DeafBlind Project partnered with the Tennessee DeafBlind Project and the South Carolina Deafblind Project to bring together families and professionals working with children and youth who are deafblind.  Gwyn will share again Marvin’s story and the multi-sensory experience showing parents how they can support learning at home.  Again we look forward to making the story resources and models to support parents’ understanding of the essential literacy skills their children benefit from.

Stephanie McSpadden, a student of the Visual Impairment Program here at the University of Kentucky attending last night’s presentation said, “Thanks for all you do to help teachers be the best they can be for all students.”  We wish Gwyn the best and thank her for all her energy!