Oct 30, 2019

First-of-its-Kind Professional Development Event Paves Way for District to Become Statewide Resource

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Special School District today convened approximately 140 educators from across the state for a day of professional development focused on curriculum accessibility and how to support students classified as having low-incidence disabilities, including blindness, deafness, and autism, as well as those with limited communication access due to multiple disabilities. 

The event, which was called “Click or Treat: Content Needs Accessibility” and included Halloween-themed activities, was the first event of its kind to be hosted by the SSD, which aims to establish itself as a statewide support resource for students classified with low-incidence disabilities. The event was held on the joint campus of the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired in Baton Rouge. 

“By launching this trendsetting professional development opportunity, the SSD wishes to signal that we take very seriously our strategic commitment to creating and sustaining unifying systems of support for all SSD schools and programs,” said SSD Superintendent Ernest E. Garrett III. ”This event is therefore aligned with the SSD’s long term goal of expanding support to students with disabilities across the state through outreach and educational offerings. We are pleased at the level of interest and engagement surrounding this effort and expect to have more such opportunities in the months and years ahead.” 

At the day-long event, participants attended a variety of sessions to learn new instructional strategies and to gain exposure to new technologies to enhance student learning. Session topics ranged from how educators can use tactile graphics to support STEM instruction to how educators can engineer their environments for learners who benefit from visual supports to how schools can create comprehensive plans to support diverse learners.

Participants also received information about the cost-effective resources available to them year-round through the Louisiana Accessible Education Materials Center (LA-AEM). The statewide resource center, which is overseen by the SSD, provides expertise and tools designed to advance the education of students with low-incidence disabilities. It does this through professional development opportunities for educators and community members, a resource library with nearly 3,000 educational materials and assistive devices, and direct services, such as one-on-one training and consultation. 

“LA-AEM is a little-known but invaluable resource for stakeholders across Louisiana,” said LA-AEM Director Robin King. “If educators or families need access to devices to enhance listening or to have everyday classroom materials translated to braille, for example, it's just a phone call away."

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