[Pibe-division] AER

Karalee Tyrrell kar.manandhar at gmail.com
Sun Mar 16 20:40:37 UTC 2014


I think this is a difficult question to answer because there are not very
many people who have been through both a conventional training program and
NFB training.  I received degrees in TVI and O&M from a non-NFB training
program.  My focus was on K-12, so when I speak of students, I am for the
most part talking about minors.  I have a strong respect for the NFB and
what it does.  I have steered several students and families toward the NFB,
knowing how empowering it can be for the student and family to spend time
with independent, competent, blind adults.  My knowledge of NFB philosophy
comes from friendships and professional relationships with Federationists,
and attendance at NFB conferences. If I in any way misrepresent the NFB
philosophy, please forgive me, and feel free to correct me. I can really
only speak with confidence about the training we received in my program.

In the interest of full disclosure, understand that I am a sighted child of
blind parents, which gives me the perspective of seeing first-hand the
level of independence that blind people can and should have. I grew up
around well-educated and independent non-Federationist blind people.

I believe there are some differences in philosophy, but more similarities
than most people on either "side" think (for lack of a better way to put
it).  We had an introductory class our first semester in the program that
addressed a lot of philosophical topics. I don't think I will be able to
list them all, as this was several years ago, but I will give you an idea.
Our instructor, who also ran the program, is blind, and stressed things
like equality, respect, and equal access to information. We talked about
the way blind people are portrayed in the media, and how this exacerbates
the problem of society's misperception of blindness and blind people.  We
discussed independence, and the rights of blind people to travel, work, and
live their lives independently without interference from others.

Our instructor/program director placed a lot of emphasis on making sure the
TVI's coming out of the program were well-trained in Braille and Nemeth
Code. Braille instruction consisted of two semesters of intensive Literary
Braille and Nemeth Code, and included short units on Braille music
notation, foreign language notation, and diacritical markings. We were
required to pass a tough comprehensive test at the end of the semester that
included reading, writing, and proofreading, as well as demonstrating
proficiency with a slate and sylus. The point being, if you had a Braille
reading student on your caseload, you had better be providing quality
instruction in Braille, and the student darn-well better have access to
everything in the curriculum in accurate Braille, in a timely manner.

That being said, I think one of the differences in philosophy may lie in
the idea of which students are taught Braille.  My understanding of the NFB
philosophy in the past has been that that it is believed that every person
with a visual impairment should learn Braille, due to the difficulties low
vision sometimes presents in reading speed and efficiency, as well as
visual fatigue.  I am aware of the NFBRMA, however, so I am not so sure of
how this fits in with the NFB philosophy, or if I had it wrong to begin
with.  Feel free to educate me.  <grin>  We learned in our program that a
student's reading medium is very individualized, and needs to be determined
through observations, discussion with student, teachers & parents,
Functional Vision Assessments, consideration of the cause and stability of
visual condition, impact of concomitant disabilities, and a completion of a
Learning Media Assessment.  Students who function visually are assisted in
learning to use their vision as efficiently as possible, using low vision
devices, visual strategies, and self-advocacy.

Another possible difference philosophy that I have perceived relates to the
use of human guides and some other types of sighted assistance.  I have
noticed a strong distaste for this type of assistance in my friends who are
Federationists.  In our program, this is taught as another "tool" in the
"toolbox," to be used at the blind person's discretion.  It is stressed
that when in this situation, it is important that the blind person is in
charge, and the person assisting is to take direction from the person being
guided or assisted.  It is also acknowledged that sighted people tend to
try to help too much, and/or provide unsoliced and unwanted help.  We are
taught to teach our students to refuse unwanted help, and how to get out of
a situation where they are being guided without consent.
We also are taught to encourage students to teach proper human guide
techniques to people who they want to guide them.  While these things may
seem obvious and simplistic, please understand that we are working with
childen and teens who are accustomed to having to do what they are told
without arguement, and may be reluctant to assert their rights.

One area of educational philosophy that has been of interest to me, and I
would like to investigate further is that of Structured Discovery.  This is
something that has been back-burnered for some time as I attend to personal
and professional duties.  Realizing I need to learn more about it, I must
admit that I wonder how different it is from what I do in the classroom,
because much of my instruction consists of asking series of questions of
the students in order to try to get them to figure things out for

Ok, well I hope I have helped you answer your question.  I look forward to
any responses.  And thank you, Mikayla, for being brave and asking a tough


Karalee Tyrrell

On Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 12:01 PM, Marianne Denning
<marianne at denningweb.com>wrote:

> Mikayla, that is probably true.  I think some of the professors may be
> active in NFB but the program does not teach a philosophy.  Believe
> me, there is so little time for the instruction that must take place
> that discussing philosophy is very limited.  The one exception may be
> the program in Louisiana.  It is up to each TVI to impart the NFB
> philosophy to students.  I do this without mentioning any organization
> most of the time.  I believe all TVIs should be teaching independence
> from the very beginning.
> On 3/16/14, Mikayla Gephart <mikgephart at icloud.com> wrote:
> > Hi,   I have heard that programs for TVI's do not have a philosophy
> close to
> > the NFB's. Is that true?
> > Mikayla
> >
> > Sent from my iPad
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> --
> Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
> Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
> (513) 607-6053
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