BEST Grant 2019 - 2024
Title: Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST)
Applicant: Educational Services Center of Central Ohio on behalf of OCALI Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials Center (AT&AEM)
City and State: Columbus, Ohio
Congressional District: Third
Project Co-Directors: Jan Rogers (20% FTE) and Rachel Schultz (20% FTE)
The Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers project is designed to build local capacity through professional development and technical assistance for those serving braille users within inclusive and other settings. The project will build upon past success and broaden the focus on braille literacy, instruction, materials, and technology, prioritizing the needs of braille users in rural, Appalachian and resource poor areas of Ohio.
The BEST Project has been in existence for nearly 15 years, providing educators, paraprofessionals, transcribers, families, and students age 3-22, inclusive of transition-age students and young adults, they serve with professional development and technical assistance in braille and the technologies that support braille. To date the project has provided support to nearly 5000 participants in Ohio. Ohio’s longstanding history implementing this braille training project is evidenced by its initial administration by the Ohio Resource Center for Low Incidence and Severely Handicapped in 2004, followed by the Center for Instructional Supports and Materials established in response to the NIMAS legislation in 2006, and finally through the OCALI AT&AEM Center in 2015. This proposal is designed to continue that history with commitment and success, while expanding its reach.
To support implementation of grant activities project personnel will: utilize a cadre of national and state consultants in the field of braille literacy and braille technology to ensure the delivery of high-quality professional development and technical assistance; leverage existing relationships with blind and low vision technology vendors to ensure high-quality device specific braille technology training and support; and use an external project evaluator to assure performance measures are met. Through strong, established relationships, the project will convene a panel of external advisors to form the BEST Advisory Team to support project activities including: the Ohio State School for the Blind, American Council of the Blind of Ohio, the Ohio Center for Deaf Blind Education, the Ohio Department of Education/Office for Exceptional Children, Ohio State University, Shawnee State University, and various Centers at OCALI, including specifically, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness. Additionally, Ohio’s statewide system of support including State Support Teams and Educational Service Centers will be tapped for their regional connections for outreach to the rural and Appalachian areas of the state.