The visitors from Southeast Asia had never met anyone like Jaimi Lard.
Perkins International hosted a group of 20 government and school officials who made the trip from Thailand and Malaysia to learn more about deafblind education.
A highlight of their week-long stay came Nov. 11 when they met Lard, who is deafblind and a graduate of Perkins School for the Blind. Lard now works as a spokesperson for Perkins.
“It opened their eyes to all the possibilities for deafblind individuals when they receive a quality education,” said Deborah Gleason, regional coordinator for Perkins International’s Asia/Pacific programs. “They definitely left campus inspired and committed to delivering quality deafblind services in their home countries.”
Among the visitors was Dr. Payom Chinnawong, the director of Thailand’s Bureau of Special Education, as well as a number of special school directors from across Thailand.
Discussions about how to develop an official teacher training curriculum for deafblind education in Thailand are ongoing between Perkins and members of the ministry.
“We really wanted to make sure these high-level officials had a better understanding of what deafblindness is, what kind of services people need, and the challenges and strategies required to provide these services,” said Marianne Riggio, coordinator of Perkins’ Educational Leadership Program. “When you bring all these leaders here, they sit down together and really think about their next steps as to how to tackle delivering services to this population.”