Schedule

Morning

8:00am to 9:00am — Check-in, breakfast, visit exhibitor tables

Location: Howe building, Museum, Virtual

9:00am to 10:15am — Opening and keynote

Location: Howe building, Dwight Hall, Virtual. See keynote below.

10:15am to 10:30am — Transition time

Take a break, move between sessions and visit exhibitor tables.

10:30am to 11:30am — Breakout 1

Multiple locations. See breakout 1 below.

11:30am to 11:45am — Transition time

Take a break and move between sessions.

11:45am to 12:45pm — Breakout 2

Multiple locations. See breakout 2 below.

Afternoon

12:45pm to 1:00pm — Transition time

Take a break, move between sessions and visit exhibitor tables.

1:00pm to 2:00pm — Lunch

Location: Howe building, Dwight Hall, Virtual

2:00pm to 2:15pm Transition time

Take a break, move between sessions and visit exhibitor tables.

2:15pm to 3:15pm — Breakout 3

Multiple locations. See breakout 3 below.

3:15pm to 3:30pm — Transition time

Take a break and move between sessions.

3:30pm to 4:30pm — Breakout 4

Multiple locations. See breakout 4 below.

Session descriptions

Keynote — 9:00 am to 10:15 am

Location: Dwight Hall, Virtual

Description

Keynote speaker Robbin Clark shares her experiences as a family member, educator and previous Early Connections Conference attendee to address the rewards and challenges of supporting children with vision impairments. She will cover the five E’s of empowerment (Educate, Expect, Experience, Experiment, and Expanded Core) as well as share invaluable insights from families she has served throughout her career. Don’t miss this encouraging and enlightening presentation!

Meet the presenter

Breakout 1 — 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Location: Dwight Hall, Virtual

Description

Families of children who are either blind, have low vision, or DeafBlind (where the child has a combination of hearing and vision loss) will gain an awareness, knowledge, and confidence in creating a supportive virtual environment that addresses safety, accessibility, and accommodation needs of their child. In doing so, families will learn how to co-navigate (through touch) the digital world for a successful implementation of a positive experience when using various technologies (e.g., mobile phones, tablets/iPad, computers, etc.). This presentation explores the three Cs for an effective and inclusive user experience for their child. In addition to learning how to co-navigate the digital world, families will also learn the resources and services that are available for them and their child about accessible technologies. Moreover, families will learn how to advocate for their child to ensure they are not only safe in the digital world, but also have the tools they need for a promising outcome.

Meet the presenter

Location: Grousbeck Center, Virtual

Description

As a parent of a young child with a visual impairment, it often feels like you are consumed with the here and now. Understandably. Yet, knowledge about different transitions for your child, including formal and informal ones, can help anticipate and plan ahead so your child is as ready as they can be for the next step. Join to learn more about transitions, and how you can be prepared as an advocate, parent and key player in your child’s growth. We will explore the skills, including skills through the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), your student can work on at home and school, to create a range of opportunities and options as your child grows.

Meet the presenters

Location: Hilton Auditorium, Virtual

Description

In this presentation, learn how to adapt board games and other types of games for families to play together, and what materials are needed to do so. Attendees will also get a chance to see examples and discuss how they were made accessible.

Meet the presenters

Location: East Howe, Virtual

Pre- registration required in the conference app.

Description

Sign up for a small group Parent Support session. Whether your child’s diagnosis is new or not, we are here to talk and provide you with information and resources. We know how hard this is and all the challenges parents have to navigate. We can focus on sharing the hard truths, asking the tough questions, and creating space for what’s really on our hearts and minds.  Lean in. We’ve got you. Please note there are only 8 spots available per session.

Meet the presenters

Breakout 2, 11:45am to 12:45pm

Location: Dwight Hall, Virtual

Description

This session will cover the Expanded Core for early childhood. Participants will learn key facts about the Expanded Core and its place in early childhood. Families will learn simple actions they can take to support Expanded Core learning in their home.

Meet the presenter

Location: Grousbeck Center, Virtual

Description

Join Katie Norton, a Deaf adult with bilateral hearing aids, as she shares her experience growing up with hearing loss, being mainstreamed in her town’s public school system, navigating building friendships, and ultimately her acceptance of her Deaf Identity. Throughout her story, Katie will reflect on what she wishes her mom knew about raising a Deaf child, and her advice for parents who are raising a child with a disability. Following, there will be a round table discussion and participants are encouraged to bring questions.

Meet the presenter

Location: Hilton Auditorium, Virtual

Description

This presentation reviews the importance of posture and positioning, what is ideal, what is seen, and what we can do to improve it. Case studies, benefits of changing positions, and positioning tools will be discussed as a group. Attendees will leave understanding why positioning and postural support is significant for the child with visual needs, what positioning options are available, and how this information will support their child or the children they work with.

Meet the presenter

Breakout 3, 2:15pm to 3:15pm

Location: Dwight Hall, Virtual

Description

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have undertaken an IEP Improvement Project, and released a new IEP form at the start of the 2023-24 school year. By the 2024-25 school year, all school districts in Massachusetts are expected to implement use of this revised form. Some schools, including Perkins, have begun using the new IEP form during the 2023-24 school year. DESE considered significant stakeholder input throughout this project, and the resulting form includes renewed focus on student-driven and student-centered planning, as well as collaboration between families and school-based teams. This presentation will provide an overview of the IEP form, and the ways in which students and families contribute to development of the student’s plan.

Meet the presenters

Location: Hilton Auditorium, Virtual

Description

In this presentation, apps suited for visually-impaired children and the technology used to engage with them will be explored. These apps will be separated into different centers of learning, providing a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from early language development to fine-motor skills.

Meet the presenter

Location: Grousbeck Center, Virtual

Description

This presentation will focus on the basics of structured literacy (also described as “Science of Reading”) via considerations and inclusive practices in reading for students with vision impairment and other disabilities. School based and outside literacy supports will be showcased, as well as practical resources and activity ideas for home and daily living.

Meet the presenters

Location: East Howe, Virtual

Pre- registration required in the conference app.

Description

Sign up for a small group Parent Support session. Whether your child’s diagnosis is new or not, we are here to talk and provide you with information and resources. We know how hard this is and all the challenges parents have to navigate. We can focus on sharing the hard truths, asking the tough questions, and creating space for what’s really on our hearts and minds.  Lean in. We’ve got you. Please note there are only 8 spots available per session.

Meet the presenters

Breakout 4, 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Location: Dwight Hall, Virtual

Description

Supporting your child’s ability to share their wants, needs, and desires can be one of the most challenging and important steps in parenting a child with complex needs, especially if they have Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). This presentation will review the total communication approach to Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) and the Communication Bill of Rights, and will share case study examples of students with CVI exercising their rights to communicate.

Meet the presenter

Location: Grousbeck Center, Virtual

Description

In this presentation, attendees can expect to receive a comprehensive introduction to psychological testing. The presenter will delve into the nuances of psychological testing for students who are visually impaired, blind, or deafblind, and how it differs from testing for the general population. The audience will also gain insight into the objectives of psychological testing, along with the essential questions to ask before undergoing an evaluation. Furthermore, the speaker will provide an overview of the various psychological services available to young children.

Meet the presenter

Location: Hilton Auditorium, Virtual

Description

Parents play a crucial role in creating a supportive home environment that addresses accessibility, learning and accommodation needs for the successful implementation of a personalized program for children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities. This presentation explores the seven golden guidelines for effectively facilitating inclusive learning  for a child with visual impairment and multiple disabilities to reach their maximum potential.

Meet the presenter

Information about third party providers, products, and services does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Perkins School for the Blind (“Perkins”). It is the user’s responsibility to verify and investigate providers, products, and services. References to or information regarding commercial products, information, services, manufacturer, or company do not constitute endorsement or recommendation by Perkins.

Getting here

Our campus is accessible by car and public transportation. See below for parking lot assignments for participants, volunteers and accessible parking. The campus lots are available on a first-come first-serve basis for each group.

If traveling using a rideshare app, use the following as the destination address:

55 Beechwood Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472

From the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), traveling east or west, take Exit 127 and follow the signs marked “Watertown,” which lead to Galen Street. Follow Galen Street, crossing the bridge, to Watertown Square. Bear right (not the hardest right that leads along the river) onto North Beacon Street (Route 20). Follow North Beacon Street for about half a mile to the Perkins campus (Located on the right). The campus will be on the right. See the campus map for the location of each parking lot and head over to the track for registration.

The campus lots are available on a first-come first-serve basis for volunteers and participants. We highly encourage carpooling. There is ample street parking around our campus, both on North Beacon Street, Beechwood Road and Charles River Road.

Participant and volunteer parking

Beechwood lot: 55 Beechwood Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472

Lower School parking lot: 132 Riverside St, Watertown, MA 02472. This is a house at the mouth of the parking lot driveway.

Accessible parking

Perkins Library lot, 141 Riverside St, Watertown, MA 02472

From the Green Line

At Kenmore Station in Boston, take Bus #57, marked Watertown. Get off at the last stop, Watertown Square. Cross the bridge and stay to the right, following North Beacon Street (Route 20). The campus is half a mile on the right (Travel time: About one hour).

From the Red Line

At Harvard Square in Cambridge, take Bus #71, marked “Watertown.” Get off at the last stop. With your back to the river, walk to the right following North Beacon Street (Route 20). Follow North Beacon Street for about half a mile to the Perkins campus located on the right (Travel time: About 45 minutes).

From Green Street and Prospect Street in Central Square
(Cambridge)

Take Bus #70, marked “Cedarwood.” A few minutes after the Arsenal Mall, get off at Beechwood Avenue (Tell driver in advance). Follow Beechwood Avenue to the left for one block. The Perkins campus is located on the right at the intersection of Beechwood Avenue and North Beacon Street (Travel time: About 45 minutes).

Download the conference map

Plan out your day in advance!

A photo of the campus map for the Early Connections Conference