State Deaf-Blind Project: WV SenseAbilities Project
Parent Center: WV Parent Educator Resource Center (PERC)
Ruth Ann King, Project Coordinator/Family Specialist, WV SenseAbilities Project
The WV Parent Educator Resource Center (PERC) and the WV SenseAbilities Project are both based at WV Department of Education (WVDE). Having a common home agency provides a foundation for a high level of collaboration.
PERC works with families, educators, and other service providers via partnerships with local education agencies in 37 counties. A team, consisting of a parent of a child with special needs and an educator, staffs each local PERC. The services they provide include parent information, resources, and training; individualized assistance to help parents better understand their children’s educational needs; and training for educators to increase their skills, knowledge, and attitudes related to strengthening family involvement and positive school-to-home partnerships. PERC has a state level coordinator who attends the WV SenseAbilities Family Learning Weekend to address individual family needs and coordinates collaborative efforts among organizations and agencies that serve families in West Virginia.
The WV SenseAbilities Project collaborates with PERC to meet the needs of families of children who are deaf-blind in the following ways:
- Contributes to the annual PERC conference by providing information and presentations about sensory impairments
- Provides links to relevant websites, webinars, and articles that families can access through their local PERCs
- Provides training in sensory loss for families and teams
- Assists in recruiting individuals who have backgrounds in deaf-blindness to work at the local PERCs (currently this includes two parents and one grandparent of children who are deaf-blind)
One of the most exciting and fun activities on which the two agencies collaborate (along with numerous other state organizations) is Camp GIZMO, a five-day summer camp focused on assistive technology for children, birth to 8 years old, who experience significant and multiple developmental needs, including deaf-blindness. Camp GIZMO is a wonderful event for children, families, and professionals, where children participate in daily fun activities, while professionals and families attend workshops and labs.