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UK Visual Impairment Students, Faculty Help with Camp for Deaf-Blind Youth

Following the grocery shopping trip, the group returned to The Food Connection on campus where they learned food preparation and safety skills, and cooked their own tacos and desserts.
Following the grocery shopping trip, the group returned to The Food Connection on campus where they learned food preparation and safety skills, and cooked their own tacos and desserts.

After spending a week at the University of Kentucky for the Deaf-Blind Project’s Expanded Core Curriculum Camp, 17-year-old Max Cawthon accomplished things his mother never knew he could do.

Max, from Louisville, Kentucky, has CHARGE syndrome, a complex genetic syndrome that often includes vision and hearing loss. He was one of several teenagers from across Kentucky who participated in a camp for students who are deaf-blind last week at UK. The camp’s activities focused on life skills and establishing independence.

On Thursday, students took a trip to Kroger on Euclid Avenue, where they created their own shopping lists, found the items and paid cashiers.

“He picked up both gallons of ice cream and put them in the cart,” Cawthon said. “You could just see the pride, pushing this cart and standing a little straighter.”

photo of youth working with UK student and instructor
Raymond Gonzalez and Justin Goodlett work with UK College of Education Visual Impairment instructor Gerald Abner while UK Visual Impairment teacher certification student Joyanna Phelps (far right) looks o

Following the shopping trip, the group returned to The Food Connection on campus where they learned food preparation and safety skills, and cooked their own tacos and desserts.

“We’re very fortunate for the resources we have here, like the Food Connection and Kroger down the road,” said Donna Snyder, the state coordinator for the Deaf-Blind Project, which is based in the UK College of Education and serves the entire state.

Graduate students in the UK Visual Impairment Program served as camp teachers, with support from an occupational therapist and mobility specialist, who gave lessons on traveling on escalators with canes and using human guides.

“All students have the core curriculum (reading, writing, math) – so what we do is teach the expanded core: assistive technology, compensatory skills like Braille and sign language, rec-leisure and independence skills,” said Gerald Abner, a clinical instructor in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling.

Max Cawthon, 17, of Louisville, Ky., uses tactile signs with his intervener.

Funded by the Office for the Blind in collaboration with the UK Visual Impairment Program and the Kentucky Deaf-Blind

Project, which is based in the UK College of Education and serves the entire state, the camp is free and hosted annually at UK.

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