New Services for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The. Manitoba First Nations Resource Centre (the Resource Centre) is proud to announce that Blind and Visually Impaired Educator Christina Valiquette is offering her services. Christina earned her degree from the University of British Columbia, with a focus on the education of students who are blind or visually impaired. Before Christina started her new role at the Resource Centre, families often had to leave their homes to seek supports and services, usually in Winnipeg. This is the first time that such services have been provided in First Nations schools.

When Christina starts working with new students, her first steps are a Functional Vision Assessment, a Learning Media Assessment, and an Assistive Technology Assessment. These assessments provide her with an understanding of the students learning and home environments, the learning and media tools they are familiar with, and the technology that can assist them in creating a positive path to self-determination and building a better future.

Christina’s efforts include explaining to the student’s family, teachers, and First Nation how visual impairment affects what the student can see, how they experience it, and what skills they might learn.

Once Christina has assessed the student, the extent of their visual impairment, and

she creates a plan to give them the tools they need to thrive. She identifies, provides recommendations, and obtains materials that will help the student find successful methods for life and learning. This means developing and implementing learning routines to enhance the skills and abilities affected by the student’s visual impairment.

Christina maintains contact and follows up with the student, their parents, and their teachers, monitoring and documenting the student-specific plan and goals related to their visual impairment. She also helps families navigate necessary paperwork to access support from programs through Jordan’s Principle and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

Charles Cochrane, Executive Director of the Resource Centre, is very excited about this new service and support offered to families and students. He says, “I have no doubt that Christina will do much to improve the lives and opportunities for students who are blind or visually impaired within our First Nations. As she progresses in her work with First Nations schools, we will become better able to meet the needs of our diverse students, each with their own talents and challenges. Thank you to Christina for stepping up and taking the training necessary to become a great support for First Nations students who are blind or visually impaired.”

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