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Independence Training Program

College Prep and Falafel @msudenver @ArapahoeCC

Shaun, Davina, Loren, Mikayla and Dan cross at Church and Prince on the way to ACC

Over the past couple of weeks, the college prep class has visited local campuses. Our thanks the staff at Metro’s Access Center and Arapahoe CC’s Student Access Services for sharing their time and expertise with us during our recent visits.

When a blind student leaves high school and goes to college, the world tilts a bit, maybe even seems to wobble slightly on its axis. That’s because the rules change, because the laws governing disability change, and then there’s the part that effects sighted students too. Responsibility shifts more noticeably onto the student’s shoulders than ever before. The sooner students get their feet under them again, the more successful they will be. In college prep class, students learn about these changes, but the best way to begin to understand the truth of it is to visit real professionals at places like Metro and ACC. They both provide access to students with disabilities, but they are different institutions with different missions, and so might have slightly different answers to similar questions about student access. What students gain from this exercise includes an understanding of the kinds of accommodations that are possible and which they may request, practice in asking questions about processes and procedures to request accommodations, and to know what they will need to have equal access in college.

At both Metro and ACC, the staff are always extremely generous in giving their time to CCB students, confirming the reality of college we’ve been discussing in college prep, but also sending the unmistakable message to our students that this is doable, and that self-knowledge and self-advocacy are the starting points.

Mikayla walking in front of the ACC Main Building

These photos were taken on our way to ACC thiss week. But there was one more requirement for college prep class which we’d not been able to fulfill yet. College is also about curiosity, discovery, and greater self-knowledge. To that end, no CCB college prep student completes the class until they have tasted falafelf. (It is surprising how many students have not!) It is a completely arbitrary requirement imposed by the instructor for no other reason than he loves falafel. It is a requirement, nonetheless. Typically, this requirement is fulfilled on the Metro campus, where there is an outstanding Mediterranean food truck. But when we went to Metro a couple of weeks ago, it was spring break and the truck was closed. So Tuesday, after visiting ACC, we jumped on the Route 66 and took it to the Damascus Grill. There, the hunger for knowledge was well-satisfied, if only momentarily.

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Youth Services

Meanwhile, down in the gym, a dozen blind students were dissecting dog sharks! @ArapahoeCC

Deya and Alma examine their Shark

These Denver high school students, Deya and Alma were two of the dozen middle school to college prep students who experienced all the sensory data of a spiny dog shark when they opened one up today at the Center.

Well, except for taste.

Thanks again to Arapahoe Community College’s Biology Professor Terry Harrison for leading these blind students through a meaningful lesson about anatomy – a lesson with the side benefit of learning that vision isn’t the only sense with which to do real science!

Terry Harrison with the 2019 Shark Dissection Group

Categories
General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

Fifth Shared Visions Tactile Art Exhibit May Be Best Yet! #TactileAccess @ArapahoeCC (@artdesignatacc

It may be the best yet! This year’s “Shared Visions” tactile art exhibit at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arrapahoe Community College (ACC) featured even more tactile painting pieces, a series of “boxes” from another class that were in every instance surprising, as well as an installation of an idyllic natural setting,complete with a trickling spring.

It’s the fifth year that we’ve collaborated with Arapahoe Community College’s Art & Design Center, and the fourth year our students had some of their own work on display.

The best news is that it’s open till Monday, December 3! In fact, this Friday our Senior Program will be making a pilgrimage to see it.

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Events General Colorado Center Information Youth Services

#FAST Friday to Explore the Stars with @AstronomyatACC

Astronomy Event - Telescope and tactile graphics in front of a star filled night sky
Whirling overhead at all times are stars, planets – whole galaxies. Humans have always wondered at them and about them. Blindness is no impediment to curiosity, including in the area of astronomy, nor is their any reason blind people can’t learn much in this field, often thought to be too visual. Some have even become astronomers themselves.

So, with the help of Arapahoe Community College Astronomy Coordinator and Instructor Jennifer Jones this month’s FAST (Fun Activities and Skills Training) Friday program for blind youth will teach about the stars with tactile graphics of constellations, 3D printings of telescopes and, finally, a trip outside to see what is in Friday night’s sky. Members of ACC’s Astronomy Club will be helping out too. We’ll also learn a little about the science of sonification as it applies to studying various astronomical phenomena.

With luck, we can inspire anew generation of blind astronomers!

Oh, and we’ll bring snacks. That’s inspiring … right?

Please note

There’s a change of time (later so as to use the telescope after dark), and change of venue for our April FAST Friday.

Date:
Friday, April 13
Time:
7 p.m.
Place:
Arapahoe Community College
5900 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton
Main Building, Room 1040
Directions:
It’s best to enter the Main Building from the north side. The entrance is on College avenue right at the pedestrian crosswalk. Parking is across the street. For bus riders, this is the western end point of Route 66.

Blind Astronomers

Doing a Google search for blind astronomers will turn up some interesting results, though a couple of the links below were already known to this blogger. When you learn just a little about how these blind astronomers do their research, it quickly becomes apparent that astronomy isn’t limited to the visual, but rather that it’s been taught that way, often exclusively that way. Until recently that is. My Google results showed that not all curious blind would-be scientists felt constrained by those teaching limitations.

The 1997 sci-fi movie, Contact featured a blind astronomer, Kent Clark, who was based on the true-life blind astronomer, Kent Cullers, who worked for NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). One of SETI’s projects was to process radio signals from space using the computing power of PCs around the world. if you wanted to help, you invited SETI to use your PC while you weren’t, and early application of crowd-sourcing.

Cullers was blind from birth and is now retired. Wanda Diaz Merced was already an astronomer when she became blind, and her TED Talk, How a Blind Astronomer Found a Way to Hear the Stars won’t be a wasted 11 minutes and 16 seconds out of your life.

There is in fact a Blind Astronomy Guild, with members across this tiny, spinning globe.

Categories
Youth Services

Reminder: FAST Friday Fast Approaching!

Do You Dream in Color? PosterMarch 9 will be Movie Night And our next FAST Friday at the Colorado Center for the Blind – our monthly activity for blind youth and their families. We’ll kick the evening off with pizza, then watch the documentary film, “Do You Dream in Color?” It follows four California high school students who are blind as they strive to follow their dreams. 1 hr 14 min with audio description. Popcorn provided. Discussion will follow.

Watch the trailer for “Do You Dream in Color?”

April 13 will be Contact theAstronomy
Constellations! we’ll have Arapahoe Community College Astronomy Instructor Jennifer Jones and her students work with us to understand the night sky, stars, constellations and everything! The evening will feature dozens of tactile graphics and 3D representations. The time will be determined, so stay tuned.

For questions or more information contact Brent Batron at 303-778-1130, x222, or [email protected].

See you in the movies!

Categories
Events General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

A Peek at Hands-on with the “Shared Visions” 2017 Exhibit @ArapahoeCC #TactileAccess

Adia, Mason M. and Cezar look at the Old Man Wincing while Ravi reads the description provided in Braille

Here are a few photos from the Shared Visions reception at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arapahoe Community College on Thursday night. Everyone got hands on with pieces from Nathan Abels’ painting and drawing classes. CCB students also had laser-cuts of drawings they made in Ann Cunningham’s art class with accompanying Haiku, and CCB alum Jenny Callahan had a number of stone carvings and a bronze in the show. The Seniors art class had bowls thrown on the wheel in Katie Caron’s ceramics studio. Katie brought her daughter, who insisted on wearing sleepshades so she could try to identify the art tactilely.

“This is the best thing we do all year,” said one CCB staff member. While some may argue in favor of another activity associated with the center, the Shared Visions art exhibit, now in its fourth year, is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone.

The show remains open at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts until November 22.

Ravi adds color to her drawing which will be laser-cut for the show
Ravi shows Julie her laser cut image with Haiku -

 

Laura looks at a piece made with various screws
Katy holds up her daughter who is wearing sleepshades so she can touch a tactile piece of the mountains

Phillis shows Chris P. and Julie the bowls she threw on the wheel at ACC

Categories
General Colorado Center Information

Shared Visions #TactileArt Exhibit Opens Nov. 9: @ArapahoeCC @ArtACunningham

CCB students take turns exploring numerous tactile art pieces on the walls

Editor’s Note: Here’s the announcement from ACC for this year’s “Shared Visions” tactile art exhibit. It’s the fourth year we collaborated on this event, and a highlight of the fall for our students and staff. The show will include work by CCB students and perhaps from one or two staff members as well. Worth checking out!(Photos by Mike Thompson.)

Arapahoe Community College to host Shared Visions tactile art exhibit

LITTLETON, Colo. (Oct. 24, 2017) – Students from Arapahoe Community College and the Colorado Center for the Blind will present a collaborative and fully-accessible exhibit of multi-sensory and tactile art entitled “Shared Visions” from Nov. 9-22 at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at ACC.  Festivities include an opening reception on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 5pm-8pm.

Admission is free and the exhibit is open to the public. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm (open Tuesdays until 7pm; closed on weekends).

For more information, or to inquire about accommodations, please contact ACC Art Faculty / Drawing, Painting & Design Area Coordinator Nathan Abels at [email protected] or 303.797.5862.

— www.arapahoe.edu —
contact: Jeff Duggan
ACC Communications Coordinator
[email protected]

Chris P. explores the details of a hot air balloon

Categories
Careers Events General Colorado Center Information In the Media Independence Training Program Youth Services

Friday’s Fish Flaying

Two sets of blue gloved hands exploring a shark from opposite sides of the table
Okay, it wasn’t that gruesome!
But it was the 11th year that Professor Terry Harrison has led a shark dissection at the Colorado Center for the Blind. The idea was, and still is, to give blind youth a chance to get really hands-on with science. In this case, anatomy.

Every year, Professor Harrison arrives about an hour before the class is to begin and lays out the specimens – about a dozen dog sharks or dogfish , all between two and three feet in length. Along with them are scalpels, probes and vinyl gloves. At some point in the morning, we’ll learn that sharks don’t sleep, can’t stop moving water over their gills or they’ll suffocate, and that in the UK and Ireland it’s a fair chance that they are the main ingredient of your fish and chips.

Gulp!

CeCi holds open the shark she dissected
Professor Leans in to point something out on the shark to CCB student Ethan working with middle-schooler Jaden
CCB student John did dissections before losing his sight. Here he Shows the shark's lung

After examining the outer anatomy, like dorsal fins, tail, nose and gills, it’s time to turn the sharks over and make an incision. Inside the body cavity students found the lungs, hart, stomach, liver and sex organs. At least two of the sharks had the undigested remains of their last meal.

looking down the table showing several pairs examining sharks, in foreground CeCi and Erin

This year, as in previous years, middle to high school kids come with a teacher or parent. Historically, blind kids were often told to “observe” in science labs, but not to “look” in the way blind people do best with such matters – by using their hands. That’s changing, thanks to more than a decade of focused effort by the Jernigan Institute of the National Federation of the Blind to create access to STEM learning as a pathway to careers for blind youth, and which spawned programs like this across the country. Lets not forget enlightened parents and teachers who know that their young learners can and should learn the ways they learn best, as well as those young blind science nerds who just want to do it regardless.

This year’s group included about nine kids and a fair sprinkling of our own students as both learners and mentors.

Thanks again to Terry Harrison and to Arapahoe Community College. We look forward to our next shared learning adventure!

Categories
Events Youth Services

Shark Dissection with @ArapahoeCC’s Terry Harrison Friday! #STEM

teacher and student bend over a dog shark
Terry Harrison works with astudent in 2014.

It’s that time of the year. Just as we start to think about turkey and stuffing with cranberries, it’s time for blind kids in the area to get hands-on with shark innards!

As he has for more than a decade, Arapahoe Community College’s Biology Professor Terry Harrison will lead a shark dissection at CCB on Friday, November 18. Harrison has partnered with CCB to ensure that blind kids in Colorado get actual experience in this one aspect of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Participants will handle the scalpels, determine sex, examine the lungs, liver and those sharp little dog shark teeth.

Start time is 10 a.m. on Friday and wraps up at 1 p.m. following pizza (no anchovies).

Students, teachers, or parents can contact Youth Services Director Brent Batron for more information or to reserve a spot – after all, there are only going to be so many sharks!

Categories
General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Sharing art before next week’s Shared Visions @artacunningham @ArapahoeCC

Wearing sleepshades, Jackson and Blanca work with 2 ACC students on arranging items for thermaform sculpturesWith just a week to go before the third annual exhibit, “Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks”, some Center art students traveled to Arapahoe Community College to make some art and to offer some feedback to painting students on their tactile works.

A black plastic sheet impressed with an apple atop one open and one closed bookFor their very first class with Ann Cunningham, the newest group of CCB art students composed objects on a flat plane and then used a thermoform machine put together by Ceramics Instructor Katie Caron. Some of the results are shown in the photo above – plastic sheets that, using a combination of heat and a vacuum, conform to the shapes of the objects. It’s basically the same process used in product packaging, but way more legit.

After finishing their thermoform pieces, students walked over to the painting studio and consulted with members of Nathan Abels’ class, who’ve been working on paintings with strong tactile elements. The painting class got a chance to get feedback from viewers using only their hands to experience the works.

“I think this is just awesome!” said CCB student Jackson Schwoebel, remarking On the notion that the entire painting class was producing works he could experience tactilely.

At the same time, Abels’ painting students were excited to learn how the elements of their work rendered for their blind visitors.

Blanca offers critique to an ACC student on her face, fur and feathers painting

A young woman tactilely examines a detailed sculpture that features a large eye in the center

All students in our Independence Training Program (ITP) eventually take an art course that lasts four sessions. While some of the specific activities may vary from class to class, the principles covered are the same: Art appreciation by introducing tactile literacy, spatial awareness, the basics of drawing using the Sensational Blackboard (which includes aspects of perspective), and a creative project. For this last, each class works in a different medium, ceramics, stone carving or, in this case, thermoform. an earlier class also spent time at ACC working on the wheel with one of Caron’s ceramics classes.

Why Art?

Beyond the obvious – enrichment and/or expression – the answers to the question “Why art?” are partly related to the broader cognitive implications of the concepts Ann incorporates in her four-part art curriculum. They generalize to other things we teach at the Center. Spatial awareness in drawing, for example, can benefit students in travel on the micro and macro levels. Tactile literacy mirrors, and perhaps enhances, the process of first learning to decipher the Braille code with one’s fingertips. And at next week’s reception for the Shared Vision exhibit, we’ll be incorporating the principles of structured discovery learning into our tactile interpretation and experience of the pieces on display.

Oh yeah, there’s that other thing – the one about those of us at the CCB and in the NFB knowing that being blind doesn’t have to mean being forever cut off from the visual arts.

The paintings and the thermoform pieces will be a part of the Shared Visions show, which opens with a reception next Thursday, November 10. The show will include works from two previous CCB art classes, as well as fall Ceramics and drawing classes taught by Caron and Abels, respectively.

Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks

November 10 – 18
Reception Thursday, November 10, 5-8 p.m.
The Colorado Gallery of the Arts

Gallery Location & Hours

• The gallery is located at our main campus, first floor of the ACC Annex building, A1300
• Monday – Friday: Noon – 5:00 p.m. (open Tuesdays until 7:00 p.m.)
• CLOSED ON WEEKENDS
• Free parking is available in lots A, B and C during Colorado Gallery of the Arts operating hours
• For general information, or to make advance arrangements for access accommodations, please call the Gallery at 303.797.5649 at least three business days in advance
MAP AND DIRECTIONS to the Colorado Gallery of the Arts