Camp at UK Teaches Expanded Core, Independence to Students Who Are Deaf-Blind

LEXINGTON, KY.: After a week spent 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 was capable of.

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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. Photo: University of Kentucky

Max, from Louisville, Kentucky, has CHARGE syndrome, a complex genetic syndrome that often includes vision and hearing disabilities. 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.”

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.

The rest of the week consisted of a reception for the families in attendance, a music therapy session at the UK College of Fine Arts and visits to the Aviation Museum and Blue Grass Airport to learn about future career opportunities.

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.

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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