Gloria: Deaf-Blind Virtual Community
In my last article “Beyond the Classroom and Into the School Community” I emphasized the need of viewing the school as much more than what is offered within the walls of each classroom and the limits of each role. Instead, it should be seen as a community where everyone supports the sense of belonging, education and socialization of all the students, including those students who are deaf-blind. The pursuit of this vision is to maximize resources and opportunities for all by forming and strengthening the school community.
This vision of community comes to mind as I began using “Deaf-Blind Network Connections.” This is a new virtual community sponsored by the National Coalition on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB).
Encouraged by The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), NCDB created this network to enable them and the state deaf-blind projects to share resources, thoughts, needs, knowledge and experience with the goal of improving the services that we provide to students who are deaf-blind and their families.
This virtual network has the capability to distribute resources more evenly and therefore benefit more people. Enhancing this democratic effect, participants will have the opportunity to engage in a virtual sphere beyond the boundaries of their customary role in the deaf-blind project or the constraints of a project’s budget. Further, collaboration can occur according to each participant’s own scheduling needs. As Jon Harding explained in his webinar, participation can be “synchronous” (at the same time with others) or “asynchronous” (on one’s own time) creating a community that can be accessed 24/7.
This kind of collaboration is not new. It has been managed over the years through such things as area meetings, listservs, communities of practice, project director’s meetings, and topical conferences. But now we are going a step further, utilizing increasingly interactive technology to break down the barriers created by the borders of each state, institution and, I would add, of each individual, in order to maximize our great potential.
So the platform is there. Now the challenge will be for staff to actively participate in the network so that many voices can be included in its fabric. Without participation there is no community, and all those benefits never get realized. The link to our Deaf-Blind Network Connections can be found at http://network.nationaldb.org/
Topic: Gloria: Virtual Community
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