Message from the President, Micah Bormann

Hello everyone,

I hope this newsletter finds you healthy and optimistic for a better year to come. It is safe to say that nearly everyone is ready to be done with 2020, but I will just take a moment to reflect on this year as we move forward. As a professional working with individuals with low vision and blindness, I am constantly reminded that collectively, the people working in our field are amazingly resilient, creative, and passionate about the work we do. We have had to roll with consistently changing educational and therapeutic landscapes, altering between in-person and online delivery models.  We have had professional development, conferences, meetings, and nearly all collaboration change tremendously. We have dealt with learning new technology and communication platforms on the fly, as we have needed to continue instruction and keep progressing our students’ and clients’ skills. Throughout this year, the amount of resources our field has developed, expanded on, and unselfishly shared with each other, (often for free or low-cost), is just another example of why we on the Michigan AER Board could not be more proud of our profession and humbled by the opportunity to serve you.

Looking forward, we are truly excited for the positives ahead of us in 2021!  We are obviously all excited for vaccinations to hopefully return some normalcy and allow us to interact with one another in person at some time this year. Unfortunately, that change will not come quickly enough for us to see each other face to face at our annual conference this April.  We are having our annual conference online again this year and are excited to partner with Allied Independence once more to ensure access for all our attendees.  We have been working hard to provide a good variety of speakers and educational opportunities, so please watch for upcoming announcements and registration information!

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Micah Bormann
President, Michigan AER

Helpful Information

New Board Members

Please welcome our new Board members, President Elect Teresa Gest and Directors John Metz and Amber Strasz. Thank you to Amanda English, Teresa Gest, and Lori Vargo for your service on the MAER Board!

HANG ON TO YOUR ACVREP CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION!

At the last meeting of the MAER Board of Directors, the charge for obtaining a replacement ACVREP Certificate of Completion was raised to $25. The decision was based on the need to offset the time involved in providing replacement paperwork. So, hang on to yours! Create a file for your next recertification and toss all your supporting documents into it for safekeeping!
Submitted by Roberta McCall, MAER Secretary

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

MAER Awards

NOMINATE YOUR COLLEAGUES!!
It’s that time of year again—time to honor your colleagues by nominating them for one of the Michigan Chapter AER Awards.
The David and JoAnn Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who is near or recently retired who has demonstrated a lifetime dedication to serving persons who are blind and visually impaired in Michigan.
Preference will be given to those nominees who demonstrate activity and achievement, either past or current, in the following:
1) Overall professional experiences;
2) Innovative practices;
3) Unique or extraordinary contributions to the field;
4) Professional presentations and/or publications;
5) Research; and,
6) AER involvement at the chapter and/or international level.
The Awards Committee will give preference to nominees who are or have been members of MAER. Preference is also given to individuals who have served on the Michigan AER Board.
The MAER Award is a recognition award given to an individual(s) or organization(s) which has made a significant contribution to the field of blindness and/or in the service of persons who are blind and visually impaired in Michigan.
Preference will be given to those nominees who demonstrate activity and achievement, either past or current, in the following:
1) Overall professional experiences;
2) Innovative practices;
3) Unique or extraordinary contributions to the field;
4) Professional presentations and/or publications;
5) Research; and,
6) AER involvement at the chapter and/or international level.
The Awards Committee will give preference to nominees who are or have been members of MAER. Preference is also given to individuals who have served on the Michigan AER Board.

If you have questions or would like a copy of one of the award nomination forms, contact me at one of the email addresses below.
Submitted by Roberta McCall
Awards Committee Chair
Mccallr6246@att.net
Michiganaer@gmail.com

MAER Conference 2020

The MAER Board invites you to submit a proposal to present at the 2021 Annual Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is:
” Motivation. Access. Excellence. Resilience.”
This virtual conference will be held on April 22-23, 2021.
Consider sharing your expertise, effective practices, innovative programs, employment strategies, and research results with your colleagues. Please click on the link below to access the Call for Presentations application.
Application for Call for Presentations
This application must be fully completed for presentation consideration. The deadline for submission is Tuesday, December 22, 2020. *Note: If you have trouble accessing the submission form, please contact us via email at michiganaer@gmail.com. We will support you through the process.

Exciting Opportunity!

Your MAER Board of Directors is pleased to offer two opportunities open to professionals and University students who work with persons who are blind or visually impaired.

MAER Mini Grant

Monies are available on a yearly basis for MAER members to attend a conference or workshop or purchase materials to enhance your program. See the information below for more details.

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
Michigan Chapter (MAER)
Mini-Grant Criteria and Application Process

The MAER Mini-Grant will not exceed $2000.00 per year (with a limit of $400.00 per person) and is disseminated at the discretion of the MAER Board of Directors. Grants will be awarded to eligible applicants. The MAER Board reserves the right to retract the grant if set requirements are not met by applicant or yearly funding is not available.

Criteria:
Applicants must be a current AER member
Monies can be used for
Fees for Enrichment Workshops/Learning Opportunities
Conference Registration (with the exception of the MAER conference)
Materials to enhance program or event for students/clients who are blind/visually impaired
Applicants may only apply once for mini grant per calendar year
Request Limited to $400 per Applicant
Upon approval applicant agrees to share information regarding event through one of the following
Submit a newsletter article within 1 month of completion
Present at the MAER conference
Share experience at Issues in VI, OM or VRT session at MAER conference
Application Process:
Submit a letter of interest to Michiganaer@gmail.com
Put Mini-Grant in the subject line of your request
Include all contact info
Attach a conference or event flyer (if applicable)
Include detailed description of materials requested with a link to the website (if applicable)
State the way in which you will share your information (newsletter article, presentation or session sharing)
You will receive a confirmation email stating receipt of request. You will also be given the date your application will be reviewed. Applications are reviewed in January, April, June and September.
Funding decisions are made by your elected MAER Board of Directors and must be approved with 2/3rds majority vote.

MDE-LIO OFFERS SEVERAL PROGRAMS THIS WINTER

Michigan Department of Education-Low Incidence Outreach has several upcoming programs. Registration is now open for these events at www.mdelio.org/events. Join in these fantastic Michigan-based learning opportunities!

Teaching Microsoft Excel 2016 Using JAWS workshop will be held in two afternoon sessions on January 25 and 27, 2021. Excel is a spreadsheet application that can be used for making tables and graphs, running calculations, transforming data, and organizing information. This is a valuable program for teaching students who are Blind/Visually Impaired (BVI) how to navigate and create spreadsheets. Registration for this event closes on January 11th. Do not miss this! Sign up today using the following link! bit.ly/JAWSExcel

Virtual Career Day is Friday, February 12, 2021. This event is for students and professionals ages 12 and up. Career exploration is an essential component of the expanded core curriculum for students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI). It is crucial that students who are BVI have a realistic picture of the workplace environment and its expectations. This training is FREE for students. Registration closes January 27, 2021.
The Braille Challenge Regional Event is February 20, 2021. Braille Challenge is going virtual this year! Students who are Blind/Visually Impaired (BVI) and read braille are invited to participate online in the 2021 Michigan Regional Braille Challenge.
Braille Challenge is an academic competition unlike any other; this two-stage contest is designed to motivate students who are BVI to emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, but challenging, regional and national events. After this initial round, students who qualify will be invited to compete in the Braille Challenge Finals, hosted by Braille Institute. Registration closes January 13, 2021.

Michigan Transition Conference for Blind/Visually Impaired, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind is February 28, 2021. Join MDE-LIO and DeafBlind Central (DB Central) for an online winter transition conference! This one-day conference will include a keynote presentation by Stephanie Cawthon, director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. It will also include general sessions and breakout sessions aimed toward transition needs and services for students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI), Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH), or DeafBlind (DB). Registration closes February 10, 2021.
Unified English Braille Class – Spring 2021- Wednesday, February 24, 2021 to Wednesday, June 9, 2021-4:30-6:30 p.m. each week. This class will give beginners who have little or no experience with braille the knowledge and practice necessary to effectively support students who use braille. Registration closes mid-February.

The Braille Challenge Regional Event is February 20, 2021. Braille Challenge is going virtual this year! Students who are Blind/Visually Impaired (BVI) and read braille are invited to participate online in the 2021 Michigan Regional Braille Challenge.
Braille Challenge is an academic competition unlike any other; this two-stage contest is designed to motivate students who are BVI to emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, but challenging, regional and national events. After this initial round, students who qualify will be invited to compete in the Braille Challenge Finals, hosted by Braille Institute. Registration closes January 13, 2021.

MEMBERS SPEAK OUT!

Do you have an article, resource, or other information you would like added to the MAER newsletter? Use this opportunity to get information to other members. Please send all ideas to bethbrabbs.maer@gmail.com

MAER Board Officers and Directors
Please contact michiganaer@gmail.com with any questions.
PRESIDENT: Micah Borman
PAST PRESIDENT: Amy McDonald-Lamiman
PRESIDENT ELECT: Teresa Gest
SECRETARY: Roberta McCall
TREASURER: Amy Schreiner
DIRECTORS: John Metz, Amber Strasz, Patty Killey, Leanne Ford, Liz Mulligan, and Beth Brabbs

Our AER Mission: To render all possible assistance to the promotion, development and improvement of all phases of education and rehabilitation of blind and visually impaired persons of all ages.