Then another friend reached out. This friend had also heard about a young girl in China who was blind and needed a home. Each friend was talking about Hope. That’s when the Phillips family reached out to Bethel China. By fall of 2008, Hope was three years old, in the United States, and enrolled at Blind Children’s Learning Center.
Hope's success is just one reason why our collaboration with Bethel China means so much.
As a baby, Hope lived in one of Bethel China's five foster care projects for orphans who are blind throughout China. The pieces all came together for BCLC’s Outreach Director, Irene Takahashi, and Deaf-Blind Intervener, Tricia Houlihan, to “go global” with early intervention.
At the invitation of former BCLC employee Christy Allen—now an education consultant for Bethel China—Irene and Tricia travelled to present at a three-day conference near Beijing, China.
Sharing early intervention and tactile communication strategies, BCLC joined Bethel China’s efforts to spread best practices throughout China.
“Parents came up to us in tears after presentations, realizing for the first time that their children could have independent lives.”
Combatting a significant cultural stigma towards disability, early intervention increases the chance that children will be adopted and receive an education.
“Our cultures may differ, but I found a shared belief in the abilities and potential of the children we interact with daily,” conveys BCLC Deaf-Blind Intevener, Tricia. She continues, “I felt a connection with the audience when sharing effective communication techniques.”
Collaboration between BCLC and Bethel China began in the Fall of 2016 when the Bethel China team toured the Center’s unique and inclusive facility. Blind Children’s Learning Center is thrilled to help Bethel China increase independence and dignity amongst children with visual impairments in China. The Center thanks Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Todd & Kristen Jackson, and Bethel China for underwriting travel expenses.
Tricia uses tactile communication with a child fostered by Bethel China.
Familiar tactile greetings, such as Deaf-Blind Intervener Tricia's bracelet, make it possible for Deaf-Blind children distinguish between individuals. This child now knows they have arrived to school.
A child's transition from the school bus to the child's classroom should be consistent. In doing so, they can navigate more independently and be better prepared to learn upon arriving to class.
Tactile symbols are part of a "Total Communication System" that allows children to make transitions throughout the day without relying on sight.
Therapeutic services help children compensate for specific areas affected by a visual impairment and other disabilities. Here, Physical Therapy helps a child achieve the major milestone of standing with minimal assistance.
Switches are a form of adaptive technology that allows children to communicate nonverbally and make choices. For a nonverbal child, this fundamentally alters how they can interact with peers and adults.
Name cues, along with other tactile symbols representing activities such as "play" and "lunch," create a reliable schedule for children with visual impairments to follow.
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