The STEP program strives to educate, prepare, and inspire blind and visually impaired students in the Clark County School District.
Written by Sarah Vernetti
STEP (Student Transition and Enrichment Program) provides learning opportunities beyond the classroom for blind and visually impaired students. According to Lori Moroz-White, a transition specialist for CCSD’s Vision Services department, there are approximately 300 students in the district who are blind or visually impaired.
“Vision is a rare disability. Blind children need expanded core curriculum activities, which include anything from using a cane to learning how to cook to how to play games and how to keep fit. They don’t learn by observational learning, so it has to be taught to them,” Moroz-White explains.
The program is particularly significant since Nevada does not have a state school for the blind, a place where students would have additional learning opportunities after school or during the summer. Kelly Perkins, a vision services facilitator, believes the program is a significant way to help bridge the gap for blind students.
“During the school year, the focus is primarily on academics, so there isn’t a lot of time to work on the expanded core curriculum. The STEP program is one way they can work on their skills outside of the classroom. For us to be able to offer that to our students is a huge benefit for them,” says Perkins.
During its inaugural school year, STEP offered monthly after-school activities like track and field events and game night. In May, visually impaired students joined sighted students to play “beep baseball.” Thanks to a beeping ball and buzzing bases, students with vision disabilities were able to play the sport alongside their peers.
In addition to monthly activities during the school year, STEP also strives to keep kids learning during the summer months. Participants in STEP’s summer camp, held in June, had the opportunity to choose a career or interest track. Options included culinary arts, journalism and writing, equestrian skills, athletics, and community service.
Suzanne Feigenson, a CCSD Vision Services teacher who has been working with the STEP program since the its start in January, says the experience has been a rewarding one.
“What I enjoy most about working with the STEP program is family involvement. It is really nice to see the parents embrace our hard work as teachers in putting a program together for their children as well as taking the time to transport them to our activities after school,” she says.
Parents of blind and low-vision children who would like to learn more about the STEP program can contact CCSD’s Vision Services office. STEP programs will resume in September and are planned to continue throughout the 2015-2016 school year.