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On January 31, roughly 30 parents and external providers flocked to iHOPE for the school’s first-ever conference focused on children with vision or hearing loss. The event, called “Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers,” featured presentations by professionals from Adaptive Design, NY DeafBlind Collaborative, Hellen Keller National Center, Visions Services, Andrew Heiskell Library and New York Eye and Ear. The day also featured agency tables, a mock apartment workshop led by iHOPE’s vision and occupational therapy team, and interactive activities for families to try.

"It was a really nice opportunity for parents to connect with outside agencies and find other services that could support their children,” said Danielle Pepin, Director of Vision and Hearing Services at iHOPE. “Because it was a relatively small group, the parents were able to have more relaxed, deeper conversations than you would at a general presentation. They were able to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of hands-on activities.”
Workshops covered crucial topics such as how to effectively work with your child’s educational team, how to incorporate sign language into your family’s routine, and how to enhance home accessibility for children with vision loss, among other subjects.

“It can be tricky to bridge the gap between what we’re doing at iHOPE and what happens with students at home,” Pepin explained. “This was a really nice opportunity for parents to gain skills that they are able to then directly implement at home, and that was the whole focus.”

The conference received praise from families and providers alike. iHOPE is already planning to expand the event in the future, incorporating more departments and external professionals.