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Course Descriptions 

Professional Development: Concentration in Deaf-Blindness and High-Intensity Support Needs

Summer 2021 courses include: Communication Strategies & Life Planning for Success

Registration Deadline: May 3, 2021

It can be difficult to find training, education and best practice classroom strategies for students who have dual sensory loss and high intensity support needs. Through a collaboration between the University of South Dakota, the South Dakota Deaf-Blind Project, and the National Center on Deaf-Blindness, online professional development courses for teachers and related service providers are being offered. There will be options for continuing education hours and three graduate credits per course. Coursework will include content from the online modules made available from the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (Open Hands, Open Access), which have been modified to ensure alignment with CEC competencies for educators, resulting in some new content and assignments.

Each course consists of a 14-week semester, approximately three of online work per week and synchronous online meetings. Although the information is geared toward Deaf-Blindness, much of what is learned can be applied to students with severe disabilities/complex needs. This training is available for both in-state and out-of-state participants. Start date May 11, 2021.

For additional information regarding course content and registration, check us out on Eventbrite.

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Course 1: An Introduction to Deaf-Blindness (Fall 2021)

This first course will provide foundational knowledge of deaf-blindness and the impact of hearing and vision loss on learning and communication, as well as key evidence-based instructional strategies for supporting those with deaf-blindness. This course includes content from the following NCDB Open Hands, Open Access Modules: Overview of Deaf-Blindness, The Sensory System, the Brain and Learning, Building Trusted Relationships, Touch for Connection and Learning, Maximizing Vision and Hearing, The Role of the Intervener and Intervener Strategies.

Course 2: Deaf-Blindness: Communication Strategies (Summer 2021)

The key principle of this course is that all students communicate. This course includes content from the following NCDB Open Hands, Open Access Modules: Touch for Connection and Communication, Understanding Communication Principles, Emergent Communication, Progressing from Non-symbolic to Symbolic Communication & Complex Language, Introduction to Sign Language & Braille, Concept Development and Responsive Environments and Calendars. Here you will learn about the importance of touch in communicating with individuals with deaf-blindness and how to progress from non-symbolic to symbolic communication

Course 3: Deaf-Blindness: Assessment and Instructional Planning (Fall 2021)

The course includes an overview of assessment strategies, assessment instruments, and the development of specific and measurable IEP goals based on authentic assessment data. In addition, the course includes content from the following NCDB Open Hands, Open Access Modules: Availability for Learning, Routines for Participation and Learning, Behavior and Environmental Supports, and Introduction to Orientation and Mobility.

Course 4: Life Planning for Success: Deaf-Blind Strategies (Summer 2021)

The course provides an overview of curricular options and instructional strategies to
promote student success in school and beyond, and to ensure that all students successfully transition from school to adulthood. The course includes content from the following NCDB Open Hands, Open Access Modules: Transition to Adulthood and Community Living, Self-Determination, Social Skills and Peer Relationships, Sexuality and Collaborative Teaming and Family Partnerships. The course focuses on fully integrating the module content above to prepare students who are deaf-blind to be actively engaged in communities of their choice.

While these courses are not required to be completed sequentially, it will be beneficial to have foundational knowledge in the content areas included in each of the courses prior to enrolling in courses 2 & 3 (some exceptions may apply). 

Who should join us?

  • Any certified educators serving students birth through 21. Families are also welcome to join


Rose Moehring
SD Deaf-Blind Program
Phone: 605-357-1437

Brandy Sebera
SD Deaf-Blind Program
Phone: 605-357-1437