Recent News


Reminder: Set Your Bookmarks to the New and Improved IDEA Website!

Reminder: Set your bookmarks to the new IDEA site

In two weeks, the outdated Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 (Legacy) website will automatically redirect users to the new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act website (new IDEA website).

So, set those bookmarks to today!

While the Legacy site will redirect users to the new IDEA website on April 30, content from the Legacy site is available for reference on the new IDEA website’s "Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004" historical reference page.

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Exceptional Parent Magazine MARCH 2018 Issue of EP-Magazine

The MARCH 2018 Issue of EP-Magazine is now available.

This SCHOOLS and CAMPS features:

Exceptional Parent Magazine provides practical advice, emotional support and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Just click the link   Please pass this onto others who might be interested. Plus, all 34 previous months issues are available at this same link;  all available to read online, or to print.

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TN IDEA Part B Application for Federal Funds: Notice of Public Comment

The Tennessee IDEA Part B Application for Federal Funds (fiscal year July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) will be posted for 60 days, March 16 - May 16.

Public comments will be accepted during the first 30 days, March 16 - April 16.

The application includes, but is not limited to, information regarding the use of IDEA funds and state-imposed requirements not required by IDEA or federal regulations.

You will find a PDF of the application here.

Comments may be submitted to Allison Davey via email, fax, or posted mail at:

Tennessee Department of Education
Division of Special Populations
Attn: Allison Davey
Andrew Johnson Tower, 11th Floor
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243


Fax: (615) 532-9412

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Parent Advocacy Training for Legislative Change

Click here to download and share flyer

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Entrenamiento De Abogacía Para Padres Para el Cambio Legislativo


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Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month - Five New Research Findings to Benefit People with CP

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Here at Enabling Devices, we're celebrating with a blog that  highlights some of the life-changing research being done to improve the lives of people with Cerebral Palsy.  

According to United Cerebral Palsy, CP is characterized by "a number of disorders affecting body movement, posture and muscle coordination Caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, CP usually occurs during fetal development; before, during or shortly after birth; during infancy; or during early childhood."  


Blog article from Enabling Devices


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7 Tips for Getting in Shape if You’re Visually Impaired

It’s January and the gyms are full. After all, there’s no more popular New Year’s resolution than getting in shape. Exercise is just as important for people with disabilities as it is for their non-disabled peers. Yet, creating an exercise routine when one has a disability can be complicated.

For example, people with blindness or visual impairment have unique challenges when it comes to maintaining their physical fitness.

Perhaps that’s why a new study by Dr. Keziah Latham, from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK found that visually impaired individuals are twice as likely to be inactive as sighted individuals. But that’s not the whole story.

The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes estimates that it has helped more than 100,000 men and women with vision loss become top athletes in the last 30 years. This figure is just for elite athletes. Millions more individuals with vision loss lead health-conscious, active lives, and they are participating in exercise programs, fitness groups, and activity clubs on a regular basis.”

With the right tools, and techniques, plus a healthy dose of motivation, the benefits of exercise are well within reach for most people with visual impairment and blindness. Here are some tips to help yourself or your loved one get into shape:

1. Discuss exercise options with your doctor

Prior to beginning an exercise routine, be sure to speak with your doctor. This is especially important for people with low vision says Vision “since some medical and eye conditions can be affected by bending, lifting, straining, or rapid movement.”

2. Consider logistical issues 

Transportation challenges, inaccessible fitness centers, safety concerns and financial constraints are among the obstacles people with visual impairment and blindness face when designing exercise regimens. Researching transportation options, accessible fitness centers, home-exercise programs and apps will help you determine what makes the most sense for you.

3. Consider personal preferences

Not everyone enjoys the same types of exercise. Investigate fitness options to find the activities you will enjoy. When fitness is fun, you are more apt to continue exercising.

4. Find a partner or coach

“When first learning fitness techniques, work with a trainer,” Vision Aware recommends. “Do not exercise alone, especially when beginning a program, using new equipment, learning new movements, or an unfamiliar environment. A sighted fitness professional or exercise partner ensures safety while providing motivation and boosting confidence.” Though trainers with expertise in training people with disabilities aren’t easy to find, it’s worth checking out the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability’s (NCHPAD) database of personal trainers who have such expertise. Perhaps there’s someone who works in your area.

5. Find fitness programs especially created for blind and visually impaired

Programs like Blind Alive, offer cardio exercise, weight lifting, body sculpting, yoga, pilates, and more. “BlindAlive also offers an Entry Level Bundle for those who have little to no experience with exercise, or want to finally get back into the flow.” Each activity is presented with multiple challenge levels. Other programs such as Eyes Free Yoga and the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ video onadapting judo for the blindalso enable people with visual impairment to exercise independently in their own homes.

6. Investigate the availability of accessible equipment

Scifit creates fitness equipment for people with disabilities. Those with vision impairment or blindness will benefit from Scifit’s consoles which feature “high-contrast, non-reflective display that’s easy to read, tactile markings and tactile buttons and audible beeps to confirm selections.” If equipment at your fitness center isn’t accessible, you consider asking center employees to attach braille labels.

7. Set goals

Setting attainable, realistic goals is helpful to anyone seeking to become physically fit. Consult with a trainer or with online or print literature to create appropriate goals and objectives.

Article by Betty Bell from Enabling Devices  January 24, 2018

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Evolving Attitudes about Disability

Gerber has been making baby food since 1927. A year after its founding, the company launched a contest to find an image of “the perfect baby” to represent its advertising campaign. The winning entry was a charcoal sketch of an adorable infant drawn by artist Dorothy Hope Smith. Forty years later, the identity of the Gerber Baby, was finally revealed. The baby was Ann Turner Cook, a neighbor of the artist, who later became an English teacher and mystery novelist. Her image has remained the company’s trademark for more than 90 years.

In 2010, Gerber originated another contest — the Gerber Baby Photo Search. Earlier this month, the company made history when it chose 18-month-old Lucas Warren, a baby with Down’s syndrome from Dalton, Georgia as its 2018 Gerber “Spokesbaby.” The choice of Lucas speaks volumes about the country’s evolving attitudes toward people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Down syndrome was formally recognized by British physician John Langdon Down in 1866. According to the National Association of Down Syndrome, little was understood about the syndrome until 1959, “when French Pediatrician/Geneticist Professor Jerome Lejeune discovered that individuals with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome—just one year before NADS was founded. Shortly thereafter, chromosome studies were developed to confirm the diagnosis of Down syndrome.” Prior to that, most babies born with Down syndrome, then referred to by the derogatory and obsolete term, mongoloid, were institutionalized.

By the 1970s, some parents were being advised to raise their babies with Down syndrome at home. NADS helped parents to do so through their services for families and children with down syndrome. Yet, several decades would pass before people outside the Down syndrome community would gain awareness of the abilities and talents of individuals with Down syndrome.

In recent years, the world has come to recognize that having Down syndrome need not be a barrier to accomplishing just about anything. Today, people with Down syndrome are well-known actors, musicians, athletes, fashion designers and politicians — and yes — Gerber babies!

In a Feb. 7, 2018 press release, Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka said: “Lucas’ winning smile and joyful expression won our hearts this year, and we are all thrilled to name him our 2018 Spokesbaby… Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby, and this year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”

Upon learning that her son was grand prize winner, Lucas’ mother Cortney Warren said: ““This is such a proud moment for us as parents knowing that Lucas has a platform to spread joy, not only to those he interacts with every day, but to people all over the country…We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world – just like our Lucas!”

Congratulations Lucas!

Article by Betty Bell for Enabling Devices

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The IEP Process and Assistive Technology: The Key to Finding What Works

IEP teams must consider assistive technology (AT) as part of developing a plan to meet your child's unique needs. But, as one mom learned, there may be members of the IEP team who really don't understand how AT works. Read more about how she discovered that some people see it as an unfair advantage. Then find out what the law says about who pays for AT—and learn where you can try out AT to see what works for your child.

This information was provided by

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TN Alternate Academic Diploma Update

On Jan. 26, 2018, the State Board of Education approved the addition of the alternate academic diploma within High School Policy 2.103

This new diploma will count toward the district graduation rate and will be implemented beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Parents and school leaders, including superintendents, high school principals, special education directors, and special education teachers who primarily teach students who are assessed on the alternate assessment are encouraged to listen to the overview webinar

Additionally, an FAQ is available here, and the course requirements for the 16 academic courses are now posted here

The Department of Education will also host a series of webinars this spring to support districts as they begin working to implement this diploma option. Information regarding these opportunities will be provided at a later date. 

If you have questions about the Alternate Academic Diploma, please contact Alison Gauld at

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