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01/10/20

Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

 

January 9, 2020

Open Letter to Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

I am writing to you as a parent and as the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HMS) School Site Council Chair. I am asking all parents, teachers, para professionals, staff, administration, alumni, and anyone connected to the HMS Community to immediately contact your elected officials, BPS School Committee, Boston Teachers Union representatives, business leaders, friends and family to tell them BPS, under the leadership of Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, does not have a plan for your child and your future at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. HMS requires a new, free standing building that accommodates the highly specialized needs of the students. We must mobilize and take control of the future of our Community. Superintendent Cassellius is unable to confidently communicate that a positive outcome is on the horizon for you and your child.

As a parent, I advocate for my daughter. As your HMS School Site Council Chair, I advocate for the school and Community at large. I do not want to see anyone leave HMS, be given less than deserved, or lost in the BPS system that is supposed to nurture us through education.

On January 8, 2020 a public meeting was held at HMS by Superintendent Cassellius. In attendance were HMS Community members, elected officials and community people representing Allston, and BPS leadership. Superintendent Cassellius announced the Allston building will be closed at the end of the 2020/2021 academic year and a new school will be built on the property. HMS is not in the new building plan. As Superintendent Cassellius continued, she clearly demonstrated BPS leadership is not aligned on the next steps for HMS. Most alarmingly, Superintendent Cassellius conveyed that BPS leadership does not have any internal experts in deaf and hard of hearing to begin a plan for HMS. This is very disappointing as the announcement for the HMS building closure was in April 2019. HMS Community formally offered to help BPS leadership with their knowledge deficits. We received no response.

I have met and spoken with Superintendent Cassellius four times since her first day on September 5, 2019. In each of the meetings, I reminded her the HMS building is being closed, HMS is a priority on the BuildBPS plan, and BPS leadership is ill-equipped to manage an HMS plan on their own. Each time Superintendent Cassellius asked me to be patient and will let us know her intentions. Last night Superintendent Cassellius asked for six more weeks as the BPS Strategic Plan will be released. At that moment, I believed Superintendent Cassellius is not making HMS an immediate priority as authorized previously. HMS is in an emergency situation and needs to be managed as such. A Strategic Plan is for slow moving, long term ideas. Asking for more time for her Strategic Plan that may include HMS is highly unusual. This is not acceptable for HMS children and the HMS Community.

In closing, I strongly believe that now is the right time for us to mobilize. We have respected Superintendent Cassellius’ request for time to settle into her new position. However, she has not returned our patience with an HMS plan. I am personally disappointed in Superintendent Cassellius as someone who is supposed to give me and my family comfort that everything will be okay at HMS.  Please help us take the next steps for HMS.

Respectfully submitted,

Charlie Kim

Parent and HMS Site Council Chair

Spanish

9 de enero de 2020

Carta abierta a la escuela Horace Mann para la comunidad sorda y con problemas de audición

Le escribo como padre y como el presidente del Concilio Escolar de la Escuela Horace Mann para personas sordas y con problemas de audición (HMS, por sus siglas en inglés). Les pido a todos los padres, maestros, ayudantes, personal, administración, ex-alumnos y cualquier persona relacionada con la Comunidad HMS que se comuniquen de inmediato con sus funcionarios electos, el Comité Escolar de las BPS, los representantes del Sindicato de Maestros de Boston, líderes empresariales, amigos y familiares para decirles que las BPS, bajo el liderazgo de la superintendente Brenda Cassellius, no tiene un plan para su hijo/a y su futuro en la escuela Horace Mann para sordos y personas con problemas de audición. HMS necesita un nuevo edificio independiente que se adapte a las necesidades altamente especializadas de los estudiantes. Debemos movilizar y tomar el control del futuro de nuestra comunidad. La superintendente Cassellius no puede comunicar con confianza que un resultado positivo está en el horizonte para usted y su hijo/a.

Como padre, abogo por mi hija. Como presidente del Concilio Escolar de HMS, yo abogo por la escuela y la comunidad en general. No quiero ver a nadie dejar el HMS, recibir menos de lo merecido o perderse en el sistema de las BPS que se supone que nos alimenta a través de la educación.

El 8 de enero de 2020, la Superintendente Cassellius celebró una reunión pública en HMS. Asistieron miembros de la comunidad de HMS, funcionarios electos y personas de la comunidad que representaban a Allston y líderes de las BPS. La superintendente Cassellius anunció que el edificio de Allston se cerrará al final del año académico 2020/2021 y se construirá una nueva escuela en la propiedad. HMS no está en el nuevo plan de construcción. A medida que la Superintendente Cassellius continuó, ella demostró claramente que el liderazgo de las BPS no está alineado en los próximos pasos para HMS. Lo más alarmante es que la superintendente Cassellius expresó que el liderazgo de las BPS no tiene expertos internos en personas sordas o con problemas de audición para comenzar un plan para HMS. Esto es muy decepcionante ya que el anuncio del cierre del edificio de HMS fue en abril de 2019. La comunidad HMS se ofreció formalmente a ayudar al liderazgo de las BPS con sus déficits de conocimiento. No recibimos respuesta.

Me he reunido y hablado con la Superintendente Cassellius cuatro veces desde su primer día el 5 de septiembre de 2019. En cada una de las reuniones, le recordé que el edificio de HMS será cerrado, HMS es una prioridad en el plan BuildBPS y el liderazgo de las BPS está deficientemente equipado para administrar un plan HMS por su cuenta. Cada vez la superintendente Cassellius me pidió que fuera paciente y que nos haría saber sus intenciones. Anoche, la Superintendente Cassellius solicitó seis semanas más para la publicación del Plan Estratégico de las BPS. En ese momento, me di cuenta que la Superintendente Cassellius no está haciendo de HMS una prioridad inmediata, como expresó anteriormente. HMS se encuentra en una situación de emergencia y debe gestionarse como tal. Un plan estratégico es para ideas de largo plazo y movimiento lento. Pedir más tiempo para su Plan Estratégico que puede incluir HMS es muy inusual. Esto no es aceptable para los niños HMS y la comunidad HMS.

Para terminar, creo firmemente que ahora es el momento adecuado para que nos movilicemos. Hemos respetado la solicitud de tiempo de la Superintendente Cassellius para establecerse en su nuevo puesto. Sin embargo, ella no ha devuelto nuestra paciencia con un plan HMS. Personalmente estoy decepcionado con la Superintendente Cassellius como alguien que se supone que debe darme a mí y a mi familia consuelo de que todo estará bien en HMS. Ayúdenos a dar los siguientes pasos para HMS.

Respetuosamente,

Charlie Kim

Presidente del Concilio de Padres y HMS

12/5/19

EPIC Service Warriors Boston

EPIC is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 Boston Service Warrior Team!

EPIC Service Warriors is a community service and education program for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-23. EPIC Service Warriors meet for one year to participate in community service projects in the Greater Boston Area. By creating the change they want to see in the world the Service Warriors learn more about local communities and develop practical skills that will help them develop as leaders and pursue future goals. We believe that every young person has a Warrior within. Are you ready to free your inner Service Warrior?

The Boston EPIC Service Warriors 2021 Program runs from April 2020 – April 2021. During the year Service Warriors will participate in an Opening Day/Orientation in April 2020, a minimum of 12 community service projects, 10 leadership development workshops, and a Graduation Celebration in May 2021.

Service Warriors Frequently Asked Questions

Apply Here

12/5/19

USS Constitution Museum Sensory-Friendly Sundays

Join us on the 2nd Sunday of the month for sensory-friendly mornings at the USS Constitution Museum! Learn about the incredible history of America’s Ship of State in a quieter setting, without loud sounds or flashing lights, and before we open to the public at 10:00 AM. Design a ship, furl a sail, and scrub the decks in our hands-on exhibits that are designed for sailors of all abilities and backgrounds.

This offering is open to visitors of all ages, as well as their friends, families, and caregivers. Registration is required and limited to 35 people. Admission by donation.

Sensory Friendly Changes
The USS Constitution Museum will make the following changes to our exhibits during the Sensory-Friendly Sundays program:

  • The Museum will limit each month’s event to 35 people to reduce crowding.
  • Social Narrative and Communication Book are available online and at our Admission Desk to help visitors prepare for their trip to the Museum.
  • Paper towels will be available in all bathrooms. Hand dryers will be blocked with tape.
  • The Nation’s Ship and Battle Theater movies will have lower sound and slightly increased lighting. There will also be no flashing lights in the Battle Theater movie.
  • The Today’s Crew exhibit will be designated as a quiet room. The videos and rotating images will be shut off and the lights will be turned down. In the room will be noise-reducing headphones, a weighted shoulder wrap, and other sensory calming items.
  • The two cannons in the “Old Ironsides” 1812 Discovery Center will have their sound turned off.
  • The large ship model in the Forest to Frigate exhibit will have a special touch table with rope and sail cloth to explore.
  • The Museum’s pretend goat, Ship’s bell, and ambient sounds in our All Hands on Deck exhibit will be turned off.
  • Fidgets, noise-reducing headphones, weighted shoulder wraps, sunglasses, and other sensory resources will be available to borrow at the admission desk. These sensory items are available every day at the USS Constitution Museum.

Staff understand that everyone experiences the Museum’s environment differently.  Our primary goal in making these changes is to allow families and friends who may typically avoid crowded or stimulating environments to explore history together. We welcome and appreciate any feedback that can help us create an environment that is accessible to everyone.

Access to USS Constitution: USS Constitution (the Ship) is operated separately by the United States Navy. They will be open starting at 10:00 AM and are free to visit on a first come, first serve basis. All visitors to USS Constitution are required to pass through a security screening and visitors over the age of 18 need to show a federal or state photo identification. Please note that the Navy will not be making any specific sensory or physical modifications to their guided tours of USS Constitution.

12/5/19

Sensory Friendly Event: A Christmas Celtic Sojourn

A Christmas Celtic Sojourn With Brian O’Donovan: Sensory-Friendly

  • 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Friday, December 20, 2019

It’s that time of year again! WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan is back for its 17th year. This year we are very excited to offer our very first sensory-friendly performance of this Christmas tradition on Friday, December 20 at 3pm. Please join us!

The sensory-friendly performance of WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan will be a concert dedicated to creating a more welcoming and accessible space for individuals with sensory input disorders, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and for anyone else who may benefit.

There will be modifications throughout the theatre space that create a friendly, non-judgmental and supportive environment that encourage patrons to experience the magic of theatre in their own way. Families, friends and caregivers for individuals with sensory-input disorders and community advocates are also encouraged to attend!

The one hour concert will include songs, dances and poetry reflective of the Celtic Christmas spirit. A Christmas Celtic Sojournwill be hosted by Brian O’Donovan. The performance showcases the compelling and diverse offerings of the weekly and national radio programs that explore traditional and contemporary music from around the Celtic world.

There will be several sing alongs using both familiar and perhaps unfamiliar Christmas songs to spark the holiday spirit within us all. Beautifully choreographed Irish traditional dance using hard and soft shoes will have you grooving in the aisles. New instruments including the Swedish Nyckelharpa will be introduced to the audience, and multiple other traditional Celtic instruments such as fiddles, harp, guitar, drums, bass, banjo, piano, flute, and mandolin will also be featured.

Accommodations:

To provide a safe and accepting environment for all patrons, this sensory-friendly performance will include the following modifications:

Lower overall sound level, especially for startling or loud sounds.

House lights will remain illuminated at a low level throughout the performance.

Relaxed house rules: patrons may move, stand, make noise, talk, enter and exit the theatre as needed, eat*, and use personal sensory tools throughout the performance.

There will be a designated Take a Break Area available before, during and after the performance.

Limited crowds and spaced out assigned seating.

All patrons are welcome to bring their own sensory tools, peanut-free snacks*, manipulatives, seat cushions, comfort objects, headsets, earplugs, communication devices and extra support items to the performance.

Trained theatre staff members and specialists will be available throughout the theatre to support patrons.

* There will be NO concessions available for this performance. Please bring your own peanut-free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. You are welcome to eat and drink during the performance.

Pre-visit Resources (Coming soon!):

Social Narrative- Describes the social setting, the physical space, and what to expect throughout your time at the theatre.
Program Guide– A breakdown of the performers’ descriptions and roles.
Arrive Early – Come to the theatre at 2:15pm on the day of the show! You will have the opportunity to meet friendly staff and performers, see where you will be sitting, explore and adjust to the space.
Lyrics- Large font lyric sheets to sing along to your favorite holiday tunes!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is a sensory-friendly performance? 
A. A sensory-friendly performance is a live theatre production for individuals with a variety of sensory input disorders. Our sensory-friendly performance will be accessible to people with autism spectrum disorder, those with anxiety, and other cognitive needs. The majority of sensory-friendly adaptations occur in the audience, lobby and front of house as opposed to on the stage.

Q. How has the Cutler Majestic Theatre been adapted for a sensory-friendly performance?
A. During the sensory-friendly concert, patrons can move, stand, make noise, talk, enter and exit the theatre as needed, eat, and use personal sensory tools throughout the performance. The overall sound level will be lowered and the house lights will remain slightly illuminated. A Celtic Sojourn has created several pre-visit resources that are available to all attending patrons to prepare them for this sensory-friendly experience. A Celtic Sojourn will make numerous other subtle modifications to help everyone feel as comfortable as possible during the performance. There will be a Take a Break Area outside of the performance space for patrons to use as needed. Additionally, trained staff and volunteers will be available throughout the building to accommodate the needs of this specific population. There is no expectation that the audience will be silent during the performance. It will be a completely judgment-free zone!

Q. Can anyone attend a sensory-friendly performance?
A. Absolutely! All individuals are welcome as A Celtic Sojourn wishes to promote awareness and understanding that the arts are accessible to all. Please note that this performance caters to individuals with sensory input disorders and their families. Friends, caretakers and advocates of this community are also encouraged to attend! The performance will run one hour in length, and the theatre environment will be quite different from a regularly scheduled performance.

Q. What can I do to help someone with sensory input disorders prepare for this experience?
A. A Celtic Sojourn offers a number of pre-visit resources to help individuals with sensory input disorders prepare to see the performance. We are currently in the process of creating these materials. They will include a written social narrative and a performance guide which will become available in the coming weeks. Additionally, patrons are welcome to come to the theatre at 2:15pm on the day of the show. Patrons will have the opportunity to meet friendly staff, see the seat in which they will be sitting, explore and adjust to the space.

Q: What time does the Box Office open before the performance? 
A. The Box Office will open two hours before the start of the performance at 1pm. Come early to collect your tickets and avoid the lines! This will give you some time to explore Boston before the concert begins at 3pm or you are welcome to join us inside the theatre beginning at 2:15pm.

Q. Will there be changes made to the script?
A. The script will not be altered.

Q. Are audience members allowed to bring sensory tools or other objects for support?
A. Yes, all patrons are encouraged to bring their own sensory tools, peanut-free snacks*, manipulatives, seat cushions, comfort objects, noise reduction headphones, earplugs, headsets, communication devices and extra support items to the performance.

* Please note that there will be no concessions available for this performance. Please bring your own peanut-free snacks. You are welcome to eat and drink during the performance.

Q. Can I use my cell phone or tablet during the performance?
A. Yes, for this sensory-friendly concert you are allowed to use your cell phone or tablet as we know these can be vital for communication and individual regulation. We kindly ask that they be put on silent or connected into headphones. Please note that taking pictures and recording of any kind is strictly prohibited.

Q. Can I leave the theatre and return afterward if needed?
A. Of course! You are welcome to leave your seat at any time. There will be a Take a Break Area available, family restrooms, and the theatre lobby will be open as well. Please look for theatre staff with a green glow stick around their neck and feel free to ask any questions. These individuals will be able to direct you wherever you need to go, and will gladly help you return to your seat when you would like to rejoin the performance.

Q. How long is the show? 
AA Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan runs approximately 60 minutes with no intermission.

Q. How can I purchase tickets?
A. Tickets can be purchased through Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre Box Office at 617-824-8400 or purchase sensory-friendly tickets here!

Q. What is your refund policy?
A. Tickets to the sensory-friendly performance only are 100% refundable until the show begins at 3pm.

Q. Is this venue wheelchair accessible?
A. Yes. Please inform the Box Office at 617-824-8400 of any mobility issues before you visit.

Q. What if I need additional accommodations? 
A. Please visit ArtsEmerson: Accessibilty Services to see all of the accessibility services that are available. If you need additional accommodations, do not hesitate to call the Box Office at 617-824-8400 to let us know! We will do our very best to try and accommodate your request.

Q. Who can I contact with questions or concerns?
A. All questions or concerns regarding the sensory-friendly performance only can be emailed to our Inclusion Specialist, Erin Ronder Neves at erinronderneves@gmail.com.

12/4/19

Moving Forward With Inclusion Done Right

Dear Educators and Parents,

Momentum is building! At our recent Inclusion Done Right meeting there were 70 of us sharing stories, looking at the data we collected so far about inclusion in the district, and beginning to  draw up recommendations.  Your passion and commitment to fighting for the services our students deserve and for more educators, not more licenses is crystal clear!

Inclusion Working Group Meeting – Monday, Dec. 16
On Monday, December 16th there will be a meeting of the Inclusion Working Group, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, at the Bolling Building. ( The Inclusion Working Group is  a joint body composed of BTU members and staff and BPS.)  At this time we will be sharing recommendations for how to better meet the needs of students in our inclusion classrooms.  Some educators will be sharing their personal experiences, along  data we have collected to support the recommendations being made. Our presence at this meeting is one way we can demonstrate how much we care about seeing Inclusion Done Right.
Please let us know if you are able to be present at the Inclusion Working Group meeting.  RSVP here.

Inclusion Tracker
To get the inclusion services our students deserve it will take all of us being vigilant and reporting what we see.  Help the BTU keep track of contract violations, legal violations, and other instances of student needs not being met by reporting what you see using this Inclusion Tracker. The information you share here will only be seen by BTU staff.  Parents, educators and students are encouraged to use this tracker.  For examples of violations, please go to btu.org/inclusion/ and scroll down to “Inclusion Tracker”.

Next Inclusion Done Right meeting
Our next Inclusion Done Right meeting is set for Tuesday, January 14th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Please help us spread the word!

Thank you,
Ilene Carver
BTU Organizer