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04/29/20

Inclusion Done Right Meeting Notes 4_28_20

Dear Educators and Parents,

It was great to see so many of you at yesterday’s Inclusion Done Right meeting! We had 83 people in attendance, our largest meeting yet!

We promised to send out the instructions for how to sign up to testify at the City Council Hearing on Inclusion, Special Education and English Language Learners – scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, starting at 1:00pm.

Instructions for Signing up to Testify

You can testify “live” via zoom by  emailing michelle.a. goldberg@boston.gov.  Your testimony should be 2 minutes max.

You can also appear at the Hearing by uploading a 2 min. video.  Your video testimony will be played at the Hearing if it is received by 12:00 pm this Friday, 5/1.  Instructions for how to upload a video can be found under #3 in this document. Here is the link:

https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/how-testify-city-council-budget-hearing .  (It is also possible to email your remarks, however, testimony connected to a person is far more powerful!)

The Hearing will begin with a presentation by BPS where we’ll hear their version of how inclusion, special education and ESL services are being implemented in the district.  Our comments will follow.

Please contact me if you would like support with crafting your testimony. We’d be delighted to provide assistance.

Reaching out to City Councilors

We want to strongly encourage that every member of the City Council be present at next Tuesday’s Hearing, sponsored by Councilor Essabai-George.  At the meeting yesterday, participants volunteered to be point people for emailing/calling each City Councilor to urge them to show up.  It would be great if everyone could reach out to one or more  members of the City Council.  Here is the link we provided yesterday for info on contacting City Council members:   https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council.  We encourage you to email, and then follow up with a phone call if you don’t get a positive response.

Sample message:

My name is _________ and I am an educator/parent at the ___________ in your district (or I live in your district.) I am emailing/calling to say how important it is to me that you attend the upcoming City Council Hearing on Inclusion, Special Education and English Language Learners, Tuesday, May 5 at 1:00.

School closures have made it even more challenging for our most vulnerable students to receive the education and services they deserve.  We are counting on your support for Inclusion Done Right!  Please let me know that you will attend the Hearing. Thank you.

Slides on DESE Findings on BPS Special Education

Here is the link to the slides on the DESE Findings prepared by BTU member and Inclusion activist, Emma Fialka-Feldman.  There were a number of requests to share these slides.

Please reach out with any questions!   Hope to see you many of you next Tuesday!

Thanks,
Ilene

02/11/20

March 5th 4:30 – 6:30 PM @ BTU_Inclusion Done Right Meeting

Dear educators and parents,

Last week we filled the School Committee chambers with members, parents and community allies to advocate for Inclusion Done Right.  BTU President Jessica Tang, educators and parents spoke passionately as to why we need MORE educators, not more licenses, and why we must keep up the fight for the services our students deserve.
This week at School Committee two more BTU educators testified on how Inclusion Done Right is a racial justice issue in solidarity with the huge turnout of people who came to speak in support of Black Lives Matter at schools.  And members have begun meeting with City Councillors to expand our outreach in the community. Please keep us posted when these meetings happen.

Now we need to strategize about how we keep building our momentum! Join us for our next Inclusion Done Right meeting on Thursday, March 5, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm at the BTU.  Please RSVP here now. 

 As the countdown to vacation begins, we wish you a great break and hope to see you on March 5th!

 
Thank you,

Ilene

01/27/20

1/29/20: Inclusion Done Right @ School Committee

Dear Educators and Parents,

This Wednesday we go to School Committee to stand up for Inclusion Done Right.  Please meet at 5:30 on the first floor of the Bolling Building if you want pizza before the meeting.  Make sure to RSVP here to let us know you will be there.

We have bright red “Inclusion Done Right” T-shirts for everyone who is there to stand with us.

Parents and educators will be speaking up about the need to improve the teaching and learning conditions in our inclusion classrooms and schools now.

The public comment period is from 6:00 – 7:00pm.  We hope you will join us!

Thank you,
Ilene Carver
BTU Organizer
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