Iowa’s Deafblind Services Project will host a summer workshop at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa on June 8-9, 2017. Topics include transition for youth to adult programs, early childhood, deafblind basics and communication. The workshop will include a family and youth panel to discuss successes and challenges in school, home and community.


Keynote Speaker Jackie Kopaska

The opening session speaker will be Jackie Kopaska with JackieKBags. Jackie started JackieKBags in 2009. This business is an alternative to the waiting list for Adult Day Services, transitioning from high school to adulthood, creating a business for an individual with lower functioning abilities.

Workshop Presenters

Jennifer Grisham-Brown, Ed.D.

Professor in the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program and faculty director of the Early Childhood Laboratory School at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Grisham-Brown is co-author of two books on blended practices in early childhood education (Blended Practices in Early Childhood Education (2017) and Blended Assessment Practices in Early Childhood Education [2011). As well, she co-authored a book entitled Reach for the Stars: Planning for the Future (2013), which is used to support families of young children to plan for their children’s future and articulate their priorities to educational team members. Her research interests include authentic assessment, tiered instruction, and inclusion of children with significant disabilities. Dr. Grisham-Brown is co-founder of a children’s home and preschool program in Guatemala City called Hope for Tomorrow.

Session Information: Jennifer Grisham Brown will discuss early childhood educational programming and transition to kindergarten for children with significant disabilities.

Su Groff-VanArendonk, Ed.S.

Special Education Consultant
Grant Wood Area Education Agency

Su has been in the field of education for 40 years. She has taught kindergarten through adults in public and private schools; hospital and residential settings She is currently a special education consultant with Grant Wood Area Education Agency. She lives with her golden retriever and three cats in Coralville, Iowa.

Session Information: Su Groff-VanArendonk will provide information about what you need to know about IEP transition goals and the process in Iowa.

Deena Recker, M.Ed.

Licensed Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Great Prairie Area Education Agency/Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Deena entered the field of Orientation and Mobility after graduating in 1985. Much has changed since she entered this field. Medical advances and technology have brought exciting changes to the field of O&M. Continually learning, growing and adapting to these changes and applying them to teaching O&M has always been a part of Deena’s professional development. Currently, Deena serves children, ages birth to 21 years of age, in the southeast area of Iowa and is based out of Ottumwa.

Session Information: Deena Recker (IESBVI/Great Prairie AEA) will share information about orientation and mobility, body concepts and active learning for children with multiple disabilities and deafblindness

Natalie Ingram

Special Education Teacher
Waukee Community School District

Natalie is a special education teacher at Maple Grove Elementary in Waukee. Natalie has been teaching in the Waukee school district for three years. She also has experience teaching in Nebraska and Indiana.

Session Information: Natalie Ingram, special education teacher with Waukee schools, will share ideas on implementing an educational program for children with multiple disabilities, including deafblindness in elementary school.

Julie Freed, M.S., CCC-SLP

Assistive Team Tech Lead
Grant Wood Area Education Agency

Julie Freed is a licensed speech language pathologist who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has extensive background in the field of augmentative communication and assistive technology supporting students with a wide range of needs for the past 29 years. Currently, Julie serves as the Grant Wood AEA Assistive Technology team lead and as a representative for her AEA on several Iowa Department of Education AT workgroup teams. Julie also participates actively in the Iowa State Assistive Technology Leadership Team.

Session Information:  APT:  AAC Planning Tool to Support Communication Assessment for Students with Complex Needs. This session will provide a general overview of the APT: AAC Planning Tool for Assessment that was created a group of Speech/Language Pathologists from Grant Wood AEA.  A framework for considering communication assessment and related data and resource tools will be shared. This session will offer a face-paced walk through of this assessment format for use teams working with students with complex communication needs.

Julie Aufdenkamp
Vocational Rehabilitation Transition Specialist
Iowa Department for the Blind

Julie is the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Transition Specialist for the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB). The Department is one of two VR agencies in the state and serves Iowans who are blind or low vision, including high school students and adults who have vision loss in combination with other disabilities and individuals who are deaf-blind. She has been employed at IDB for nearly 13 years and has spent the last several years serving youth and their families.

Session Information: Beth Jordan (HKNC) and Julie Aufdenkamp (Iowa Department for the Blind) will share information about new federal work legislation and an overview of the transition process at the Iowa Department for the Blind.

Beth Jordan, M.Ed.
Great Plains Regional Representative
Helen Keller National Center

Beth is the Great Plains Regional Representative for the Helen Keller National Center, serving people who have both vision and hearing loss and their families in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Ms. Jordan has worked in this capacity for over 25 years.
Ms. Jordan received her Master of Education degree from the University of Arkansas majoring in rehabilitation counseling and independent living with an emphasis in deafness. Prior to her work at HKNC, she worked four years as a VR counselor with a deaf caseload in Pasadena, Texas. Ms. Jordan is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC). She resides in Olathe, Kansas.

Session Information: Beth Jordan will share information about the programs and services offered by the Helen Keller National Center.

Iowa’s Deafblind Technical Assistance Team (DTAT) presenters

Lori Banos, M.A. – Teacher for the Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility Specialist with Grant Wood Area Education Agency and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Brandie Cox, MOT, OTR/L – Occupational Therapist with Heartland Area Education Agency

Katy Ring, M.A. – Teacher for the Visually Impaired with Green Hills Area Education Agency and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Linda True, AuD/CCC-A – Educational Audiologist with Heartland Area Agency

Session Information: Members of Iowa’s Deafblind Technical Assistance Team (DTAT) will share information on what you need to know about hearing impairments, visual impairments, daily living skills and other areas that are critical for students with deafblindness.


Check Out the Schedule Here!

IDB Summer Workshop Schedule (PDF)


The workshop will take place at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa. To book a room at the Radisson, please call 319-351-5049 and ask for a room in the Iowa Deafblind Project Summer Workshop room block or use the link below:

Registration – Deadline is May 26th