Hadley gave me the gift of literacy when I was in danger of losing it.
— Joan, OR, 2011


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Connection - Hadley's Student Newsletter

Winter 2017

View archived Fall 2016 issue.

Letter from the President...

Julie Tye, President of Hadley

I have been in my role as President of Hadley for eight months and I must say that the time has flown by. For much of that time, I have in fact been a student myself. I've needed to learn about the field of blindness and visual impairment; about Hadley's educational programs and staff; and about our opportunities. While I still have much to learn, I feel increasingly comfortable and certainly energized by the possibilities of expanding Hadley's impact.

The gift of providing distance education is that we can reach students anywhere, whether they are halfway up the street or halfway around the world. On the other hand, this presents certain challenges, most notably difficulty in building community among students, and between students and staff. In conventional learning environments, we would have chances to get to know one another as we meet in hallways or lunchrooms. In the absence of those opportunities, I thought we could create a "virtual" hallway, right here. I'm going to tell you a little bit about me; and I'd like you to tell me a little about you, as well. I'll go first.


I was raised in Elmont, New York. My mom was a homemaker and my dad was a printer for the Long Island Press, a daily newspaper. Elmont is the home of the Belmont Race Track and I was at the track when Secretariat won the Triple Crown.


I did my undergraduate work at Pace University, majoring in Biology. I chose Not-for-Profit management for my career and I received my MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


I met my husband, Fred, through a dating service. Our story was unique enough that we were on the Oprah Winfrey show back in the 1980's. We have a son who is a consultant with KPMG, and a daughter who is in her third year at Illinois State University. Our son snowboards and our daughter is a circus artist.

Favorite Book

Gone With The Wind. I have lost count of how many times I have read that book.

Currently Reading

The Warmth of Other Suns which is about the northern migration of African Americans in the first part of the 20th century.

Guilty Pleasure

Binge-watching shows on Netflix. Counting the days until the new season of "House of Cards" is released.

My Favorite Teacher and Life Lesson

Sister Regina Mercedes, who taught high school Chemistry and Physics. Her nickname was "Chuckles" and I can tell you that it wasn't because she was funny. She was tough and demanding and pushed her students to believe that they could master the subjects she taught. And we did. Chuckles taught us not to fear the unknown, but to embrace it. I use this life lesson pretty much every day.

Now it's your turn. Tell us about YOU! Because we are, after all, an education organization, we're especially interested in knowing about your most impactful teacher and why. You can send an email to JTye@Hadley.edu.

On behalf of all of the staff and faculty at Hadley, we are looking forward to getting to know you!

Warm regards,

Julie Tye Signature

Julie S. Tye

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Calling All Entrepreneurs: Enter the 2017 New Venture Business Competition Today!

graphic banner: 2017 New Venture Business Competition, Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship at Hadley. Callout states: What's Your Bright Idea for a Business? with graphic lightbulb and dollar sign

Hadley invites its Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship (FCE) students to submit their new venture business plans for a chance to win a cash award. Up to $30,000 is available to FCE Hadley students who present a winning plan for a viable business. Entrants must have enrolled in at least one FCE module for consideration of their business plan. However, it is not too late to become a FCE student and participate in the competition.

To enroll in the FCE, please visit hadley.edu/FCE, or call Student Services at 800-526-9909. Participation and submission rules for the New Venture Competition can be found at hadley.edu/NVC.

"We are thrilled to be able to help support new businesses in this fun, exciting way," said Colleen Wunderlich, Director, Hadley Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship. "Our students are so innovative and enthusiastic—I look forward to learning about their new business concepts."

The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2017.

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Curriculum Corner: The Braille Curriculum at Hadley

by Mike Rydel, Dean of Curricular Affairs

The Hadley Institute has been committed to teaching braille since 1920 and is dedicated in its resolve to prepare everyone to read and write the new Unified English Braille. Below is an overview of Hadley's braille curriculum:

Students in Adult Continuing Education and High School Programs can take the following courses, which teach tactile learners how to read braille:

The Braille Literacy series teaches new learners how to read braille. The Reading courses provide students with extra reading practice with books, menus, itineraries, etc. The Transitioning course teaches experienced braille users the basics of the new UEB code. In addition, ACE and High School students can learn about math, music and markers in the following braille courses:

Family members and blindness professionals also have the opportunity to learn braille in its various forms.

"Transitioning" teaches UEB in either braille, large print or online, while "Basic Nemeth" and "Braille Music" use large print and online formats. Sighted family members and professionals also have online courses that teach students how to read and write braille visually.

Lastly, Hadley offers three "methods" courses that teach family members and professionals how to teach braille to others.

Hadley is continuously improving these courses with periodic revisions and updates to the material. In the past year, more than 3,000 students have completed one or more of these braille courses rendering Hadley the largest teacher of braille in the world. Visit hadley.edu/braille, or contact Student Services at 800-526-9909, to enroll in a course and learn braille.

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Low Vision Focus @ Hadley Webinars Are Finding a Receptive Audience

Low Vision Focus @ Hadley continues to serve older adults with low vision by providing free, accessible training materials (audio lectures, instructional videos and webinars) related to independent living. To enhance opportunities for learning, Low Vision Focus @ Hadley has expanded its programming to include monthly webinars related to topics of interest to older adults with low vision. Presentations on lighting, magnification, emotional adjustment to vision loss and, recently, retinal implants have enjoyed an enthusiastic audience. The webinars are archived, and Low Vision Focus @ Hadley is excited to report that hundreds of interested listeners have taken advantage of these informative discussions. Future topics will include orientation and mobility, macular degeneration support groups and even recreational subjects, such as knitting adaptations and techniques.

For information regarding Low Vision Focus @ Hadley webinars; to view our independent living videos; or to order your own copy of our free audio recordings, please visit lowvisionfocus.org, or call 855-830-5355.

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A Matter of Course:
Get to Know Hadley Instructor Vikki Vaughan

Vikki Vaughan, Hadley Instructor

Q: When did you begin working at Hadley, and what is your professional background?

A: I joined the Hadley faculty in August 2016. I received my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After graduation, I served as a rehabilitation counselor for the State of Tennessee. I taught Independent Living Skills to adults with blindness. In 1984, I received a Master's Degree in Special Education of the Visually Impaired from Vanderbilt University and was employed as an itinerant vision teacher in the Metro Nashville Public Schools. Several years later, I received my Assistive Technology Applications Certificate from California State University, Northridge. I served as the Vision/Assistive Technology Specialist in the Nashville Public Schools until my retirement earlier this year. In addition to my job at Hadley, I also teach Access Technology as an adjunct instructor in Vanderbilt University's Vision Teacher Preparatory Graduate Program.

Q: You teach courses in assistive technology. How did you become interested in this area of instruction?

A: Over the years, I have been amazed at the many ways in which technology has changed the lives of individuals with disabilities. Starting with one homebound student with blindness, I witnessed first-hand many children and young adults who have greatly benefited from assistive technology. I continue to see its positive impact on my adult students at Hadley. Assistive technology, like all technology, is continually evolving, a fact that keeps it interesting after all these years. I am still learning, right along with my students!

Q: Tell a little about the courses you teach in Hadley's technology curriculum.

A: I teach technology classes that focus on Windows-based applications and using the internet to achieve personal and professional goals. The courses include Strategies to Connect with Social Media; Screen Readers: Formatting Word Documents; and Using Excel. I think our technology courses are amazing! I have learned new concepts and strategies as I've taught them. My favorite course is Using Excel. I think it is well-designed and provides useful information, whether it's used for creating a personal budget at home or tracking inventory on the job.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: I love the interaction with students. It gives me great pleasure to know that I am helping them reach personal and professional goals. It also inspires me to know that our efforts as a team might provide the student with the skills he or she needs to be independent. The determination and effort I witness on a daily basis makes me want to be a better teacher, as well as a better person.

Q: What other aspects of your role at Hadley would you like to share?

A: I am looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues to develop new technology courses and Seminars@Hadley. The ever-changing nature of technology requires that we constantly revise and update the content of our courses. At Hadley Institute, our mission is to promote independent living through lifelong, distance education programs. This means we must stay current with our times and be attuned to the needs of our students. I will continue to listen to our students as they share their goals and the skills they need to reach their goals.

Q: Do you have a hobby or special interest?

A: I love activities that take me outdoors: scuba diving, hiking, traveling, swimming and kayaking. When it's too cold to be outdoors, I love listening to music, reading and binge-watching my favorite TV shows. I am a devoted animal-lover, and our family includes a miniature Yorkie and two cats.

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Hadley Celebrates White Cane Safety Day

On October 15, Hadley brought awareness to national White Cane Safety Day in a most unique way. Faculty and staff came together to create, build and set up a display of white canes on the front lawn of Hadley. PVC pipe and colored duct tape were transformed in to 31 "white canes" — one for each day of Blindness Awareness Month in October.

The white cane is a tool of independence and mobility, allowing those who are visually impaired to come and go on their own. Hadley instructor Jennifer Ottowitz says the event was a good way to promote the importance of the blind using aids. "My white cane is my companion," she said. "It protects me from obstacles in my path, helps me as I explore new frontiers and keeps me on the straight and narrow as I find my way through life."

The first use of the white cane was in 1921 when James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol, England, became blind following an accident. Because he was feeling uncomfortable with the amount of traffic near his home, he painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible. In 1930, the Peoria Lions Club in Illinois introduced the idea of using the white cane with a red band as a means of assisting the blind in independent mobility.

The "White Canes" display on Hadley's front lawn

Hadley staff with the "White Canes" display and the "White Cane Safety Day" poster sign on Hadley's front lawn

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Seminars@Hadley Moving to a New Platform

It's hard to believe that Hadley has been offering its Seminars@Hadley webinars for over 10 years, the first seminar debuting in 2006. Since inception, we've presented on more than 330 different topics, including accessibility and technology, braille literacy, business, employment and vocational skills, cooking and entertaining, health and medical, independent living, low vision, travel, recreation and leisure, and many others.

In an effort to enhance the quality of content delivery for Seminars@Hadley, we will be migrating to a new webinar platform in 2017. This new format is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, a web-based accessible webinar hosting system. In the coming months, we will be publishing step-by-step instructions and holding introductory webinars to make the transition for current and new users as smooth as possible. Blackboard collaborate is compatible with PC and Mac operating systems, and works well with most popular browsers and screen reading programs.

Stay tuned for the new Seminars@Hadley! To sign up for an upcoming seminar, or to browse through the expansive archive, visit hadley.edu/seminar.

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ICRE-R Visit to Hadley in December 2016

Staff from the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education - Roosevelt (ICRE-R) visited Hadley just before the holiday break to catch up on what’s new and take a tour.

ICRE-R staff group picture during the visit at Hadley

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