Outreach Student Activities

Short Course and After-School Programs, Counseling and Braille Challenge

Short Course Programs

Due to their unique needs, blind and visually impaired students often require deliberate instruction in skill areas beyond the core curriculum that are crucial for success in life.  These skill areas are part of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and include: compensatory or functional academic skills, including communication modes; Orientation and Mobility; social interaction skills; independent living skills; recreation and leisure skills; career education; use of assistive technology; sensory efficiency; and self-determination.

Because it is difficult to address these needs in a typical academic school day, MSB offers short course programs to students (1st-12th grade) monthly on weekends throughout the school year and during the summer to promote skill development in the nine areas of the ECC.  During the school year, short courses vary in length from 1 -3 days.   During the summer, we provide 1-4 week intensive programs in specific academic and ECC skill areas.  Our short courses are taught by highly trained and highly qualified MSB staff as well as staff from county vision programs around the state and other organizations that provide services to the visually impaired population.  Some of these programs may include a small charge. Short courses can be provided on the MSB campus or regionally.

Below is a list of short courses that can be provided upon request:

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame – includes a multi-sensory tour of Camden Yards in Baltimore and instruction in beep ball
  • Building Everyone’s Safety Techniques (BEST) – instruction in improving self-awareness, coping with stranger danger and bullying and basic self-defense
  • Holiday Cooking/Crafts Make ‘n Take – multi-sensory fun with holiday cookie decorating and arts and crafts for the students to explore and take home (offered in November-December only)
  • Adapted Sports and Fitness – instruction in adapted sports specifically designed for the visually impaired population as well as strategies to adapt regular sports activities and backyard games
  • “Looking Good” – instruction in hygiene and daily living skills using adaptations for low vision and blindness (provided separately to girls and boys)
  • Spring Fling – hands on instruction in popular dances to prepare students for school dances and proms
  • “Top Cook” – instruction in planning and preparing main course dishes with adapted cooking tools and strategies
  • “Dessert Boss” – instruction in planning and preparing tasty desserts with adapted baking tools and strategies
  • Family Adventure Weekend – fun outdoor multi-sensory activities for families and students to engage in together at one of the many local area parks
  • Braille Carnival – designed to raise awareness about Braille by having Braille readers, and print readers who are curious about braille.  Participants will enjoy a variety of carnival themed activities to practice braille skills.
  • Social Networking – instruction in safely accessing popular networking sites for visually impaired students


For more information or to schedule a short course, contact:

Ruth Ann Hynson, Director of Statewide Outreach Services
410.319.5726 | ruthh@mdschblind.org

After-School Programs

Since nearly all social skills are learned through observation of the environment and people, students with a visual impairment need focused and explicit instruction to initiate and maintain friendships and work out social problems that naturally arise with peers and adults. To help promote these skills, MSB offers fun activities, on and off campus, to visually impaired students who attend public school. Activities are offered the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month. On campus programs can include:  music, art, karate, dinner and socializing, and a support group.  Community based programs are also offered in collaboration with other agencies that serve the blind, such as Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). These activities include instruction with blind mentors in independent living skills, learning your way around the community, orienting and staying safe in new environments, and building self-confidence.

For more information, contact:

Susan Vanderhoff, LCSW-C
410.444.5000, ext. 1221 | susanv@mdschblind.org


Individual student and/or family counseling can be provided by a licensed clinical social worker to address social emotional issues related to the impact of vision loss on educational performance and daily life as well as other family or environmental stressors. Services can be provided at MSB, in school or in the home with the family.

For more information, contact:

Ruth Ann Hynson, Director of Statewide Outreach Services
410.319.5726 | ruthh@mdschblind.org

Braille Challenge

Braille is an important key to literacy! It allows for the enjoyment of reading, leads to school success, and opens the doors to future employment. Each year in February, students who read braille in grade Pre-K through grade 12 are invited to participate in the Maryland Regional Braille Challenge reading and writing contests. Parents are invited to participate in workshops about current topics related to visual impairment , the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and education, while students are taking the tests. Teachers and school staff are invited to assist with test proctoring and scoring and helping to facilitate the day.

Students whose test scores qualify for the National Braille Challenge will be invited to compete at the annual competition which is held at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, CA each June.

Save the Date: 10th Annual Maryland Regional Braille Challenge – February 9, 2019  

Registration is now open!  More information can be found in the 2019 Braille Challenge Registration Packet

This year will include:

*Disco theme 

*A Braille Challenge 10th Anniversary Art Contest

*Long sleeve shirt sales in adult sizes

*Mini-BELL Program for beginning Braille readers in grades 1-5 

*Parent Workshops 

*Much more!  

Registration is due by January 18th. Please be sure to complete both registration forms. If you are in need of any assistance please e-mail  Kerry Michael at kerrym@mdschblind.org 

If you are interested in volunteering please complete the Volunteer Sign-Up

What is the Braille Challenge? 

Check out the video 2019 Maryland Braille Challenge Intro to learn more about the event

For more information, contact:

Jackie Otwell
410.444.5000, ext. 1488 | jacquelineo@mdschblind.org