WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Many local events are going virtual to comply with coronavirus pandemic precautions.
Envision, which provides opportunity and inspiration for people who are blind or visually impaired, is going virtual with their Level Up conference for youths as an alternative to canceling the event.
“One of our bigger focuses is making sure our students feel engaged and connected to each other which is really important right now because I think we’ve all been stuck in isolation for a little bit,” Hannah Christenson, Support Program Coordinator for Envision said.
The Level Up program middle school and high school students began in the early 2000s when teachers reached out to Envision, saying their visually impaired students were falling behind. Together, the groups looked for ways to use technology to fill in the gaps.
Christenson and team have been busy behind the scenes, packing up and mailing activities and material to visually impaired students all over the United States to enjoy together, even while apart.
This year, students are receiving a five-gallon bucket and drumsticks for a bucket drumming session.
“Our goal is to help students be prepared for whatever comes, to be successful no matter what format it comes in,” Christenson said.
Students this year will miss out on the opportunity to come to Wichita and stay in the dorms, but still enjoy socialization and interaction even if over the computer.
For Level Up student Nathan Deeds from Iowa, receiving the material in the correct format to use his screen-reading technology can make the difference in his engagement with the content or not. Envision ensures all students have the correct technology to access their material correctly. That’s not always the case for online learning, Deeds said.
“I’ve come across a lot of school things we’re doing now virtually that are just PDFs so depending on how they’re scanned in and things they don’t read very well at all and I think that’s a big part of it,” Deeds said.
While he will miss seeing his friends from year’s past, Deeds will still get to enjoy the conference via Zoom and other video-sharing apps.