The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs awarded a multi-year grant to the Illinois State Board of Education for serving deaf and/or blind children and youth.
The grant is for Project REACH, and the Illinois State Board of Education contracts with the Philip J. Rock Center and School to administer the goals and objectives for Project REACH.
Project Reach provides technical assistance, information, and training to address the early intervention, special education, related services, and transitional services needs of children with deaf-blindness and enhance state capacity to improve services and outcomes for children and their families.
For questions or issues concerning Project REACH grant administration or other education issues, feel free to contact Todd Williams, Project Director, Illinois State Board of Education at (217) 782-5589. For information about Project REACH, feel free to contact Michelle Clyne, Project Coordinator, at (630) 790-2474.
Technical assistance is designed to:
- Assure that service providers more effectively provide special education services
- Provide in-service training to paraprofessionals and professionals
- Provide activities to facilitate family involvement
- Provide consultative services
- Promote the integration/inclusion of children with deaf-blindness with children with other disabilities and without disabilities
Services are coordinated with other state agencies responsible for providing services to children who are deaf-blind.
Project Reach supports the activities of our deaf-blind specialists who live and work in the different strategic geographic areas of the state and a statewide family specialist. These specialists work with local school programs and community service providers and families to identify and provide technical assistance to children (ages birth to 21). Information brochures, periodic telephone contacts, trainings, and on-site consultation on a variety of related topics are offered to program staff and families. Presentations are made at statewide conferences as a way to inform special education personnel and community service providers about the issues of deaf-blindness, services available, and to increase the identification of eligible children and those suspected of having dual sensory impairments.
Deaf-blind specialists conduct informal functional vision and hearing evaluations. They assist in the process of making referrals for formal diagnostic evaluations. Needs assessments are distributed to family members and professionals which allow them the opportunity to identify areas of need for consultation services and various forms of technical assistance.
The Family Specialist facilitates collaboration between Project Reach and the Illinois Advocates for the Deaf-Blind (IADB) parent organization. The Family Specialist helps families to connect with each other and provides technical assistance to parents and children.