National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI)

NTAC-BVI
Mississippi State University

Meet Dana Tarter

Dana in her classroom Dana kayaking

Mrs. Dana Tarter has a passion for learning and studying, and she loves people. That is why she chose a career in public education. For twenty years she has been dedicated to teaching students with disabilities. Her job titles have included behavior resource teacher, inclusion teacher, and finally a special education teacher for students with Autism, which she reports has been the most rewarding.

Although Dana was born with vision and hearing, she has lost both over the years as a result of Usher Syndrome. Dana uses several pieces of adaptive technology to help her on the job and with life activities. These include: 2 refreshable braille displays, a wireless keyboard, a monitor, and her iPhone and iPad. She reports that her 20-cell refreshable braille display can be connected by Bluetooth to her iPhone and iPad, which she uses in the classroom. She uses them for making lesson plans, attendance, iBooks, etc. Her students use the iPad and wireless keyboard to communicate with her and she can read their communications on the refreshable braille display. The monitor is used with the iPad, so all students can participate when one student is using it. When using her laptop she has a 40-cell braille display which assists her to complete many tasks.

Dana enjoys the challenge of working in a self-contained classroom with students who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her own challenges have helped her to think outside the box and provide innovative hands-on exercises which help her students learn important concepts like math skills. Dana reports that the keys to her success are her faith, staying teachable, being patient, and never giving up. Her extracurricular activities include kayaking, rock climbing, tandem biking, exercising, and traveling. Dana’s words of advice to others with vision loss are “Believe in yourself. You can do it. Go for it!!!”