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Special Needs

“Knowing your limitations is the first step toward overcoming them.” ~Anonymous

People of all ages with special needs in Arizona can avail themselves of various educational opportunities and resources.

Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library
Regional Library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. A free library service providing books, magazines, and other library resources in alternate formats for Arizona residents of all ages whose visual or physical disabilities prevent the use of conventional print materials. They loan Braille and recorded publications, as well as the necessary equipment to play the recorded materials. A division of the Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records.

Arizona Branch of the Association for Play Therapy
For children, play is recognized as one of the most natural modes of learning and interacting with others. It is through play that children often express their feelings, explore themselves and their relationships, and attempt to understand their experiences. Play Therapy seeks to empower clients by using their own imagination and natural creativity to prevent or resolve psychosocial issues and promote healing and growth. Parents can meet with a trained professional to learn more about the play therapy process, ways to support their child, and learn how to communicate with their child through play. The site includes links for families to locate a play therapist for their child, upcoming workshops, and additional resources.

Arizona Bridge to Independent Living
Independent living and advocacy by, and for, people with disabilities. Offers and promotes programs designed to empower people with disabilities to take personal responsibility so they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community. ABIL’s programs include Information and Referral, Peer Support, Home Modifications, Independent Living Skills Instruction, Personal / Home Health Assistance, Americans with Disabilities Act Training and Compliance Surveys, Consumer Advocacy, and a variety of other community integration and transitional services.

Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The ACBVI is committed to “enhancing the quality of life for people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired.” Provides assistive technology, counseling/social work, orientation and mobility training/rehabilitation teaching and social recreation services for adults who are legally blind or visually impaired as well as those who have a degenerative eye condition.

Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
ACDHH was established in 1977 to improve the quality of life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing residents. The Arizona Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (AzTEDP) is a free service that provides telephone equipment such as volume control telephones, TTY’s and signaling/flashing devices to Arizona residents who are also legal residents of the United States of America who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-blind or Speech-impaired. ACDHH also serves as a statewide information referral center for issues related to people with hearing loss.

Arizona Council of the Blind
Primary focus is on blindness-related issues – especially on dealing effectively with the challenges of daily living, whether a person be a child or adult, regardless of the cause of sight impairment. They encourage and assist the blind, especially the newly blind, to develop their abilities and potentials and to assume a responsible place in the community. They conduct a program of public education aimed toward improving the understanding of the problems of blindness and the capabilities of blind people. They also provide scholarships to assist qualified blind college students to pursue their higher education and goals.

Arizona Department of Economic Security: Rehabilitation Services
A state agency that provides that provides vocational rehabilitation services for people living with disabilities as well as programs and resources for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Arizona Department of Education Exceptional Student Services
The Arizona Dept. of Education has a special education program to provide training, technical assistance, and monitoring so students with disabilities can reach higher levels of academic achievement, workplace skills, and effective participation in society.

Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition
The mission of AzDAC is to act as a catalyst to engage individuals with disabilities, their families and organizations that serve them in advocacy efforts that promote public policy which enhances the choice, dignity, rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities.

Arizona State University Disability Resource Center
In the late 1960’s, large numbers of Vietnam veterans with disabilities selected Arizona State University (ASU) to pursue educational retraining goals under the GI bill. By 1973, ASU committed to providing access to all programs and facilities for students with disabilities. By the mid-1980s, ASU was well on its way to becoming one of the most physically accessible campuses in the nation. The Disability Resource Center facilitates a wide range of academic support accommodations to ensure equal access for ASU students with disabilities. The Center also serves as an information hub for ASU students, faculty, and the community.

Arizona Technology Access Program (AzTAP)
Promotes awareness of, access to and acquisition of assistive technology for persons living with disabilities, with particular emphasis on college students and access to higher education. Services include equipment demonstrations, short-term equipment loans, training and even help with financing through the Arizona Loans for Assistive Technology program.

Arizona Literacy and Learning Center
ALLC improves literacy in Arizona through comprehensive, research-based screenings, diagnosis and treatment for individuals with language-based learning disorders and auditory processing disorders; and an extensive special needs resource library; volunteer opportunities are available.

Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind
Schools providing for the education of children and youth with hearing or vision loss throughout Arizona were enacted by first state legislature in 1912. The Arizona State School for the Blind and the Arizona State School for the Deaf are located in Tucson. The Phoenix Day School for the Deaf serves children who live within the metropolitan Phoenix area.

ARTability is a consortium of state-wide theatre groups and museums dedicated to providing services for disabled in Arizona through the idea of making art more accessible to wheelchair users and those with loss of vision and/or hearing. ARTability provides site consultations, recommendations for American Sign Language interpreters and Audio Describers, as well as a quarterly newsletter.

Club Z Tutoring Services
In-home tutoring services with four locations serving Arizona; all subjects and all grades from pre-K to college; learning disabilities; speech therapy; standardized testing; flexible scheduling and affordable rates; certified teachers and degreed professionals provide individualized instruction and support.

Disability Empowerment Center
The Disability Empowerment Center of Arizona (DEC) is the new home of Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL) and ten other non-profit organizations that serve the disability community. Each organization shares a common history and vision for the future. The 62,000 square-foot universally accessible center, located at 5025 E. Washington St. in Phoenix, opened in October 2008. In addition to ABIL, the DEC houses the Arizona Center for Disability Law, Raising Special Kids, the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Joni & Friends, the Statewide Independent Living Council, Arizona Autism United, the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association, Brain Injury Association of Arizona, Valley Center of the Deaf, NAMI Arizona, and there may be others. The Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities is currently under construction on the same campus as the Disability Empowerment Center. This state-of-the-art, universally accessible, 45,000 square-foot sports, recreation, fitness and aquatics center will greatly enhance the quality of life for persons with disabilities. The Center is slated to open in November of 2011.

Gateway Academy
A private day school specializing in students with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. Gateway Academy is deeply committed to serving the unique educational needs of students with Nonverbal Learning Disorders, and it is the only school in the State of Arizona specializing in this population. Programs range from preschool to grade 12. Where challenges are seen as learning opportunities and students are accepted and celebrated for their differences!

Gompers Habilitation Center
Gompers Habilitation Center has been committed to serving adults and children with developmental disabilities in our community since 1947. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Gompers Habilitation Center provides professionally organized and implemented programs of special education, Day Training for Adults, aquatic and rehabilitative therapy, oral health, vocational training, employment placement, and community education to thousands of adults and children with disabilities and their families. Gompers has two facilities: the main center in Phoenix and a Vocational Center in Glendale. Gompers believes that every individual should be defined by their abilities – not their disabilities. It is this belief that guides Gompers to identify and maximize each person’s individual potential. And when that is our primary focus, the possibilities become limitless.

Learning Ally
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic is now Learning Ally! Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s collection of more than 65,000 digitally recorded textbooks, literature, reference and professional titles – downloadable and accessible on mainstream as well as specialized assistive technology devices – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success.

Learning for Life Resource Center
Career exploration, personality profiles, learning styles, educational and homeschool resources, workshops and educational assessments.

Living Well with Disabilities – Living Well is a 20-hour/10 week, peer-facilitated workshop series designed to improve general health and quality of life for adults with disabilities or chronic health problems. Offered in English or Spanish, this evidence-based program is effective in reducing secondary conditions, health care utilization, and substance abuse dependency. A participant manual is available so that those attending can prepare for each of the weekly sessions. Each class is built around the values of peer support, respect, trust, confidentiality, and community participation. Special grants allow registration to be FREE of charge for eligible adults and caregivers. Living Well with Disabilities is funded by Magellan Health Services of Arizona through an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services. This program is offered in the Greater Phoenix area.

National Federation of the Blind of Arizona
The real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight, but the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist in the general public. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness is only a physical nuisance. Members of the NFB strive to educate the public that the blind are people who can compete on terms of equality with all members of society.

Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
This public charter school in Mesa, AZ, is the largest deaf school in the nation and accepts students in Grades K-12. SSDHH’s faculty and staff consist of highly qualified and skilled deaf and hearing instructors who educate and prepare students to succeed in both the hearing and deaf worlds. SSDHHs unique bilingual-bicultural approach to deaf education empowers students and enables them to attend college, play sports, reach out to the community and become well rounded and well educated adults.

Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired
A non-profit agency serving visually impaired adults in Southern Arizona since 1964. By promoting independence, SAAVI enhances the quality of life for those with vision loss through programs offering services, skills training and social and recreational opportunities.

Starlight Children’s Foundation
Starlight brings together experts from pediatric health care, technology and entertainment to create programs that help seriously ill children and their families cope with pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. In 1993, Starlight began to serve Arizona’s communities through its hospital-based programs. Today, Starlight provides ongoing support to children, parents and siblings in with an array of outpatient, hospital-based and Web offerings. Starlight programs range from social networking for teens through Starbright World® to Great Escapes™ in the community. Children or families can select programs available by category or condition.

Sun Sounds of Arizona
Provides audio access to printed information for people who cannot read because they have a visual, physical or learning disability. Sun Sounds Radio enlightens, entertains and educates thousands of people in Arizona and the Southwest.

Sylvan Learning Center
Several locations; click on “Center Finder” to find one.
Programs include reading, writing, math, study skills, SAT test prep, and more, for students who need to catch up and those who want to get ahead. A comprehensive assessment identifies your child’s needs and certified teachers deliver a personalized program of study, recognizing that every child learns differently. Sylvan offers information and resources for parents with children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia and other special learning needs. Contact your local Sylvan to discuss your child’s unique situation and determine if they will be able to provide the educational help your family needs.

The Centers for Habilitation
TCH provides services for disabled in Arizona to support, care for and empower children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. TCH Services improve quality of life, alleviate barriers to independence and help Arizonans reach their full potential. TCH provides early intervention and therapy for infants and toddlers, day activities and life skill instruction for adults, special day services for seniors, congregate living settings, attendant care, respite sitters, employment training and job placement.

Valley Center of the Deaf
Valley Center of the Deaf (VCD) is a private, non-profit, social service agency serving the deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and deaf blind of Maricopa County. For over 25 years VCD has been providing a variety of services for disabled in Arizona with sensory disabilities including employment services, interpreting and a technology demonstration center. VCD also provides cultural and social activities such as golf tournaments, interpreted plays, picnics and sign language classes.

WGBH Media Access Group
Delivering accessible media through captioning and audio descriptions. Their website contains a wealth of information including educational uses for captions.

SEE ALSO: Top Ten: Adaptive Sports
Top Ten: Adaptive Recreation Facilities
Top Ten: Special Needs Camps

Banner of and link to Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities

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