Bio: Taan Shapiro
One day in my 10th grade English class, my teacher assigned a research paper on whatever we wanted to write. As a long time woodwind player, the idea of teaching music to people who are blind popped into my head. And, like any idea, I explored the answer. It was at this moment in 1998, at the dawning of the Internet, I wrote my first e-mails. One of whom was the late Bettye Krolick, a published author on this very topic and the other e-mail was to a teacher of music at Texas School for the Blind. They both advised that I start my career as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).
Subsequently, I completed my high school community service project at the Cleveland Sight Center working in their pre-school. I spent two summers working at the Cleveland Sight Center summer camp too.
From 2000-2005, I went to school in Michigan and got my BS from Eastern Michigan University as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI). I then moved to Boston, MA where I began working first as a TVI, both in classrooms of students with visual impairments as well as an itinerant TVI.
It was in 2006 that I received my first student who was both visually impaired and he had severe multiple disabilities. I remember the early days of not knowing what to do, how reach the student and what to even teach. I slowly began to talk to other providers (physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist) on the student's therapeutic team. I read and tried out many learning activities. I knew I had connected with the student when one day I walked into his classroom, he heard my voice and in his best approximation said, "circle" all the while jumping for joy in his customized wheelchair. Circle was what this student called the first activity we did together at the beginning of each session. It was then I fell in love with children who are visually impaired with severe multiple disabilities.
From 2007-2008, I completed my MEd in orientation and mobility at University Massachusetts Boston. After district-wide layoffs, I decided to change directions and teach special education abroad in Mukono, District Uganda.
Upon returning to Boston in 2012, I worked for four years at Perkins School for the Blind as a classroom teacher in their Lower School program. Needing another change of scenery and professional challenge, I moved across the county and was the sole itinerant TVI for a district in the Seattle-area. I continued to build my craft with children who are visually impaired with severe multiple disabilities. And, in another leap of geographic faith, I moved to San Francisco where I am continuing to be an itinerant TVI all the while building a voice to share my practices more broadly in the country.