Conversations on Literacy

For the past thirty years, the Getting In Touch With Literacy conference has been a forum for discussion, explorations, and conversations about literacy for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Since 1993, people have met colleagues and built a vibrant literacy community at biennial conferences. We know that the last two years have made it difficult to maintain and foster connections within that community.

While we wait to gather again in person in 2023, you are invited to take part in a series of virtual conversations about literacy. Conversations on Literacy: Content and Conversations will feature approximately ten virtual sessions, taking place between March 2022 and September 2023. These sessions will capture the spirit of in-person interactions using a variety of online meeting tools to create robust conversations and discussion. ACVREP CEUs will be available for each session. Read more about this exciting series.

Tickets are required to attend each virtual conversation. Cost per ticket is $35 and each ticket allows access for up to two people.

We are taking the summer off from content driven sessions, but will be hosting a happy hour event July 1, 2022. Stay tuned for more details on this informal gathering of friends, colleagues, and fellow literacy enthusiasts. We will resume our scheduled programming in September.

Check out the tentative schedule of upcoming events. Please note that some sessions have confirmed dates and others are listed in their month of presentation.

Update coming soon


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Conference Countdown

About the event

GITWL 2023 brings together the most current thinking on all forms of literacy for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, including print, braille, auditory, tactile graphics comprehension and the use of assistive technology.

Presentations will address the needs of a range of ages and all levels of ability, including conventional and functional literacy. Plus, more than 60 concurrent workshops and additional poster sessions will focus on specific areas, including:

  • Assessment, instruction and support

  • Assistive technology and tactile graphics

  • Braille Instruction and Tactile Literacy

  • Cultural Linguistic Diversity and English Language Learners

  • Early Childhood Literacy

  • Legislation and Policy Affecting Literacy

  • Literacy and Additional Learning Needs

  • Low Vision

  • Transitional and Vocational Literacy

  • Literacy In Everyday Life

getting in touch with literacy

Getting In Touch with Literacy: The Finale

Since 1993 we have learned so much about literacy from each other through the biennial conference. We have encouraged the exchange of information about literacy for individuals with blindness and visual impairment of all ability levels. This will be the 15th GITWL conferences in the past 28 years. The final Getting In Touch with Literacy conference will be held in Florida in November & December, 2023. It has been a fantastic ride and we deeply appreciate the countless professionals who have embraced this conference and supported it with organizing and presenting. The collective voices have provided a forum for supporting literacy for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We will be advertising widely with the hope that this will be the best GITWL conference ever! Given the quality of this conference through the years, this is a tall order! Please consider submitting a proposal to present at the 2023 conference.

Conference History/Beliefs

Literacy for individuals with visual impairments is an area of increasing interest. At one time, the subject was just one of many diverse topics discussed at general conferences. But for the past 28 years, a group of professionals and individuals with visual impairments has organized a conference devoted specifically to this topic.

The following communities have organized and sponsored the literacy conference in the past:

    1993  Little Rock, Arkansas
    1995  Austin, Texas
    1997  Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1999  San Francisco, California
    2001  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    2003  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    2005  Denver, Colorado
    2007  St. Pete Beach, Florida
    2009  Costa Mesa, California
    2011  Louisville, Kentucky
    2013  Providence, Rhode Island
    2015  Albuquerque, New Mexico
    2017  New Orleans, Louisiana
    2019  Seattle, Washington

Noted presenters from both the vision and general literacy fields through the years have included Ruby Ryles, Fred Schroeder, Carl Augusto, Sharon Sacks, Judith Dixon, David Warren, Donna McNear, Kay Ferrell, Sally Mangold, Linda Jones, Karen Wolffe, Frances Mary D'Andrea, Amanda Hall Lueck, Jamie Dote-Kwan, Jeffrey Senge, Anne Corn, Ike Presley, Cay Holbrook, Alan Koenig, Eileen Curran, Bernadette Kappan, Denis Schreiber, Barbara Paten Maurer, Reid Lyon, Barbara Miles, Brian Cambourne, Phil Hatlen, Linda Mamer, Diane Wormsley, Ann MacCuspie, Kevin Sterwart, Karen Karsh, Betty Zaborowski, Deborah Hatton, Lisa Fittipaldi, Erik Weihenmeyer, Susan Spungin, Barbara Foorman, Michael Melor, Diane Croft, Jeff Bohrman, Jag Einhorn and Paul Malloy.

Key Beliefs of the Getting In Touch With Literacy Conference

Literacy is liberating. It opens doors, enlarges the world and makes life richer and more meaningful. Reading impacts us in a way that no other art form - or life skill - can duplicate. It touches all areas of our lives.

We believe:
It is important to focus on all areas of literacy including braille, print, combination of braille and print, use of assistive technology and other literacy tools, research, practice. The conference is not a "braille literacy conference" though some have tried to define it as such - it is a conference that includes underlying respect for all forms of literacy. It is the belief of conference organizers that individuals with visual impairments have a right to respect for the use of all literacy tools.

A range of age levels and all ability levels should be addressed. Presentations are encouraged that deal with topics related to infants and toddlers, school aged students, and adults. Both conventional and functional literacy issues are included.

Conference committees raise funds and solicit sponsorship in order to keep registration costs for conference participants as low as possible. Because this conference is most valuable to those who provide direct service to individuals with visual impairments, every effort should be made to keep registration and lodging costs reasonable for teachers of students with visual impairments and rehabilitation teachers. Sponsorship of various aspects of the conference (speakers, meals and breaks, printing, etc) helps keep conference expenses as low as possible. Proceeds from the Getting In Touch With Literacy conference should be used to support the on-going planning of professional development in literacy instruction. Therefore, all conference proceeds from this conference will be dedicated to efforts to support literacy for individuals with visual impairments.


Texas School for the Blind podcast: "A Sense of Texas"
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The Call for Proposals for the 2023 conference will open in late 2022 or early 2023. If you had an accepted paper for the 2021 cancelled conference you will be contacted about a resubmission or update. New submissions will also be welcomed.


Getting In Touch With Literacy 2023: The Finale

Registration for the 2023 GITWL Conference will be available in Spring, 2023. Registration deadline dates and costs will be advertised as soon as they are determined.

GITWL Friends and Supporters

Hotel Info

TradeWinds Island Resort on St. Pete Beach is located on 20 acres, directly on a Gulf of Mexico beach in Saint Pete Beach. The hotel offers 5 outdoor swimming pools, 4 full-service restaurants, and a spa.

Guest rooms at the Island Grand are equipped with a microwave, coffee machine, toaster, small refrigerator, and kitchenware. A flat-screen cable TV is also included. Some rooms offer views of the Gulf of Mexico.

TradeWinds Island Grand features 2 hot tubs and 2 tennis courts. Guests can enjoy paddle boats, beach volleyball, a water slide, and beach cabanas. Complimentary access to the KONK Activities Center is available for all guests. 24-hour babysitting services and themed drop-off camps are available for an additional fee. Water sport activities include water slide rides and parasailing.

Dining options at the TradeWinds Island Grand include the Palm Court Italian Grill, Bermudas, Flying Bridge.Casual dining includes a poolside beach bar and grab-and-go options.

Fort De Soto Park is 16 minutes' drive from TradeWinds Island Grand, while Central St. Petersburg is 10 mi away. The Dali Museum is just 11 mi from the hotel.

Group rate and hotel registration link coming soon.

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Flight Info

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