On a recent Saturday morning, the Lansing capitol building’s cavernous rooms echoed with detailed spoken descriptions of architectural features and artwork.

Tour guides were taking families of children who are Blind/Visually Impaired (BVI) on a tour through the capitol building as part of the annual Michigan Parents of Children who are Visually Impaired (MPVI) retreat, which was held September 20-22, 2019, in collaboration with MDE-LIO. About 80 people took part in the event.

As children, teens, and parents stood in the capitol's large rotunda, a tour guide described the floor, made up of opaque glass tiles, as well as the colors and variations of several American flags displayed behind glass around the perimeter of the circular room.

Before the retreat, MPVI President Jessica Burt worked with capitol staff to make the tour more accessible for people who are BVI, including tactile components and descriptive explanations of the building’s features.

After the tour, families ate lunch at the Michigan Library and Historical Center and then listened to a keynote presentation from Norm DeLisle, former executive director of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. In his presentation, DeLisle talked about his experiences, the importance of advocacy, and challenges facing individuals with disabilities.

In the afternoon, children and teens separated into breakout sessions to learn about assistive technology, practice independent living skills, and take a tour of the Michigan History Center.