Kay Alicyn Ferrell, Ph.D.
Kay Alicyn Ferrell, Ph.D., is Professor in the School of Special Education, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. Kay is perhaps best known for her book, Reach Out and Teach: Helping Your Child with Visual Impairment Learn and Grow, revised in 2011. She wrote the first Reach Out and Teach back in the 1980s, before early intervention and preschool services were widespread; the recent revision updates readers on current laws and the most recent research.
Kay began her career as an educator after she worked for a blind attorney, who suggested that she should teach blind children. The attorney, Harold E. Krents (author of To Race the Wind), told her that she “would be hard on blind kids.” Although it’s impossible to know exactly what he meant, Kay has always felt that he wanted her to have high expectations for children who are visually impaired. His influence not only changed her life, but remains an essential part of her philosophy about visual impairment.
She earned a degree in teaching blind and visually impaired students from Teachers College, Columbia University, then went on to work for the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind and the Virginia Commission for the Visually Handicapped. Along the way she has taught both children and adults who were blind and visually impaired, but confesses to a particular love of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. To this day, she believes that blindness affects how a child learns, not what he or she can learn, and sees visual impairment as a possibility rather than a limitation.
Kay has been honored with several awards and feels privileged to have worked with families over the years. Her own family includes her husband, Richard, a retired library technician, and a daughter, Galina, a civil engineer. She enjoys being a grandmother to ten-year-old Benjamin, whom she considers the best part of life!