Published September 20, 2005
Volume 13, Number 9

Exceptional Teaching Offers Learning Tools for Special People

Exceptional Teaching
Helene Holman, left, and Susan Taylor offer tools for special needs.

By George Walsh
Special to NETWORK

Children and adults who face learning challenges have a variety of special needs. Teaching reading to students whose vision is impaired, for example, often requires tools other than paper, pencils, and notebooks. Finding the right learning tools for the right person is an important part of helping them to function in society. Whether you’re seeking a Braille learning system or a reference book about pervasive developmental disorder, it’s likely that Exceptional Teaching Inc., at 5673 W. Las Positas Blvd. will have the resources you need.

Exceptional Teaching is a mail-order catalogue company that provides educational products such as books, toys, mobility, and living skills products. “Our customers are primarily teachers, rehabilitation specialists, parents, occupational therapists, and orientation and mobility instructors,” says Helene Holman, president of the company. “When the company was founded 30 years ago, its products were mostly geared toward blind and visually impaired children and adults. We have since expanded on that by offering a much wider variety of educational products.”

Exceptional Teaching moved to its Hacienda location in March of this year when Holman and her husband bought the company. Prior to becoming its president, Holman worked for Exceptional Teaching for nearly eight years. In addition to selling products to individuals, the company counts a number of school districts across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom as its customers. Currently, Exceptional Teaching has both a print and online catalogue and soon hopes to make its products available for sale directly from its web site. The office in Hacienda is currently staffed by Holman and another employee, Susan Taylor. The 1,300 square foot facility acts as a warehouse, sales office, and sometimes showroom for Exceptional Teaching’s products.

Though Holman and her husband are now the owners, some of Exceptional Teaching’s most popular products were developed by the company’s original proprietors. “Both Phil and Sally Mangold were teachers who wrote Braille curricula,” Holman says. “They started the company to produce and sell those products. We offer several learning tools that they brought to this market that are sold exclusively by our company.” Mangold products sold by Exceptional Teaching include a product called the Speech Assisted Learning (SAL) System. The SAL System is a Braille learning station that was developed under a grant from the National Science Foundation. Using the SAL System, students press on a Braille character and the device “voices” the word that they are touching. A second press lets them hear the word spelled and describes Braille contractions. Before becoming the company’s owner, Holman spent much of her time with Dr. Sally Mangold working on the SAL System’s development.

The Holmans are committed to their business and are always on the lookout for new offerings that might help the community they serve. “We seek out and add new products to our catalogue all the time,” Holman says. “Our goal is to serve as an educational resource for parents and teachers. Though many of our products are for people with special needs, we also sell educational products that can be used in a standard classroom.”


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