OKLAHOMA CITY –Legally blind youth and adults have four opportunities this summer to develop adaptive skills, confidence and more independence at free, week-long training programs offered by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Now in its 15th year, DRS’ Adult Blind Living Evaluation training is designed to give hope through education to newly blind individuals.
Some participants come for residential ABLE training because they live in rural areas where transportation for daily training is not feasible.
ABLE will be led by 13 certified, master’s degree-level experts in blindness rehabilitation employed by the agency’s Visual Services division. Several who are blind have personal experience with vision loss.
To control costs, Visual Services trains and houses ABLE participants during the residential training at the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee. The campus and some staff at OSB, another DRS division, are available between summer school classes when OSB students are home for summer vacation.
“ABLE provides an excellent way to evaluate clients’ skills and provide hands-on training on magnification, computer functions, scanners, phone apps for people who are blind, Braille literacy, equipment that reads text on screens and other adaptive technology,” Julie Brantley, assistive technology specialist, said.
“Training will also focus on self-advocacy, communication, use of remaining vision, personal and home management, kitchen safety and mobility,” said VS Assistive Technology Specialist Julie Brantley.
ABLE staff emphasize career planning, higher education and employment options for those who are going to work.
“Most people come into ABLE classes pretty shy and unsure of themselves, but the one-on-one training improves their skills and confidence -- plus they find out they’re not alone when they meet other people who have similar vision problems,” explained Visual Services Administrator Teresa McDermott, who is visually impaired.
Two ABLE sessions are scheduled June 19-23 or June 26-30 for clients, ages 16 to 21, in Visual Services’ Transition program. Transition helps eligible students with disabilities prepare for employment and life after high school.
Adults, ages 21 and older, can choose between two sessions on July 10-14 or July 17-21. Seniors with visual disabilities are welcome.
Classes begin at noon on Monday of each week with graduation celebrations occurring on Friday mornings before students return home.
“People who attend ABLE training just rave about their experiences and how much difference it makes in their lives,” said Visual Services Programs Manager Elaine
Boykin, who is blind. “We have some great role models on staff – not just one – who are also blind and coping successfully with the same disability.”
During the summer ABLE sessions, Visual Services staff evaluate each participant and provide basic training designed to address problems commonly experienced by people with vision loss:
* Communication—telephone dialing, time telling, information access and labeling
* Meal Preparation—use of the microwave, oven, stovetop and other appliances, safety techniques
* Leisure Time Activities—sewing, arts & crafts, card and board games, and more
* Personal Management—clothing identification and care, grooming tips, medication management, money management, eating in restaurants
* Home Management—housecleaning, kitchen organization, minor home repair, home safety
* Self-Advocacy Skills—decision making skills, self-evaluation techniques, expressing wants and needs
* Mobility— traveling safely indoors and outdoors, teaching others how to guide you, protective techniques, locating dropped objects
* Use of Residual Vision—lighting, color contrast, reducing glare
* Resources—library services, telephone information lines, telephone directory exemption, inspirational materials, handicapped parking
For those who want to attend classes during the day, Visual Services offers ABLE training four times each year in Oklahoma City.
VS’ Training Adult Program, or TAP, is a three-month blindness skills training approach that brings participants together for three-day sessions each month in Tulsa with in-home training support between classes.
Rehabilitation teachers and orientation and mobility specialists provide customized training in clients’ homes to help them develop or improve independent living skills and travel techniques.
For more information about Visual Services’ Adult Blind Living Evaluation and other programs, phone Programs Manager Elaine Boykin or Rehabilitation Therapist Ani Severtsen at 405-522-3333 or visit DRS online at www.okdrs.gov.