Demoralizing, frustrating, and intimidating—three feelings common to individuals who are losing eyesight and who are recognizing their workload is becoming increasingly difficult to execute independently. If this describes you, you may feel all alone and hopeless. First, you are not alone—take a peek at the facts and figures of adults with vision loss. Second, there is hope—let’s examine how you can acquire skills in independent living, assistive technology, travel, and employment, enabling you to live a satisfying life at home and in the office.
In effort to acquire adaptive skills:
- Utilize AFB’s Directory of Services to locate a nearby agency that teaches skills to people who are visually impaired. You can learn travel skills, living skills such as adaptive cooking and cleaning techniques, braille, assistive technology skills, and employment-related skills such as utilizing job accommodations.
- Consider residential vision rehabilitation programs. Several centers across the United States offer training programs, typically between four to 12 weeks in duration, designed for persons who are blind or visually impaired. Training includes adjustment to blindness and instruction in braille, cane and bus travel, vocational rehabilitation, computer and adaptive technology, recreational pursuits, social skills, and home management skills. Some centers and university programs offer residential college preparation training, and other centers offer programs specifically for veterans. It may be difficult to place your life on hold for four to 12 weeks while you acquire skills, but it may be the training you need to attain and succeed in gainful employment. Browse the Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services’ list of US residential programs for people who are blind or visually impaired.
- Take advantage of distance learning courses, often provided free of charge, designed as a means of vision rehabilitation. Widespread topics include, but are not limited to, independent living, indoor orientation and mobility, assistive technology, eating skills, personal grooming, sensory development, and GED preparation. Training is provided by organizations such as The Hadley School for the Blind, E.A.R.S. for EYES Program, and Visions Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
- Ask others who are blind or visually impaired how they accomplish particular tasks without the use of vision. Seek career-specific counsel from a CareerConnect mentor, pose questions on the CareerConnect message boards, and ask others at a local peer support group or group class.
When You Need a Helping Hand
Keep in mind, as you’re learning adaptive skills and even occasionally after you’ve mastered these skills, you’re going to need assistance—we all do! To succeed in comfortably attaining a helping hand, read the CareerConnect blog posts "Tips on Negotiating Assistance" and "The Art of Reciprocating Support and Favors." You’ll learn to compensate others for their time and energy, helping them as they help you.
Remember that people are social creatures that thrive in relationships. Your goal should never be complete independence but a healthy interdependence. Meaning, it’s healthy to pay for services, compensate friends for assistance, and help others in areas of your strength.