It’s been nearly two weeks since I arrived at the School for the Blind for my week of training and support. I’d meant to write up a post earlier than this, but I’ve been a busy body all this past week.
A good thing really!
I have people asking me what kinds of things visually impaired adults do at the School for the Blind. This post, I hope, will answer some of their questions.
The School for the Blind in Grand Forks (North Dakota) is mostly geared for school-aged kids but the ND Vision Services offers quarterly week-long training sessions for adults at the school each year.
Awesome’s my humble opinion.
What types of training do they offer for adults?
Well, when you first express interest in attending, you have the option of selecting any of (or all) the following six types of training/support:
–Adjustment (coping skills, therapy, etc.)
–Daily Living Skills (cooking, housekeeping, organization, etc.)
–Technology (learn about all types of accessibility options with computers, phones/cells, etc.)
–Orientation/Mobility (cane training, learning skills of getting around at home or in the community, etc.)
–Vocation/Career (what’s out there for a visually impaired person, job training, career preparation, etc.)
The week began at 8:30am Monday; but first, I arrived there Sunday evening where I was greeted by the House Parent, Amy. My “room” for the week was actually an “apartment.”
My “room” at the School
The School has two “apartments” reserved for teens where they can learn Independent Living Skills. They are equipped with a full kitchen, one bedroom, full bath, living/dining room which has an extra bed and TV w/ cable. I lucked out and was assigned to one of these rooms.
During the week, there’s a House Parent on duty between 3 and 11pm, and then another one for the overnight hours until the instructors arrive usually around 7am.
Each week day began with breakfast at 8am held in the large kitchen/dining area where in order to get there from your room is by maneuvering through a series of thinly carpeted hallways (in my mind have always been a sort of maze with strange series of tiled, checkered-style blocks at certain sections throughout each hallway). But this time I learned their purpose! For an individual who’s completely/mostly blind, as he/she walks with the White Cane, each block signifies there is an office or room located at that area. And in order to know which room was which is by counting the blocks. Block #3 is the Technology room, or Block #4 is where the kitchen’s at. When you cross an extremely large block, that means you’re at an intersection where two hallways meet.
You get the idea (I hope).
At the first/initial breakfast, you’d receive your scheduled classes for the week. For this day (Monday), you’d have an instructor aiding you to each class so you’d know where it’s located. For the rest of the week, the help to each class gradually decreased until you are independently getting around to each class, meal, and your room.
This is the ultimate goal for all the training at the School…to enable a visually impaired person to become as independent and self-reliant as possible.
There are generally three classes in the morning, and three classes in the afternoon (each session is one hour long where you meet one-on-one with the instructor) running from 8:30am until 4pm with a lunch-break at 11:45.
My schedule was as followed:
8:30 Daily Living Skills
2pm Daily Living Skills
I opted out of the rest while the other attendees participated in all areas.
Dinner (set up by the House Parent) usually began around 5:45pm. The rest of the evening was your own time.
The classes were great, but for me, I absolutely enjoyed the interaction with the people (both the instructors and peers).
The first time I attended here was in June 2016 where there were seven of us total. This time there were just 3 of us.
Harley was the youngest at age 26. She completely lost her vision two years prior due to diabetes. This was her first time here.
Jewel was the oldest at 53, and as local, she’s a frequent visitor. She’s in the process of losing her sight also due to diabetes.
And of course, there was me, right smacked in the middle.
The camaraderie between the three of us was awesome and inspiring.
Just what I sorely needed.
The days were intense but fast. When Friday came, I found I wasn’t really ready to head home.
I felt safe here. I felt like I mattered. And the people I hung with truly get me whereas my family struggled to do just that.
But, I’ve learned new skills, and have been introduced to new possibilities that I’m truly excited about and hope to bring to fruition soon.