Learning To Cope

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.)

Braille

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.

Awesome.

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

9:30 Technology

10:45 Mobility

11:45 Lunch

1pm Adjustment

2pm Daily Living Skills

3pm Technology

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Back On the Bandwagon! #Writerslife

Finally, have a new computer! Actually, it’s a (HP) laptop. Since I’ve never owned one before it has been a bit of a challenge getting used to the smaller screen and the compact keyboard; but, I can type again (no more finger-tapping on a tablet)!

Another challenge I’m facing is that I don’t have Word installed. On my old desktop, I was still working with the 2003 version which came with the computer, free! Guess they don’t do that anymore which sucks, but oh well. Now, I’m trying to figure out what’s the best way to get one–any suggestions?

Overall, I’m just really grateful to have something other than a tablet to work with especially as a writer who likes to type fast.

What If There Was No Internet?

 

What if there was no internet?  Whether it crashed due to an electromagnetic storm, or a massive meteor shower took out most of the satellites…and the internet is now GONE.

As a writer, how would you function?  How would you go about sending out your stories to the world?

Would you still keep writing?

So many completely rely on technology (namely internet) to get things done, and to communicate with others.   Would we be able to revert back to the “old” ways of doing things?

Scary thoughts?

 

Books: Man’s Greatest Achievement (Short Story)

dean land

Gray clouds hung low in the sky as a group of teenagers clambered down the street littered with rusted and mangled vehicular bodies.   Houses on both sides of the disintegrating asphalt stood in various wretched shapes.   Woods warped.  Windows smashed or missing. Vinyl sidings bent like painful hang-nails.

The group turned down a particular graveled pathway which led to a large, crumbling brick-laid building that stood three-stories tall.  A sign stretched across the middle of the structure with words etched in the marble slab: Esmond High

As soon as they crossed the threshold, they turned right and entered into a large room.  Inside the open room several long tables spread across the dusty tile flooring, each partnered with two deformed metallic chairs.   Large windows lined the far wall of the room, and like the others, many were either missing or broken.  They also provided the only source of lighting.

The younger version of adults sat at the three front tables, and waited in silence.

Moments later, a man shuffled into the room.  Long, wispy white hair hung long from his head.  White-black beard partially covered his face, its bottom touched his ragged red and black plaid shirt.

“Good morning, class.”  His hoarse voice crackled as he slowly hobbled to the front where a small wooden desk stood.

“Good morning, Mr. Pike.” The teens replied in unison.

He gingerly set down a plastic bag on top of the desk which wobbled with the weight being pressed on it.  Mr. Pike groaned as he forced himself to stand straight, and turned his cataract-riddled, hazel eyes to the classroom before him.

“It seems our number is ever growing smaller.” He sniffed.

“Marge’s parents have married her off to the Mableton’s clan so she won’t be coming back.” The only female in the room spoke in a quiet voice.

“Ethan, Sam, and Levi have been recruited to the front line.” The dark haired male in the center table said.

“Sal was killed with his parents last night by thieves.” The smallish boy next to the brunette female muttered.

“Madness.” The old man whispered as he rapped his arthritic knuckles on the wood.  “This is what we’ve been reduced to.  Constant warring with one another.  Servitude and slavery.  Mockery and misery all around us.  All due to stupidity.  Stupidity.”

“Mr. Pike?”  The girl’s voice drifted to his ears.  “Are you alright?”

He shook his head hard and blinked several times as he struggled to regain his focus on the remaining kids.

“Yes, yes of course I’m alright!” He snapped as his hands gripped the plastic bag.  “It’s a bit disconcerting when I see our future being ripped from us, that’s all.”

“What’s in the bag, Mr. Pike?” A petite oriental boy from the table directly in front of him asked.

The elder released his grip on the bag and began to pat it. “Ah, yes.  The bag.  I discovered the content last evening when I was rummaging through a building that was once a library.”

“What’s a library?” The girl asked.

“My dear Oona.” He smiled. “A library was used to house what we called books.  Books were once the foundation of which we built a great civilization. Books were what brought us out of the last Dark Ages.  They enabled us to become highly advanced and educated and enlightened.   They were the glue that held us together.”

“What happened?” The small boy next to Oona asked.

“Man grew stupid, Darrin. “He answered. “We grew so enamored with technology and all our wonderful advances, and decided to get rid of books, which contained everything, to rely solely on digital machines.”

He glanced across the room and saw that all eyes and ears were completely attuned to him, and continued. “Then the storm happened and wiped out all the technology, and with it our heart and soul as a specie.” He raised a hand into the air. “Hence, you see the result all around us.”

“So…” Mr. Pike reached a hand inside the bag. “For the next few weeks, we’ll be reading two of the greatest books ever written, in my humble opinion, by man.”  And pulled out two heavily worn hard-covered books. “Moby Dick and War and Peace.”

“Could we take turns reading them?” Oona breathlessly asked.

“I don’t read too well.”  The oriental boy moaned.

“Don’t worry, Mai, I’ll help you.” She smiled.

 

reading

 

Okay, questions for the reader:

1.  What message do you think this story is trying get across?

2. Would you want to read more of this particular story?