[nabs-l] Slow Acting VR Counciler

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 00:36:03 UTC 2011


Hi Brianna and all,
Warning-This will be a rather cynical post, and I apologize in advance
for the cynicism. However, I feel it beneficial to discuss what I have
observed of the VR system, as well as offer some practical advice for
getting around the issues you are having and others you may come
across as you continue through college.
I have been out of high school for eight years now, and was a VR
client myself for three of those years. I have also heard countless
stories similar to yours, and often worse, from my time as president
of Arizona's student division and an officer of NABS. Unfortunately, I
have concluded that the voc rehab system is highly flawed, and cannot
be depended upon for much, especially your college education. I have
heard about students waiting for months or years to get technology
ordered or to get the necessary paperwork to go to training
centers-even procedures that are relatively routine take way too long.
I have also heard about counselors who fail to communicate with
clients or return their calls or emails, or who try to give
inappropriate directives about what careers clients should or
shouldn't pursue. Now granted, there are definitely some good,
competent, dedicated counselors and VR staff out there who completely
respect blind people and actively support their pursuits, but I'm
afraid that's not the norm. The VR system has many problems, not the
least of which being its perpetual lack of funding. As a result, VR
offices tend to be short-staffed and counselors are overwhelmed with
too many clients, unable to give each client the time and attention
their case deserves. Furthermore, I believe the standards for hiring
VR counselors are pretty low, and I've definitely encountered more
than one counselor who just isn't competent enough to get things done
efficiently and well. It's an important system with lofty objectives
of helping blind people get college degrees and jobs, but it's a
broken one.
So yes, you should definitely keep nagging your counselor, and their
supervisor, and the director of the VR agency, until you get your
equipment and your case transferred. But in the meantime, it's vitally
important to have backups in place that don't rely on VR at all, so
that you can start college on the right foot, and your life doesn't
have to depend upon waiting for the flawed VR system to figure out how
to handle your case. I'll give some suggestions for backups you might
want to start using while you're waiting, for the three things you
mentioned: technology, money for school, and O&M instruction.
For technology: I'd suggest finding out if your parents or another
family member could help you pay for a basic portable computer, like a
Netbook ($500 or less) or a Macbook (perhaps; I don't know how much
Macbooks cost, but if you get one, you won't need to worry about
screenreading software). You really don't need a fancy laptop or
desktop for schoolwork, and while many people find Braille displays
and notetakers helpful, I think you can get by without it until VR
comes through. And here's a little secret: You can get a demo version
of JAWS for free, and unless they've changed something in the past few
years, demo JAWS is exactly the same as the full version except that
you have to restart your computer frequently. It's certainly a
nuisance to keep restarting, but it's a decent workaround if you don't
have the funds to shell out for a full-version screenreader. So then,
all you have to buy is a basic computer, which is comparable to what
virtually all sighted college freshmen get. If your DSS office or
library provides public scanners, you may not need to buy one, but if
you do, you can get a mainstream multifunction printer that comes with
basic OCR software.
Second, paying for school: The best solution would be a Pell grant.
Are you a resident in the state where you'll be going to school? If
so, you should be eligible. If not, there are other forms of federal
student aid that you can apply for, if you haven't already.
Finally, O&M is something you can work around at least temporarily. If
you contact the DSS office at your school, they might be able to
provide at least a general orientation to the buildings you will be
going to for classes and an overview of the campus layout. You don't
need to learn the whole campus. If DSS doesn't provide that service,
you could ask the resident assistant (RA) in your dorm if they can
hook you up with a student ambassador or someone else who can show you
where those buildings are. Most O&M instructors will do just that, and
not much more than what you can get from any old student who knows
their way around. If what you want is more skill training (like
learning how to use public transit, cross streets etc.) that's
important too, but it can wait a few weeks until your case gets set.
I hope this is helpful. The bottom line is that you are in charge of
your education, and there are many resources you can use to accomplish
your goals in school and beyond. Some of those resources are
blindness-specific; others are the same resources available to all
college students. VR is just one of many resources at your disposal.
They can offer lots of good stuff, but on the downside, they aren't
always dependable. The more alternative resources you can line up, the
better. I personally didn't open a VR case at all until I was a senior
in college and wanted to go to LCB after graduation. After LCB, I let
my case close and didn't reopen when I moved to Colorado for grad
school. I actually liked not being a VR client, and found it rather
freeing. I could take whatever classes I felt like taking or switch my
major or vocational goal every month if I wanted to, without ever
having to justify anything to anyone. Granted, I had a merit
scholarship and my parents were able to assist me with technology, and
I recognize those circumstances don't happen to everyone. Many of us
can benefit greatly from VR, when they have their act together. When
they don't, you might have to be a little creative to find alternative
resources, but they're out there.

Best of luck,
Arielle

On 7/31/11, bookwormahb at earthlink.net <bookwormahb at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Hi Beth,
> I just reread your message and you said CO DVR; I missed that when hearing
> with jaws somehow; probably since its one syllable.
>
> Yes you should have a case in CO  where you reside.
> I'd say if they move too slow, talk to a supervisor of the office. Also
> document your communication.
> I think there should be a VR manual of rights and responsibilities for each
> state. Read it and find out their procedures for opening cases; it should
> outline the appropriate time line.
> Good luck.
> Ashley
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Beth
> Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 5:31 PM
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Slow Acting VR Counciler
>
> I'm waiting on Medicaid, but have to use my dad's insurance, and
> a very high copay.  That's whuat I'm worried about.  I'll
> probably spend a lot on a prescription drug this week so that I
> can flush the infection out.  I need to be all cured by next week
> or the first week of classes.  I also need to figure out how to
> get my Pell Grant.  I'm just opening the case here in CO because
> Florida is no longer my state of residence.  Doesn't make sense
> to have a case in Florida.  Thanks for the well wishes, Ashley.
> Thanks a bunch.
> Beth
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <bookwormahb at earthlink.net
> To: "National Association of Blind Students mailing list"
> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
> Date sent: Sun, 31 Jul 2011 16:31:10 -0400
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Slow Acting VR Counciler
>
> Beth,
> Hope you get well! Do you have medicade?
> I'm confused. Do you live in Denver and want to go to school
> there? It
> sounds like your VR case is in florida though. So are you saying
> Florida VR
> is paying for  your out of state tuition  in Co? Good luck with
> your plans.
> Oh and going out of state to any center is tough. If your state
> has an in
> state center, they want that one, even if you select another
> better run
> traditional center.
>
> Ashley
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Beth
> Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 2:57 PM
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Slow Acting VR Counciler
>
> Hey, Brianna.  I had problems with DBS not sending me to CCB till
> I screamed at them and made them do it.  I was the squeaky wheel
> that got the grease, pretty much.  I'm having a problem with CO
> DVR acting slow, and I just came down with something serious and
> have to go to the doctor.  My boyffriend says he'll meet me at
> the bus stop and we'll go together.  It'll be nice because then I
> can goo to a doctor.  But I need a checkup because I think I have
> a serious infection.  Worst off, I might not go to school till
> January becausee I have no money to pay for books and school.
> DVR just thought of assigning me a counselor, but I don't know
> where they are, and I moved from one place to another.  It's kind
> of weird because I sort of know the Denver area, but I don't
> travel too often.  So I'm in your shoes, but worse.  My transfer
> to the office in Tallahassee from the office in Brevard County
> was quick, but there's a problem.  I don't know if Florida will
> allow me to go to school here in CO.  So anyone give us both tips
> and advice?  Anybody got any tips?  Thanks.
> Beth
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Brianna Scerenscko <bfs1206 at gmail.com
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
> Date sent: Sun, 31 Jul 2011 14:39:21 -0400
> Subject: [nabs-l] Slow Acting VR Counciler
>
> Hello NABS Members,
>
> My name is Brianna.
> I will be starting my first semester at Flagler in 3 weeks.
> I submitted justifications for technology to my Division Of Blind
> Services office back in April.  Just the other day I get an e
> mail
> from my counciler saying that I have been apruved for technology
> and
> funding of my Learning Ally membership.
> I thought I had already been apruved and the technology had
> already
> been ordered.
> My counciler can't transfer my case to the office in Jacksonville
> until all my technology has been received and she can't tell me
> when
> that will be.  I need to meet with the office in Jacksonville
> soon to
> meet my counciler and O&M instructore, and also find out if DBS
> will
> still cover some of the cost of going to college and also for
> them to
> find me a reader.
> DBS can't tell me when my case will be transfered either.
> What should I do? School starts in 3 weeks.
>
> Thank You
>
> Brianna
>
> On 7/31/11, Aubrie Lucas <aubielynn at gmail.com> wrote:
> Exactly what I was going to suggest.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org
> [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
> Of Kirt Manwaring
> Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 8:20 AM
> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] warning I'm getting on Facebook
>
> Haha, nothing to worry about.  Hit the refresh button (f5) and
> you'll be
> fine.
>
> On 7/31/11, Chris Nusbaum <dotkid.nusbaum at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> I'm getting this warning message when I hit the go back command
> on Facebook Mobile.  I've pasted it below.  What does this mean?
> Thanks! Here's the message:
>
>   Warning: Page has Expired
> The page you requested was created using information you
> submitted in a form.  This page is no longer available.  As a
> security precaution, Internet Explorer does not automatically
> resubmit your information for you.
>    To resubmit your information and view this Web page, click the
> Refresh button.
>
> Chris
>
> "A loss of sight, never a loss of vision!" (Camp Abilities
> motto)
>
> The I C.A.N.  Foundation helps visually impaired youth in
> Maryland have the ability to confidently say "I can!" How? Click
> on this link to learn more and to contribute:
> www.icanfoundation.info or like us on Facebook at I C.A.N.
> Foundation.
>
> Sent from my BrailleNote
>
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> --
> Brianna Scerenscko
>
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