[nabs-l] Training Center Questions

Dezman Jackson djackson at BISM.org
Mon Jun 27 17:16:38 UTC 2016

Hello all,

I've enjoyed reading all of the responses to Julie's survey. All good points raised. 

As for my experience with adult blindness training, growing up, I gained quite decent skills in Braille, mobility, technology, and to some degree, skills of independent living. This being said, I decided to attend an NFB center shortly after finishing my undergraduate degree. While I did find the intensive practice and application of the aforementioned skills beneficial, I would say that the confidence-building aspect for me was the most valuable. That is, being mentored by other successful blind role models, rubbing shoulders with other trainees and exchanging ideas and just being expected to truly put the skills of blindness to use on a daily basis, all which I did not always experience beforehand. That being said, I'm not sure that I could say that my sighted siblings or many my other 22-year-old bachelor friends could make bread from scratch or a meal for 40 people at that time. I ask the question, for some people, is a 6 to 9 month program necessary to gain adequate skills in this area or would some motivation and some hints on adaptive techniques along with the other ways folks learn cooking skills work just fine? I ask the same questions of the other skill areas. As with other individuals, is there a correlation between a blind person's fondness for technology and there skill level? Would a foundation in access technology put to use in a mainstream computer applications class be just what's needed to learn Microsoft Office? I think what's needed sometimes in structured discovery programs are better ways of assessing individual areas of need and a willingness to break the mold a little.

Of course, this is assuming a lot i.e. that the person has adequate support and motivation outside of a center environment, what foundational skills and experience they already possess, are there any secondary disabilities involved or is blindness the primary disability for that matter, and so forth. Being a rehabilitation professional myself, I have experienced the whole gamut working with different consumers. In an ideal world, which we don't live in, adult blindness rehab centers would exist primarily for those who go blind later in life beyond when they may have had the opportunity to gain blind skills as children.

This brings me to another point. If a person is blind/partially sighted from an early age, why should they have to invest extra time beyond high school to gain alternative skills? I believe blindness organizations are focusing ever more on this question, advocating for proper and empowering training through the expanded core curriculum and so forth, but I think we can easily get caught up in the thinking that by default a person will just attend an NFB training center down the road. I say systemic change for this group is what's ultimately desirable. Having put forth these thoughts, let me say that I absolutely know that our training centers continue to do a good service for blind people across the lifespan whether we are born blind or become blind in our 40s and 50s. I have known that 18-year-old who never walked around the block on their own because someone tolled their parents that it is a dangerous world for a blind kid and to protect them at all costs. I have known that 70-year-old woman who lived in a nursing home for no other reason but blindness and was able to transition back into the community after receiving training.

-----Original Message-----
From: NABS-L [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Julie McGinnity via NABS-L
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 10:35 AM
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
Cc: Julie McGinnity
Subject: [nabs-l] Training Center Questions

Hi friends,

Let's talk training centers, shall we.  I have a few questions, and I wonder if some of you can provide a little perspective for me.

For those who have graduated from a training center: What was the single most important/valuable thing you got out of your center experience?

If you had some skills before attending a training center, why did you choose training?  By some skills, I mean that you lived on your own, navigated a college campus, could read Braille and manage a computer, or any other combination of the above and more.  Maybe you didn't have all of the tools in the box, but you could function successfully in the world.

Also, did any of you attend a training center after graduating from college, particularly a masters program?  If this applies to you, why did you choose center training over finding a job?

If you have not been to training, and you do not plan to attend a center, have you ever regretted not doing so?  I understand that many people just don't have the time from school or a career to attend training, but are there other reasons you have chosen not to attend a training center?

I have more questions, but that's enough for now.  Feel free to email me off list, message me on Facebook or Twitter, or even call me if you prefer.  My curious mind is eager for more perspective.  Thanks!

Julie A. McGinnity
President, National Federation of the Blind Performing Arts Division, Second Vice President, National Federation of the Blind of Missouri "For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7

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