[nfbwatlk] Program helps blind prepare for future, The Seattle Times, November 3, 2013

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Tue Nov 5 18:54:05 UTC 2013


Program helps blind prepare for future
Posted by Colin Diltz

Bronson Goo, left, shows Dan Lovell, who has very limited vision and is wearing dark glasses that simulate total blindness, in safely loading wood planks onto a table saw locating the saw blade on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. The woodworking class is one of many offered at the Orientation & Training Center, a program of the Department of Services for the Blind, in Seattle. Lovell's woodwork class project is to make a cedar chest for his sister.

"Blindness does not have to be a detriment or a deterrent to live a full life and be a productive member of society," says Keiko Namekata, program manager for the Orientation Training Center, a program run by the state Department of Services for the Blind.

Offered in six-week terms, the program helps people who either are blind or have limited vision to relearn basic life skills without the use of sight. The classes teach mobility, cooking, woodworking, reading and computer use, Namekata says.

The ultimate goal is to teach people who are vision-impaired the skills they will need for vocational training, future employment and independent living.

The classes emphasize use of the senses -- touch, hearing, and smell, to relearn how to navigate their environment and use technology, Namekata says.

The program exposes students to a variety of activities in a safe, predictable environment, he says. It helps them build self-confidence, develop a positive attitude surrounded by other students who are working toward breaking down those same barriers, says Namekata.

"If you did something you didn't think you could, and you did it, you start to develop some sense of confidence," she says.

Photos headings below for photographs by MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Bronson Goo, left, and Dan Lovell make straight cuts across a wooden plank during the woodworking class.

Kirsten Hammond, bottom, learns how to read braille from Joy Iverson how to read braille on an enlarged scale, at the Orientation & Training Center.

Robin Loen, left, helps Victor Santos learn how to safely navigate corridors and climb staircases.

Victor Santos, left, with the help of Robin Loen takes baby steps down the staircase as they practice indoor mobility.

Al Yardley, center right, instructs students on how to use the ZoomText software, which helps users with limited vision to access computers by enlarging portions of the screen.

Julie Harlow reacts as she collects chocolates to put into a bowl for cooking during a class. Harlow is a first-term student and has been legally blind for most of her life. She was always cooking in the kitchen for her family before a recent automobile accident rendered her blind. After losing her vision, she has been afraid to venture into kitchen tasks. Taking classes at the center has helped her regain confidence.

Marvin Cutayan confidently cooks a fried-rice dish during a cooking class.

Without sight, Julie Harlow uses a knife to cut up almonds during a cooking class.

Julie Harlow, left, listens to Donna Lawrence, a cooking instructor, as Harlow washes the dishes.

Jim Portillo, center, helps Nick Nathan learn how to use the text-to-speech program on a screen reader that helps users navigate computer-operating systems with clear audio feedback.

Joanne Goldy, left, who has very limited vision, uses a walking cane with Mary Lorenz during a mobility class.

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