Rehabilitation Training Center Or Home


Rehabilitation Training Center Or Home

     "TAP, SCRAPE." The students long white cane preceded him up the wheelchair ramp and on to the broad sidewalk fronting the downtown buildings.

     "What do you think?" Asked the teacher who had been observing.

     "Listening to parallel traffic helps to make a straighter crossing. What other
cues are there? How do you keep your attention on both the traffic and your
cane technique too? Then what if a car turns into the street where you are

     "You have lots of questions. That's good!" Said the teacher.

     They both went still, their attention drawn back the way the student had
Just come. High spirited talk of a half dozen people or so could be heard approaching. It was the sound of medal cane tips that made this group stand out.

     "All right you guy's!" A young woman's voice spoke up at the opposite curb. "I've got the ramp."

     "BING! TING!" A cane tip struck first one medal pole, then another.

     "Ray, quit playing a tune on the local hardware and get over here!" Said a male voice.

     "Hey, beginners have the right!" Said a younger masculine voice.

     "There's the change!" A woman said.

     "You've got it!" Said another female voice confirming the changed status of the traffic signal.

     "Check out where that moving traffic is to you." The older male student

     "Hi, you guys!" Said the teacher. "I'm one of the Commission's Home
Teachers. This is my student." Introductions were made.

     "We just finished a scavenger hunt and are returning to the Orientation
Center to report to the staff."

     "So, what's it like working with a Home Teacher for all of your training?" One of the women asked.

     "Well, what is it like going to a center?"

e-mail responses to

**1. “This topic is an interesting one. I can see positives to either form of
rehabilitation. Of course, having never benefited from at home rehab
training, I can only suggest my thoughts about its beneficial and not so
beneficial points. Just about all of my rehab has been at centers or while attending public school.

I would think that training done at home could and would be more
individualized than at some centers where groups of students may be
worked with. When a person is worked with at home, the activities or
lessons might relate directly to the actual needs of the student at that
time. In instances where a person is not willing to leave their home, at
home training may be less traumatic and more acceptable to the student.
The student also has the undivided attention of the teacher during that
session. Working with someone in their home also gives the teacher an
opportunity to see how the student lives, their home environment, life
style, and how he/she reacts to actual situations.

On the other hand, students in a center environment get to socialize with
others (teachers, other staff and fellow students). Such students also
may have the benefit of learning from the experiences of other students.
Issues, that may not have been thought of at home, may come up when
several students and their concerns are dealt with in a group setting.
Other positive comments come from students who attend a local
rehabilitation center. I've heard several times that students learn that
their reaction to loss of vision isn't much different from that of
others. In fact, they might find themselves encouraging others, thus
making themselves feel better. An additional benefit to participating in
a center program is that such facilities probably have a greater variety
of aids and appliances for students to check out and try.

I can see that both forms of rehabilitation training have their place in
the total picture of adjustment. When a person is unwilling to leave
their home, has a great deal of fear, having the instructor or other
rehabilitation professional come to their home, may get that person into
rehab quicker. I can also see that after the person finishes at a
center, more specific or advanced training could be done in their home.
However, I believe that the majority of training should be done within a
center's environment.”

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, Florida USA

FROM ME: “Here we receive a hint to the notion of augmenting one type of training environment with another; center training followed by home teaching. What other mixes of these two training methods/settings might there be and who would benefit from them most?”

**2. “Firstly, I think it's necessary to separate adults from children in this case. I believe that children need the personal guidance and basic belief systems that only a parent can provide during their formative years. During the last part of high school however, blind children need to be forced out into the world and away from the shelter of their home life.
Unless an adult has more than one physical problem other than being visually impaired, I believe that immersing a blind person into a new lifestyle and forcing him/her to change from the comfortable way of living to a new, more demanding and more socially active lifestyle is a very important part of the
education process.

A home teacher can teach methodology, but until a person is forced to leave home and do such functions as taking care of money, grooming, dining habits,
and really understanding that there are other people who have the same problems as blind people, that blind people will not become well integrated into the day-to-day society.

Don't get me wrong, I know that there are situations in which a residential setting is inappropriate for some people. In many cases, schools for the blind are not equipped or staffed to handle those people who for example need to be in wheelchairs, or who have other physical impairments that make it impractical
to use techniques that are usually taught as a part of the school's curriculum. For these people, an individualized method of doing things needs to be considered, and this is where the home teacher should be employed.”

B. Alan Mattison (Rio Rancho, New Mexico, USA

**3. “I've had experience with both types of mobility instructor. When being
given training at a blind school the instructor will only teach the area
around the school. The theory is - all streets are the same and as long
as the student knows the concept of street crossing. This is completely
wrong. Not all street situations are the same. Our local blind school
is located in a town which greatly resembles a large city. There are
always people crossing the streets and Don't Walk/Walk signs on each
corner. Our other blind/deaf training center, up in Northern Long
Island, is - in essence - in the middle of nowhere. It's a rich area,
with small, narrow streets that have a very small traffic flow. A
person, in my opinion, needs to learn the streets in the area that they inhabit the most - their home area, work. They need to learn busing to particular places and cane technique where its most needed. One mobility instructor that I had often take me out at night, taking me to local
malls where I go, showing me how to get around with the people that
inhabit the area. In center training never taught me that. At home, I
learned to take the buses from my house to where I needed to go - my
work place, shopping areas, what have you. If I had reason to learn the
trains, we would have done that to - from my house. To learn such things
from another location is worthless.

My house is located between two major streets and at the corner is a
major intersection. More than anything else I needed to learn how to
cross this intersection safely. Granted, I can see having mobility
instructor for a person who's never had it before begin at a training
center - for safety reasons, to teach the person basic technique. But I
think in order for both the teacher and student to be able to work
productively training has to be on the student's home front at some

Patricia Hubschman (New York USA)

FROM ME: “Do the various skills you might learn in a center setting, like travel, cooking, home making, etc., transfer to other settings, like home or school or work? However, does this lady have a valid point; in that for the deafblind, only the streets in the actual area of a deafblind individual’s local travel routes be of use to them?”

**4. “I went to a residential center (Carroll Center in Newton Mass) when I lost my
sight totally and overnight at the age of 35. I found the total involvement
in the rehab process very beneficial. I was reading grade 2 Braille after 12
weeks, and had excellent training in mobility and orientation learning to
use all cues to figure out my location. In tests I was dropped at a corner I
had never visited and told to find my way back to the center without asking
questions...relying on knowing the general neighborhood, direction of sun,
listening for which streets have heavy traffic, etc. I see people in my
neighborhood in semi-rural New Hampshire taking two years to learn Braille
with (if lucky) one hour of instruction a week. At the center we not only
had the four hours of class a week, but the use of Braille in other classes
and working together with other students to practice in the evening.

We had 5 hours of cane mobility a week, but at least five other hours of
instruction on orientation, figuring out location, using sound shadows,
drawing mental maps, etc. After leaving zI did go get a guide dog but still
my orientation remained a very useful skill.

I was able to return to work with all the needed skills after 15 weeks at
the Carroll Center though I was glad I also took the 4 additional weeks to get
a guide dog. I was teaching at a small private college whose grounds were in
poor shape. The walkways had cracks and potholes every few feet and when I
tried to travel with my cane the tip caught and broke my stride every second
step. The dog just flew past all these.”

Ed Meskys (Moultonboro, New Hampshire USA)

FROM ME: “What about the center training characteristic of total involvement in skill training (having it most every day for weeks, versus having skill training once a week or twice a month or once a month on a home teaching basis? Second, how about the center characteristic of providing value in studying of skills with other students?”

**5. “I think that both settings have their proper place. I was trained at the
California Orientation Center for the Blind at age 18. I had considerable
vision at that time, and thus was trained under sleepshade. However, when
I went home I didn't wear the sleepshade and continued to have travel vision for another 8 years. When I finally lost the remainder of my vision, I had to receive refresher O and M training from an instructor who
came to my home. I also received two other sets of refresher training at
later times in my life, both in the home setting. I work for the V. A. and
traditionally all blind rehab training for veterans has been center based.
However, because of the advancing age of veterans, and blind veterans in
particular, the centers are becoming something less than the program of
choice for many veterans, and there is a move afoot to provide more home
based training. Many of these veterans have additional medical problems
that the centers are not designed to cope with, and it is often very
depressing to older persons to be removed from their familiar home

Andy Baracco (ACB-L)

FROM ME: “How about the use of the sleepshade as a learning tool within either a center or home setting?”

**6. “I happen to be a strong advocate of home-based training. I do feel that center-based training provides some great tools for gaining and maintaining independence and that the social aspects of sharing experiences and coping strategies is invaluable. I do think, however, that the "rubber meets the road" when an individual can learn and practice these skills in his/her home environment and neighborhood. Applying adaptive techniques in one's own kitchen and learning routes in one's own neighborhood gives the individual a great boost in taking/regaining control of life after or during loss of sight.”

KaeAnn Rausch (Revere, Massachusetts USA)

FROM ME: “How often do you think home teaching should take place to be effective?”

**7. “I Could not resist an opportunity to discuss your current PROVOKER as it is a topic that is near and dear to me.

I am a recently blinded (B1) who has had training via home teachers and now is employed to train at a center.

Personally I believe that if a service provider can offer both options to a client they should do so....
for me, receiving my training within my own environment was the best option however as a trainer(Cane skills, and Techniques of Daily living) I believe
that center based training has distinct advantages, one being total immersion.
Regardless of what a person is doing, within a center environment there is continuous training opportunity as opposed to that of home based training.

My question is: Why must professional providers limit their clients training opportunities to one of these options? As professionals is it not our responsibility
to ensure that our clients have and receive the best possible training to ultimately ensure their full participation in society??”

Scott O'Sullivan.

FROM ME: “How about it? Should rehab services of both types be an option? Taking one or the other or some mix? How many states have both? Why might some states have one and not the other?”

**8. “I went to a rehab training center and enjoyed it! I feel that you could learn the training either way, but when you are with other visually impaired people instead of all sighted people, you learn a lot from each other and have to be more independent. My experience was a pretty good one.”

Lisa (Mokena, Illinois USA)

FROM ME: “Personally, I too like the idea of peer support while in training. So here is a question, when might, being a member of a group of students end up being a negative?”

**9. “Twenty years ago, during the summer of 1981, I spent eight weeks at a rehabilitation center in Topeka, Kansas, at the expense of the local division of vocational rehabilitation here in Sheridan, Wyoming. Although I have never been imprisoned, I felt like I was being incarcerated at this facility. For the first two or three weeks, I could not leave the facility unless a sighted person was with me until I was cleared by the mobility department.

There were buzzers and bells that woke us up and summoned us to meals and classes and there was a curfew. Each weekend, we had to clean our rooms, which
were then inspected by the dormitory supervisor. This was supposed to be a college preparatory program but when I actually went away to college a year or so later, I discovered that I had more freedom there than I did at this facility.

The good thing about this center was that I learned how to use a cane and a slate and stylus for the first time. I also learned how to take a bus and ask for directions.

The bad part was that I didn't learn much else that I needed to know. In the daily living class, I either learned skills I already knew, such as making beds, or skills I did not need such as folding money blindfolded. I was also required to take a shop class, which was difficult for me since I have always
been sensitive to loud noises and so I don't feel comfortable around power tools. At the end of eight weeks, they suggested to me that I stay until December but I didn't think it was necessary and thankfully, my parents agreed with me.

Several years later, I discovered that I could have learned everything I learned in Topeka and a lot more right here in Wyoming. There is an excellent summer program sponsored by the Lions Clubs of Wyoming with help from the state department of education and a grant from a state trust fund for the blind where children and adults can learn Braille, mobility, and daily living skills as well as many other things. Here, you can choose what you want to learn. Shop classes are available but you don't have to take them. So, why did I even bother to go to Topeka, Kansas anyway? What a waste!”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A. )

*FROM ME: “What rules might a center have that may be acceptable or not? Like restriction on travel for the beginner student. Like, all students will take all classes.”

**10. “It sounds like the people in this short story were having a great time. I do
feel there is a place for the rehabilitation center, or the guide dog school
with a number of blind travelers/students under one roof. There's a way in
which the experience of blindness becomes a shared rather than an
out-on-a-limb experience. When my blind friend makes a mistake, or a
discovery, I can make that discovery or avoid that mistake too, without the
pain of being the only one. We have to have so much time in society being
the only blind person among sighted peers or colleagues. That's OK too, and
desirable. The time with other blind people in the same learning situation
can in fact be very healing.”

Mez White (Sydney, Australia)

**11. As far as the professionalism, competency and the content of any of the
training is concerned I don't really see a great deal of difference between
home vs. center training. the biggest difference might be the length of time
that may be needed in order to deliver and complete The necessary

The advantage of any of the center programs is that the training is more
intensive and on a fixed schedule, which has its advantages and

Any home training that I have taken part in takes time, as the result
of home teacher availability and is also a function of case load size, and
you may therefore need to be willing to sacrifice time and efficiency in the
delivery of services for the convenience that home training offers, as
well as remaining flexible in meeting Teacher availability when ever

It should also be duly noted that Dragging any type of training out over a
extended period of time sacrifices some of the continuity of the
training as well as effecting the retention of the material being taught.

Furthermore If we are going to look at the effectiveness of home training
and the competency of home teachers, then we also need to look at the other
side of the coin. I.e. the willingness of and commitment of the
client/student to practice on his/her own. "The only way to get to
Carnegie Hall is Practice!

I would however like to see more of an attempt made in the direction of
more center training being available and delivered on a strategic as
needed bases,
similar to that of the home teachers program rather then on a all or nothing
bases, e.g., either center Vs home training which currently only provides clients with
two choices. The other benefit would be that the client/student is only
getting what he or she needs, rather than the entire program which they may
not want or even need. The raining could remain intensive, structured and be delivered in a
shorter time span while at the same time being delivered more cost

for me it seems that you are given a choice but on the other hand you are
also being told that you have to sacrifice time and efficiency of service
delivery. You should be cognizant of the fact that very often the length of
time that it takes to reach a needed goal effects the clients willingness to
keep on trying, therefore intermediate goals with quicker payoffs/rewards
are some times more beneficial to that of long term goals. For example
getting the client into a part time job while still in school will assist the
client in not only meeting his long term goal of employment but will actually
improve his chances of completing school or training and vice versa.

I realize that some programs are currently being delivered on a
strategic bases in some limited areas such as computer training camps or
the summer students program such as transition. and I would like to see
some more efforts in this area so that we could have the best of two worlds.”

Bob Doulas (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Several new and good points here. Commitment by the student shown in practice, consistency over time… how about this on the side of the center and/or field/home teaching staff? Specifically, how might the 5 day a week schedule versus the two or three hour once a week or every other week schedule impact upon the instruction performance of the teaching staff?”

**12. “This one is easy, in my view. The key word is "networking."
I went to a comprehensive rehab center, when I first began to lose my vision. This experience changed my life. I saw other disabled people, at various levels of ability and adjustment. Most of the rehabilitation
occurred between we clients, as we supported and encouraged one another. The "if he/she can do it, I can" line of thinking.

The risk of depression and withdrawal is increased, I believe, if one
remains in their home and receives services with just their instructor.
Just a last thought, I would offer that the older blind may be an exception, in some cases., if getting out is too laborious.”

Danney Yates (ACB-L, Georgia, USA)

FROM ME: “What might be the advantages or disadvantages of being in a program where some students are more advanced and/or less advanced than you?”

**13. “I'm going to make a comment here which may earn me lots of ridicule, but oh
well. here goes. I went through the same rehab center as Norma. the
teaching methods weren't always effective, and although I came out with some
skills, a lot of it couldn't really be translated into my own home setting
today. I travel very differently than I did then since I have a dog.
Sewing is not a high priority for me. I find note-takers to be a much more
efficient use of Braille than a slate and stylus, and luckily, I found a
computer teacher who actually knew something rather than setting a manual in
front of me and having me take notes using a slate and stylus. The one area
which is really a touchy subject with me today is cooking. I wish I had an
instructor who would just come out to my home, and teach me to cook and have
fun at it. At the center there were four kitchens, and nothing was ever
where it was supposed to be. We had to go looking through the kitchen to
find things. Phil is an organized cook, and I'm the bottle washer right
now. I think once I got the hang of things and maybe adapted a few
appliances to something other than his methods, I'd really enjoy cooking.
but I think I need sort of a presence to ask questions of etc., because of my
past trauma with it. so if ever I were to be rehabilitated, I would want
someone to come to my home rather than the contrived setting of a rehab
kitchen. I want the experience of being able to simulate everything with my
own gas oven and stove, our own pots and pans and in our own kitchen. I
could travel to the center, but I don't feel that being around other cooks
would be advantageous for me because it is sort of a touchy subject. My
case is closed, and I won't open it for this stuff. I just need the right
teacher, and I haven't found him;/her yet. They say that when the time is
right, the teacher will appear. We'll see.”

Rebecca Kragnes (ACB-L)

FROM ME: “Truth, is a center training environment always the right place for all persons needing rehab in independent living skills? Under what circumstances might a center setting not be ideal?”

**14. “As a lifelong user of, and provider of rehabilitation services, my thoughts on this topic have been many and through time they have radically evolved...
As an 18 year-old, I disliked being "forced" to participate in the College Prep Program at the Daytona Beach Rehab Center. As I've outlined before, I didn't think I'd committed a crime by being blind, so why did I need "rehabilitation". That was my connotative take on the word and process. Besides, I'd lived
at home, in a family that gave me responsibilities, especially as the eldest child--responsible for setting a good example in all things... I was in scouting-had earned Eagle, many honors and musical groups at school, and an active leader in church youth group... I figured I had what it took to make it in college.
I was wrong! Besides, at the rehab center, I met lots of other blind people, newly blinded and congenital such as myself, and met others who'd attended public and residential school... I learned that there were other bright aggressive progressive high functioning blind kids like myself, and that we shared
aspirations and interests. I also had my first experience teaching a fellow student how to do things the staff had given up on teaching him; this experience eventually changed my major and life's direction. And yes, most of our instructors were blind, including one of the series of mobility instructors I had,
who was a high partial, and went between the students he had running routes on a bicycle... (grin)

I learned a lot that summer, and didn't appreciate how much until I hit the campus of FSU that fall, where I still benefited from mobility training in the hands of students working toward their O&M degrees... When it really kicked in was when my buddy and I rented an apartment and became the first blind students in the history of Florida's Division of Blind Services to move off campus while matriculating at a 4-year university. There were many, now amusing adventures in ADL--but those are other stories.

What I learned at the rehab center was that there were things I didn't know, skills I didn't have, and perspectives on blindness and how it effected and would effect my life that I hadn't considered. I also got my first taste of an institutional environment, being viewed as a member of a class of individuals--viewed
through a particular set of lenses--the Rehab Perspective.

My next time at the Daytona Center was my pre-internship practicum there. I deeply resented being "forced" to undergo that process, as the sighted interns didn't have to commit 8-weeks of their life to such an exercise. Yet again, I learned a great deal, especially being able to view the facility and goings
on there from the perspectives I'd attained having taken courses in Visual Disabilities, Home Etc, Etc., and those political perspectives so divergent from the conservative ones with which I'd grown up... Again, there, and during my internship at Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind--now Lions World International,
I learned a great deal about why institutional environments were what I thought of as restrictive of an individual's liberties. I broke most of the rules, and even got busted once, as my wife-to-be came and visited me and stayed with me, and we were set up... That pretty much trashed my aspirations for working
there, in a place to which I'd become very emotionally attached, and loved the 24-7 in evolvement with the workings of the institution into which I'd become happily enmeshed... It was my world: the staff members--most of whom I admired and revered having worked with them and been supervised by them--and known
how the shaped and molded me, the clients--always a source of amazement and challenge, and, the institution itself with a history and obvious further growth and evolution I wanted to be a part of.

As a Rehab Teacher, I often resented and fought sending clients to the Center, feeling they could get what they needed locally, without the dislocation of being separated from their family. Now, I see that such a separation often gives a person a chance to redefine themselves in very necessary ways, and
an environment in which they can be tested in ways which wouldn't occur if they were living at home. It also gives an individual to compare and contrast their own perceptions of blindness with others, and provides, for those willing to take it that way--an environment in which one can competitively upgrade
their own skills. It is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to increase their skill base. But the operant word here, as in any other educational process is, "opportunity", which one is free to utilize or not take advantage of. It all comes down to that--a person's willingness to subject themselves to the
challenges of learning things some of which they don't think are necessary. But the process of d enveloping a skill contributes to one's self-confidence.

Having viewed local facilities, I see them as potentially useful to adventitiously blinded individuals not on a track of Vocational Rehabilitation, and for those for whom health problems militate against matriculation at a center away from home. It can even potentially provide polish and re-enforcement
to those who've been through a center. But generally, centers are better equipped, more professionally staffed, are not having to fight for funds through enrolling students to fill up service hours on a fee for service funding arrangement, thereby having to deal with clients who are less willing to actively
participate and thereby dragging the level of the class down... Clients at facilities away from home know they can be sent back for non-participation,
and that's a "black mark" and humiliation even to many who half-resent the process to which they are being subjected...

So, I think both have their place, but my feelings have considerably mellowed toward facilities such as Daytona, which we used to refer to as, "The Play
Pen of the South". (grin) Oh yes, we called A.E.B. the Lion's Club Zoo. (grin)”

Nick W. Dotson (Pensacola, Florida USA)

**15. I did my cane mobility training at home. The things that I particularly
liked was that I worked on locating the stores I used and the streets I
crossed. On the other hand, using a "center Based" mobility training
program would have introduced me to some other blind students dealing with
the same mobility situation I was in.

Since I live in New York City, where there is a lot of traffic and other
noise, it was nice having a mobility instructor focusing on my needs and
what I needed to do to cross streets successfully, even with noise, traffic
and some very bad drivers.”

Janet Ingber (Queens, New York USA)

**16. “I serve on a board of a nonprofit organization which was formed with the goal of starting a center for the blind and visually impaired in Colorado Springs.
At this time, it will be a center where people can come to get instruction, evaluation, and buy adaptive tools and equipment. We will not have a residential
component just yet.

When I returned from serving in the Peace Corps, I was a stay at home mom for a little over a year. When it looked as if I might have to return to the work force, I thought it would be useful to brush up my typing skills and learn to use an optacon. The only way to do this was to
go to a residential center four hours away from my home for five days a week, returning home on the bus for weekends. I had an eleven year old adopted blind child and a fifteen month old sighted toddler. It was very difficult to leave my husband on his own to handle the children, his job and our home.
I had to take a full course at the center including cane travel, cooking, sewing etc. even though I knew more than the home economics major hired to teach
me these homemaking skills. It would have been wonderful to have been able to learn the specific skills I needed to get job ready without having to leave
my young family without a mother all week. However, I think newly blinded folks benefit a lot from group interactions. It helps them to get to realize
they are not alone. Also, they may feel freer to express some of their concerns in a group setting because of the group dynamic. This serves to break down the sense of isolation and allows for a more positive environment than a home full of stunned relatives.”

DeAnna Noriega (Colorado Springs, Colorado USA)

FROM ME: “Going off to a center may not always be the most convenient situation for a family. Under what circumstances might cause an individual to draw the line and say, I can’t go?”

**17. “Home is better, but getting quality training at either place will hopefully
have the same result of being a good, safe traveler. I think if you are trained at home, you will be more inclined to venture out on your own sooner because you're somewhat familiar with the area, in
which you have immediate access to, your home neighborhood. If it is at a center, you may not feel so inclined to venture out until your next lesson.”

Tom Rash (Yucaipa, California USA)

**18. “As a congenitally blind youngster, some effort was made to send me to a rehab. center, but as a rather rebellious teen, I saw no point in going there to learn skills I felt I already had. I received some cane mobility training in junior high, (which I didn't want then either) but felt that, at least, this
was helpful in getting around my own neighborhood. I now can see advantages to both; the role modeling at a center and having the support of colleagues would definitely be an advantage to some. On the other hand, learning about one's own home environment is also an advantage. In some ways, the best of
both worlds is to have both. Certainly skills could be acquired faster at a center rather than waiting for only (if lucky) weekly lessons from an overly busy mobility instructor.”

Jeanne Smith (Amesbury, Massachusetts USA)

**19. “I have never attended a center for rehabilitation training. When I wanted to learn orientation and mobility, I contacted the Atlanta Center for the Visually
Impaired and arranged for a travelling instructor to visit me at work and at home. I feel that this has several advantages.

First of all, going to a center somewhere when you're newly blinded is no small task. That's probably part of the reason you're getting training to begin with. Cabs are expensive, and public transportation is not an option if you don't have good cane skills yet. Also, at least in the Atlanta metro area,
public transportation only goes out to the Atlanta city limits, so I would have needed to make arrangements to get in from the suburbs to a place that I could hook up with the transit system. Having the instructor come to me was really a blessing, because it eliminated all of these problems.

Second, home instruction lets you start out in familiar areas. My instructor started me out in my own house, where I knew the layout well enough that I
didn't need a cane at all. From there, we moved on into the neighborhood, where I was somewhat familiar with streets, landmarks, and so on. From there, we moved on to less familiar areas a few miles from home, and finally to totally unknown territory in the metro area where I'd never been even when I had
my vision.

I think that this gradual transition from familiar to unknown really helped me. Frankly, cane travel in downtown is not the same creature as it is in the suburbs. Downtown, streets are in a grid, and most intersections (at least here in Atlanta) have traffic lights. In the suburbs, streets meet at crazy
angles, curbs are round (or nonexistent!), some intersections have lights and some don't. I feel that my home training allowed me to become most familiar with the type of environment I would most likely meet every day, while still preparing me to go into unknown places as well. One drawback, of course, was that I only had interaction with my sighted instructor. I did not have a chance to learn from other blind individuals as I might have had if I had attended the Center instead of going the route of home training. It might have been helpful to meet others who had already been down the road I was travelling.
So, I suppose there are pros and cons for both approaches.”

David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

FROM ME: “Note that David characterized the center as one where the student came into the center on a daily basis and wasn’t staying on campus. I have seen it where a center will have both types of students, those who stay and those who come in for they. What might some of the advantages and/or disadvantages be for either of these two?”

**20. “Going to a center was a traumatic experience for me! It changed my life for the better! My home teachers were okay, but I didn’t get to see and work with them often enough to make a significant difference. But when I enrolled in the Nebraska center for 6 months and was there for each days classes and being there with 6 to 10 other students all going through the same stresses and growth, that made all the difference. I’m sure others who will write in will use the word “consistency,” well that is what you get in a center based, everyday, all day program. Being in a center is to be submersed in blindness, you can’t avoid it. This is where it can either make it or break it for some individuals. I recommend all must try it, it can be the best!”

**21. FROM ME: These are thoughts related to one of my questions/thoughts from update 1.

“Seems to me that in the main, the role of the Home Teacher is to act as a catalyst. They prepare a blind person to receive an intensive high-level goal directed course of training, and can help to insure that that training is utilized in the client's home community after the training. Whereas, a day facility best meets the needs of the adventitiously blinded senior, the total immersion lifestyle of the Residential Center, best meets the needs of a congenitally blind person needing to differentiate himself from the cosseted family, educational and social community of his origin where often the skids are
greased to favor him/her, and the corners of life's furniture padded to prevent painful bruising... (grin) It is also a good place for the Adventitiously blinded recipient of Vocational Services to come to terms with their blindness away from that same cosseting, and by having some breathing space and a set of definable meetable goals on a regular ongoing basis, much as was work prior to blindness, the newly blinded person can better redefine him/herself and come to trust in their
increasing competence as a blind person with new and rediscovered skills that can help them resume some close to or exceeding their prior role in family and community. The caveat, the blind person in the center is changing, the family may not be engaged in a directed supervised change, and reintegration of the blind person back into the family structure, without retrogression to his pre-center persona can be problematic.”

W. Nick Dotson (Pensacola, Florida USA)

FROM ME: “ This gentleman brings up a very important question, ‘How about the adjustment, education of the family?’ How do you think they, the family can be worked with during the rehabilitation process?”

**22. “I apologize if I wind up only repeating what others
have said already on this thought provoker. I am on a limited time on my computer, so I didn't have a chance to read through all the responses sent in. However,
I have experienced individual home training before, and
am currently in a Center, so I wanted to write in on this issue.

I have already noticed people saying that there are positives and negatives to both kinds of training. I
totally agree. The advantage to home training is a one-on-one approach, where a student isn't trying to
keep track of what others are doing around him...I mean other blind students. The disadvantage of course
is that in a Center, the students can help and support one another. Another plus to home training is that I
think it takes less time (usually) because it can be individualized. I think Center training can be just
as effective, but take longer, because the instructor is dealing with a variety of students on a variety of
different skill levels.

All in all, I think both work. It seems to be a matter of what a student has access to, and also what
works best for that student. I don't think there is a "One size fits all" approach in training. Anyway,
there's my two cents, and sorry if it is repetitious."

Alicia Richards (Colorado Center for the Blind USA)

**23. “Some very good and interesting responses to a great topic!
First of all, I think the two delivery systems have their advantages and disadvantages as outlined in so many of the above responses. I want to focus my comments on the rehab center .

In the TP, what is interesting is the methodology of training of the two types of travel, at least as I understood them. The one methodology which the group
was using appeared to be what some of us call the "discovery" method as contrasted from the more traditional methodology which focuses on learning basics and moving and building on those basics and eventually extending out to where a student can travel most places independently. This was the home teacher and is the model most used at least up until a few years ago. It is taught at most colleges and practiced at most Centers, especially State run facilities, although it is being challenged by the "discovery “ approach which is more deductive and in a sense Socratic instruction and learning. This more recent
approach which is practiced at a few private Centers and is gaining recognition due to Doug Boone and Ruby Ryles, is not only challenging the traditional AER based teaching as a competitive methodology, but in fact is challenging the traditional model for equal accreditation and certification at the national

I bring up the methodology not because the "discovery" method of training cannot be applied in either situation better, because it can be used in both. I raise it as an issue because of perceptions of transferability of skills learned . While I think some folks can learn better and benefit from the home
teacher, others can learn better and benefit from a Center. However, in both cases what is important is methodology and expectations as well as philosophy.

I find it interesting that both professionals and some of us who are blind feel the need to assume that things learned at a Center would always have to be supplemented or refreshed, such as travel. Not that there is anything wrong with requesting or needing additional training after one leaves a Center, but having the expectation that as a blind person if I return home and/or if I move I will always have to be on a caseload requesting more travel. I guess one might ask what is the reason for that expectation? Is it because we do not think blind folks can learn, transfer or apply skills to other settings or is it due to something wrong with the training approach.? At a Center I work in, some time ago we had a very different program. One student came back for training 6 times over a couple of years. We always told them they could come back if they needed more training and if their vision changed. I don't think we expected much of blind students back then. One of our problems back then and a major issue about any training is the techniques and strategies. We used to focus on a vision based training for those with vision and another for those totally blind. We promoted as I refer to it the "vision dependence " model which not only was less effective in the long
run, but also sent the unintended but subtle message that vision is better, visual techniques are better and in fact one is better if they have and can use vision as compared with the alternate techniques for which rehab centers are set up to provide.

We use now the blindfold as a strategy to confront fear of blindness, develop non vision skills and help persons learn that vision is a resource not a lifeline.

We use the term "blind" . We discuss blindness and attitudes in group settings and focus on the basic blindness skills before working on use of residual vision. We have established higher expectations. We no longer wake folks up, call them to class and announce meals. There are no restrictions for adults.
There are choices , expectations and responsibilities. Some folks are not ready to come and they work with a home teacher. Some do not stay to complete and can continue with a home teacher.

One advantage of a center is the peer support and potential for peer learning. As new folks come in they can learn from the veterans. There is the potential problem of an institution mentality. There are some pitfalls when you get about 60 or more folks living in a relatively small residential area. In fact
that is one of the drawbacks in having a residential component on the training campus. Some see rehab centers as "homes for the blind" and places where one can get a lot of equipment . Neither of these should be the function nor reason for any center nor attending any Center. The cost is too high.

I believe that it is good for both the home teaching approach and Center training not only because it provides a needed option, but it is pragmatic to have home teaching available. If you took all the persons who need to come to a Center or could benefit from the comprehensive training in our state, you would
have in my opinion a couple thousand. Our center can only serve about 200 per year in that our training lasts about 6 months or so. We serve a very small percentage of blind students at a pretty high cost to the taxpayer. Home teachers therefore are essential and although understaffed do a very good job of trying to meet the needs of the majority of folks who are blind. My greatest concern as a former client , VRC and now administrator is to try to make sure all consumers who are blind have the opportunity to come to either our center or another good quality one, or if not, that they get the opportunity
for proper training in basic skills and attitude about blindness. That's why I say that whether Center or home, what really determines benefit is methodology, philosophy, expectations of teaching staff and staff who believe that and can impart to students "blind folks can do stuff, blind techniques are acceptable
, and blind persons respectable - regardless of whether or not or how much vision they have.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

**24. “My general sense is that blind children should, if possible, get their
training in blindness skills in or near where they live, just as they
should get their education in the same schools as their sighted peers. It
should start early, as time in school typically does; if it takes years,
so be it: so does other learning children do. I'm grateful for much of
what I learned during my four years at Perkins School for the Blind (though I hadn't wanted to go there), but I learned most of my blindness skills before and after I went there. The "college prep" course I was
required to participate in for six weeks at the Carroll Center had some
fun and useful times, but it didn't teach me many blindness skills--and
nothing I couldn't have learned as well from my mom or a friend or a professional that came to my home or college. Also, I certainly didn't need a center to teach me about grooming, handling money, or adapting to
life away from home: I learned much of that stuff the same way my brothers did. Of course, if your home and/or your home teachers have many conscious or subconscious doubts about your ability, right, and
responsibility to participate in society as a first-class member, a
training center may often be the best way to fill the void. But then, sadly, some centers seem to help create that void, while others try to fill it with military-style methods that make the void seem like the lost
garden of Eden. (My wife apparently went to a center of this second kind as a teen-ager.)

I suspect that, in general, a few months at a top-notch training center is
the better approach if one has become blind as a teen-ager or an
adult. Learning blindness skills at a faster pace is arguably more
important in these instances.

I do not believe a center should always require a student to take all
classes. My current, tentative view, though, is that students should be
exempted only from those classes whose subjects they already know. My
wife had been a heavy-duty Braille reader for over thirty years when she
went to a center three years ago to improve a variety of skills. She used
the Braille class for working on her slate skills, and maybe also to learn
the Braille 'n' Speak. Now, for somebody who'd also had those additional
skills, requiring time in a Braille class would surely be a waste, and
maybe an insult to the student: he or she would be better off spending
that time on other, less developed skills.

Those are just some of my thoughts.”

Al Sten-Clanton (Boston, Massachusetts USA)

FROM ME: “How about the stressing that the younger individuals should receive their instruction at home, in the neighborhood? (What is family? What is primary socialization?) What would need to be in place in order for the home based rehab to be successful?”

**25. “Home Vs center is a complex topic to say the least. It would depend on the person's personality for me I like both group and individualized training.”

BenC (Huntsville, Alabama USA)

**26. FROM ME: The following are thoughts relating to one of my questions/thoughts from update 1.


“Only if the traveler was the sort to allow herself to be coddled, never go to work, never deal with new situations--something --as an independent working person--the deaf blind person who responded this way would never be! Areas as well as techniques are important. I would, for example, expect to be able to transfer mobility techniques to cross what I consider a major roadway here on Long Island to the Loop in Chicago! But even sighted, I probably
wouldn't do it. It's pretty mad there.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**27. “I’ve worked with the deafblind and for most it is good to work on both known crossings and unfamiliar ones too. You have to have a method that works for all situations. This is true for all blind people and people in general. Skill and confidence that is specific to only one example of a life long need is limiting. Where if you develop a whole mind-set, a philosophy, then it goes with you no matter where you go.”

Todd Huggins

FROM ME: “In other words, might the above response be the same as that wise old saying, “Give them a fish and they eat today. Teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime.’ But can that same philosophical awakening also be created within the home based program?”

**28. “I believe that there is a need for both. Too many times people tend to generalize what needs are available from the majority perspective, without allowing
for those who are in the minority in the area of "needs". I have chosen to continue working while I am adjusting to my vision loss. The idea of taking
off for 6-9 months was not financially feasible for me. Being able to have mobility/orientation, living skills and other classes in the evening and on the weekend has been wonderful. Instead of having to use all of my vacation and sick time for the classes, I can use my vacation and sick time to heal myself
emotionally and to help those who are in my support system adjust also. I also attend a support group in the evening so I have the advantage of that also. Not only has this been an advantage from a financial standpoint, but it has allowed me to maintain a strong work relationship with my employer. To the
point where my employer is discussing hiring other visually impaired individuals for our computer department. I won't mislead you, it was harder this way, however, I have benefited from this choice on so many levels. As in all things, individuals need to make choices for their adjustment because only
they know their weaknesses and strengths. By the agencies being flexible in and how they provide services, it allows those using those services to make
choices that lead to success in creating a new life.”

Sandra Oliveira (Long Beach, California USA

**29. “Just this week I finished my first level of white cane travel. As a
partially sighted person who cannot tolerate bright sunlight my need for a
cane travel is intermittent at this time, but my future is gradually
diminishing vision which will require many more skills. I was so grateful to
have some one come to my home and access the environment where I live and
travel. Her training and suggestions were based on my changing needs and my
specific living situation. It was great to have such individualized and
specific training. Where I live there are curbs, but no side walks and an
extremely rough surface to the paving. Buses are a quarter and a half hilly
mile away. At that point I am then in an urban area, so to have training so
tailored to my individual needs was wonderful.

In my area on sight residential training lasting six to nine months is what
Is encouraged. I worry about having to disrupt my life (finding temporary homes
for my cat and small dog, storing furniture or paying rent on an unused
apartment) while I attend the center. I am a single woman with a college age
son and have virtually no family left living who could step up and assist
while in the limbo land of residential training. I worry that the emotional
cost of such a drastic change in having to give up home and pets would not be
as advantageous as my rehab instructor has indicated it would be to me. In
many ways the thought of such an extended on location training is the most
difficult and frightening part of losing my sight. I look forward to seeing
if others had similar situations as mine and their comments on having to give
up so much in order to learn the necessary skills for successful independent

Kay (Seattle, Washington USA)

FROM ME: “Please, other of you who have gone to a center based program and have had to sacrifice, do write in.”

**30. “I will try this one but as I travel in a power wheel-chair. I have
never had rehab training need my one working hand for the joy stick to
drive my chair, so am unable to use a cane. I taught myself how to get
around, and asked list members about tricks like clicking my tongue to judge
distances when in close proxcinity of objects I just did it though I am still wanting and needing a guide dog! I fear hitting people so do not get out much anymore am unable to judge where
people are in crowds like meetings or stores. I would think home training would be best if one qualifies. But I really do not know for sure!”

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

FROM ME: “Okay, who out there in a wheelchair has under gone rehab training, either at home or in a center? Or someone who has worked in a situation where this has taken place? What has been your experience?

Some day we will have a THOUGHT PROVOKER specifically covering blindness in folks that have other disabilities too. But never over look the fact, that the basic issues we cover in each and every THOUGHT PROVOKER is one that can and should be seen as relevant to any one with vision loss, no matter if you are partially sighted or totally blind and/or if you are hearing or deaf and/or if you have a missing limb and/or if you are in a wheelchair and/or if you are young or old and/or if you are a man or woman and/or if you live in a city or in the country and/or if you are rich or poor, etc. {You, who ever you may be, are to place yourself into the sceen, the happening of each THOUGHT PROVOKER.}”

**31. “This particular thought provoker is very timely for me as I was just sharing
in this very discussion last night over dinner with my wife and another
blind couple.

I had very limited but usable vision until I lost all of my vision at the
age of thirteen which was during my Freshman year of high school. I had
spent portions of my third and fourth grade years and all of my fifth and
sixth grade years, attending my state's school for the blind as a
residential student, and the experience (on the whole) was very, very bad.
Consequently, from the seventh grade on, I was in an integrated setting.
When I lost my sight, it was more or less a surprise, and my vision teacher,
whom I saw infrequently, began coming daily to teach me Braille (and I mean
in a hurry) as I was falling behind day by day. I got through high school
as an honor student, and I got all my blindness skills training from a
series of three itinerant teachers, all of whom were probably at least of
average skill and more than average caring and kindness. I then got my
orientation and mobility training from one of my state's two licensed O&M
trainers. He came to my town on Friday afternoons, and we worked on Friday
afternoons and Saturday mornings for about six weeks. I learned my cane
travel skills in my own neighborhood and in my own town.

All in all, I think my experiences were positive, and I wouldn't trade them.
However, I do think some things were lacking, and my training could have
been enhanced with at least a component of residential training.

I don't think there is a "one size fits all" answer to the question of
residential vs. at-home training, but I think there are some good
generalizations which can be made.

First Generalization: I think that young blind and visually impaired kids
can definitely benefit from a residential program, which could come at or
near the end of their high school years or maybe between high school and
whatever they choose to do next. My reasons for saying so are: 1) Many
families protect their visually impaired children from learning the lessons
of daily living: from burning the food, from cleaning up the inevitable
messes, from figuring out how to get something done a different way.
Moreover, even when blind kids can learn these skills at school, families
don't always (or maybe even often) encourage the kids to practice what
they've learned. How many times have we heard or experienced situations
where parents discourage blind kids from using canes, cooking in the
kitchen, or taking on any challenge which they [the parents] see as
dangerous. 2) The time from the end of high school until the beginning of
college or work is a time of rapid change for kids. Regardless of whether
kids use this time productively or not, they are experimenting, discovering
and deciding all kinds of things which they will carry with them for a long
time to come. Having a residential program of training at this crucial time
in their lives will give them structure within which to learn, discover and
decide. It will also give them an opportunity to make life-long friendships
with other blind people, which will serve to knit the community together for
many years to come.

Second Generalization: I think that training should be more diverse in terms
of its environment and structure for adults. This is because adults have
many different realities. In some cases, they're newly blinded and already
living independently. In some cases, they may be single parents. In other
cases, they may be completely afraid and may need lots of support and
intervention. These differences (in my mind) necessitate many different
approaches to training, ranging from at-home training to residential

In conclusion, I would say that the best approach would be an approach which
includes residential training for all kids who can do it and for adults who
want or need it, and at-home training for all kids who can't do residential
(for whatever reason) and at-home training for any adult who can't use or
doesn't want residential training. Moreover, it is possible that one person
could benefit from both types of training at different times or in different
situations. Using myself as an example: I could have used a residential
training when I was 17 and moving away from home. I didn't have it, and I
had to learn everything by doing and screwing up. Now that I'm in my early
30's with lots of responsibilities, I couldn't use residential at all
because I'm too busy. But if I wanted to learn better computer skills or
cooking skills (and my cooking is actually pretty good), I could probably
benefit from something done either in my home or at least within my
community and preferably during non-working hours. In short, one size
definitely does not fit all, and anyone looking for silver bullets had
better look to old monster movies as I hear they had them back then, but
they certainly don't exist here.”

Ron Brooks (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA)

**32. “I've been lucky to observe both types of situations .. in the placement
situation it was of a two week duration with a very high concentrated
program on the techniques of both cane or guide dogs other places it
has been home based be honest I think it is horses for courses ...some
feel very comfortable and reassured in a structured safe environment such as
a placement facility and then slowly make the move back into their home
environment ..others may prefer and feel more happier in their home
situation ... for me I think asking the person what they are more
comfortable initially in doing is the best option ... it can open up new
friends or it can be a case of being in your home feeling secure .... plus
nothing is written in concrete if one way does not work out then there are
others available .. it is a case of ensuring the situation suits the
individual as versus visa versa”

Julie Robottom (Melbourne, Australia)

**33. “I have written in once, but wanted to
write in again in response to something that was said
in this update. I'm not sure who said it, but they
stressed that no matter where you were trained, it was
all about methodology and philosophy. They also
talked a lot about the discovery method, versus
starting with basics and building.

I see where the discovery method can be successful. I
don't think it should be the only thing used, though.
Students don't learn in the same ways. For instance, I
had two friends who were hardly trained in cane skills
at all, and, in the name of the discovery method, were
sent out alone in an unfamiliar neighborhood on their
second day at a Center, with their only directions
being to deliver flyers around the neighborhood. In
the end, they got hopelessly lost, and had to be found
by Center staff. This was definitely not a
confidence-building experience. In fact, it had the
opposite result. I am not totally against the
discovery learning approach, but I think teachers
should be careful how extreme they are in implementing

One thing I am very appreciative of about CCB is that
I have not been thrown into a situation I am not
trained for. I am being given the training, and then
asked to perform the task. I think that is the best
approach. I have been here for a very short time, but
already I can feel a difference in my attitude toward
myself and independent travel, so in my mind, their
method is working."

Alicia Richards (Colorado Center for the Blind NFB, USA)

FROM ME: “About any approach to learning, what do you think- if you take a rational approach to learning and if you miss-use it, what fallout may occur?”

**34. “I would like to weigh in to this thought provoker based on personal experience. I lost my vision when I was 24 years old and had an interesting opportunity.
My Mother and Father still lived in the house that I had grown up in, and so, as a strategy, she re-arranged the furniture in the house exactly as it had been when I had lived there several years prior. This allowed me the luxury of familiarity and allowed me to exercise my kinesthetic memory during the initial adjustment phase During this time, I made contact with the state Commission for the blind, and a group of teachers and instructors visited me in my home for the next 5 months. This was very beneficial to me as I was taught to cook in a familiar kitchen, I was given O&M in a familiar neighborhood
and had the support of my Mother, who participated in training with me in the home. After the initial 5 months, I was accepted into the state rehabilitation center, where my training was much more comprehensive and consistent. I spent approximately 5 months in the center where I honed my mobility skills, learned budget and meal planning, Braille and adaptive technology. this
experience was so effective that within a month of returning to my home town, I secured my own apartment and started making plans for my future.
In summary, having individuals and familiar places in my home community as a support when I first lost my vision was very beneficial to me. I needed the
support of my family and friends to help with my adjustment to blindness. However, the level of instruction and the rate of training was not adequate
to move me at the pace that I felt I was capable of moving. The rehabilitation center offered several services that were not available in the community
such as adjustment to blindness groups and peer support.
Neither home based training or center based training would have been as effective in themselves, but the combination was exactly what I needed to acquire
the skills and confidence necessary to go on to college and ultimately earn a Master's Degree and complete the course work for my Ph.D.
Finally, it is my opinion that one size does not fit all. some of the consumers I serve cannot attend a rehabilitation center due to family obligations or other circumstances. Some need center training due to the lack of field training resources. Still others require some community based training before they are able to successfully complete a center based program. Let's be sure to listen to our consumers and help them determine which type of training program and environment best fits their unique needs and circumstances.”

David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)

**35. “I myself have been home trained, and found it to be beneficial to me. My instructor was able to give me her undivided attention. And hone in on my skills and work on weaknesses.
However I do see the benefits to learning mobility skills in a group setting, One of the benefits of this is learning from more experienced travelers. If your mobility instructor brings someone to the group that is a seasoned traveler, they can observe there traveling skills and have the opportunity
to ask questions. However there are some problems with group travel, in that clients may have difficulties that need one on one attention. Each method has it's good points and drawbacks.”

Sarah Barth (USA)

**36. “I've had one-on-one mobility training my whole life. Chris Foyt was my first
instructor and, at the time, it was felt that I didn't need intensive training
because I was still quite young and did most of my travelling with adults. I
was given a white cane and was told it was to be used mainly as an identifier
to others that I was legally blind. To this day, I'm uncertain what exactly I
was supposed to do with it, but as it happened, I used it very rarely instead
choosing to hold onto my parents' arm.

When I got married and moved to Minnesota, I went to Vision Loss Resource
Center and had an intensive training exercise with Kelley McCreary. It was the
best experience. Being in a new city, I didn't have my folks to rely on and I
didn't want to stay home so this was a great find for me. Kelley and I went on
one-on-one training sessions, starting with learning basic cane techniques in
the halls of the center - both with and without the blindfold. Then, when I
was comfortable, we moved onto the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus
where I was planning on attending. This was a little more tricky, but I felt
quite comfortable with knowing there was an alert pair of eyes watching things. We also worked around different neighborhoods and I was given instruction on traffic flows through different types of intersections.
Throughout the whole series of lessons, Kelley and I were quite talkative
which gave me good practice on dividing my attention between what my cane was
telling me and what my companion was saying. I really enjoyed the whole
experience. Thanks, Kelley for a well-rounded and fun experience!

When I moved out to Boston, however, a counselor from the Commission came out
and was not very informative. They didn't feel the method I'd been taught as a
partially sighted cane user was correct and really discouraged my using it.
Also, I was encouraged to act totally blind when dealing with traffic
situations because I'd be sending the motorists mixed signals if I tried to
use my sight to assess the situation. Now, this has been proven to be somewhat
true, but I refuse to give up the use of the sight I have to the whims and
half-alertness of motorists on their cell phones. Kelley, I wish you were here
in Boston.

I can't speak to the comparison between Commission and Home Teachers, but I
can speak to the difference in techniques taught from city to city. It is not
easy to pick up on all the differences in a new city, but it'd be nice if
those who were supposed to be helping the blind in that new city could accept
what the person has been taught and modify the technique instead of denouncing
it entirely.”

Shelley (Brighton, Massachusetts USA)

FROM ME: “What do you think- When a blind person comes into a new territory and requires additional training, how should that new set of instructors handle this person’s needs? On the other hand, what should the blind person expect and/or how should they act?”

**37. “Just a short historical note and giving credit where credit is due. Edwin Kunz of Austin speaks of the "discovery" method of teaching some blindness skills and states that this is not to be found in State operated rehabilitation centers, but can be found in some private ones. He says that the method is spread
by Doug Boone and Ruby Ryles. Doug Boone learned his methods in Nebraska at the State agency and his wife, Christine, was the model on which Allan Dodds
of the Blind Mobility Research Unit at Nottingham University in England based his account of this method when he studied it in Nebraska. Ruby Ryles relies heavily on the book, "Cognitive Learning Theory and Cane Travel Instruction" by Richard Mettler. Mettler was the public education specialist at Nebraska
Services for the Visually Impaired when he wrote the book. It was based on practice in Nebraska where this approach was pioneered and is still practiced for travel instruction. Copies of that book are still available for $10 at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and you won't
get a better bargain anywhere.”

James S. Nyman (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

FROM ME: “Mr. Nyman or Dr. Nyman as most of us know him won’t say here, but he was the director of the Nebraska Services for the Visually Impaired when and where this philosophy and method of teaching/learning was developed. Many highly thought of professionals in the blindness rehab field today got their start during his tenure at NSVI.”

**38. FROM ME: The following comes in response to one of my questions placed in the last update.

“It is related to the question about transitioning from one location to another
and how to deal with differences in attitudes and expectations towards blind

I was born and raised in Nebraska. The agency was not all that good when I
was young. It improved in ways that were important to me. I was not
mistreated for belonging to the NFB. I was respected as a young blind
person, and was able to receive most of the needed training from home.

I did have a problem being allowed to attend graduate school part-time, a
strong desire of mine since I was also raising my family at the same time.
Many sighted moms especially, do this.

I was receiving reasonable technology training and had just made the
frightening switch from Dos to Windows wen we moved to the Seattle area. I
was told that there were all kinds of services out there; maybe better than
I had received in Nebraska. Well, yes and no. Lots of services, yes, but
it's terribly confusing to go from having one agency for the blind (well, we
had the Library and Radio Talking Book, too) to quite a few different
agencies, some of which might be duplicating what the others do; none of
them very well. Where did I go for this training? Where did I go for that
training? Where did I go just to continue where I was already going? I
discovered right away that the various agencies were not communicating with
each other very well which added to my intense confusion.

My first counselor was a sighted person who had a major loathing for the NFB
who was about as mean-spirited as one could be until I told her what I
thought, and let the agency know what I thought. Basically, because I was
totally blind, I was expected to be docile, do as they suggested, etc.
Doesn't work with me! The counselor didn't really believe all that I had
already accomplished and thought I was being "delusional," expecting to
continue in those directions. Blind people couldn't learn that much on the
computer, especially the Internet, without sighted help. I couldn't
function in my home unless I kept things in a certain place and labeled
everything. (I did let them help me label my microwave oven but that was
it! (and that wasn't done in Braille it was with different-shaped Velcro
dots.) (Do I remember what the shapes mean?) Hmmmmm.

I was assigned to a job developer who was also sighted, young and
inexperienced. He didn't really want to take my word for anything either.
They had to have info on paper from "professionals" stating my abilities,
etc. (Like I couldn't possibly know what my own skills are.) He also
wanted me to do things his prescribed way which just happened to coincide
with his paper-work plan. Poor trees!!!

Well, I raised a ruckus in Nebraska at times and I think things are the
better for it except for my being unpopular. Same out here. But things are
improving majorly from when I first came out. I was insistent and asked
people why they were just letting mediocrity reign when people needed
specific help!

I still haven't figured out which agency does what the best but I have a
better idea of whom to avoid and which few people have some brains and
reasonable attitudes or at least are educable.

This transition has been quite traumatic for me since I knew people in
Nebraska from the time I was very young. Nearly everyone out here was a
stranger at first and it was hard to crack the veneer of those reluctant to
let a "foreigner" blind person with some fire about her, in.

This is not to say that Nebraska's way was perfect and Washington's way is
perfectly awful. Both states have helpful and not-so-helpful ways of
dealing with things and much of it depends on the individual blind person
and his/her attitude or aptitude and that of the staff person also and
varying state laws etc.

There is a much wider chasm between NFB and ACB members out here, with the
ACB numbers quite in the majority. Much of this is due to a different
history of blindness issues out here from that in Nebraska.

Since I've been out here, I've met all kinds of blind people, with varying
expectations of themselves and others and different ways of going about
instituting change in our society, from the punitive "you're a bad example
of a blind person if you're not a workaholic, saving the world, martyring
for your cause" to the passive "There are just too many obstacles, why fight
them?" and many in between. One main difference I notice here is that
blind persons, in the Federation, anyway, don't seem to get together
socially or for NFB projects outside of meetings as much as we did back in
Nebraska, so getting to know people and having them be part of our lives is
harder. Seattlites seem to tend to go their own way and really don't want
anyone ruffling feathers, like, be polite at any cost (except for the
protesters, and I admire them and Jim and I joined them downtown a few
months ago after the election, I mean, selection.

The Orientation Center was a dormitory setting and dark ages treatment of
blind persons was so prevalent that some people have been emotionally
traumatized by the experience. Thankfully, just since we've been here, that
horror was done away with and the students have an apartment setting and
new, more reasonable staff. We have some NFB people working for the agency
now who don't just sit back. Wow! No, of course, I didn't spearhead it,
but I am glad that I definitely am a part of changes for the better.

Center Vs home? Good question. It depends on the person's needs,
personality, level of health and skills, and family situations. It's good
to have alternatives.”

Laurie Merryfield (Washington USA)

**39. “I gave this a lot of thought of which is better home or institutional training before I answered. I believe that there is a benefit for both types of training. Home training is a one on one and some people will benefit greatly from it, but at the same time institutional training gives the client the chance to be
around other blind or impaired people, which could be a benefit of its own. The type of training will depend on the person that needs and wants the training and that is the only way these two types of training can honestly be judged. It also depends on the sight center policies and regulations and the skill
of the instructors. The same is true about home training. When I was going into the assistance technology training, I had the pleasure of a good sight center and one that still clings to the old ways of doing business. Another thing one must judge the experience is that home training usually is a once
a week training that lasts only for an hour or two. the institutional training is usually a 5 day, 8 hour thing.”

RJ Fugagli (Franklin, Pennsylvania USA)

**40. “My rehab experience is very limited. I spent four weeks at the center in Kalamazoo Michigan for evaluation. I remember the night they served fish, and everyone took taxi's to their favorite restaurants. We laughed so hard when the fourth cab pulled into line. It was wonderful to spend time with other teens that were in a similar position to myself. Teens feel out of place anyway, but adding blindness, only makes the golf a little wider. In this case, I believe that the center gives an experience that can not be replicated in an isolated setting. Unfortunately, some have difficulty taking the classroom learning home to their community. A center experience with home-based follow-up would be ideal. Of course, the center is not for everyone. I believe that short visits would still be valuable even with home-based instruction. The problem is that all visually challenged persons does not have the same experience. Some can learn in very difficult situations, while others, may or do give in to their overwhelming challenges. I would not always say that the educational system is responsible. We also need to accept responsibility.”

Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martain, Michigan USA”

**41. FROM ME; The following is a short paper on the origins of Structured Discovery Learning. It is follow up to a response submitted by Edwin Kunz in update 2, a short explanation in update 3 by Dr. James S. Nyman and now a longer piece on the early stages in the issue of cognitive learning theory as a method of teaching in a rehab center and/or in the field.”

“What is “structured discovery learning”?

A presentation by
James S. Nyman, June 21, 2001.

We did not discover ‘structured discovery learning’ in Nebraska. ‘Structured discovery learning’ discovered us. When Allan Dodds of the Blind Mobility Research Unit of Nottingham University in England visited Nebraska in 1984 to study the methods we employed to utilize blind travel instructors, he concluded that the best description he could apply to the learning strategies was ‘structured discovery learning’. The method, he later reported, inverted the relationship between instructor and student as practiced in the mainstream of the orientation and mobility profession so that the focus was on the learning ability of the student rather than the knowledge base of the instructor.
I said that ‘structured discovery learning’ discovered us. What I mean by this paradox is that Nebraska had evolved a method of instruction that embodied a shift in philosophy in rehabilitation generally rather than the conscious adoption of the latest learning theory in education. Several features of that philosophy can be selected to illustrate what it was that Dodds found in his study, later reported to the Royal National Institute for the Blind and in two issues of the New Beacon in 1985.

First, blind persons were regarded as capable of active participation in determining their goals. Second, they could make decisions and solve associated problems. Third, their choices were accorded maximum respect as the determinant of goals to be recognized. Fourth, the counselor did not diagnose and prescribe, but facilitated in the process of gaining full independence. And Fifth, achieving full independence was always a meaningful goal. These principles dictated the adoption of a teaching method that fully recognized that the blind individual could and should control the learning process. The instructor’s role was to facilitate this outcome.
I noted earlier that Allan Dodds made a visit to Nebraska to study the use of blind individuals as travel instructors. This practice was a simple application of the concept that the content and method of learning travel was not the result of a sighted orientation and mobility specialist instructing and visually monitoring the performance of the travel student to assure safety and efficiency on the basis of a body of knowledge possessed by the instructor. This meant an early, but complete, shift of the locus of control over the learning process to the student. By the time Dodds arrived in 1984, blind individuals like James Walker, Fred Schroeder and Christine Boone had refined these principles into a method of teaching that received the honorific title of ‘structured discovery learning’.

1. Like sound rehabilitation, this learning model requires the active participation of the student. It is sometimes contrasted with ‘guided instruction’, a model that stresses the passively receptive capabilities of the learner. In practice, of course, some judicious mixture of these extremes will mark any sound strategy. A conscientious and well-trained instructor will adjust the mix to best meet the needs of the individual student in different stages of the learning process. What Dodds found--and what had come to characterize Nebraska’s practice-was that the instructor initiated the training by making it clear to the student that success would depend on a decision to take control of the process from the start. A simple choice at the outset sends the message: the student is given the opportunity to select a cane of a length that suits a preferred stride style rather than measuring the cane to match some arbitrarily chosen point on the body, for example, the bottom of the sternum. We conducted an informal research project one day that consisted of measuring the difference between the extreme point of the arc of sternum-length canes and preferred-length canes of blind travelers who ranged in height from 4 foot ten inches to six foot two inches. This experiment yielded the result of an average ‘zone of choice’ of thirteen inches greater for the preferred length cane. In other words, this initial choice frees the student to vary stride and pace in a way that the professionally prescribed length of cane does not. Naturally, as the training proceeds, the chosen length can readily be altered as travel skills improve. Regardless of where the student begins and ends up, this initial choice makes it clear that a choice has been made. It sets the tone for every aspect of the program that follows.

2. As part of his study of Nebraska practice, Allan Dodds took on the role of an early stage travel student. He donned sleepshades and, carrying a recording device, he ventured outdoors with Christine Boone as his instructor. Later, he compared his recorded lesson with one made of a travel lesson conducted by a British orientation and mobility instructor. While a single comparison is not definitive, Dodds is a trained researcher and certified orientation and mobility specialist so that he could make some informed observations. For purposes of this comparison, he coded the interactions between student and instructor into three distinct, but interconnected areas. These correspond to a division of the skills involved in travel, that is, motor, perceptual and cognitive. The comparison, displayed in quantitative terms, disclosed a sharp contrast between the discovery method and guided instruction.
He divides the three types of interactions between student and instructor into those that the instructor feeds to the student and those demanded from the student. While Chris, the Nebraska instructor, fed only two motor skill items to the student, the British one fed forty-three. On the demand side, the difference was relatively minor, three as against two. In perceptual skill, that is, information gathering, Chris fed nineteen items, demanding ten. For the British instructor, the ratio was twenty-five fed and sixteen demanded. Feeding and demanding of cognitive items by Chris came to a total of sixty-one (30 and 31, respectively) but the British instructor fed and demanded only thirteen (9 and 4, respectively).
In percentage terms, this translates into a ratio of feeding to demanding of 53.7% to 46.3% (51 to 44 of 95) in the first lesson. In contrast, the ratio in the second lesson is 77.8% to 22.2% (77 to 22 of 99). Dodds concludes, “What is evident from the table is that the first instructor is maintaining an equal balance between feeding and demanding information, whereas the second instructor is feeding information to the client most of the time, and demanding little in return.”

Another way of interpreting the data is that, of the ninety-five transactions coded for the first instructor, only 5.25% pertained to motor skills (5 of 95); 30.5% pertained to perceptual skills (29 of 95): but 64.25% pertained to cognitive skills (61 of 95). In contrast, the ninety-nine transactions recorded for the British lesson can be represented as 45.45% motor (45 of 99); 41.4% perceptual (41 of 99) and only 13.3% cognitive (13 of 99). In other words, in the Nebraska lesson there was a heavy emphasis on the development of cognitive skills on the part of the student while the British lesson exhibited a marked stress on the development of the motor skills involved in travel.

Dodds summarizes his findings from the experiment, “Furthermore, most of the first instructor’s lesson concentrates on cognitive problem-solving skills, whereas most of the second instructor’s lesson concentrates on motor skills.”

3. It has been said that, “One swallow does not a summer make”. It is equally true that one experiment does not establish a scientific truth. Nor, does it definitively settle any question of superior teaching method or learning effectiveness. Dodds, however, permits himself to speculate, “The open question in this case is which client ends up the best traveler, and there is no way of determining this now, but I would predict that the first instructor’s client would be a much more effectively mobile and independent person than the second instructor’s.” His conclusion appears to be based more on the nature of the instructional model and the content of the desired learning.
He asserts that, “recent research” shows that the “style of instruction” is significantly related to how the student learns. He identifies three broad guidelines that should govern style: the instructor, first, should not overload the client with information; second, should ensure that the client actively participates in problem-solving; and thirdly, must have the sensitivity to know when it is appropriate to give or demand information.
From his analysis, it appears that the guided instruction model has a tendency to overload the student with information, especially in training for motor skills. The structured discovery learning method, on the other hand, is well designed to optimize the guideline on the active participation of the student.

4. It is difficult to imagine an effective cane traveler who does not possess well-developed problem-solving skills. It is equally difficult to imagine one who lacks good perceptual skills. Sound motor skills in the manipulation of the cane as a sensory tool and orientation device is a motor skill that cannot be neglected. Among blind persons who travel efficiently, safely and independently, a considerable range of variation in the balance of these skills can be discerned. Whatever the balance, however, it is evident that the Nebraska model stresses the overriding importance of the cognitive and perceptual elements of the travel experience.
It is possible to enumerate a number of those cognitive and perceptual skills that are involved in cane travel, but problem-solving is the one most commonly identified. Nonetheless,
decision-making, environmental and spatial awareness, memory, generalizing from experience, reasoning on the logic of the built environment and cognitive mapping are also critical.

5. Dodds laments that, “Although no one would disagree that successful mobility involves effective problem-solving, there is not an explicit body of knowledge which can be drawn on to enable a client to solve a problem more efficiently.” I take this to mean that there is no well formulated set of rules that can be communicated to the student out of the body of knowledge of the orientation and mobility specialist. By contrast, the motor skills involved in optimally efficient manipulation of the cane are well understood and can serve as the body of knowledge that can be communicated to the student by the instructor. Some scholars and many management consultants have developed a framework for problem-solving. These frameworks do not serve as a “body of knowledge” that may make the student more efficient in solving problems, but may serve as a systematic set of procedures to expedite solutions for the blind traveler and assist the instructor in devising “structured” situations with which to challenge the student.

One example will serve to stand for all such proposals. Richard Mettler, in “Cognitive Learning Theory and Cane Travel Instruction”, (Pp. 43-44.) Divides problem solving into five phases as follows: 1. Recognition that a problem exists. 2. identification of what the problem is, along with some sense of what would constitute a solution. 3. Relating the problem situation to past experience to categorize it or bring it under some familiar problem type. This involves formulation of candidate hypotheses which would explain the problem and point the way toward a solution. 4. a process of testing the candidate hypothesis. 5. Identification of a solution/explanation which is appropriate to the problem. Implementing a procedure of this sort would require that the student call on a battery of motor, perceptual and cognitive skills that will vary with the variety of situations that are normally confronted. Thus, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic perceptual feedback from the skilled manipulation of the cane in probing the environment may indicate that a problem exists and what kind it is. This information may trigger a memory of similar situations and ways in which previous solutions worked. Other cognitive skills, such as reasoning about the logic of the environment and generalizing from past experience, will come into play in arriving at a solution. The information that is processed in the recognition and identification of problems is consciously generated by the traveler and must be interpreted by the same person. It is feedback that has been described as “intrinsic” as opposed to “extrinsic”, information that may be fed to the traveler by some other person.
6. Intrinsic feedback is the key to understanding the structured discovery learning model and to its successful employment. Skilled creation and utilization of intrinsic feedback is the best guarantee of the full independence of a blind traveler. When we speak of “discovery”, it is what the student learns by actively participating in the training process by solving problems. Cognitive psychologists do not know precisely how intrinsic feedback works, but it is well understood that it contributes to learning. Monitoring and extrinsic feedback by the instructor tends to focus effort on meeting specific performance objectives, but is less effective in facilitating transfer of skills to new and different performances. In other words, initial performance may benefit in contrast with skills learned by intrinsic feedback in the discovery method, but experimental evidence has shown that transfer of problem-solving ability is problematic. Moreover, studies have shown that retention of skills is greater in the case of discovery learning. This is understandable since the individual who learns problem-solving, and other cognitive skills, is more likely to utilize them on a continuing basis in a wider range of circumstances. Success tends to reinforce the learned behavior in constant use when the skills serve the ongoing needs of the individual rather than satisfying the performance expectations of the extrinsic monitor.
A well trained instructor will rely on intrinsic feedback to structure situations that will enhance and strengthen the student’s cognitive skills. The ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each student will determine the nature of individualized training. The success of the student is measured in terms of taking control of the learning process as a key to achieving personal independence. This learning method will serve the individual for a lifetime.”
**42. I think that home Vs. residential training solely depends on the individual's preference and surrounding circumstances. However, along with all the
other advantages already mentioned about residential training, I think that residential training is important for those who are heavily dependent on their
parents and family members to do things for them--cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, etc. If the student of such a case is at a training center
and under intensive training, then their parents and family members are not readily available for the student to always fall back on for things they should
be learning how to do on their own. Moreover, a training center is a way for them to be trained and be prepared for the real world out here, especially
being that their parents and family members won't be around forever. Yes, being submerged into an intense environment when you are accustomed to your
home and depending heavily on family members to do things for you can be quite a shock, but, in some cases, this is necessary, especially if and when family
members encourage residential training. Even if family members do not encourage this, I still think it's important. Again, though, it really depends
on the individual and their circumstances.
Not only is training at a residential center also good for those preparing to move away from home into their own apartment, but it is a way to be exposed
to situations you may need down the road--dormitory living or in a rooming house, or if you decide to have a partner one day. You may be moving into your
own apartment instead of into a college dorm or rooming house but have not thought much about the possibility of having a partner one day. Residential
training exposes you to learning how to live with and deal with other people's quirks--disorganization, personality clashes, etc. You may one day have
a partner who never puts things back where they found them. While you can constantly tell your partner to put things back where they found them because
it is hard for you to find things when they are out of place, that partner may not always remember or fully understand where you are coming from. Thus,
you have to learn to work around that person just as much as he/she has to work around you. This is especially important for those who are the only child
in the family. Sure, you can be socialized with other people at gatherings with other blind and visually impaired people and then go back to your home,
but it is not the same as being around other people and living with them twenty-four & seven.
Other than the fact that residential training at a center entails a curriculum and techniques for a group of people as opposed to on an individual basis,
the other major disadvantage to training centers is the feeling of being singled out from the general public. In general, when sighted people out here
see a group of blind people together, this is read as a clique of blind people who, more than likely, only associate with those of their own kind rather
than with other sighted people. Of course, we all know that this is not true, but, to the average sighted person out here, this grouping seen at training
centers, I feel, conveys such a message. If a person is home-trained, not only does the instructor(s) get a feel for how the student functions at home,
but he/she has an idea of the student's neighborhood in which he/she lives, and the kind of people in that neighborhood and how the student relates with
those people. In addition, individual training at home does not convey institutionalization or present clique-like appearances to the public. If the
instructor is also blind, it only appears as though the two people in public are friends just hanging out. Sure, a group of blind people can also give
the appearance of a bunch of people just hanging out, but it is more so when it's just a couple blind people at a time. It is a rather weird and complex
thing to explain, so this is the best way I can explain it without rambling on and losing the intent of my response to this thought provoker.
While there are advantages to home training, as already outlined in previous responses, there are also disadvantages as well. Some have already been
outlined, but another disadvantage to home training is in situations when family members interfere with the training either while the instructor is there
or once the instructor has left for that day or permanently. While the instructor is present, family members may constantly interfere with their comments
about how the student will never be able to accomplish the task being learned. It is one thing for family members to ask the instructor questions, but
it is another when negative comments are being interjected during the training. Once the instructor has left the home, family members can go beyond negative
comments to not allowing the student to practice the skills they are currently being taught. Thus, intensive training is not conducive at home in these
cases. Moreover, the family's negativity could influence a student's performance and self-confidence. Sure, these same results can happen upon a student's
return from a residential training center, but this is when, regardless of whether the student is trained at a center or at home, instructors should meet
with the family before, during and after the training regiments. This is when the instructor talks with the family about not hand-caudalling the student
and when the student, him or herself, speaks up about learning to be independent with the instructor(s) backing him/her up.
Because of the advantages and disadvantages of being trained at home and being trained at a residential center, I think that those seeking training
should have the option of one or the other, or have a mixture of both. Students should have the option of receiving training at the center and being able
to go home at night to be with their family or live in their own apartment but still be expected to intensively practice the skills they are being taught.
Those who are being trained at home should be encouraged to attend support groups and socialize with other blind people. One way this could be accomplished
is for another home-trained and/or center-trained student who is more advanced to meet with a less advanced student on a one-on-one basis and/or bring
that less advanced student to a meeting or recreational activity with them. As for extra accommodations in training for those who have other disabilities
besides blindness and for focusing on specific skills that one n individual may need more than another, I think that those can and should be able to be
met at the center. This way, if someone in a wheelchair, for example, wants or needs to live at the training center, they can participate in the regular
daily classes with some of their mobility training tailored to them according to their needs. They would also be living among the other students rather
than be excluded. Likewise, those who have specific skills they want or need to work on can still be a part of the group there at the center without having
to endure the hours of braille, for example, if they already read and write braille efficiently and/or exclusively.
In my case, I did not need to go through a residential program for my independent living, travel, braille, or computer skills. My parents taught me
some of the independent living skills while I had travel and braille reading and writing instruction through instructors contracted by the public school
system. The only times I went through a residential program were during the summers for a four-week program with other blind kids from first to twelfth
grade. I only attended up until I was fifteen years old. The next time was through a summer work experience program when I was eighteen. Not only was
the focus on job-hunting skills, but it was also on independent living skills. I benefited from the former in learning independent living skills and from
the latter in job-hunting skills. Both situations also helped me in learning how to get along with others--quirks, personality clashes, etc. The next
and last residential training program I went to was four years ago, when I got my guide-dog. While it may have been fun for me in that I got to meet other
blind people who were also getting their first, second, third, or fourth dog and that I learned from the pros, I would have preferred being trained at
home. Not only would the instructor and I have been training in my neighborhood and town, but my instructor would have had a better feel for the area
in which I live and the kind of people who lived there that I dealt with daily. Moreover, the instructor would have had a better idea of how my dog would
respond and perform in a new environment other than where my dog was originally trained at. Things went well for my dog and I during training, but my
dog's performance started going downhill six months after we'd returned home. Even after all the phone calls and advice from peers and instructors at
the school over the next three years, the suggested solutions that once worked no longer worked to the point that I had no choice than return my dog to
the school. All the other training--individual cooking as opposed to teamwork cooking and computer skills--I learned at a training center, but I still
lived in my own apartment.
In short, I think that a combination of home and residential training and curtailing a student's training regiment to specific skills, whether they
live at the center or live in their home, can all be accomplished and adjusted on an individual basis.


**43. I received a bit of both and this is what I have to say. I attended a rehab-training facility here in Chicago and was a resident in the dorm. I was there
for eighteen weeks and the instruction was quite good. I learned some daily-living skills such as cooking, laundry, and simple money management. I also
had O&M, computers and Braille. Now that I think about it I might've been able to survive without the Braille class, since I learned Braille grades 1 and
2 as a young child. But they made me take it and I admit it was a lot of fun because the instructor I had was a lot of fun. My O&M instructor at the facility
was also quite good. He brushed up on the skills which I had previously learned, i.e., the use of the cane and cardinal directions. He would sometimes
have me run short errands for him. I can remember one time when he asked me to walk across to the student union that was part of the University of Illinois
Chicago campus. He wanted me to get him a cookie, so I brought us both back cookies. So as far as the instruction was concerned, I had no problem. The
problem arose with the dorm. The dorm back then was actually part of a hospital for children in wheelchairs and other mobility devices. However, it was
in constant disarray. The lavatories never worked, and the laundry was basically non-existent. The food was most often spoiled and we the residents ended
up getting sick a lot. I stayed at the rehab facility Monday through Friday, and my parents would drive down to get me and bring me home for the weekends.
The social life there was all right but I suppose it could've been better. Most of the residents happened to have been either victims of drive-by shootings
or some other kind of accident that caused their blindness. Some were in gangs themselves. They were pretty much depressed and down on themselves all of
the time, and I and a couple others found ourselves acting as grief counselors. I have no problem with this aspect, but I would've liked to have seen a
more upbeat social life there. There was a media center in the dorm where people could go to relax and play on the beat-up computers, but often times the
people who were supposed to staff the media center didn't show up.
I also received a little bit of rehab training at home, but it was not at all effective with the exception of the O&M instructors who worked with me. In
closing I think it is up to the individual to decide whether he/she wants to be trained at home or at a rehab center. Personally I would go for some more
home training, since I know the layout of home.

Jake Joehl Chicago, Illinois