At GVRA, we understand that all clients are different, and we're committed to serving everyone regardless of their disability. To accomodate individuals with different disabilities, we have trained staff that have background in specific sensory disabilities. Those disabilities include: blindness and low vision, deaf and blind/deaf. Here's a brief rundown of the services we offer to those populations.
Blind and Low Vision
Blindness rehabilitation is specialized training designed to teach a person who is blind or visually impaired adapted techniques to live and work in a sighted world. Whether a person is looking to return to work, maintain current employment, or attempting to maintain independence, learning these adapted techniques are essential. Rehabilitation Counseling - A Rehabilitation Counselor for the Blind can assist a person with uncorrectable vision loss in many ways. Many of our clients tell us that their eye doctor one day informed them that their vision loss was permanent and there was nothing else they could do. While this may have been true from a medical point of view, there is much that can be done with the proper counseling and rehabilitation.
A Rehabilitation Counselor for the Blind can help the individual to identify the resources available. They can also perform a comprehensive needs assessment to identify all barriers and together, they can develop a plan to overcome the obstacles one by one.
While individual needs are different, some of the common components of a successful rehabilitation plan include the following: Low Vision Evaluation – This is a specific type of eye examination performed by an optometrist who is specifically credentialed to perform low vision evaluations. They often work in conjunction with a Low Vision Therapist who takes the findings of the Low Vision Optometrist and assists the individual to identify and train on the right devices and learn proper viewing techniques to maximize remaining vision. Many people find that they can read materials again in a modified way.
Braille Instruction – Braille is a series of 6 raised dots that enables a person who is blind or with very low vision to read again with the use of their fingertips. Braille is just as relevant today as it was when it was invented by Louis Braille many years ago. Electronic devices are very handy, but they do not replace the functionality of Braille.
Vision Rehabilitation Therapy – When a person loses vision, simple everyday tasks can become very difficult to perform. These activities like shaving, applying make-up, making a phone call, using a stove safely, measuring ingredients for a favorite recipe, pouring a hot cup of coffee, using a washer and dryer and hundreds of other everyday tasks are challenging to accomplish without vision. However, with the proper training from a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, these and most others are all able attainable
Orientation and Mobility Instruction – Learning to travel safely in your environment is also a key component to independence and employment. When a person loses their sight, it is critically important that they learn how to safely navigate their environment and stay oriented to their surroundings. With the training of an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, people who are blind or living with low vision can learn how to safely walk their neighborhood, cross streets, navigate a college campus, use the transit systems and so much more.
Assistive Work Technology Evaluation – An Assistive Work Technology evaluation is the key to opening the world of technological possibilities for people with vision loss. While technology does not remove all barriers, when combined with the skills training mentioned previously, technology can be instrumental in assisting someone to become fully independent and a productive member of society.
Technology Access Training – Technology can be very instrumental to overcoming many of the barriers encountered by a person with vision loss. Today’s technology allows a blind person to read books, use a computer, identify colors, identify denominations of money, scan bar codes to obtain product information, pay bills, and so much more. With the proper and training, vision loss can be accommodated to overcome most barriers.
Click here to learn about Project Independence for those living with vision loss later in life. to read the Project Independence annual report.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Georgia Deaf Services has a unique structure. VR has specialized counselors for the Deaf who are supervised by Deafness professionals to ensure more appropriate services. The Deafness Program offers training for internal and external customers which assists in more positive employment outcomes. GA VR has Counselors for the Deaf (RCD) who understand the needs and abilities of people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened and Deaf-Blind and assists eligible clients in preparing for, obtaining, and/or maintaining employment, as well as counsels clients and employers concerning their special needs. The GA VR Deafness Program offers services to address hearing loss issues in the workplace, and provides counseling and guidance on how to cope with hearing loss. We cultivate and coordinate community and agency resources in advancement of vocational goals to ensure the provision of quality services to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened and Deaf-Blind populations.
A person that is Deaf Blind does not always mean they live in a world completely void of sight or sound. The terminology is defined below, and can have a vast range of characteristics based on the individual. Individuals with Deaf Blindness live, work, and play through maximizing the benefits of the residual sight or sound they have , and through the use of technology, Support Service Providers, Braille, American Sign language, and many other avenues.
The following is the definition of deaf-blindness as written in The Helen Keller Act - US CODE, TITLE 29 – LABOR, CHAPTER 21 - Sec. 1905.
(1) the terms ''Helen Keller National Center for Youths and Adults who are Deaf-Blind'' and ''Center'' mean the Helen Keller National Center for Youths and Adults who are Deaf-Blind, and its affiliated network, operated pursuant to this chapter;
(2) the term ''individual who is deaf-blind'' means any individual -
(A) (i) who has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a field defect such that the peripheral diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees, or a progressive visual loss having a prognosis leading to one or both these conditions;
(ii) who has a chronic hearing impairment so severe that most speech cannot be understood with optimum amplification, or a progressive hearing loss having a prognosis leading to this condition; and
(iii) for whom the combination of impairments described in clauses (i) and (ii) cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining a vocation;
(B) who despite the inability to be measured accurately for hearing and vision loss due to cognitive or behavioral constraints, or both, can be determined through functional and performance assessment to have severe hearing and visual disabilities that cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining vocational objectives; or
(C) meets such other requirements as the Secretary may prescribe by regulation; and
(3) the term ''Secretary'' means the Secretary of Education.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ~ Helen Keller
Deaf Blind Related Resources Links:
- Georgia Association of the Deaf Blind (GADB) - President Mindy Dill [email protected]
- Georgia Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GCDHH) - www.gcdhh.org/
Georgia Sensory Assistance Project http://education.gsu.edu/georgiadeafblindproj/
Helen Keller National Center www.hknc.org
National Consortium on Deaf Blindness www.nationaldb.org
- National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program www.icanconnect.org/georgia