Plans Change: Informal Pre-Employment Class (independent living skills series 7)

The van was late. I was anxious; and I was starting to snack on my favorite taco chips and Dr. Pepper. Because I was still upset I called an international friend in England. We chatted up a storm until the van came.

The ride to school was uneventful, and I was only 30 minutes late. When I got there, I put my lunch away and walked into the conference room. I was eager to get started with my Orientation and Mobility lesson. Come to find out, my teacher had to cancel my lesson.

Instead of going home, I asked the instructor if it was okay to stay for the pre-employment lesson. Today’s lesson was on resumes. The first type of resume we covered was functional and how we should use quantity and qualitative examples. We looked at a few examples and discussed why they were good examples.

Once that topic was discussed, we went on to a functional disability statement. I must admit I have a disability statement, however it never covered such topics such as: what my vision is like and what I can see, how I can complete tasks in my daily life such as getting around, cooking and using the computer, and allowing the employer to ask any other questions they may have by opening the conversation yourself.

By that time, I brought up the issue of employers not believing that my eye condition is not real or the fact that I am either drunk or on drugs.

My teacher is right when he says you must have thick skin, and sometimes people are just plain ignorant. He is right; when I get those kinds of interviews, just move on. It only takes one “Yes,” out of the hundreds of “No’s” I have received to achieve success.

Accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was our next topic. It is hard for me to believe that someone in human resources would have knowledge about the ADA.  That lead us onto the topic of being able to sell yourself with your assets such as keyboarding skills, how your personal technology works, ect.

The last thing we covered was the format of a chronological resume and some basic interview questions.

On the way home, beneath all the anger I felt about my job seeking journey, I thought about a story that my teacher told about a relative that had come to visit. This relative met one of my teacher’s friends who was blind and he got to learn the impact that my teacher had on this blind friend as a teacher. He gave the man the gift of independence by teaching him. I, myself, want to be as independent as possible. However, first I must figure out what that means to me.

Getting used to my new cane and tip (independent living skills series 6)

“Great, you brought your new cane; let me go get your pencil tip. I’ll be back in a minute,” my Orientation and Mobility instructor said, as I sat there eagerly waiting for my lesson to start.

Once she returned with the pencil tip, I decided against it. That was because I am a medium traveler and I need more tactile information. Because I did not like the marshmallow tip, and because Ambutech does not provide the type of tip I am currently using, my teacher introduced me to a tip called Ceramic. It’s small and has a rubber band around part of it. With this tip I get excellent audio and tactile information.

Because I needed to get used to my new cane and tip, another classmate and I went outside to walk in the grass. For me, I do not like to walk in the grass because sometimes my tip gets stuck. Once we were done with that, my teacher, classmate and I headed for the mall. The mall has laminate floors which made it hard to sweep my cane. My teacher noticed that my arch was to wide and had to correct me.

Another thing was I had to get used to my new cane. It’s like trying on a new pair of boots, you have to break them in. During my time at the mall, we came across some stairs. We worked on how to go up and down. I learned to descend; I can sweep my cane for feedback before going down. To ascend the stairs you are to bump your cane against the front of the step then step up.

After our lesson, we got a snack, and headed back to the center for lunch; It was nice to relax and to give my wrist a break.

Once lunch was over, my teacher, another classmate and I went back to the mall. This time the walk was smoother. I’m sure in a few weeks I will be adjusted to my new cane and tip. The only thing left is to name my cane; just for a joke…I shall call him Paddington Freedom.

Nystagmus Awareness Day 2018: Nystagmus in the open

As I sat there in our living room with tears running down my cheeks, I asked my mom, when I was 15-years-old, “Why aren’t the doctors looking for a cure? I want to be able to drive.” My mom did not know the answer about any treatment plans.

Now at age 30, I still do not have my driver’s license, however I know that my future is a lot brighter. I have a bachelor’s of Arts degree and 53 continuing education certificates. I have different pieces of technology that help me achieve success every day.

However, many people still do not know what Nystagmus is. That’s why 20th of June is celebrated as Nystagmus Awareness Day. This year’s theme is: Nystagmus in the open. This year’s theme is to get the general public to become aware of the condition and to get more people who have it talking.

Nystagmus is an eye condition where the eyes move continuously in either in a vertical, horizontal, or circular pattern even though sometimes there can be any mix in the patterns. There are two main types of Nystagmus. The first one is called Congenital Nystagmus, or in recent years renamed Infantile Nystagmus (IN) or rarely Early Onset Nystagmus. People who have Congenital Nystagmus are born with the condition and sometimes there is no known cause as to why someone has it.

The second type of Nystagmus is called Acquired Nystagmus. This impacts people later in life and sometimes has a cause; such as impact of medicine, a head injury, or having vertigo. Both of these kinds of Nystagmus impact people’s vision, which can range from being legally blind to having low vision. It impacts people differently.

Right now, there is no cure for Nystagmus, however I know that the Nystagmus Network is working with scientists, medical doctors and other professionals to improve our quality of life, and hopefully one day have a cure.

The Nystagmus Network does more than research, they also provide peer-to-peer support, family support, and different treatments. However, this can not be done without the help of the public. Please consider  making a donation.

For more information about Nystagmus please visit: Nystagmus Network’s home page

To read more about how people with Nystagmus are amazing please consider subscribing to their newsletter, Focus.

 

 

Final Echo Dot Lesson (independent living skills series lesson 5)

This week was an exciting week for me. I am now a proud graduate of the first ever Echo Dot training class. For our final class, my teacher had me disable, and then re-enable his Echo Dot. This will help me once I get my own Echo Dot next week.

Setting it up was simple. I only had to follow the set-up menu via the app. During the set up process, I watched a short tutorial video which included information on the different skills and features (such as playing music via Bluetooth, using Google calendar, ect)

The last thing we did was allow me to explore the different skills. Some of the skills I chose for my Echo included: Weather, Flashlight, TED Talks, Sleep and Relaxation Sounds, CNN, and Meow meow.  What Skills do you use for the Echo Dot if you own one? Tell me in the comments below.

I’m eager to receive my device, customize it, and to start using it.

 

Basic Bus Skills (independent living skills series lesson 4)

Today, because of the threat of a tropical depression, my Orientation and Mobility teacher and I decided to do a short lesson on basic bus skills.

Before we even started the lesson, outside of the bus station was a beautiful flower on a bush; It was really pretty, and it had a nice smell. Once that was over, we walked into the bus terminal. My teacher gave me information on the prices of tickets, passes (which I have), and how to purchase them.  Then she gave me a brief orientation to the terminal itself.

We went outside and that’s when the hard work began. We watched as all the buses lined up for the next departure. My teacher explained that even though the columns were labeled, I should always check with the driver to make sure I was getting on the correct bus.

The sidewalk was noisy because of the buses and the crowd of people who gathered around waiting for their rides. It was a little disorienting at first, but I soon got use to the noise.

Once the buses left, my teacher and I walked the sidewalk to see how long it was. All that was left was getting a rider’s guide. We reviewed the guide over brunch.

I’m excited to actually take the bus next time. I am really gaining skills and feeling more confident.

In this picture I’m smelling a flower. #Flower #Florida #orientation #mobility #lesson

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Cooking Mexican (independent living skills series lesson 3)

After a short bereavement period, I decided to return to school in my grandma’s honor. I was nervous the night before because I had missed class the previous week, but I had a lot of support from the staff and classmates.

Today we were learning how to cook Mexican. We had the choice to make: Small or large quesadillas, burrito, or hand corn tacos. During the lecture part of the class, we discussed shopping on a budget, getting assistance while shopping, and basic types of spices that would be useful to have at home.

We were all eager to get cooking. For those of us who needed practice cooking meat, we got to brown the hamburger. I was one of the students, (3 of us) cooking it.

I learned to start cooking meat on high heat, then once it’s mostly cooked, it sizzles, and you can turn the heat to medium.

While the three students were cooking the meat, the remaining students chopped onions, bell peppers, and peeled and mashed avocadoes. The students who cooked the meat learned how to use paper towels on a plate to drain the meat. We also chopped vegetables too. I chopped an onion, tomatoes, and tried to peel an avocado. During the vegetable prep, the director of Division of Blind Services stopped by. It was nice to meet her, and to be able to show off my new skills, as well as share my professional achievements.

Once all the ingredients were chopped and the meat cooked, we got to choose either tacos, quesadillas, or a burrito. I had two hard-shell tacos, and I made a quesadilla for my grandpa. I had fun with this lesson and as always I look forward to advancing my cooking skills.

 

I made this in school today. #School #mexicanfood #quesadilla

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Echo Dot and Orientation and Mobility (independent living skills series lesson 2)

The nervousness has died down quite a bit since I’ve gotten over my first lesson.

Today I had assistive technology and Orientation and Mobility lessons. The first lesson of the day was an introduction of the Amazon Echo Dot. I learned how to address it, some basics of what the dot could do such as set reminders, multi-timers, to-do lists, read audio books and play music.

I was able to practice asking questions, setting lists and reminders. Another part of the lesson that was useful was a brief over view about the application that goes along with it. It really is a neat device, and I’m excited to learn more.

After a quick lunch, I had a short Orientation and Mobility lesson. We worked on crossing light-heavy traffic and upper protective protection technique. My teacher was happy that I knew the basics of upper and downward curbs, as well as some basic parallel traffic crossings. I am already gaining more confidence. I can’t wait for the next lesson.