Services for the Blind: Community Mobility and Rehabilitation

Learning to travel safely with a visual impairment is an important skill for individuals of any age. Orientation and Mobility Training (O&M) provides individuals with the necessary skills to travel outside the home safely and confidently. Individuals in need of Orientation and Mobility training may be blind from birth, or they may have lost part or even all of their vision at any time along the way. Travel needs cover a wide range of situations and problems. Our practice is to listen to what the client has to say about his or her problems and needs, and their travel goals, then make recommendations for training. The process begins by evaluating current travel methods for safety and effectiveness. Followed by a training program that includes specific travel needs required for the home, local neighborhood, and school or work environment. Training may include methods of orientation in familiar and unfamiliar areas, low–vision skills or non–visual skills, motor skills, and sensory information. The length of training will vary based on specific goals and individual ability.

To learn a little bit about what it’s like to receive this type of comprehensive training, read Walk a Mile in Their Shoes.

Chances are, you may have questions about living with blindness or low vision, if so, we are here to answer your questions.

Safe Travel- Orientation & Mobility Training

Safe travel training may take place in the home, in the home neighborhood, in local business areas, on job sites, on public transportation, or wherever there are travel concerns. Training is also available for college students new to their campuses. Travel tools might include low vision skills and devices such as special tinted glasses, long, white cane, or support canes. The length of training will vary depending on each individual’s goals and abilities.

College Campus Travel Skills

Students preparing to attend college in Massachusetts or in nearby areas of neighboring states, can receive Orientation and Mobility training to help them travel safely and efficiently around the college campus, including public transportation if needed. Instruction may continue each year, depending on the needs and skills of the student.

Home Safety through Safe Home Program

Safe Home is a program designed to help those at risk of accident or injury at home as a consequence of the normal process of aging and vision loss. Cataracts and macular degeneration are two common visual problems among elderly individuals that can have a serious impact on personal safety. While these often do not lead to the severe problems of total blindness, they place people at risk for accidents in the home. A specialist can survey the home and examine it from the standpoint of potential accidents, and recommend simple changes in the home’s layout that will reduce accident potential. The Carroll Center has offered Safe Home services for the blind and visually impaired since 1985.

The emphasis is on “low–tech” solutions, the most common being:

  • Install handrails on stairways where needed.
  • Increase (or adjust) lighting in certain areas.
  • Install window shades, blinds or other equipment in areas where glare is a problem.
  • Move or secure scatter rugs where slipping or tripping is likely.
  • Install grab bars or other appliances in bathrooms.
  • Install tactual markings in key locations, such as oven and burner controls.

The specialist will use contrasts and lighting to improve visual abilities in critical areas. In some cases we can perform the actual work if the individual has no resources, but our primary function is to find the home’s most dangerous spots, even for people with minor vision problems. The Safe Home program is very affordable, but for those with little or no financial resources, scholarship funding is available.

Diabetic Self–Management

Diabetic Self-Management is a community-based service for diabetics with vision loss who struggle to manage their diabetes independently and provides individualized, home-based services in independent diabetes management. This service for the blind is staffed by two registered nurses, who:

  • Conduct a diabetes needs interview
  • Assess independent diabetes management skills and motivation/follow-through
  • Provide a familiarization to and training in the use of adaptive devices (e.g.Humalog Pen, Prodigy Voice Monitor)
  • Coordinate the ordering of adaptive equipment
  • Provide diabetes education in relevant topics (e.g. insulin management, the role of diet, exercise etc.)
  • Submit a progress report with recommendations
  • Conduct follow-up sessions for individuals as needed/recommended

Funding is available to legally blind diabetic consumers registered with and sponsored by The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Diabetic support groups and non-legally blind individuals can receive these services through fee for service or other arrangement with the Director of Community Services.

We also have online courses available for health and vision professionals as well as parents and families!

Community Essential Skills

Do you struggle with cooking, grocery shopping, keeping track of mail and bills, finding dropped objects, or having medications accessible and organized?

Community Essential Skills is a seven-week education for the blind course designed to teach these and other valuable independent living skills for the home. This course is appropriate for individuals who are over 55 years of age and visually impaired. Classes meet once a week for four hours and are held in small group settings such as senior centers, elder care facilities, and other agencies serving older adults.

Led by a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) and Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS), participants try adaptive equipment and learn new techniques from an experienced and caring staff. The result: improved skill, confidence, and independence.

The program curriculum highlights training in the following skill areas:

  • Week 1: Indoor Safety and Mobility/Sensory Training
  • Week 2: Personal Management and Medication Organization Strategies
  • Week 3: Kitchen Safety and Labeling
  • Week 4: Cooking and Eating Skills
  • Week 5: Time and Money Management
  • Week 6: Recreation and Leisure
  • Week 7: Finding Resources and Wrap-up

Each class offers a combination of lecture and hands-on activities in a supportive group atmosphere. Active participation and idea sharing enhance learning for all class members. It’s a great way to get out of the house, make and enjoy new friendships, and explore your potential all at the same time!

Funding is available through the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Elder Service Networks, grants, or private pay. Enrollment is limited to 6-8 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Transportation is the responsibility of each participant. Don’t miss out on this unique learning experience!

For more information, contact Renee Man (CVRT, COMS) at 617-969-6200, x220 or via email.

Vision Rehab in the Home

If you vision loss has impacted your independence and is keeping you from engaging in the community, then perhaps an in-home visit by a Vision Rehabilitation Teacher will help. As part of our services for the blind, a teacher will come to your home and help organize items in your home, teach you indoor safety, label stoves and other appliances, teach you safe cooking and eating methods, and demonstrate magnification and lighting devices. The result: improved skill, confidence, and independence.

Funding is available through the Elder Service Networks, grants, or private pay. For more information, contact Joseph Kolb, Director of Community Services, at 617-969-6200, x201 or email.

For more information on any of the above services or to make a referral, contact Dina Rosenbaum at 617-969-6200, x238 or via email.

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