Blind Rehabilitation Skill Areas - Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital
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Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital


Blind Rehabilitation Skill Areas

The program is comprised of five specific skill areas. Each area conducts assessments and provides training to maximize each individual’s skills. Classes are offered in a school-like setting, five days a week. Additional training is offered during the weekend and evening hours. Homework and practice outside of the classroom is expected.

The following offers a brief description of the instructional areas:

  • Computer Access Training

The Computer Access Training Section (CATS) provides adaptive software training and issuance of equipment using large print, speech, and Braille access devices for computers. The computer program is separate from the regular rehabilitation program.

  • Living Skills

In Living Skill Communication class veterans learn alternative methods for communicating. These alternative methods may include the use of adapted handwriting or voice recording and touch-typing (keyboarding). Adaptive computer software instruction enables veterans to send and receive e-mail and use the internet.  Braille instruction is also offered.  Activities of Daily Living class address the skills needed for a veteran to live safely and independently at home. 

  • Manual Skills

The Manual Skills program focuses on sensory development, organizational skills, and additional confidence building exercises. Many adaptive techniques and equipment are introduced to overcome the frustrations imposed by vision loss. Veterans gain confidence by learning safe techniques and work habits, which improves self esteem and quality of life.

  • Orientation and Mobility

Orientation and Mobility teaches skills and techniques for independent travel. Veterans receive mobility training in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments with the use of a long cane, adaptive techniques and sensory awareness skills. Veterans realize their abilities and limitations as they strive to reach maximum potential for safe and independent travel.

  • Visual Skills

Visual Skills instructors train the veterans to use their remaining vision effectively.  The staff works closely with the Optometrist in meeting veterans’ needs.  Veterans learn to perform tasks such as reading the newspaper, watching TV, or paying bills.  Most veterans learn to use magnifiers, electronic reading devices, and other aids to enhance their independence.