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After years of partnering with Future In Sight to deliver standard supports to those who qualify for services under the national Independent Living for the Older Blind (ILOB) program, Services for the Blind and Vision-Impaired (SBVI), an office within the New Hampshire Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (NHVR), has contracted with Future In Sight to deliver two new programs to serve the specific needs of this community.

The two new programs are the Access Technology for the Older Blind Workshop Series and Silver Retreats. Both programs are designed to equip qualified participants who are 55 years and older with the skills and positive approach to blindness or low vision to enhance living independently at home, at work, and anywhere else in society where they wish to be involved. These fresh program offerings go beyond previous programs funded under the ILOB program. 

The Access Technology Workshop Series, which will launch in the coming weeks, will provide two instructors for five adult learners per 3 hour session. This high instructor per learner ratio will improve outcomes for older learners seeking to master the use of nonvisual and low-vision skills in the IOS operating environment; Microsoft Office products; different screen-reading and magnification software; use of readily available household assistants, like Google and Siri to manage a myriad of tasks; as well as other defined subjects that will enable seniors to engage with their families and the world through a variety of technologies that are especially important today. These technologies can promote a sense of freedom among the older blind community.

Held at hotels throughout the state, the Silver Retreat is designed as a holistic, comprehensive, five-day residential individualized training program introducing nonvisual and low-vision skills to participants in the primary areas of daily functioning, e.g. home management; travel; communication skills, including instruction in Braille or other media; Access Technology; and classes that invite participants to examine and embrace strategies for positively coping with blindness and/or vision loss., enhanced by the peer support that comes with encouraging one another to realize their goals.

These retreats will include field trips so the participants practice their newly acquired skills in restaurants, shopping malls, outdoors, and anywhere else that the group may like to explore.  Due to the comprehensive, hands-on nature of this residential retreat, this program will be started when convening in-person is appropriate.

We know from experience that those willing to challenge themselves will benefit immensely from this immersion in mastering the skills and strong philosophical attitudes associated with living independently as a blind person or one living with low vision.

For more information on eligibility, or to register for either of these free trainings, please contact Nancy Druke ndruke@futureinsight.org (603) 224-4039 or Amy Clark at SBVI (603) 271-3537.

Written by Daniel B. Frye, Administrator, SBVI

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