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Vision-impaired taught ways to gain independence
A six-week program helps people who are either blind or have limited vision to relearn basic life skills.
Seattle Times staff photographer
“Blindness does not have to be a detriment or a deterrent to live a full life and be a productive member of society,” says Keiko Namekata, program manager for the Orientation Training Center in Seattle, a program run by the state Department of Services for the Blind.
Offered in six-week terms, the program helps people who are blind or have limited vision to relearn basic life skills without the use of sight. The classes teach mobility, cooking, woodworking, reading and computer use.
The ultimate goal is to teach people who are vision-impaired the skills they will need for vocational training, future employment and independent living.
The classes emphasize use of the senses — touch, hearing and smell — to relearn how to navigate their environment and use technology, Namekata says.
The program exposes students to a variety of activities in a safe, predictable environment, he says. It helps them build self-confidence and develop a positive attitude, surrounded by other students with the same goal, he says.
“If you did something you didn’t think you could, and you did it, you start to develop some sense of confidence,” Namekata says.