Note from Florida Blind Services Director Joyce Hildreth: Holly Idler from the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired recently received the Dean W. Tuttle Professional Education Award from The Hadley School for the Blind , which is considered to be the Heisman Trophy of furthering education for persons with visual disabilities, especially with John W. Heisman being visually impaired himself. We are very proud of her, and I asked her to share how her knowledge has affected her client instruction:
As a teacher at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, I teach Orientation and Mobility to our adult clients. Here at the Center, the clients are taught assistive technology, home management, personal management, Braille and mobility. Being visually impaired myself, I want to assist my clients by giving them tools to make their day-to-day activities and responsibilities easier to manage in a more effective manner.
Here are just a few ways Hadley has influenced my teaching style:
- In use for thousands of years, the abacus is an efficient, accurate tool for doing math, by people with or without vision. I’ve taken a few classes using this device, and enjoy reviewing new techniques and competing with clients, during breaks, to see who can solve a math problem first. I am getting better, with practice.
- Guide dogs are just one of the many mobility aids our clients can choose to utilize to get from point “A” to point “B” in a safe, effective and graceful manner. Many of my students are new cane users, and are interested in learning about guide dogs and possibly applying for one in the future. One of the key points of the class, Guide Dogs, that stood out to me was how much the owner’s daily routine would change once they got a dog – they have to allow time to feed, walk and groom the dog each morning, prior to going to work or college.
- I teach orientation and mobility classes and have to be careful with my students who have diabetes. Mobility activities can cause their blood sugar to drop during a lesson. In the Diabetes: Toward Self-Management course, I learned that having the client drink water BEFORE the lesson can help the body regulate the sugar levels. It is still important to drink water during and after a lesson.
- Joyce Hildreth, the Florida DOE Division of Blind Services Director, once said persons with visual impairments need to look at self-employment as a viable option. I took two employment classes, Finding Employment and Self-Employment with a Minimal Investment. These classes provided some insight on what type of person would be cut out for self employment and what he or she would need to accomplish when creating their business plan. I feel I now have the knowledge to encourage my students to go in whatever direction they want to go in, including starting their own business – and at least one has!
- One of the classes that I enjoyed the most was Using Raised Markers. This class discussed many different options of marking and labeling household items such as the microwave and stove, personal items: such as shampoo and conditioner, ways to identify canned foods and medications, independently without having to know Braille.
I take Hadley classes myself, for my own education. If I can learn one new piece of information to share with my clients/students, my family or my coworkers, then the time the class took was worthwhile. I am not just their teacher. I am their coach, cheerleader and a part of their team.