Access Technology and Employment Services for the Visually ...

Access Technology and Employment Services for the Visually ...

Sherry Boothby, OTR/L, CLVT, MS, Low Vision Clinic Coordinator, The Iris Network, Portland ME Bonita Gouzie, Director of Access Technology and Employment Services (ATES), The Iris Network, Portland ME Access Technology and Employment Services for the Visually Impaired: What is New and Exciting? Session learning objectives: Identify 3 access technology devices that may be used for employment for visually impaired

Identify 3 environmental modifications for maintaining successful employment Identify strategies for future planninghow to plan ahead in the event of potentially declining vision Access technologies help overcome barriers to employment for people with vision impairment. This is universal across all areas of employment, and are taskspecific and goal-oriented. This session, presented jointly with a Certified Low Vision Therapist/Occupational Therapist and Access Technology/Employment Specialist

will present via case studies various types of tools, technology, techniques, and training available for people with vision impairment seeking employment or to maintain their current work status. As you will see in the case studies, often solutions are not high-tech, but simple lowtech modifications Case Study 1: The Lobsterman A lobsterman who lived on one of the outer islands in Casco Bay was legally blind due to

macular degeneration, a progressive eye condition. His ophthalmologist referred him to the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), Maines vocational rehabilitation agency for people with vision loss. A Rehabilitation Counselor from that agency made several trips to meet with this man (we will call him Jim) at his island home and on the lobster boat. Jim told her that he could no longer work and he asked for information about Social Security Disability. Lobsterman Through interview and observation, the

Rehabilitation Counselor helped him identify the following barriers to continued employment as a lobsterman Inability to distinguish his lobster buoys from those of other lobstermen, putting him at risk of being shot at by his competitors! Inability to locate his lobster buoys, particularly when hauling traps in the morning, and Inability to read and complete the paperwork required to run his business. Lobsterman

These barriers were directly related to vision loss caused by macular degeneration. Common symptoms of macular degeneration are a central loss of sharp, detail vision and sensitivity to bright light. In Jims occupation, this light sensitivity was made worse by the harsh glare of the sun reflecting off the ocean. Jim was referred to the Iris Network Low Vision Clinic for an examination and treatment. Lobsterman

INTERVENTION 1. Glare Sensitivity - Jims sensitivity to glare and his outdoor occupation made him a complicated low vision patient. Each task had to be evaluated under each lighting condition- full sun, overcast, dim light and the often-present fog. Jim needed a variety of sun lenses and a carrying case to keep them organized and safe. His own solution of wearing a brimmed hat was a good one

and he continued to wear his Red Sox cap. Sun lenses from the clinic were a great help in cutting glare and helped Jim save time he no longer had to constantly reposition his boat to keep the sun behind him. Lobsterman 2. Color discrimination people with macular degeneration frequently have trouble discerning colors, and Jim could not distinguish the colors of his lobster buoys from others. Through testing in the clinic and on the ocean, Jim learned that he could identify

his lobster buoys best if they were painted a combination of neon green and black. The Rehabilitation Counselor contacted the Maine Department of Marine Resources and learned that Jim could change his buoy colors after making sure no one in the area had similar colors or color patterns. Each of his buoys was already clearly marked with his lobster fisherman license number. Lobsterman 3. Loss of central vision- Macular degeneration affects the parts of the eye necessary for seeing fine detail such as reading a book and writing

checks. A video magnifier proved to be a great help in managing the paper work required in his business. The central scotoma or blind spot Jim had a real problem finding his freshly painted buoys among all the buoys and channel markers in the bay. Several telescopes were tried but he had best success with a spotting scope from the LL Bean hunting department. Case Study 2: Master Maine Guide

As an avid outdoors person all his life, Cole had a strong desire to become a registered Master Maine Guide. He had years of experience hunting, fishing, participating in winter sports, and boating. Although he graduated from high school, he was still illiterate and could not read at all. To become a Master Guide, you must have expert knowledge in three disciplines out of six. His specialized knowledge was in Hunting, Fishing and Recreation. The test to become a Maine Guide is in two parts. The first

is a written test with about 100 multiple choice questions, which he couldnt read. If you pass this test, the second part is a face to face test with a board of five Master Maine Guides. He spent two years studying the curriculum guide from the state of Maine with my instruction and guidance. Master Maine Guide This curriculum included knowledge of all the lakes and ponds in Maine, what fish and special

regulations for each body of water, as well as all the wild life and their habitats, including all ducks and birds of Maine. He had to learn how to navigate using a compass, and all the terminology like azimuth and back azimuth and triangulation, and all the trees, plants and flowers of Maine. He learned all the canoe/kayaking strokes, the Z drag and water navigation, and oh so much more. Master Maine Guide

When we were confident he knew this information, we wrote to the state to request a reader for the written part of the test. This request was granted and I was allowed to read the test to him with a Game Warden in the room with us. He passed this test with flying colors and was one of the top scorers. We then attended a Maine Guide school for two weeks in preparation for the final test, which he didnt need any accommodation for since it was face to face. They told him immediately that he had passed all aspects of the test and he would be receiving his Registered Master Maine Guide License. Which he graciously accepted and left the office,

only to stick his head back in to tell them that he could not read and that he was the first person with a disability to earn this licensure. Master Maine Guide Now came the tricky part, how was he going to be able to stay up to date with all the new regulations that come out every year? How was he going to read clients application and special needs and requests, create his itinerary, do his record keeping

and taxes, and everything else related to running your own business? Master Maine Guide Interventions: Use a screen reader to read all the documents. Each year he requests the state to send any new regulations to him in an email attachment. He is able to access the State

of Maine website to read these as well. He is able to receive and send email messages because the screen reader reads what you type as well as what you receive. We created an itinerary template that he is able to use just changing the dates and times, and meal plans, etc. And the last I heard, every one of his hunting groups got their game of choice, moose, dear, pheasant, or turkey. By the way turkeys are not the most intelligent of birds except in mating season. And you cannot shoot a turkey in a tree.

Case Study 3: Horse Farm Sarah was declared legally blind in elementary school due to a progressive eye disease, Retinitis

Pigmentosa, or RP. Sarah experienced three of the most common symptoms of RP difficulty seeing in dim light, sometimes called night blindness difficulty seeing in bright light and glare and a gradual narrowing of her field of vision, sometimes called tunnel vision At age 15, she wanted a summer job for all the right reasons to make her own money and to be like her sighted peers who were also looking for summer jobs. Horse Farm Although she was eligible for a grant funded Summer Youth Employment Program for students with visual

impairment, Sarah actually found her own job. She approached the owner of the horse farm where she took riding lessons, asked her for a job application, and connected her to the Summer Youth Employment Program coordinator. With wages and liability covered by the program, it was an easy sell. Sarah started where we all start at the bottom. She cleaned stalls in a dimly lit barn and painted fences in bright sun not ideal working conditions for someone with RP. Horse Farm

Interventions: Through an evaluation at the Iris Network Low Vision Clinic and on-site at the horse farm, Sarah was prescribed different sun lenses for sunny and overcast days. Coupled with a baseball cap to further shield her eyes, the painting task went well. The barn was a different matter. Several things were tried and discarded. In the end, the best solution was

a head borne flash light that left her hands-free to manage rakes, shovels, and brooms, and with a turn of the head, she was able to illuminate the task area. Horse Farm Simple low-tech solutions like this can solve lighting issues for many tasks. Sarahs hard work quickly earned the owners respect. Because she spent a good bit of the day in the barn, the owner asked Sarah to answer the phone in her absence. Sarah was instructed in how

to take messages for general inquiries and to schedule riding lessons. A video magnifier connected to the farm computer allowed Sarah to read the instructors schedules and to book appointments. When summer ended, Sarah returned to school with bragging rights for a successful summer job. Case Study 4: Oyster Farmer Mason graduated from college with a Bachelors degree in Biology. However he did not have much work experience under his belt. He was offered and

accepted a six month paid internship at an oyster farm on the coast of Maine. The purpose of this farm is to identify the optimum nutrition to feed the oysters to promote optimum growth to create healthy oysters. In this internship he was required to create the oyster food, feed them daily, clean the vats they lived in, measure and record their shell size and record the amount of excrement. He was also required to hand wash all the laboratory glassware requiring the use of chlorine bleach. Oyster Farmer

INTERVENTION Orientation and mobility was provided prior to his starting so he could walk to work and to learn each room. There were three rooms growing the food and three rooms, with several vats in each room, growing oysters at all different ages and sizes.

Oyster Farmer To measure the ingredients to create different food with nutrients he was required to use exact measurements. Spill proof measuring cups were clearly marked as well as pre-measured syringes were clearly marked for the minute measurements. A talking calibrator was used to measure the size of the oysters. Oyster Farmer

He also used a talking scale to determine exact amounts of food as well as growth of the oysters in each vat. 70% yellow glare shields were used in the labs, especially when measuring and using the chlorine bleach. Yellow enhances contrast as well as providing glare control. He used JAWS on the computer to enter the data into an Excel spreadsheet. JAWS

JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is the world's most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. New Technology Options

New model video magnifiers with text to speech capability, like the Optelec Clearview C with speech or Davinci 3-in-1 video magnifier New Technology Head mounted devices that provides hands-free video magnification. The cost on these devices is becoming more affordable. Two of these devices will be highlighted here.

Jordy by Enhanced Vision is a battery-operated, full-color portable system that can be worn like a pair of glasses to see near, far, and everything in between. Jordy becomes a fully functioning HD desktop video magnifier when placed on its optional desktop 24 monitor docking stand. Jordy Iris Vision

Built on the most advanced mobile virtual reality (VR) platform, IrisVision allows people with low vision conditions such as macular degeneration to see clearly in all aspects of daily life, with an industryleading 70 field of view and adjustable IrisBubble view. Iris Vision Demo https://

Orcam My Eye 2.0 For blind and partially sighted people, an artificial vision device with a lightweight smart camera that instantly reads text aloud- from any surface and recognizes faces, products, and money notes in real time. Orcam Demo

https:// &t=38s Aira Using augmented reality, Aira connects people who are blind or low vision to a trained professional agent who is dedicated to further enhancing their everyday experience -- completely hands-free assistance at the touch of a button. From the Aira website: Using either the Aira mobile app or wearable

technology (or both!), with just one tap of a button or a voice command, we instantly connect our users with a trained, professional agent who can offer immediate assistance with virtually any task anytime, anywhere. Aira Aira supports employment seekers, as explained in above linked article. The highlights are: All users of Aira have access to this program. While completing employment seeking tasks,

minutes used will not be deducted from the clients available sum. This includes picking out an interview outfit, filling out applications, getting to interviews, updating a resume, ETC. An Aira user must have a current paid plan of any amount. Low Tech: Lighting Lighting options: LED task lamps, such as the new Stella lamp with 3 modes and dimmer , comes in

floor, desk, or clamp options Head lamps to provide hands-free option Traditional gooseneck lamps with appropriate bulb selection for the individuals identified lighting needs Task lighting assessment can be done through the Low Vision Clinic Stella Lamp Low Tech: Glare Reduction

Specialized sun lenses selected after assessment of indoor/low light and outdoor/bright light environmental needs A variety of colors, tints, frames available, and individuals often need a set of sunlenses to be used in different lighting conditions. Visors, hats with wide brim

Shades, environmental modifications, positioning of work station away from windows Glare Reduction: Sun Lenses Glare Reduction: Sun Lenses Low Tech: Environmental Modifications High contrast or tactile marking: can mark

small items such as remote controls or larger items like the lobster buoy High contrast and tactile marking tape, tactile paint, bump dots Contrasting paint on door frames, stairs, cabinets for safety with navigation Assessing environment for safety to be free of fall hazards Tactile Marking Training on Optical and NonOptical Devices

Training on use of recommended optical devices, incorporating into functional daily tasks identified during low vision exam Optical devices include magnifiers, glasses, telescopes, and video magnifiers as recommended from low vision exam Non-optical aids useful for ADL/IADL tasks (i.e. LP checks/registers, LP address book and calendar, felt tip marker, bold lined paper) Talking devices- including talking clock/watch, calculator, scale, telephone keys/caller ID

Conclusion In summary, working as a team to address all aspects of employment, whether in a traditional or nontraditional work setting, is vital to the success of the individuals employment goals. Addressing individual employment tasks via high tech

or low tech options available and appropriate to the situation. Environmental modifications, adaptive techniques and training to complete specific job tasks Low vision therapist/OT, Access Technology specialist, and Vocational Rehabilitation counselor work together with the individual to meet employment goals. Conclusion Keeping current on new technology available is important to be knowledgeable for clients future needs Planning ahead re: progressive vision loss is

also important in selecting the appropriate tools/technology for employment tasks. What currently works for the client using remaining vision may not work in the future, so training on technology that may include screen reader/text to speech may need to be incorporated. Acknowledgement Special thanks to Susan Anderson, CRC,

who is a former Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with DBVI and Employment Specialist at the Iris Network, for her input and valuable case study information for this presentation.

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