Guest Author - Dean Ingalls
Losing oneís vision is scary enough but the thought of continuing to live in the world blind brings a paralyzing fear, overwhelming helplessness and an intense feeling of isolation. Attending a training center or other available program is the best method for overcoming the feeling of helplessness, fear and isolation from blindness. This article discusses the ins and outs of what happens at a training center for the blind in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) located in Ruston, Louisiana is one of the well-known training centers providing emotional support, education for handling a life with blindness and training in every aspect of life for a blind individual. The center follows the philosophy of the National Federation for the Blind. The centerís philosophy concerning blindness is that Blindness is a Nuisance. The centerís goal after a blind person has attended the center is the blind individual can return to their life, obtain employment if desired, organize their home life and live independent productive lives.
An individual seeking admission into the centerís program should begin the process by contacting the individualís state of residence department of rehabilitation for blind services and opening a case file. An individual can attend the program if the individual has the ability to compensate for the cost of the training program. Usually, a student of the program receives payment through the state rehabilitation of the individualís state of residence. The Center accepts students from all over the world.
The campus of the center consists of several buildings in three different locations. The center owns two apartment complexes across the street from each other, which can house 40 students. Each apartment contains two bedrooms requiring students to live with a roommate. A blind student attending the program is required to move into an apartment bringing the essentials needed to carry out the rituals of life. The length of stay in the program varies from one month to one year, depending on the needs of the student. The student is required to travel by foot eight blocks to the main campus, which consists of three buildings for their training program. When the student leaves their apartment, they are required to wear sleep shades over their eyes if they have any form of vision. The length of a normal school day is from 8:00 am to 5 pm. The students can remove their sleep shades when arriving back at the door of their apartment. One of the reasons I wanted to attend the Louisiana Center for the Blind was because of the fear of losing the rest of my vision and not knowing how to continue living without vision. I was very pleased and felt secure after completing my training program. I have no fear from the possibility of losing the rest of my vision now that I am well trained. The curriculum of the training program includes cane travel (mobility), computers, Braille, cooking and woodworking. The program also contains special events such as attending the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind, attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans, white water rafting in Tennessee and rock climbing in Arkansas.
A normal day during the training program consists of arising at 6:20 am showering, dressing, breakfast, obtaining a white cane, sleep shades and meeting training mentor who assistís new students until they are comfortable traveling the 8 blocks to the school campus. After arriving at the main building, the student attends their first class. Each class is one to one and one half hour in length with one hour for lunch. Each class has a specific curriculum and list of assignments the student must complete to graduate from the training program. When a student completes their program, the student receives a metal bell with a golden color. The bell has an eagle on top of the bell with its wings spread wide in preparation for flight. The bell with the eagle represents the meaning that a student who completes the training program is now ready to return to their life and soar high as the eagle is capable of doing.
After I completed my program, I was ready to return to my life and face what the future held for me with strength, confidence and a high self-esteem. Although, later I found out that the centerís training program has been called the boot camp for the blind, I was very happy and pleased with the success I found while completing the program. I recommend the program to anyone facing blindness.