Attention ALL Adults – Have you had your immunizations?

Living Well with Diabetes and Vision Loss is a United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta sponsored program run by VRS. Each month we work to provide information that we feel is helpful to those living with diabetes and vision loss.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body uses food for energy due to insulin resistance. Diabetes affects the metabolism as well as the immune system. The disease causes the immune system to destroy insulin producing cells within the pancreas. The immune response is also much lower in people who have diabetes so they are more susceptible to getting infections that could result in the loss of a limb.

Many of us will remember the days of toting our children to the doctor to get their recommended immunizations and protect them from various diseases. As adults, however, we often neglect much needed vaccinations which are recommended and help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. To stay protected against serious illnesses, adults need to get vaccinated too. Shots such as the flu vaccine, are recommended annually for all adults and other shots such as the pneumonia or Shingles vaccine may also be recommended by your doctor.

Take this short quiz below to determine what shots you may need to take, then talk to your doctor about each. Don’t neglect the steps you need to take to be at optimal health.

The Adult Vaccine Quiz from the CDC: https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/

To stay healthy this winter also be sure to eat well, get some exercise and plenty of sleep. The immune system fights best for you when it is healthy and taken care of. Allow for time with family or friends playing games or sharing stories and leisure activities. Laugh a lot. Our emotional health is tied directly to our immune system and when we feel a part of a community our immune system works its best.

VRS benefits from Whitefield Great Day of Service

VRS benefits from Whitefield Great Day of Service

Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia extends a big “THANK YOU” to Whitefield Academy and the great work completed at the office this past Saturday, August 26th.  Whitfield Academy students and parents revamped the flower beds are VRS entrance as part of their Great Day of Service.

Picture of the Whitefield GroupWhitefield launched Whitefield Great Day of Service just this month.  They shared “This event is centered on coming together as a Pack and starting off the school year with a focus on “others ahead of self.””  When asked “Why is Whitefield starting a Great Day of Service?”  They responded, “We want to create a way for the entire Whitefield community to come together as a family and focus on “others ahead of self” as we start a new school year. There’s no better way to center our hearts and minds on Christ than to serve others! Our goal is to make this an annual tradition at the beginning of each school year.”
“VRS is blessed by their service and have a partnership of many years with Whitfield Academy.  They did a beautiful job on the flowers and we are most appreciative” Sharon Croyle, VRS CEO/Executive Director, stated.
Flowerbed 1
Flowerbed 2
Flowerbed 3
East Cobb & Cobb County Senior Centers Host “A MATTER OF BALANCE”

East Cobb & Cobb County Senior Centers Host “A MATTER OF BALANCE”

VRS is proud to share the following details on two 8 week programs being held in Marietta…

Many older adults experience concerns about falling and 
restrict their activities.

A MATTER OF BALANCE is an award-winning 
program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels.

Select the course series that fits your calendar best and register today!

Senior Wellness Center                  East Cobb Senior Center
1150 Powder Springs Street                   3332 Sandy Plains Rd.
Marietta, GA 30064                                Marietta, GA 30066
Tuesdays September 5– October 24     Tuesdays September 26– November 14
10:00am-12:00pm                                   10:00am-12:00pm

MOB ECSC Sept 26 - Nov 14 2017

Wellness MOB_Sept 5-Oct 24 Marietta

Eclipse Soundscapes Project

Eclipse Soundscapes Project

 

Have you wondered how the visually impaired and others who can’t use their own eyes to see Monday, August 21st’s Eclipse will be affected and engaged?  Did you hear about the project from NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium?  To find out answers to these questions VRS is reproducing information here so please enjoy and share with others…

Quoted text follows:

On August 21, 2017, millions of people will view a total solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. However, for the visually impaired, or others who are unable to see the eclipse with their own eyes, the Eclipse Soundscapes Project delivers a multisensory experience of this exciting celestial event. The project, from NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium, will include audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, recordings of the changing environmental sounds during the eclipse, and an interactive “rumble map” app that will allow users to visualize the eclipse through touch.

During an eclipse, we gaze in amazement as day becomes night. But, along  with the striking visual effects,  the soundscape of natural environments changes dramatically.   The changes in the sounds of the eclipse are not only of interest to sociologists, birders,  and naturalists, but will also give the blind and visually impaired an opportunity to experience this rare celestial event.

The Eclipse Soundscapes project will use a specially designed app to allow citizen scientists to record environmental sounds before, during, and after the August 21, 2017 eclipse.  These recordings will be shared across the world in order to give everyone the opportunity to experience the awe of a total solar eclipse.

Join our project: https://goo.gl/forms/lu8CkUcbxHMIdZw12

Thanks to our partners

Smithsonian  https://www.si.edu/

NASA https://www.nasa.gov/

HEC

Contact us: info@eclipsesoundscapes.org

Eclipse Soundscapes Project

c/o Henry “Trae” Winter, MS 58

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

 

Follow Us:

Twitter, https://twitter.com/EclipseSoundSAO

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/EclipseSoundSAO/

Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/eclipsesoundscapes/

Eclipse Mob, http://www.eclipsemob.org/

 

Graduation Picture of Transition Participants

Summer Transition Academy Volunteer & Graduation Day

On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the Transition Academy was hosted by MUST Ministries’ Marietta location.   Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Wayne Williams, MUST “…addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties.”  MUST’s mission is “Serving our neighbors in need… transforming lives and communities in response to Christ’s call.”  Being a volunteer-driven organization, the Transition Academy was able to volunteer while simultaneously learning about job tasks, running a non-profit organization, meeting deadlines, and much more.  It was a great way to end the summer academy and a wonderful location to hold the Transition Academy Graduation.

From left to right, Chuck,Kelly,Aleayah, and Francis from MUST

MUST Program Team – Chuck, Kelly, Aleayah, and Francis

The morning kicked off with the members of the Transition Academy introducing themselves to our hosts (the Program Team), by giving a brief spontaneous Eye Statement to describe how their visual impairment works.   For instance, Alsu explained to the Program Team that having Septo-optic dysplasia, means that she sees best in dimly lit environments.   Afterwards, the Program Team responded to our introductions by telling the TA participants about the history of MUST Ministries, before outlining some of their own daily job duties.

Kelly supervises the people who work at MUST Ministries as part of their community service.   Usually, Kelly and her team handle the janitorial and house-keeping tasks for MUST Ministries, but they also keep the food pantry stocked.  Chuck oversees the Thrift Store, which provides a source of revenue for all of MUST Ministries’ programs.  Francis, the program director, shared MUST Ministries is a 46-year-old faith-based organization, whose mission is to serve their neighbors in need by providing both impoverished families and individuals with the goods and services they need.

The Transition Academy group broke into several small teams to aid the employees of MUST Ministries by stocking the shelves, handing out food in the pantry, and organizing the Thrift Store (among other things).   For example, Brittany, Ayesha, and Skylar took turns steaming the children’s clothes and hanging them on a cart.   Then, after the clothes had been steamed, Maggie and Gabby would take the cart to the thrift store.   At the thrift store, Chuck showed them how to organize the clothes, for ease of shopper,s based on gender and size from infant through adult.  Many volunteer hours are helpful in the store to keep it organized and stocked.

Josh Marks

Josh Marks

Josh Marks was interviewed for this week’s Transition Academy blog post.   Josh is currently a rising Junior at Lassiter High School, in Marietta, Georgia.   Josh’s preferred method of learning is through using a combination of audio and visual sensory input.    After graduating high school, Josh hopes to major in Sports Medicine at Kennesaw State University.   This would be an ideal situation, because one of Josh’s main interests is playing baseball.

Graduation Ceremony Ayesha, Gabby, , Cheylah, Alsu, Xavier, Jason, William, Rafa, and Gus

Graduation Ceremony Ayesha, Gabby, , Cheylah, Alsu, Xavier, Jason, William, Rafa, and Gus

Later, in honor of our final class, the Transition Academy volunteers and members had a graduation celebration complete with cake! Each student also received a graduation certificate to signify that they had successfully completed the course.

The afternoon was spent rotating through additional work stations.   TA participants unpacked donated work shirts, re-stacked donation boxes, re-stocked the food pantry and unloaded donations for the MUST summer lunch program.   In addition, a small group met with Linda Newman, past VRS Board Chair, to discuss strategies for preparing for the Math part of the SAT.   VRS is planning to host monthly test prep classes should program participants need additional support in this area.

During the last few minutes of our visit to MUST Ministries, the Program Team thanked every member of the Transition Academy for the volunteer help they provided and the tasks they accomplished.   Feedback was shared regarding things learned by both sides.    Class members were asked to stay-tuned for Next Step Prep activities throughout the school year.   As program participants prepared to leave MUST gave everyone a Gobble Jog T-Shirt to show their appreciation for all our hard work.  A reminder was provided to the TA group that a good training 5K in order to be ready for this year’s Gobble Jog is to participate in VRS’ 9th annual Spooktacular Chase in October!

Transition Academy Visits Local Businesses in the Community

Transition Academy Visits Local Businesses in the Community

On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, the Transition Academy (“TA”) visited an assisted living & memory care community in Smyrna, Provident Village at Creekside, and a local entrepreneur’s privately-owned framing business, Annie Frame Will Do.   The goals of the visits were to understand the various jobs and career opportunities available and practice the informational interview skills taught in TA.   By visiting a corporately structured entity and a privately owned & operated business on the same day, TA participants could compare and contrast different business approaches, skill sets required, risks, time commitments and rewards.

At Provident Village, following opening remarks, each TA member introduced themselves to the staff by discussing the details of their unique eye conditions and asking informational interview questions.   Through this question and answer period students were able to find out more about how an assisted living facility is operated.

The TA spoke with Allison Mosely and Carrie Chau, who are members of Provident’s sales and marketing team.  Their job is to intFrom left to right, Carrie Chau and Allison Moselyroduce potential residents to the Provident community.   Through organized special events and personalized appointments, Allison & Carrie get potential residents and their families excited about undergoing a lifestyle change and moving into Provident Village.  According to Carrie, Provident offers seniors a wide range of services.  These include cooking/dining, housekeeping, transportation, and entertaining social activities.   A key point is the residents of Provident retain the ability to make their own decisions about what they eat and how active a life they lead.  The sole exception to this rule concerns residents in the memory care area of the community who have a history of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and move into Provident Village specifically for a secure, structured, care taking environment.

The class also met Provident Village’s business manager (Natasha) who manages the community’s budget, processes paperwork for the new residents, bills the residents, and performs human resource duties for all the employees.  Once the explanations were finished, Natasha led thefrom left to right, Natasha and Nicky TA group on a tour of the building.  We saw many exciting sights such as the residential dining rooms, the library, and an entertainment center where the residents could watcfrom left to right, Elaine Austin and Allison Moselyh movies and eat popcorn.  In addition, the executive director (Elaine Austin) showed us the memory care unit.  We did not enter this secure area as it is locked & contains many alarms to prevent patients from accidentally wandering out of the building or becoming lost.  Other staff members who shared details of their positions and what it takes to keep Provident running efficiently and effectively included Nikki at the reception desk and front door; Carla from housekeeping; Penny the Activities Director; and Asia who is one of multiple chefs.

After lunch, the TA group bid the staff of Provident goodbye and rode to visit Ann Chamblee, a local entreprenuer.   Today, Ann runs her business from the basement of her house and averages a six day per week, ten-hour work day.   However, she used to be a business manager for the army.  While working for the army in Texas, Ann ran an arts and crafts center where she fell in love with framing.  So, after moving to Georgia, Ann started a business of her own, Annie Frame Will Do.Ann the owner of Annie Frame Will Do

Ann was very forthcoming with information when asked about how she creates frames, stocks inventory, and gains business.  She shared details about tracking the business expenses, planning for meeting deadlines, and how to create pricing structures.  The take away was the fact there is a lot to do when running your own business.

Ann’s business specializes in picture framing and framTA Students holding their t-shirts from Annie Frame Will Doe repair, but she has recently begun printing t-shirts as well.   The best part of the visit for most was getting the opportunity to see Ann create our Transition Academy t-shirts in her workshop using a fabric printer, a computer, and an iron.  She utilized the TA logo designed a few weeks back at the beginning of TA.  Annie was extremely generous so as to let us have the t-shirts free of charge.
All in all, the Transition Academy had a very full day and learned a lot.  We truly appreciate the support of these two businesses and the time spent with the class.

Article from The Economist – White Cane 2.0

Interesting article from The Economist regarding White Cane alternative.

This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition under the headline “White cane 2.0”

Helping blind people navigate

White cane 2.0

A new way to assist those with poor eyesight

Dr Rus’s device, of which she demonstrated a prototype on June 1st at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Singapore, consists of a camera worn on a lanyard around the neck, and a belt. A computer inside the camera creates a three-dimensional image of the area ahead of the wearer, processes it to extract relevant information, and uses the results to pass on appropriate signals via the belt.

Dr Rus knew from previous attempts to build devices of this sort that what might seem the obvious way of manifesting those signals, namely as sounds with specific meanings, was not, in fact, a good approach. Blind people depend a lot on their hearing and do not like it when newfangled devices hamper this sense with beeps and clicks. Hence the belt, which has five vibrating motors installed in it. One sits over the centre of the wearer’s abdomen. The others flank this central motor, with two spaced out on either side of it.

That configuration permits the computer to warn a wearer when he is on a collision course with an obstacle. It does so by telling the motor pointing most closely in the direction of the obstacle to vibrate. If the wearer is walking towards a wall, for example, the central motor vibrates softly when he comes within a couple of metres of it. If he ignores this, perhaps because he actually wants to reach the wall, the computer increases the amplitude as he closes in, giving him a good idea of exactly how far away he is. Similarly, if he is in danger of bumping, say, his right shoulder on a door frame while walking from one room to another, the right-most motor on the belt will warn him of the impending collision. And it works. When compared with navigation by white cane in one of MIT’s famously crowded hallways, it reduced blind students’ collisions with others by 86%.

The new system can, however, do more than just help someone walk around without collisions, for the belt incorporates a touchpad that is inscribed with instructions in Braille. This permits the user to program it to perform specific tasks.

For example, Dr Rus knew that blind students often struggle to find an empty seat in a crowded lecture theatre. Adding an appropriate algorithm to the computer’s software helps get around this by enabling it to recognise chairs, and also whether or not a chair is occupied. In this case, the motors are used to indicate a direction to be travelled in, rather than one to be avoided. Activating the algorithm using the touchpad causes the motor pointing most closely towards an empty chair to vibrate when the system spots one.

Good vibrations

In trials involving a room that contained an empty chair, an occupied chair and also a recycling bin, the algorithm directed the belt-wearer straight to the empty chair 80% of the time. Cane users presented with the same arrangement always found the empty chair eventually, but in doing so came into contact with objects other than their target more than five times as often as those using the camera and belt.

Whether a camera (ideally, smaller than the one in the prototype) and a belt could replace a cane completely remains to be seen. In particular, Dr Rus’s system does lack one important feature of Biggs’s innovation. A white cane not only helps a blind person to navigate, it also signals his condition to the rest of the world, allowing others to adjust their behaviour accordingly. As a supplementary aid, however, her approach seems most promising.

Eating IN the Library

Food Drink and Gum: VRS Transition Academy Did It All at the Library

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Transition Academy (“TA”) took a field trip to the Georgia Library for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS), located in Downtown Atlanta.  When the class first arrived, we were greeted warmly by Beverly, the manager of GLASS.  We were there to learn about services provided as well as observe and investigate various careers to consider at the library.  They allowed us to bring our coolers full of food and drinks for lunch as well as talk and laugh right there in the library.

GLASS employees (Jason, Diane and Vanessa) volunteered to show us different functions of the library program.  In reply, the TransitJason - GLASS employeeion Academy participants greeted our hosts by talking about our unique visual impairments and life experiences.   In turn, we learned that our GLASS instructors also have their own vision disorders and utilize multiple tools to perform their job duties and tasks.

The Transition class split into groups to conduct informational interviews with each employee and perform some job shadowing.  The day began with Jason, who oversees the BARD program.  BARD allows those who are visually impaired to access alternatively-formatted editions of their favorite books, by converting them into MP3 and Daisy audio files.  Jason mentioned that he could also download books straight to a patron’s cartridge or flash drive from a separate hard drive without relying oDiane - GLASS employeen the BARD software.  He even used his desktop to demonstrate how Bookshare can also convert text files into braille and audio formats.

Next, Diane demonstrated how she reviews the GLASS service applications utilizing a CCTV magnifier due to her own visual impairment.  Diane makes certain every applicant provides proof that they are blind, deaf, or otherwise physically disabled, because parents and teachers sometimes attempt to get their non-impaired students enrolled in GLASS, just to help them make it through schleft to right, Alsu, Maggie, Vanessa and Zoeool; taking away resources from those who genuinely need them.  Lastly, Vanessa taught everyone how to use CROSS- an interlibrary loan system- by allowing them to process some book order forms.

During lunch, Skylar interviewed Xavier Yancy for the Participant of the Week section of the TA blog.  Xavier is a rising freshman at Sprayberry High School, who learns best by observing others.  Xavier also has a passion for drawing and hopes to someday attend an Art College.  TXavier Yancyhough he doesn’t know what he hopes to attain by attending the Transition Academy, Xavier’ working goal is to eventually become a professional cartoonist.

After lunch, we explored the Tactile Exploration Area and played with the braille wall, Braille Wall at GLASSwhile we had some free time.  Finally, the TA participants showed their gratitude to Beverly and the other volunteers, by rolling up their sleeves and putting together some GLASS information packets.From front left to back right, Usher, Zoe, Alsu ,and Maggie - Copy

Group picture in Alpine Sign & Graphics Studio lobby

Transition Academy Learns About Branding At Alpine Sign & Graphics Studio

On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, the Transition Academy took a field trip to Steve Gardner’s Alpine Sign and Graphics Studio to learn about branding and logo creation.  Before we left, Nancy we began class with our usual introductions.  During that time, the class was introduced to Shelby- a visiting teacher from the Macon School for the Blind- who is interning with VRS as part of her O&M certification program.  Afterwards, we excitedly headed out on our adventure.

When we arrived, Steve Gardner met us in the lobby and explained several aspects of his business to us.  He shared how his business is an important part of a company’s branding strategy.  Mr. Gardner specializes in making vivid signs, banners, vehicle wraps, and interior graphics according to his customer’s unique specifications.  As a sample, Mr. Gardner showed us a Van Goh painting flawlessly reproduced on a miniature canvas frame, as well as a large wall graphic of the outdoors so realistic that several people nearly walked right into it.

Group listening to Steve Gardner explain printing

Inside his workshop, Mr. Gardner walked us through the process of creating a graphic, by pulling up the Transition Academy logo on his computer and printing it repeatedly on a large vinyl sheet.  Next, he ran the sheet through a slicing machine so that each adhesive logo sticker could be peeled off individually.Alsu_Chayla_Maggie_Xavier_reviewing_logo  Afterwards, Mr. Gardner used a pen knife to “weed” the excess white material on each logo, so that the stickers would look much neater when we used them later that day.

William YanceyUpon returning to VRS, Heidi and I chose to interview William Yancey, a recent graduate of Sprayberry High School, who came to the Transition Academy partly to get a free T-shirt.  In the fall, William plans to attend Chattahoochee Technical College.  After college, William would like a job where he could work with his hands and repair machines; fixing computers at Best Buy is just one of the many options available to him.  For the last major activity of the day, Nancy had the TA participants form an assembly line to create multisensory thank you cards for each of our special guests and visitors from the past few weeks.  Once those were finished, Julie, VRS’ Technology Instructor, introduced them to OrCam, a smart camera designed to help visually impaired read by using a special software that turns photos of written words into sounds that can be read back to the user.  Then at 3:30 PM, the class was finished for the day.

Informational Interviews & VRS Summer Transition Academy

Informational Interviews & VRS Summer Transition Academy

The theme of the June 13, 2017 Summer Transition Academy was “Informational Interviews.”  Instructors Jamie and Nancy introduced the basics of completing informational interviews to the VRS Transition Academy participants.  During Informational interviews, the job-seeker is permitted to ask employers questions about their personal experiences on the job.  Informational interviews are important, because they give individuals who are exploring the world of work, the opportunity to access a worker’s first-hand information about the education requirements, challenges, and benefits of pursuing a career in a particular industry.

After explaining how to conduct an informational interview, the students were divided into four separate groups to practice.  Group #4 (Ashley, Dalton and Zoey) had the opportunity to interview Karen, an interpreter for the deaf and blind.  Karen told Ashley that she first became interested in becoming an interpreter on the day that she walked into a local church and was moved to tears by the sight of a pastor leading a congregation of deaf people in prayer and worship.  Karen also shared with Zoe that the most difficult part of her job was being unable to become certified in dual sensory loss interpretation, due to the lack of educational resources available in Georgia.

Dr Forche speaking to AcademyDuring lunch, our low vision specialist Dr. Jon Forche, paid us a visit and shared with the participants that the greatest thing about his job with VRS was that it combined both his love of optometry with his passion for psychology.  Both Dr. Forche and his intern Colleen answered questions from the group regarding how they came to choose the field of Optometry for their career.

Zoe (left) and Heidi (right)

Zoe (left) and Heidi (right)

 

Zoe Romocki was interviewed as the Participant of the Week.  Zoe is a rising Junior at Lassiter High School, who has astigmatism.  She learned about the VRS Transition Academy through her mobility trainer.  The reason Zoe enrolled in this course, was to learn some of the skills that would make her marketable in the workforce.  Zoe shared that after learning about Informational Interviews, she feels like she’s off to a great start.  Zoe was able to practice her new skills when she visited the Smyrna Community Center, library and City Hall during this week’s afternoon session.

Summer Academy at Alpine Sign & Graphics Studio

Steve Gardner of Alpine Sign & Graphics Studio speaking to Summer Transition Academy participants

After lunch, the participants divided into smaller groups to practice their new informational interviewing skills within local community businesses.  One group visited Alpine Sign & Graphics Studio to work on the class logo with owner, Steve Gardner.  Steve shared an overview of how his career progressed to him being the owner of his studio.  The class received information on how one can have multiple careers over their lifetime.

A second group remained at VRS to interview Richard Hunt, owner of OTG-IT Consulting.  Richard showed the students how to build a PC from scratch, which they loved!

From left to right,William, Richard, and Gus

From left to right,William, Richard, and Gus

He shared that one of the challenges of his job was the need to travel a lot, since many PC issues are unsolvable remotely.  Nonetheless, Richard insisted that the thrill of working with technology was worth the trouble.  Another group visited the Downtown Smyrna District where they learned about different Smyrna City careers.  And, the last group was hosted by Uncle Maddio’s Pizza (Smyrna), where they were shown how a restaurant is run and the various types of jobs involved in that business.  These folks delivered several pizza boxes that had been assembled by the transition group and the VRS Job Readiness classes.

 

 

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