VRS wishes everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July.
The office will be closed but open again Thursday, July 5th, at 8:30am.
VRS wishes everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July.
The office will be closed but open again Thursday, July 5th, at 8:30am.
VRS will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday, May 28th. As you enjoy time with friends and family, please take a moment to thank those who have given so much to our country.
What is tall and thin and wears only red with white?
That would be me – Daisy. My purpose in life is to help others and my partner in this work is Miss Lindsey. Together we travel and can do great things! We believe we can change the world!
Lindsey has Low Vision, and at times, when she is using her eyes to look up and find our path, she doesn’t see the floor, or things like curbs and drop-offs. That’s my job – protecting her from things she does not see. Lindsey’s job is to learn, explore and help us change the world!
Lindsey is in high school and learning to do more things on her own. She likes shopping, exploring and working some too. She is learning many new things to prepare her for life after school. Right now, Lindsey and I get to walk around some really neat places and meet some really interesting people, as she tries to figure out exactly what she would like to do for her job after High School.
Recently, Lindsey, her travel trainer and I sat down to talk together about why our partnership is so important to Lindsey.
Lindsey explained that my most important job is to help her walk safely, find obstacles and not trip. When we work together, she swings me from side to side to clear her path, and if I find something, I let her know. When we find steps or curbs, I drop down low and Lindsey knows to stop. If I bump into an obstacle, we stop, take a look, and find another path. In this way, I take care of the looking at the ground and Lindsey takes care of deciding where we go.
We have been taking a lot of time to learn how to PLAN our trips too. Lindsey is learning how to make mental map pictures of the areas in which we travel. Mental Mapping is Really Cool. When Miss Lindsey needs to travel from one place to another, she takes a minute to think about her route, shares it with me, and then together we travel, looking for the clues and landmarks along the way – so as to not get lost. Sometimes I help her find the down low landmarks and she helps me to find the up high ones.
When we talked about what was most challenging for Lindsey and I working together, Lindsey shared that it was all the questions people asked her about me, her cane. She shared that sometimes people question why she needs a partner to travel around and this makes her upset. Lindsey shared that she is grown-up now and old enough to start making some of her own decisions. She shared that she is the only one who knows how she sees best and that she really wishes people would trust her decisions when it comes to working with me when we travel around.
Recently, Lindsey, her family and I went on a really cool trip – we took a ship out onto the ocean! We visited some really interesting places and got off the ship here and there to explore. Lindsey shared that when travelling in new places she really feels best when I am by her side. Sometimes, the paths are rough, and the area is not familiar; when I can come along and help her find the bumps and drops, she feels a lot more confident and happy.
As we talked with Lindsey about some of the new places we will be travelling to in the next few months, she got really excited! We talked about learning how to cross streets downtown, how to explore some new places to learn about work and maybe how we could look at what kinds of jobs she and I can do together. Lindsey and I understand that to be safe AND independent moving forward, we are going to have to work hard together as a team. My bright white and red uniform helps others to see us and to know that they have to be more careful, especially if we are in the crosswalk.
One of the things we are MOST excited about is teaching others about our relationship. We are the perfect team. We talked about how everyone needs special tools to do their jobs and get work done. I am one of those special tools! And I think that Miss Lindsey and I make a great team. I can’t wait for others to see us in action and to better understand how we can work together to keep Miss Lindsey safe AND help her be the best young person she can be. Keep Your Eyes Open. We will see you soon!
Vision Rehabilitation Services of GA wishes each and every one of you very Happy Holidays! May the time you spend with family and friends warm your hearts and remain with you always. VRS looks forward to the New Year and being able to serve our clients and their families. We also appreciate our sponsors and supporters in all they do to help our efforts.
In observance of the Holidays, VRS will be closing at 1pm ET today. We will remain closed Monday, December 25th, and Tuesday, December 26th. We will reopen, Wednesday, December 27th!
It’s the Christmas season and those with diabetes should approach the season with thoughtful planning in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep up with hard-earned healthy habits. Creating a four-part plan for eating, drinking, traveling and activity at Christmas is one strategy recommended by the American Diabetes Association. VRS instructors can assist you in developing your holiday plan – feel free to contact us at any time with questions:
Holiday Eating Plan:
American holidays are typically celebrated with excess food, so it is important to have an eating plan for maintaining healthy glucose levels throughout the season.
How to cut calories, without compromising on taste:
If you have a higher blood glucose level than normal due to overindulging or changing your routine; don’t worry too much as this shouldn’t affect your long-term diabetes control. Do aim to avoid persistently high readings in order to avoid compromising your hard-earned healthy habits.
Holiday Drinking Guidelines:
Alcohol intake can lower blood glucose levels and increase the risk of a hypoglycemia incident. Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding how your prescriptions interact with alcohol and adjust your intake accordingly.
Holiday Travel Tips:
Travelling with diabetes requires some extra planning and, at times, extra luggage! List the items needed for your journey; keep an extra copy on your device or with a loved-one.
Keeping Active during the Holidays:
There are lots of easy and fun ways to add in some extra physical activities during the holiday season. Grab a family member up off the couch and check some of these off your list:
Introducing activity into your holiday season can help control both blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also helps us make memories with our families and friends that will last a lifetime. Take some time to make your plan for staying healthy over the holiday season and then go enjoy!
It was our pleasure to host the annual VRS Holiday Party today. While the weather was not working with us, we still had a great turn out, wonderful food, and a fabulous entertainment.
Our guests were treated to a traditional holiday meal of ham, turkey, and all the trimmings. We would like to thank Belinda Green of Akoma Events for catering our event and weathering the roads to deliver our delicious meal!!
We had some fun holding a raffle where a number of gift baskets were won as well as a beautiful wreath. We’d like to thank Cook’s Christmas Trees for the wreath donation. They are setup right across the street on South Cobb Drive for those still looking for a Christmas tree, wreath, or other holiday décor.
We were also grateful to be able to send a mini key lime pie home with each guest thanks to the support and donation from Kenny’s Great Pies. Kenny’s is a great alternative for your holiday pies and offer a variety of flavors if key lime is not on your list. We also enjoyed the live entertainment from Tina Knight, who’s voice was beautiful!
Many thanks to everyone who joined us today! The VRS staff and Board wish each and every one of you a very Merry Holiday Season and Happy New Year!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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 introduce 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 the 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 watch 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 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 frame 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.
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
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.
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.