important to those who need a high school diploma ---- Original Message ------ From: Jill Gross <saluki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxSubject: [Blindattic] OT: blindness-related and of great importance
Date sent: Tue, 29 May 2012 01:06:55 -0400 Hello everyone, I am aware that my request here is off topic for many of the lists to which I am sending out this message. I do believe, however, that my efforts could by helpful to blind individuals throughout the US and, perhaps, in other countries as well, so please forgive me. I desperately wish to receive input from many of you off list, and hope that you will share this with other lists such as Blindad and other general blindness-related forums that I am not subscribed to. Some background: I am blind and have a Master's in Education. I have spent over twenty years running an adult education program in Philadelphia in which blind, visually impaired, learned disabled, and physically disabled adults were assisted in their efforts to either boost their adult basic education (ABE) skills, or to earn a GED. Here in Pennsylvania, other adult education programs have proven to be woefully unable to provide adequate services for individuals with disabilities, especially those are blind. I am unaware of any substantial, formal programs in the country who provide these services. During my twenty years of providing this service, I assisted many individuals and helped them develop the skills and to discover the tools that would help them to improve their basic educational skills and earn their diplomas. The earning of a diploma has, in many cases, led to job training, employment, and frequently to higher education. I am often contacted by students from years back who have earned Master's degrees and gone on to be professionals in various fields. I have had students with debilitating, chronic conditions who said that their goal was to earn a diploma before they die so as to set a positive example for children and grand children. The stories have been many, and the rewards have been extraordinary. Despite the fact that under the ADA, all testing and credentialing programs are to be made accessible, few states have addressed this specific issue and don't seem inclined to do so. Throughout my years in this field, I have been approached by many program administrators from other states who require assistance in their efforts to accommodate a disabled individual in the their programs. It is terribly disheartening to know that there have to be so many blind and disabled adults out there who desire and require the help, but they are not getting it. Despite the obvious need I see for such services here in Pennsylvania, I have had to undergo a constant, stressful fight to continue to offer my services and, and i lost the fight here back in September when the State Department of Education pulled it's meager funding. Currently I am engaged in a massive, but failing attempt to start a newer and better program because nobody else seems willing or able to do it. I am also completing a text book that will help other practitioners in the field serve blind and disabled clients more effectively throughout the country. Ultimately, I hope to be able to provide professional development workshops to various counties and states to help them better accommodate those who are blind. After fighting so long and hard on a local level here in Philadelphia, I now realize that my efforts should be more global so that I can potentially bring about improvements for a far greater number of people. What I am after: I have subjected you to this lengthy screed in an effort to make you aware of this problem that keeps getting swept under the rug. Those of us who are blind have a difficult enough time finding employment without the added difficulty of needing to complete our high school educations. Securing a job without a diploma is very hard for anybody in this job market, but if you are also blind, it really is an exceptional hinderance. In order to best make a difference on a more global level, I would like to hear from those of you who either need a GED or adult basic education services and have either been afraid to seek them out or who have met with a system that is unprepared to serve you. I would like to also hear from those who have sought assistance with this and gotten the help you needed. I want to know if there are any small programs out there offering specialized services that help people achieve this endeavor. Further, I don't just want to hear from people in the US. I am interested in learning more about how adult education is provided to blind individuals in other countries. Undoubtedly, this is not just a problem here in the US, and perhaps some countries have a better approach and actually care to address this issue. If there are services and if they are adequate, I want to hear about them. Again, I am horrified by the lack of interest and concern on the part of our government to deal with and address this matter. I made a presentation to folks from the Department of Labour here in the States, including Kathy Martinez who is visually impaired, but the problem was largely ignored despite the statistics available from Cornell University that strongly indicate the need. The stats don't lie, and a huge number of blind and otherwise disabled adults do not have their high school diplomas and, thus they are rendered unable to get employment or even to enter various training programs who make a diploma or GED a requirement for entry. Again, I apologize for using this forum to present this information and make my plea, but I felt it is important and worth the risk of annoying some individuals. Please share your thoughts and experiences with me, but please do so off list. Your help and insights will be greatly appreciated, and, just maybe, they can be used to help others in the future. Thanks so much in advance. Very respectfully, Jill Gross, EdM, Philadelphia, PA Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.