[tabi] Blindattic] OT: blindness-related and of great importance

  • From: Elizabeth Bowden <elizabeth@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 07:26:55 -0400

important to those who need a high school diploma

---- Original Message ------
From: Jill Gross <saluki@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [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

Very respectfully,
Jill Gross, EdM,
Philadelphia, PA

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  • » [tabi] Blindattic] OT: blindness-related and of great importance - Elizabeth Bowden