William is a 96 year old WWII vet who loves to tell stories of his past. He talks about his father from Finland who fought in the Finish Civil War, and who was born in 1888!! As an army vet himself, William served time in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. After the war, William developed a love of healthy living and fast cars. In fact, after moving to Naples, William’s primary job was to repair and maintain a fleet of high end, one-of-a-kind and rare cars owned by a few uber-rich Naples residents.
As mentioned, William is also into health. After suffering from two heart attacks 10 years ago, he gave up all medications and switched to vitamins and distilled water. In fact, William swears that distilled water is the key to longevity.
Mary is a medically fragile 24-year-old client. She is a significantly physically impaired young lady who spent the better part of last summer in the hospital after suffering a cardiac incident. She is non-verbal and has little to no fine or gross motor control. Mary uses a ChatFusion device to communicate with her nurse caregivers and family. She accesses the device through the use of head mounted switches – one switch steps through the choices while pressing the other switch causes the device to ‘speak’ the selected word or phrase out loud for her.
During my first visit, Mary’s mom informed me that she was not at all tech savvy and really hoped I would be able to update the ChatFusion to offer more functional choices for Mary. (It had not been updated since she was in high school!) I had never worked with this specific brand of augmentative communication unit before, so I searched online for a manual and spent many hours learning how to work the device and make changes to the settings and choice menus. I was genuinely concerned about making ANY changes since I knew this client’s ability to communicate completely relied on this device. I feared if I deleted something by mistake, or broke the device completely, this would leave the client with no means to communicate… No Pressure there LOL!
Let’s face it, Collier County is mainly a car-dependent town. The roads are wide, traffic volume is high and for the most part neighborhoods do not connect. Collier is not a pedestrian friendly town. Therefore, crossing these wide streets can pose a challenge for the Collier County residents who cannot drive.
Now imagine trying to navigate streets as a person who is blind or visually impaired. Add to that, crossing a multi-lane intersection with high volume traffic. This is no easy task. Not all people with vision impairment are willing to take the risk.
Marion is a cultured and intelligent retired art-dealer (“Colorist”) and self-described “foodie” who is functionally blind from a history of issues with her vitreous fluid. She has little remaining vision, which occasionally enables her to see high contrast icons on her phone. However, Marion is unable to read print and requires the white cane for mobility outside of the home.
Marion has been a client off/on for the past few years and has participated in the art/clay classes and ILS workshops. She also received assistance with using the CAT Bus and self-advocacy training to request shopping assistance at Publix (to purchase hard-to-find cooking ingredients for her artistic cuisine).
Rhonda is a 67-year old client of the Lighthouse of Collier. She wanted a refresher course in Orientation and Mobility in order to qualify for her third guide dog.
The instructor went out to the client’s house to provide the requested review of Orientation and Mobility skills she needed to qualify for her guide dog. Additionally, the instructor provided demonstrations in using 20/20 pens, bold line paper, a handheld CCTV, bump dots, task lighting a liquid level indicator.
As a result of the legislative grant, Lighthouse of Collier is able to provide a robust home services program. Through that program, services are provided to Nathan. He is an elderly veteran man living alone and has no family to take care of him in the area. Nathan cannot drive and did not have access to resources that would provide him rides when he initially became a client.
Nathan has learned tools, tips, techniques, and trainings to make his everyday life easier. One of the most useful tools he has learned is how to use Collier Area Paratransit System to take him around town and to important appointments. Nathan has become more independent because of his ability to obtain transportation. More information on this service can be found at: https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/divisions-f-r/public-transit-neighborhood-enhancement/our-services/collier-area-paratransit-system-7568
After becoming a client of the Lighthouse of Collier in 2019, and again seeking services in summer 2020, Jack received training in orientation and mobility. More recently, after the Lighthouse was able to reopen after closing due to the pandemic, he and his wife called the office and requested additional orientation and mobility assistance. His wife could no longer escort him to his medical appointments. He required more cane skills and, since Jack has mild dementia, his wife was worried about his safety.
Jack’s existing skills were reviewed, and new skills were taught about approaching doors, and how to safely and effectively proceed through them with his cane and then follow the shoreline of the space to find the doctor’s office. All training was done outside on the sidewalk in front of his house and on his patio, per pandemic protocol. He was also provided with bold line paper and a bold, black marker so that he could write notes for his wife. He was instructed to write in capital letters to make his notes more legible for both himself and his wife. The instruction resulted in greater confidence for Jack and less stress for his wife.
Vicki is an 18-year-old woman just beginning her college career. She is smart and self-reliant. Despite her visual impairment, she earned a full scholarship as an accomplished student and athlete in discus and javelin.
Vicki understands that being self-reliant as a person with a visual impairment means being able to advocate for herself. Vicki knew she needed orientation and mobility training to maintain her independence while participating in outdoor activities and traveling in her new college environment. The Lighthouse of Collier was recommended to her and her family.
After an initial assessment, Vicki and her assigned instructor began an intense training program in orientation and mobility. Even though she become ill with COVID-19 and had many doctors’ appointments before the start of school, she remained focused on the skills she would need to manage her indoor and outdoor travel needs efficiently and effectively. She practiced in earnest between lessons and, as a result, progressed quickly. Along with her cane, she possesses the orientation skills needed to thrive in a new environment. Her future goals include learning how to navigate public transportation and city traveling, so that as she advances through school and life she will continue being able to advocate for her own needs.
Ashley is a 1-year-old only child with macular dystrophy with amblyopia. Home visits with Ashley are a family affair. She is a busy and active toddler, eager to interact with people, objects, and opportunities for meaningful play in the home. On the first Lighthouse staff visit, her parents intuitively set up a route for Ashley to travel through where she could crawl and feel things of different sizes and textures, such as tile and carpet.
After some time had passed since an in-person home visit, during a virtual visit it was incredible to witness that Ashley is walking, learning from educational TV programs, turning pages in her books, and loves swimming and shopping with her parents. Surely, visits to come will highlight new surprises and developments!
Purchase Seeing Beyond Blindness
If you would like to own one of these cocktail table books, please donate a suggested selling price of $35.00 to Lighthouse of Collier and we will send you one straight away.
Lighthouse of Collier dedicated the book to Art Bookbinder, a man who could see beyond blindness. He was a great friend and leader. May he rest in peace. August 1942 – April 2020.