Independence Training Program

College Prep and Falafel @msudenver @ArapahoeCC

Shaun, Davina, Loren, Mikayla and Dan cross at Church and Prince on the way to ACC

Over the past couple of weeks, the college prep class has visited local campuses. Our thanks the staff at Metro’s Access Center and Arapahoe CC’s Student Access Services for sharing their time and expertise with us during our recent visits.

When a blind student leaves high school and goes to college, the world tilts a bit, maybe even seems to wobble slightly on its axis. That’s because the rules change, because the laws governing disability change, and then there’s the part that effects sighted students too. Responsibility shifts more noticeably onto the student’s shoulders than ever before. The sooner students get their feet under them again, the more successful they will be. In college prep class, students learn about these changes, but the best way to begin to understand the truth of it is to visit real professionals at places like Metro and ACC. They both provide access to students with disabilities, but they are different institutions with different missions, and so might have slightly different answers to similar questions about student access. What students gain from this exercise includes an understanding of the kinds of accommodations that are possible and which they may request, practice in asking questions about processes and procedures to request accommodations, and to know what they will need to have equal access in college.

At both Metro and ACC, the staff are always extremely generous in giving their time to CCB students, confirming the reality of college we’ve been discussing in college prep, but also sending the unmistakable message to our students that this is doable, and that self-knowledge and self-advocacy are the starting points.

Mikayla walking in front of the ACC Main Building

These photos were taken on our way to ACC thiss week. But there was one more requirement for college prep class which we’d not been able to fulfill yet. College is also about curiosity, discovery, and greater self-knowledge. To that end, no CCB college prep student completes the class until they have tasted falafelf. (It is surprising how many students have not!) It is a completely arbitrary requirement imposed by the instructor for no other reason than he loves falafel. It is a requirement, nonetheless. Typically, this requirement is fulfilled on the Metro campus, where there is an outstanding Mediterranean food truck. But when we went to Metro a couple of weeks ago, it was spring break and the truck was closed. So Tuesday, after visiting ACC, we jumped on the Route 66 and took it to the Damascus Grill. There, the hunger for knowledge was well-satisfied, if only momentarily.

Youth Services

Announcing Our 2019 Summer Youth Programs

For 2019, we’ll offer our long-standing summer youth programs, including Confidence Camp/BELL and our 8-week residential program for high school and college-aged youth. But we’ll also offer shorter-term and more focused “modules”, describe below. For more information on our 2019 Summer Youth Programs, contact Martin Becerra-Miranda at 303-778-1130, ext. 2223, or [email protected].

Summer Students work with the LabQuest
Izzy and Vanessa L. take measurements with the LabQuest

Confidence Camp/BELL Academy

Dates: June 10 through June 21
Ages: 5 to 10
Location: Colorado Center for the Blind

Program Description

This two-week day program will be filled with learning, challenge and fun. Your child will meet competent blind role models who will work with the kids on cooking, cleaning, Braille, independent travel and technology. The kids will learn how to take the bus and use the light rail. They’ll have fun swimming, rock climbing, making a tactile art piece and going on exciting field trips.

No Limits to Learning

Dates: June 7 to August 2
Ages: 14 to 21
Location: Colorado Center for the Blind

Program Description

This eight-week residential program will change your life. You will live in an apartment with other students and a staff member. Learn about the world of work and meet blind people who work in all kinds of jobs. Challenge yourself through our program by participating in rock climbing, goalball, white water rafting and much more. Build your core skills in Braille, technology, home management and cane travel. Attend the convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Las Vegas, Nevada. Expand your skill set in STEM fields with hands-on experiments using accessible, nonvisual tools and strategies. College coming up soon? Learn what it takes to be successful, including how to navigate the unfamiliar new landscape of higher education. You will learn that being blind will not limit you from pursuing your dreams.

Module Madness

Want a shorter training program? We offer three different modules throughout the summer that may fit your schedule and your interests. In all three modules, you will live in one of our apartments with other students and a counselor, and you will build your core skills in Braille, Technology, Home Management and Cane Travel classes.

The World of Work

Dates: June 7 to June 21
Ages: 11 to 21
Location: Colorado Center for the Blind

Program Description

Challenge yourself with new experiences! You will travel the Denver Metro area via bus and light rail to meet with blind people who work in a variety of professions. Develop confidence and your own style for networking. Practice your interviewing skills and put together a resume and cover letter.

Challenge and Adventure

Dates: June 21 to June 30
Ages: 11 to 21
Location: Colorado Center for the Blind

Program Description

Run in a 5K race, play goalball and hockey, learn self-defense, go canoeing, whitewater rafting and much more. Prepare delicious foods and learn about maintaining a nutritious diet. On the slower side try yoga, gymnastics and develop an exercise routine.

Cracking the College Code

Dates: July 18 to August 2
Ages: 16 to 21
Location: Colorado Center for the Blind

Program Description

Develop the skills you need to be successful in college as a blind student. Expand your skill set with accessible tools and strategies for chemistry, biology, statistics, robotics and more. Practice self-advocacy and learn how to navigate the unfamiliar new landscape of higher education.

General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Access & #TactileLiteracy: A Day in Our College Prep Class

Access to concepts and information presented in graphical form has long been a challenge for blind college students. In the past couple of decades the surge in digitally-displayed content has, well, gone supernova. Thus, blind college students need to develop basic tactile literacy with two- and thre-dimensional representations that their sighted peers may have learned much more informally through media such as picture books, television, film, or YouTube. Blind people learn how things look best by touch. Descriptions are a stop-gap, but only that. Thus, one aspect of our College Prep class’s goal of preparing our students to be savvy and nimble in gaining access to their studies involves taking a look at the kinds of things colleges may throw in front of them and expect them to be able to interpret.

Braille Cane Travel Careers Challenge Recreation Computer and Adaptive Technology From The Director Home Management Independence Training Program

Our Independence Training Program Video Updated for 2016

We’ve updated our Independence Training Program in time for the National Federation of the Blind’s 2016 convention June 30 to July 5 in Orlando. There are new voices as well as well-known ones, new insights and time-tested gems as well about how the Center’s program can help blind students take charge of their lives with confidence and self-reliance. It’s live, so take a peek on our YouTube channell now!

Events General Colorado Center Information

April Snow Showers, Community & Comcast Cares

Workers with shovels, rakes and brooms in the snow and rain
More than 60 Comcast employees turned out on April’ 30s Concast Cares Day to take on a big landscaping project for the Center.

We’re still buzzing with the excitement of last Saturday. It’s not just the work, but it’s spirit of the folks who came and the shared effort!

Saturday, April 30 dawned to several inches of wet snow on the Center’s grounds, and temperatures in the mid-30s. The rain mixed with snow continued all morning and afternoon, but it was Comcast Cares Day 2016 and dozens of Comcast employee-volunteers and their families showed up anyway to work on our landscaping and other tasks. They came because they said they would, and because this event is one of the largest corporate-sponsored volunteer programs in the US. It’s obviously the people – the employees and their families – who truly make it a huge success.

“It’s beautiful,” Kimberly McCutcheon said as things packed up before noon. “It would have taken us years to get all of this done!”

Last year, more than 900 nonprofits benefited from the coordinated efforts of more than 100,000 Comcast employees who volunteered on a Saturday. In our neck of the woods alone this year, The Action Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs were on the agenda for Comcast Cares Day in the south Metro area, along with the Colorado Center for the Blind.

By 7:30 a.m., the Center’s meeting room was full of people drinking coffee and juice, eating Danishes and collecting this year’s Comcast Cares T-shirts. Outside, the two Comcast organizers, Deb and Tori, had set up a canopy and table as command post, and dozens more volunteers continued to arrive, greeting each other with friendly ribbing and laughter. When Abner showed up in shorts he attracted much of the good-natured attention.

“It’s a nice spring day,” was his smiling rejoinder.

Notably, Abner wore his 2004 Comcast Cares Day T-shirt. He’s been on hand for every one of them since then. The very first was held in 2001.

After some initial remarks from Rydne Williams, Vice President of Field Operations in Comcast’s southern Colorado region, and Littleton City Council member Peggy Cole, the work got underway with gusto, under the able direction of Deb and Tori. Dave Krook was also there. He is the Director of Installations in this area. All these folks came to get their hands dirty, too.

What They Did

Shortly after 8 a.m., the chilly, damp air outside the Center resounded with the scraping of shovels in gravel and rakes and brooms and leaf blowers and a lot of laughter. They pulled weeds, cleaned up leaves and other debris in our front rock garden and along the front of the building. They put in new planter boxes, spread two tons of landscaping rock, picked up trash blown in over the winter, cleaned up our Legacy garden, put in some new landscaping timbers, planted dozens of perennials and pansies, painted over some ancient graffiti on one of the sheet metal air-handling units on the roof, and replaced stained ceiling tiles in the lobby. They even gave us a new flag – ours had gotten rather tattered in the winter elements. Comcast covered the costs of all the materials.

Inside the kids made play dough and painted rocks, the latter laid out in the rock garden before they went home.

On one of my many trips in and out I found half a dozen older kids examining the brochure racks in the lobby.

“Be sure to ask if you have any questions,” I offered.

“Can you read this,” one of them asked, handing me a a Summer Youth brochure in Braille. I read it to them.

“That’s so legit!” exclaimed Jania.

So we held an impromptu lesson on the history and use of Braille. Before long the kids were writing their names in Braille on the Perkins at the front desk, then passing out Braille alphabet cards to all the younger kids, too.

And then about 10:15 a truck pulled up full of Jason’s Deli sandwiches and everybody broke for lunch. The final tasks were completed after eating, and then everything cleaned up and packed up.

The amount of work accomplished was amazing, but the lasting impression of Comcast Cares Day 2016 for us at the Center was the joy and the community of the Comcast employees. It was a family event. It was a fun event. They came in the snow, they left us flowers and they went on with their Saturday.

We went on with ours too, but buzzing well into the week. So we want to send one last, big thank-you to everyone! It’s great to be part of this shared community!

Independence Training Program

From Poor Kid to Prof, Eddie Bell Challenges Students to Challenge Themselves

Five men and two women grouped for the photo
Dr. Eddie Bell with five staff members who hold the NOMC, and one who’s working on it: Wayne, Steve, David, Martin, Mo and Duncan.

Dr. Edward (Eddie” Bell, Director of the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, visited the Colorado Center for the Blind on September 3. In Colorado to provide expert testimony to the Colorado Legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, he also presented an excellent philosophy class to our students, urging them to consider higher education as a means to economic independence.

Describing himself as a “ghetto kid” from Albuquerque who’d already dropped out of school by the time he became blind, he told students that he had no plans ever to go to college.

In fact, his decision to attend New Mexico’s training center Alamagordo was because “it sounded better than sitting on my brother’s couch.”

That was his ultimate reaction when a mentor suggested he start thinking about college, but his first thought was “No way.” I was a poor white kid. No one in his family, is neighborhood or school had gone to college or was going to college. Then he thought of that couch again.

His message really was simple. “Take advantage of the opportunity you have here at the Center. Challenge yourself every day, and challenge what you think about your potential after you leave training.”

He has a little street cred. Preferring to be known as Eddie to all of us, he earned his Ph.D. eleven years ago now and is a leading researcher and educator on blindness rehabilitation and education.