Working Toward Independence
70% of working age adults reporting significant vision loss are unemployed. As a result, 30% of this population is reported as living below the poverty line. However, at Vision Forward, we witness individuals working to beat those odds.
At 28 years of age, Chuck Aprahamian is a perfect example. Diagnosed at birth with underdeveloped retinas which left him blind, Chuck began receiving services from the agency when he was an infant and continued throughout his school years.
To work toward his goal of employment Chuck is ensuring that he has the appropriate skills to be a successful employee. For Chuck that means he has been working with our orientation and mobility (O & M) instructor, Steve McAuliff, to prepare for his internship at Froedtert Hospital, which he acquired through the Easterseals Project SEARCH program. Through O & M training Chuck is learning to independently navigate the hospital. He has been working to hone specific skills such as spatial awareness, cane use, landmark recognition, repetition of routes and sensing when to stop and think about his location. All these skills help him successfully find his way around the large hospital, allowing him to travel to different floors, use revolving doors, elevators and stairs and find the various rooms where he performs his duties.
In explaining the importance of his O & M training at Vision Forward, Chuck says, “One of things that has changed my life is being in Project SEARCH and getting around that hospital, independently. I just feel that it’s making me more determined and allows me to do more. Vision Forward has been very key in helping me be successful at Project SEARCH.”