I am an occupational therapist and I recently interned at Signal Centers Assistive Technology (AT) Center. Signal Centers is partnered with Southeast Vision Rehabilitation and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation as part of the Low Vision Network of Chattanooga. Signal Centers AT Center is a non-profit organization that offers services for all individuals with disabilities but also provides specific services for individuals with visual impairment. My role at Signal Centers AT Center is to modify and implement the Confident Living Program (CLP) for individuals with visual impairment.
Low Vision Services include:
What is the value of Occupational Therapy in independent living?
Traditionally the CLP was run by a rehabilitation teacher (RT). RT’s offer tremendous value to independent living skills groups due to their training in adapting the home environment for individuals with visual impairment, while also providing specific vision rehabilitation. Individuals with visual impairment should be seen by an RT when adjusting to blindness.
Occupational therapists are also trained in occupation (activity) adaptation, compensatory training, adaptation of the environment, therapeutic use of self, grading of activities, and providing client-centered, holistic services. When assessing a client, who has a visual impairment, it is important to consider all aspects of independent living (i.e. living situation, functional status performing activities of daily living, family/friend support, person’s roles, habits, and routines; and financial management). It is also important to assess the client’s cognitive ability, physical ability, and overall quality of life. Considering all listed factors allows an occupational therapist to design a course of treatment centered around the client.
Occupational therapists are also trained in group process. Utilizing theory and varying frames of reference to design a group is another unique quality of an occupational therapist. By doing so, a therapist can structure sessions appropriately and track progression. With compassion and therapeutic use of self, the CLP is instructed to increase level of independence and confidence in each participant. Functional independence is the purpose of the program and the mission of occupational therapy.
What is the Confident Living Program?
The CLP is an independent living skills program for individuals who are visually impaired. Most clients who are referred to Signal Centers are individuals who are recently blind or have recently been reentered into the community. Loss of vision can cause loss of independence, which can lead to decreased self-efficacy and depressive thoughts (Zhang et al., 2013). Therefore, relearning daily living skills adapted to accommodate vision loss provides an opportunity for clients to gain independence, improve self-efficacy, and explore meaningful activities.
The CLP is apprised of skill building, problem solving, social interaction, and improved self-efficacy in the context of relearning daily living skills. Those skills include use of writing guides, labeling and organizing, cooking skills, fall prevention, use of assistive technology, leisure and recreation, and more. Activities are adapted to promote independent performance of each client. Signal Centers offers three cycles of class sessions per year.
How long is a semester for the CLP?
1 semester = 12 weeks
2 sessions per week (24 classes total)
2 hours per session
Here is a look at some of the activities performed in the CLP:
Four of our sessions explore cooking a variety of items to meet basic nutritious needs. Pictured below is a “healthy” dessert that is diabetic friendly. Skills involved include:
Leisure and Recreation
Performing meaningful activities unrelated to work is important for quality of life and occupational balance. As part of the CLP, leisure activities are incorporated to explore different leisure pursuits and to demonstrate adaptations to previously enjoyed activities.
Use of writing guides provides independence for individuals through not having someone else writing information down for them. A variety of guides are utilized to aid individuals with writing lists, writing checks, signing a document, addressing an enveloped, and other note taking needs.
Most individuals with visual impairment use a smartphone to increase functional independence. In the CLP, a variety of applications are explored to adapt a task. For example, the NantMoblie Money Reader app reads currency when a bill is placed in front of the phone’s camera.
Is there a cost?
The fee for enrolling in the class is $20 per participant. However, services are never denied at Signal Centers AT Center, so scholarships are available for clients who are not able to pay the fee for the class. Also, clients from Georgia who are referred to Signal Centers AT Center through vocational rehabilitation can receive funding for the class from their vocational rehabilitation counselor.
How can I sign up for the Confident Living Program?
Requirements: Diagnosis of visual impairment
Referral process: If you have a vocational rehabilitation counselor, ask them to refer you to Signal Centers AT Center for vision services. OR, if you or if you have a friend/family member who lives with visual impairment, come by Signal Centers AT Center and talk to us about our vision services.
Fall Semester: TBD
Location: 2300 Bailey Ave Chattanooga, TN 37404
Contact: 423-629-4174 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Zhang, X.,…Saaddine, J. (2013). Association between depression and functional vision loss in persons 20 years of age or older in the United States, NHANES 2005-2008. Journal of American Medical Association Ophthalmology, 131(5), 573-581.
Who are we?
The Tennessee Lions Low Vision Rehabilitation Project is a collaborative effort between Lions Clubs volunteers, low vision medical providers, and community organizations to serve individuals with low vision through community service, education, research, and advocacy.