Program that Prepares Blind or Visually Impaired Students for LIFE Teaches Learning, Independence, Fun and Employment Bookmark and Share

July 25, 2017

Media contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

Learning Independence, Fun and Employment (LIFE), DBVI’s Immerse Residential Program runs through July 28

AUGUSTA– Maine Department of Labor’s Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, part of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, is immersing students who are blind or have a visual impairment in “real life” situations that teenagers and adults often face on a daily basis to help them build confidence this summer as part of its Learning, Independence, Fun and Employment (LIFE) program.

“These students are learning about the opportunities available to them while having fun and making friends,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Our students with disabilities should not let anything hold them back from achieving their dreams. All Maine’s people should have access to the training and education they need for their career. These students serve as role models for all of us considering making a change that can better our lives.”

This summer, 10 students are attending LIFE 101 and LIFE 201, held at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

“Developing life skills is an essential part of our teen years,” stated Commissioner of Labor John Butera. “However, for a student with vision loss, life skills take on additional meaning. This program provides instruction and social experiences that aid participants in developing techniques to navigate various scenarios and increase their confidence as they prepare for adulthood.”

LIFE 101 is a two-week residential program immersing students in utilizing their strengths, building relationships and fostering independence. It focuses on organization, personal/home management, vocational awareness and independent travel, which allows for socialization while increasing self-awareness and self-advocacy.

In the first week of LIFE 101, students had the opportunity to practice daily living skills, including planning, budgeting and preparing meals; were exposed to various travel modes with lessons from an orientation and mobility instructor, and began the process of career planning with vocational rehabilitation counselors. During the second week of the program students volunteered at a pre-determined site to develop vocational skills.

During LIFE 201, a three-week residential program with an emphasis on community work experience, students have the opportunity to expand on and practice daily living skills. Supported by staff at the residence, during community activities and at the worksite, students participate in general sessions around apartment/home search, paying bills, banking, loans, taxes, employment forms, budgeting, organization, time management, personal safety and ongoing vocational development. Students will also participate in daily meal preparation and ongoing social-skill development. The student will participate in a paid work experience at a local business during the final two weeks.

Group activities held during the LIFE program allow students to learn about social cues and increase communication and socialization skills. In addition to gaining firsthand glimpses of life and employment, students are also engaging in valuable volunteer or work experiences that students can use to meet high school service-hour requirements or to include on their college or scholarship applications.

The Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), , works to bring about full access to employment, independence and community integration for people with disabilities. The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, part of BRS, provides vocational rehabilitation, education, skill training, paths to employment and independent living skills to people who are blind or have a visual impairment.