HELENA – The Montana Association for the Blind is guiding those with visual impairments down a path to independence and freedom.
For over 60 years, the MAB has given those with recent or long-term vision disabilities hope, with the opportunities to learn how to do day-to-day tasks.
Skills like alternate methods of writing, using ordinary utensils and even walking.
The program began in 1946, just after World War II, when soldiers were returning from war with vision damage.
It is a nonprofit, four-week-program, held at Trinity Hall at Carroll College and gives a missing sense back to those who felt they have lost sight of who they are.
Jocelyn DeHaas, Director of Summer Orientation for MAB, said, “When you brushed your teeth this morning, you didn’t really think about ‘how do I get toothpaste on the brush without getting it around’…and when you did your hair and matched your clothes, you thought, ‘oh, here it is, I see it…’ people can’t.
DeHaas continued, “When I was a teenager, my father started losing his sight to a hereditary disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and so… he got involved with it, he got in this program and it helped him immensely.”
The program costs just around $4,200 for the one-month summer session and teaches between 15 and 25 students.
A second-year student, Tonya Mhoon, was formerly a mathematician before losing her sight.
“I was a teacher, prior to going blind…so, I thought maybe I was just useless…you know, not being able to see the math, I couldn’t teach it…” said Mhoon.
Mhoon continued, “So, when I came here, my first year, I took a braille class, and I fell in love with braille and I’d like to get certified and be able to teach it.”
If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of the Summer Orientation Program, please visit here.