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Sign of the New Mexico Commission For The Blind

The Commission for the Blind provides vocational rehabilitation and independent living services designed to enable persons who are blind to become more participating and contributing members of society. Blind people lead normal lives, have families, raise children, participate in community activities, and work in a wide range of jobs. They are secretaries, lawyers, teachers, engineers, machinists, scientists, supervisors and business owners. The real challenge is to educate blind people about their own potential and to educate society about the capabilities of persons who are blind.

The Commission believes blind people are normal, and blindness, in and of itself, should not keep a blind person from leading a productive life. The Commission provides services that enable blind persons to enhance their abilities and assume roles in the community as working, taxpaying, and contributing citizens.

The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) works in close partnership with the Commission by helping to formulate vocational rehabilitation policies and priorities.

The primary product of this partnership is the State Plan, which is developed jointly between the SRC and the Commission. The SRC and the Commission have collectively developed the following programs and services, and achieved the ensuing accomplishments:

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mission statement

"Our mission is to enable persons who are blind to achieve vocational, economic and social equality by providing career preparation, training in the skills of blindness and above all, promoting and conveying the belief that blindness is not a barrier to successful employment, or to living an independent and meaningful life."

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executive director

Greg Trapp

Greg Trapp has been the Executive Director of the Commission for the Blind since 1999. Prior to joining the Commission, he was a Senior Staff Attorney for Disability Rights New Mexico, where he had worked since 1992. Mr. Trapp taught Disability Law as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law in the fall of 1993. From 1991 to 1992, he worked as an Equal Opportunity Specialist at UNM. Mr. Trapp, who is himself blind, graduated with honors from the UNM School of Law in 1990. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), and is a Past-President of NCSAB. He is also a member of the State Workforce Development Board, and the Commission for the Blind State Rehabilitation Council.

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State Rehabilitation Center Goals and Priorities

a. Increase the number of consumers served through enhanced outreach activities; including media outreach, collaboration with eye doctors, and the use of the Technology for Children program to conduct outreach to school districts.

b. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes of transition consumers by providing assistive technology where appropriate as a part of an individualized plan for employment, by providing assistive technology through the Technology for Children program, and by conducting educational activities to increase awareness and use of Braille, including Braille math.

c. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing services in a way that genuinely honors the "informed choice" provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

d. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing a quality NEWSLINE system that gives consumers access to employment listings, news, and other important information.

e. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by using the Skills Center to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers, as well as potential vocational rehabilitation consumers, in a way that is creative and innovative.

f. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by utilizing the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students.

g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living services to vocational rehabilitation consumers.

h. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers who are deaf-blind through collaboration and partnership with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including through the delivery of assistive technology to consumers who are deaf-blind.

i. Enhance performance and productivity by increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of federal reports.

j. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers by providing enhanced benefits counseling and guidance, with the purpose being to reduce fears related to the loss or reduction of benefits.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I have to be totally blind to get Commission services?

A. No. Persons who are legally blind may be eligible for services. Persons who have progressive conditions such as Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy or Retinitis Pigmentosa may also be eligible for services.

Q. What services does the Commission provide?

A. The two primary services are the Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living/Older Blind programs. The Vocational Rehabilitation program helps blind persons to become employed. The Independent Living/Older Blind program helps blind persons to live independently in their homes and communities.

Q. What is legal blindness?

A. The Social Security Administration defines blindness as "either central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens, or a limitation in the fields of vision so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less (tunnel vision)." In other words, a person with bad eyesight but who sees adequately with glasses is not legally blind.

Q. Does a person blind in one eye qualify for Commission services?

A. Probably not. Most persons with one eye can read, drive and otherwise function normally. However, a person might be eligible for services if there was severely reduced sight in the remaining eye, or if there was a risk of blindness due to a condition such as Diabetic Retinopathy.

Q. What age must a person be to apply for services from the Commission's Vocational Rehabilitation program?

A. The Vocational Rehabilitation program serves persons who are 14 and older.

Q. I am 78 and losing vision to age-related Macular Degeneration. What can the Commission do to help me?

A. We have people we call "Independent Living Teachers" who can go to your home and teach you how to adjust to loss of vision. We can teach you how to use a talking computer, calculator, scale, clock or watch. We can also teach you how to read newspapers through Newsline, how to read Braille or safely travel using a white cane.

Q. Can modern technology replace Braille?

A. No. Braille is an essential literacy tool. Technology such as talking computers and tape recorders are useful, but learning through listening does not teach a person how to read or write. It is also critical that Braille be taught as soon as possible, even if a young person has useful vision. Studies have also shown a very high correlation between successful employment and the use of Braille.

Q. Is the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired part of the Commission?

A. No. The two organizations are totally separate entities. However, NMSBVI and the Commission work closely together on areas of common concerns.

Q. Is there help for blind persons who cannot read newspapers?

A. The Commission's "Newsline for the Blind" program provides access to over thirty publications through a touchtone phone. The Commission also sponsors "NFB-Newsline," which provides access to over 200 national newspapers, including several in Spanish. You can get information about Newsline by calling Newsline at 841-8844, or 1-888-513-7958.

Q. Is there help for blind persons who cannot read a phone book?

A. Qwest offers free directory assistance to persons who are unable to use a printed phone book because of a medical condition. You can apply by calling the Qwest Special Needs Office at 1-800-223-3131.

Q. Does the Commission provide transportation or shopping assistance for persons who are blind?

A. No. The Commission trains blind persons how to either use public transportation, or how to arrange for other methods of transportation. The Commission also trains blind persons how to do their own shopping.

Q. I keep hearing about breakthroughs in artificial vision. Is this something that could help me?

A. No. While there is interesting research, there is nothing available that would provide useful artificial vision. There may someday be such a device, but that day may be decades away, if ever. For now, the best thing that a person can do is to get the training and skills needed to function despite loss of vision. With such training, a blind person can lead a normal and productive life.