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Adult Orientation Center

Located in Alamogordo New Mexico the Adult Orientation Center provides training to blind individuals.

Outside of the Orientation Center.


The Orientation Center provided 24 persons with intensive training in the skills of blindness. The Center is a certified and accredited residential program designed to equip blind persons with the skills needed to become employed. Most of the Center's students are persons who are newly blinded. The Center is located in Alamogordo. During the year, the Center achieved full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and full certification from the National Blindness Professionals Certification Board (NBPCB).

Outside of the Orientation Center, including a sign describing what we do.

The Program

During a typical six-month training period students receive intensive training in cane travel, Braille, assistive technology, home management, personal management, and industrial arts. The Center training is built around the use of "sleep shades" to eliminate the desire to rely on inadequate or failing vision. By learning effective non-visual techniques, students gain self-confidence and learn how to function as successful blind persons. Once a student has learned the alternate techniques of blindness, he or she is able to decide when and how to use remaining vision.

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assistive technology

The use of assistive technology is a crucial factor in the successful employment of persons who are blind. However, according to a 2000 study, only 24% of persons who are disabled own computers, compared to a national average of over 50%. According to a 2003 study, fewer than 30% of persons with dis-abilities access the Internet, compared to more than 60% for persons who do not have disabilities. This gap is the "digital divide." The Commission's assistive technology program is helping to bridge this gap. A blind person must learn the application, as well as the assistive technology that allows access to the application. One-hundred eighty-one evaluations were completed; 185 computers, scanners, printers, and video magnifiers were configured and delivered to consumers state-wide; 143 received hardware or software upgrades; and 118 received hardware and software repairs. Eleven-hundred twenty-seven received personal tutoring.

The Commission's technology specialists provided consumers with screen readers, Braille displays, screen magnification programs, video magnifiers, and Braille note takers. The assistive technology is intended to meet their individualized employment needs. Often only small changes are needed to make the blind person's job much easier and more competitive.

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business enterprise program

The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) provides employment opportunities for blind individuals who wish to operate food service facilities. The BEP has food establishments from small stands, to vending routes, to a full military cafeteria at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The BEP also serves the food and dining needs of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia. The BEP provides public and government employees with quality food service that is conveniently located within government buildings. Twenty-five blind persons participated in the BEP program, and vendor earnings were $4,042,401, contributing $202,120 in gross receipt taxes to the state.

"Commission Helps Support National Defense"

The Commission operates the Thunderbird Inn and Dining Facility at Kirtland Air Force Base. Mr. Vick distinguished himself by again winning the highly prestigious John L. Hennessy award for the "international single-facility category." The Hennessy Award is presented to installations with the best food service programs in the Air Force. Mr. Vick employs approximately 35 persons with disabilities in his facility.

"Commission Helps Support Homeland Security"

The Commission provides food services at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. The FLETC is responsible for the training of border patrol officers and federal marshals, as well as the provision of firearms training for pilots.

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Independent Living/Older Blind Services

The Independent Living / Older Blind (IL/OB) Program enables blind persons to live independently in their homes and communities. To accomplish this, direct services are provided with most persons being served in the home.

The IL/OB program provided intensive training to 549 individuals, and basic services to an additional 331 persons. The majority of persons served were 55 or older.

The IL/OB program includes eight Independent Living teachers and a Deputy Director who manages the program. They serve the entire state reaching out to underserved populations in rural areas. They provide training and guidance to encourage consumers to assume more active and productive lives, including many individuals who are participating in the Commission's vocational rehab-ilitation program. The instruction includes training in Braille, how to travel using a white cane, how to use public transportation, and personal and home manage-ment skills. This latter area can include instruction in meal preparation, diabetes management using non-visual or low-vision techniques, identification of money, telling time, the use of NEWSLINE, and the State Talking Book Library. The training also includes provision of basic assistive technology devices such as white canes, Braille writing equipment, talking calculators, and Braille or talking watches.

". . . In these days of budget cuts and complaints and questions about social service programs claimed to be wasteful, ineffective and unnecessary, I want you to know YOUR PROGRAM WORKS!" -- Independent Living consumer

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newsline for the blind

NEWSLINE is a telephone-based system that allows persons who are blind to access a variety of newspapers and publications. Using the buttons on a touch-tone telephone, the listener selects a category of the paper, such as local news, area events, obituaries or grocery ads. The listener can read a story, skip to the next story, raise the volume, or exit the category and choose another category or publication. The reading is done by approximately 100 trained volunteers. The statewide service is available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NEWSLINE averaged more than 10,000 calls a month..

NEWSLINE has experienced a steady climb in the number of listeners. Now in its 20th year of operation, NEWSLINE has served over 5,000 users statewide. NEWSLINE publications include the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Time Magazine, the Que Pasa NFB newsletter, and the Alamogordo Daily News.

The Commission also sponsors NFB-Newsline, a program providing access to over 300 national newspapers and magazines, as well as job listings. NFB-Newsline is operated by the National Federation of the Blind and provides users access to newspapers such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today. NFB-Newsline also provides access to Spanish publications and newspapers. NFB-NEWSLINE has over 1,050 registered users.

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Skills Center

Hands reading braille

In May of 2011, construction began on the Commission's Skills Center in Albuquerque. The Skills Center is intended to be a state-of-the-art training facility that will meet the training needs of the Commission's vocational rehabilitation and independent living, and older blind consumers. The Skills Center is expected to begin serving consumers during 2012. It is located in an area of the building that had once been home to a "sheltered workshop" where blind persons sewed tote bags and made other products sold to the federal government. These activities ceased being economically viable with the lifting of federal import restrictions on textile products. By repurposing the space, the Commission is making it possible for generations of blind persons to obtain the training that will enable them to become employed and live more independently.

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students in transition to employement program

lighted stairs leading upwards

The Students in Transition to Employment Program (STEP) provides blind students with a carefully monitored and quality employment training experience. Blind students have traditionally not had an opportunity to engage in such work training, depriving them of the important benefits of student employment. STEP served 54 blind students ranging in age from 14 to 21.

Acquiring a positive attitude about blindness is essential for a blind person to achieve the goal of becoming successfully employed. Therefore, STEP participants engaged in activities designed to reinforce blindness skills and to build self-confidence. The activities included hiking, horseback riding, going to movies, rock climbing, dining out, swimming, and trips to shopping malls. The students also participated in seminars and presentations from successful blind adult role models.

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technology for children

The Technology for Children program provides assistive technology (technology) to children under the age of 18 who could benefit from such technology because of a visual impairment, but for whom such technology is not available through an Individualized Education Plan, Individualized Plan for Employment, medical insurance, or other similar source. Examples of technology that may be available include Window-Eyes, JAWS, ZoomText, MAGic, optical magnifiers, video magnifiers (CCTVs), Pac Mates, BrailleNotes, and Perkins Braille Writers.

Technology For Children Application

Contact Kelly Burma for more information

(505) 841-8844 Toll Free 1-888-513-7958
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Vocational Rehabilitation

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program serves persons who are legally blind, and certain qualifying individuals with significant visual impairments. The program helps persons to become employed in ways that are appropriate to each individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. The Commission ranks at or near the top in the nation for the quality of employment outcomes achieved by our consumers. Four-hundred forty-three persons received vocational rehabilitation services during the course of the year.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Standards and Indicators data, New Mexico ranked at or near the top in the three primary indicators used to measure the performance of vocational rehabilitation programs.

Primary Indicator 1.3: The Commission ranks second for the percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who were competitively employed. According to the ranking, 98.8% of our consumers earned at least minimum wage.

Primary Indicator 1.4: The Commission ranks first for the percent of Individuals with significant disabilities who had employment outcomes, with 100% of individuals having significant disabilities.

Primary Indicator 1.5: The Commission ranks fourth for the average starting wage of consumers compared to the average state wage. Our consumers' starting wage of $14.81 was 79.9% of the average New Mexico wage of $18.54.

Indicator 1.6: The Commission ranks first for the comparison of consumers who on exiting the program rely on their earnings as their primary source of income compared to those who relied on their earnings as their primary source of income when entering the program. The difference in New Mexico was 61.9%, compared to Virginia at 55.7%, Nebraska at 51.3%, and Washington at 41.2%.

Transition Services

The Commission works diligently to provide transition services for blind children and young adults, with the goal of enhancing the quantity and quality of their employment outcomes. The Commission has Memoranda of Understanding with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Public Education Department, and the Department of Health, all of which are designed to enhance transition services. Reflecting the importance the Commission places on the education of all blind children, the Executive Director served on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) State Advisory Panel. In addition, a Commission Deputy Director served on the State Transition Coordinating Council.