THE VOICE
Vision· Opportunities· Innovation· Choices· Expertise.
Oregon Commission for the Blind, June 2022
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE

The Commission for the Blind’s doors are open to the public in service of Oregonians who are blind! Like the rest of state government, the agency offices around the state opened their doors on Monday, May 2, for the first time since March of 2020. During the past two years, our dedicated staff have been working hard to maintain service delivery using a variety of methods – everything from social distanced appointments, virtual lessons on Zoom and the telephone, in-person outdoor appointments, and dropping-off lesson materials on front porches, etc. I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of all of the agency staff who continued to provide the best services possible, while maintaining a clear focus on the health and safety of both clients and themselves. OCB’s mission is as important as ever, to ensure Oregonians who are blind can fully engage in life despite the challenges that they experienced during the pandemic.

This edition of The Voice highlights OCB’s 2022 Ambassador of Public Service, Steven Eudy. Steven is a Rehabilitation Instructor for the Blind in our Eugene Field Office who provides rehabilitation instruction in areas such as orientation and mobility (cane travel), meal preparation, medication management, etc. We are also celebrating our youth who reached educational milestones and are moving onto the next chapter of their career journey. Our agency is so proud of these young adults, and their resilience, to remain focused on their goals.

We also feature an article on accessible voting, reminding all of us that this important civic responsibility is accessible to Oregonians who are blind! An important reminder in this election year.

I hope you enjoy catching up on these highlights of OCB’s mission in action!
Celebrating Reopening of OCB
Photo of young woman walking through office front door using white cane to navigate
Thinking outside the box, our five offices throughout Oregon were all challenged to implement safety measures, and learn to serve clients remotely – virtually, at first – moving slowly through phases of returning to full-service delivery. Many of our older clients, for independent living rehabilitation, elected to postpone services until we could safely meet with them in their homes. VR services were provided virtually through the pandemic, and our Orientation and Career Center for the Blind (Portland) is just now completing Spring term with a full cohort of students.

One new employee shared that they’ve seen some positives since reopening, like the chance to meet fellow employees face-to-face for the first time, or to see the relief when customers to OCB’s small store ask if they can come in or need an appointment – we are open to the public every weekday.

It has been moving to witness the dedication, care and flexibility shown by our staff as state services worked through the challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. We all look forward to seeing the lobby and student lounge filled with clients where we can hear them again: engaging, learning, and making connections with one another.
Steven Eudy, OCB’s Nominee for Ambassador of Public Service
Photo of Stephen Eudy smiling
Steven Eudy received OCB’s nomination for Ambassador of Public Service as part of Public Service Recognition Week (May 1 – 7) and State Employee Recognition Day (May 4).

Steven is an Orientation and Mobility Instructor based in our Eugene office where he serves clients across Southwestern Oregon who are visually impaired.

This work benefits senior citizens who are experiencing vision loss as they age. Instructors like Steven help seniors re-learn to perform daily living tasks such as navigating their environments (both at home and in the community), preparing meals, handling their mail, and using adaptive devices such as magnifiers and tinted glasses. Many also benefit from learning to operate a smartphone to help them read print and handwriting, and also to aid them while grocery shopping and performing other tasks.

During the pandemic Steven was committed to return to in-person service as soon as it was safe. The lessons and training our clients had requested were especially important, and he felt that meeting directly with clients could help reduce their stress, isolation, and potential depression. His commitment to ensuring that all Oregonians have the same opportunities shows his dedication to public service.

Steven holds a Masters in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University (2018). He joined the Agency in June of that year.
Oregon Voters with Vision Loss: Signed, Sealed, Delivered!
Close up photo of a green computer keyboard key that says "Vote."
Oregon Voters who are visually impaired can cast their votes confidentially and without assistance.

These voters can navigate to their county elections website and log in to access their current voter status and record. There, they can access the Alternate Format Ballot, a fillable form with check boxes they can complete using assistive technology such as a screen reader or iPhone’s VoiceOver.

They complete the process by printing the ballot and placing it in the internal return envelope, finding the signature area by feel – about an inch from the top-right of the hole. After signing and sealing, they can drop it into their outgoing mail or at a drop box, or hand-deliver it to their local election office.

Accessible voting permits Oregon voters to participate in the electoral process, casting a confidential ballot independently and without the assistance of others.

Learn more information at the Oregon Secretary of State’s Services for Voters with Disabilities website: https://sos.oregon.gwov/voting/pages/disabilities.aspx.
SWEP Returns to University Campus In-Person Experience
Group photo of some of this year's SWEP students.
For the last 2 years, the Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) has been virtual due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

OCB is excited this year to be returning to an in-person program hosted at Western Oregon University in Monmouth and Portland State University in downtown Portland.
Photo of SWEP student with family member.
Students will again connect in person and forge friendships over a shared experience that includes work, recreation, and developing independent living skills away from the family home.

In May, the agency kicked off the Portland program with an orientation at OCB, followed by a tour of the PSU campus.
SWEP participant  and family listening in orientation.
It was a great opportunity for parents to meet the staff that will be supporting their kids and for the students to share their goals for the summer.

OCB staff are busy developing a variety of internships based on students’ interests, from municipal parks departments to local ice cream parlors. They are also planning a variety of team building activities, such as campfires with Guide Dogs for the Blind and a ropes challenge course.
Photo of SWEP participants and their families listening to a speaker.

The three tracks (Portland, Salem, and community-based) begin in mid-June and run through their graduation celebrations July 29.

Stay tuned for more fun updates on SWEP in an upcoming edition of The Voice!
Congratulations, Graduates!
Photo in silhouette of a graduate and the number 2022 on a hill, a beautiful sunset behind it.
We are celebrating these OCB clients’ achievement and their progress toward achieving their goals and independence.
 
Adrian Castro
Finishing Hood River High School.
Attending Portland SWEP then likely taking classes as a residential OCCB student in the fall.

Tatum Chiago
Completing her community transition
program in June.
Taking a summer break while attending a PCC class, then will be focusing on her job search.

Sariah Germany
Completing her community transition program in June.
Will be engaging in Discovery to plan for future work.

Lillian Goodman
Receiving Bachelor’s degree in accounting/business at Portland State University.
Seeking employment in the accounting industry.

David Kochenderfer
Graduating Oregon School of Massage, Massage Therapy.
Joining a massage practice and working as a massage therapist, Reiki healer, and operating a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber.
 
Noelia Lopez
Graduating Jefferson High School.
Attending Portland SWEP and going to PSU in the fall.

Ben Schumacher
Completed transfer degree, Portland Community College.
Matriculating to Portland State University and dorm life. Receiving training at OCCB Spring/Summer terms to master independent living.

Leeahnn Victorio
Graduating from Portland State University, degree in graphic design.
Looking forward to employment in this field and planning for future independent living.
Working with WIOA and WorkSource....Works!
Image of laughing people at a table for a business meeting.
The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) charges public agencies to think and work differently to coordinate and leverage resources to create positive outcomes for job seekers.
 
Prior to WIOA, coordination between individual agencies and businesses/employers was lacking, involving multiple processes, outcomes and contacts.

“Business as a customer” is WIOA’s highlight and change in thinking:

  • Coordinated outreach – OCB partnered with the Eastern Oregon Workforce Board (EOWB) which is part of the WorkSource System:

  • EOWB’s business services outreach now includes information about OCB and our services.

  • Similar partnerships are established with Clackamas Workforce Partnership and East Cascades Workforce Investment Board.

  • Oregon’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services and OCB created shared marketing materials, as well as ensuring OCB is included as relationships with new businesses are developed.

  • OCB presents Disability Awareness training and Assistive Technology Demonstrations to help public partners understand how to work with OCB and our clients.

  • Business Relations staff continue to join regional Employment Department Business Services Teams to plan job fairs, recruiting events and business roundtables in areas throughout the state, from Pendleton to Coos Bay to Clackamas County.

By helping our public workforce partners understand OCB, we dramatically expand the options and opportunities our clients have for achieving the best possible outcomes. Being at the table helps us get as many opportunities as possible in front of our clients, and it opens doors to opportunities with new business partners. WorkSource Oregon is a win for OCB!
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