Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My journey part three, DVR/DSB Spokane Washington by Tracy Fejeran

So I've completed several more steps towards my goal of starting classes by this Fall. I've completed my financial aid application and submitted it, it has been processed and forwarded to the school that I will be attending. Just waiting to hear from them with a package of more information. On February 27, The orientation and mobility instructor from DSB did a home visit and made her assessment right here in my home. She had a lot of questions about my adaptive skills and how I go about my day here at home and when I leave my home. She recommended that I get a new long white cane with a variety of tips to help me travel better with training as well. She'll be helping me learn how to cross the street using the audio initiated crosswalks and to identify certain markers on the sidewalks and to get around my compound if I wanted to check my mail or just walk around the neighborhood. She also recommended several thermometers for my body temperature as well as for cooking. Need to make sure that chicken is fully cooked right? She'll also be back to place several tactile markers in my kitchen space, my oven especially. I'm excited to get some more orientation training so I can travel independently. On March 11, I have my assessment on technology at the DSB office. I was like a kid in a candy store, there was all kinds of assistive Technology devices for the blind both high-tech and low tech. I tried out several different tactile markers that I can work with and found that I can use the high-profile foam and Loc dots on my keyboard. I tried out both the JAWS and Mac platforms and chose to stay with Apple Voice over. A Mac Air 13 inch laptop is recommended with an external hard drive and a full-size keyboard. A victor streamer will be very useful for my text books and notetaking at school. Both of these devices I will be provided training, DSB will provide me with two instructors, one will be for the Mac and iPhone which will be a Distant training program and the other instructor will help me with the victor streamer. The distant training program is very convenient because I can work with my instructor at my own pace anytime even from my own home via Skype. There is only one instructor who specializes in Mac for the blind and he is in New Jersey. I will also be getting a four-in-one copier/printer/fax/scanner. Last but not least one of my favorite devices is the Pen Friend, a labeling device. Oh I love this gadget! It is both useful in the home and for school, maybe someday in my workplace. It is shaped like a karaoke microphone with a scanner at the bottom. There is a record button that I can speak into and identify the items that I am labeling, I just hold it over the label that is provided, record and scan. A beep will sound to let me know a label has been identified, I scan again and the label will repeat my recording. Each label, which comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, have their own identifying codes. I can stick a label on a magnet so I can identify my chicken noodle soup From my tomato sauce, that way I don't have to keep changing the label. How awesome is that? This will also be great  to keep my files organized and do record management.. I'm looking forward to avail myself with all the opportunities that is offered. I'm glad that all of these Devices will be provided to me at no cost on my part. I am pleased with the services from the division of services for the blind because through this assessment The specialist was able to identify what works best for me and for what I will be using it for. I'm saddened that a friend of mine back home had recently been given a Mac computer however she has not been able to use her computer because she is unable to receive the training needed. I recommend that whenever an AT device is going to be purchased for a client that it would make logical sense to provide the necessary training to access that computer. Don't know if my friend gave up because the last time I spoke to her he was still waiting for word from DVR regarding training from the only AT specialist at GSAT.. There is so much red tape to go through, meanwhile, time is passing, and it is discouraging. My friends enthusiasm to pursue her goal of starting a business is slowly fading. When we have the opportunity, given the tools and proper training in a timely manner, we can succeed in becoming productive members in our community. I will keep you all posted on what's up next.

Si Tracy 

Guma’ Mami programs provide opportunities for individuals to enjoy life, strive to reach their full potential, and be part of Guam’s community.

It is the mission of Guma’ Mami, Inc., to facilitate the full inclusion and integration of adults withintellectual disabilities and other disabilities into their communities through individual and family supports. We provide supportive services in a residential and community setting in order to enable individuals to live as full members of their communities. 

For more information visit: 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Journey

Hafa Adai from Spokane Washington! My name is Tracy   Fejeran, former resident of Sinajana, an individual with multiple disabilities. I have been blind since 2006 from diabetic retinopathy, I have no light perception at all. In 2009 I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease; I received dialysis treatment three times a week on a nocturnal shift. This is an eight hour session on a dialysis machine from 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM. After a lengthy screening process I was placed on the national kidney transplant waiting list on May 30, 2013. I've decided that while I am waiting for a kidney, I'd like to pick up with my plans to someday become employable. I've learned that through my advocacy work that I enjoy helping others and would like to become a social worker and assist individuals with disabilities in similar cases. This would require retraining on my part which I am able to obtain through the state provided services from the division of vocational rehabilitation and network agencies.. Before I left Guam, I was already in the process of doing my individual employment plan with the local DVR. However due to my absence, my case file has been inactive. Therefore, I have had to start over from the beginning. I'd like to share with you all my journey and experiences with this process. I contacted the division of vocational rehab, I inquired on their orientation dates. The first step in seeking services from DVR is to attend an orientation. Fortunately this is offered three times a week in different time slots to accommodate everyone... Orientation time took only 30 minutes, I attended my orientation on January 22 Wednesday at 11 AM. A vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor introduced herself as someone who is a former DVR client as well. She explained that she is deaf and that she had an interpreter speaking to us in the corner of the room. We listened to a brief account of her personal story availing herself the services from DVR and finally becoming employed as a VR counselor. She left the room so we can watch a 20 minute video. At the end of this video I was so inspired because I met individuals in similar cases as mine who have successfully reached their goals of employment. We got some information on the type of services that DVR provided and the local agencies networking. Because of my blindness DVR will be working with the division of services for the blind (DSB) to give me the most that the state offers. I'm so excited, everything looks very good from here. Applications were handed out for us to complete at home prior to calling back DVR to schedule an intake. I completed my application and was scheduled  to return on Monday, February 3. At the same time, I was given a contact person and a number to call at DSB. I gave her a call and scheduled an intake for Wednesday,  February 5. I would say from this initial experience that the difference between DVR Spokane and our local DVR on Guam is that the orientations I done more frequently and scheduled to accommodate everyone, which is a quicker turnaround time than Guam DVR, sometimes the initial intake process won't be scheduled til the following month.  So I brought my completed application back to the Spokane DVR office on Monday Feb. 3rd, and was interviewed by a VR technician. As part of the eligibility criteria screening, I needed to sign consent forms for my doctors as well as for DSB because both agencies will be networking so all information will be shared between State offices. They also offered me the opportunity to become a registered voter and assisted me with the process. The VR technician talked to me about my informed choices and about the network agencies, she also explained about my rights and about the client assisted program. She assigned me a VR counselor and I was referred to begin a three day workshop from February 11 to February 13. This workshop would provide me with more information and support as a part of their "Stride to Life" program from 9 AM to 4 PM. I met my VR counselor at the DSB office on February 5 Wednesday. This office has a staff of
five to include a VR counselor, an assistive technology(AT) technician, an orientation and mobility(ONM) instructor and VR technicians. I basically went through the same intake process as DVR with emphasis on services for the blind. I signed more consent forms and will be assessed by an AT technician in the upcoming weeks to find out what AT devices will best work for me. I'll need to start my application for financial aid for the fall semester at Spokane Community College. I'll also have an assessment done here at home to make sure I have the AT's for basic living skills. An orientation and mobility instructor will help me with my long white cane and braille lessons. I am in awe of the services that is offered through both agencies. My initial first impression this whole process of getting started with DVR and DSP is very encouraging, the staff are very professional, cordial and pleasant to talk to you. At no time did I ever feel intimidated or discouraged.  

Guma’ Mami programs provide opportunities for individuals to enjoy life, strive to reach their full potential, and be part of Guam’s community.

It is the mission of Guma’ Mami, Inc., to facilitate the full inclusion and integration of adults with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities into their communities through individual and family supports. We provide supportive services in a residential and community setting in order to enable individuals to live as full members of their communities.

For more information visit: