KABVI logo - click here to return to home page

By Nancy Johnson

You’ll get this issue as a Christmas gift, I guess. My apologies, though Christmas gifts are “the in thing” at thihs season. Thanksgiving gave me an opportunity to take stock of the world in which I live, to realize that life is good, and to pause to thank God for my loved ones and friends. Christmas is at hand, and I thank God for sending His son with His message to all of us. My wishes are that you all have a blessed Christmas and that 2006 brings the results you desire.

As 2006 approaches, I’ve given consideration to my day-to-day doings and realize I want – perhaps need – to make some changes. One of the changes I’ll make is to relinquish the editorship of KABVI NEWS to another. After nearly 15 years’ involvement on the editorial committee and I’m not sure how long as KABVI NEWS editor, I feel the need for a break. I’m sure I’ll continue to contribute to the magazine, however, so I won’t be too far out of the picture. I’ll continue to actively support KABVI with involvement in its activities. I know my contributions may be small, but I believe in “small but mighty.” I believe even my small contributions can make a difference.

We can make a difference. This was brought home to me recently when a process known as Order of Selection was put into place by Rehabilitation Services.

When people apply for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services they are categorized according to the severity of their disabilities. A number of criteria are used to make this determination. Persons in category 1 have the most severe disabilities. People with blindness or severe vision impairments are generally placed in category 1 because visual disabilities impact several functional life areas. As people pass through the VR process, they move through a series of steps or “statuses” from referral to employment. Order of Selection is based on both the severity of disability and an individual’s status in the VR process.

Order of Selection is implemented when money becomes short. Once a person has developed a vocational objective and a plan to reach it, money is earmarked for the purpose of helping them complete the plan. Sometimes all available money has been earmarked to pay to carry out the plans of people currently receiving VR services. That’s what recently happened to cause Order of Selection to be instituted.

Sometimes folks want to become employed and have the potential to work but, because of recent vision impairment , must find a different kind of job and don’t know what they either can or want to do now. Until recently, they have been accepted by the Kansas Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (RCB) for training in blindness skills as well as for vocational assessments to determine interests and aptitudes and to give them an opportunity for career exploration and development of a vocational objective. Unfortunately, these people have not reached the point in the VR process where they have developed a vocational objective and a plan to achieve it.

When Order of Selection was implemented this time, six people were in training at RCB who did not have the necessary VR plan. They had been in training long enough to realize its benefits. They were told they would have to end their programs. This news made them angry. They decided to do something about it.

The students contacted KABVI for support and prepared a letter to the Director of Rehabilitation Services. They also contacted the media and got a spot on the news. Most of them will be able to continue their programs half time. Without their intervention, however, they would have been “out on their ears”. They didn’t get full programs back: But they won’t lose everything they’ve gained and they’ll be able to continue learning and making progress toward their goals. Had they done nothing, their programs would have ended and they might have lost the skills they’ve learned.

When you think you can’t make a difference, remember these folks and think what you can do to help yourself. You’re usually not the only one who’s been affected. There’s strength in numbers, so work with others to help all of you. Your local KABVI affiliate or support group can be a good place to find the others who share your problem and can work with you to solve or lessen it. Just getting angry doesn’t help. But properly directing your feelings to appropriate actions can make a difference. What an example of self-advocacy at work!

“Jingle bells, jingle bells! Jingle all the way!

Oh! What fun to ride in a one horse open sleigh!”

{ About } { Contact } { News } { Events Calendar } { Resources } { Your Rights } { ACB }