The Pacific Training Centre for the Blind (PTCB) “Blind People In Charge” program improves the quality of life of blind, DeafBlind, and low vision adults through the provision of training that enables them to live independently. The Blind People In Charge program serves blind, DeafBlind and low vision adults from across Canada, ranging from young adults to older seniors. The program is accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and is the only accredited blindness-service program in BC.
This national, award-winning program is also the only program of its kind in western Canada that offers regular, intensive rehabilitation to adults who are blind, DeafBlind, or losing their vision. It uses an empowering, problem-solving model of instruction, called “Structured Discovery”, where people who are blind and DeafBlind are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators. Traditional training models use fixed methods which train people who are blind or DeafBlind to follow a prescribed series of steps to complete a task. This traditional approach does not teach participants how to handle new situations or to explore their world with confidence. The Structured Discovery learning method, however, teaches that participants can gain confidence in themselves through their own efforts at problem solving and resolution, better enabling them to manage all obstacles in their path. This approach promotes a high belief in the unlimited potential of people who are blind and DeafBlind and sustains high expectations of all participants.
Instructors teach non-visual independence skills such as Braille, adaptive technology, cane travel, cooking, home management, and employment skills. They work with students to develop positive strategies for coping with blindness, DeafBlindness, and vision loss in a world that assumes sight. Throughout the program, participants and instructors work together to identify solutions and techniques to promote independence. Having blind and DeafBlind instructors engenders a belief in participants’ own abilities as a person who is blind or DeafBlind; if they see another person who is blind or DeafBlind doing something, they can then believe in their own ability to do it and find the confidence to strive for their goals.
The Blind People In Charge program is designed to allow participants to progress at their own pace. Anyone over 18 who is blind or DeafBlind or is experiencing significant vision loss may apply, including those who are experiencing other challenges. Students may be self-referred, a medical referral is not necessary.
The Blind People In Charge program is currently accepting students in three distinct streams, described below. Each stream is designed to meet the needs of different types of students.
The Immersion Stream encompasses all areas of the curriculum. Classes are taught using a combination of group and one-on-one sessions.
Students in the Immersion Stream stay in student residences on Bowen Island, British Columbia, for six to ten months and attend classes from nine to five from Monday to Friday, with confidence-building and recreational activities on some evenings and weekends. Bowen Island, which is near West Vancouver, offers a tranquil environment for students. Opportunities for advanced travel in complex city settings are available to students in nearby West Vancouver and Vancouver. Students in this stream are responsible for their own food while enrolled.
Some of the independence / blindness skills offered in this stream include but are not limited to:
Reading and writing Braille and using tactile skills;
Keyboarding and adaptive technology such as talking computers and smart phones;
Travelling safely and competently with the long white cane, making mental maps and orientating oneself using cues in the environment (i.e. the direction of the sun, sounds of traffic and changes in textures on the ground);
Using public transportation;
Personal and social skills;
Cooking, cleaning, organizing, labelling, home and financial management, and
Other life skills.
Focus on Braille Stream
While the Immersion Stream encompasses all areas of the curriculum, the Focus on Braille Stream makes Braille available as a free, stand-alone, virtual class. This stream could be ideal for students who are already proficient in other subject areas or who are not yet ready for the full Immersion Stream. Due to the virtual nature of this class, you may find it easier if you have some basic understanding of Braille before starting, though this is not required.
Focus on Technology Stream
While the Immersion Stream encompasses all areas of the curriculum, the Focus on Technology Stream makes technology available as a free, stand-alone class, taught virtually or in-person, though in-person classes have limited availability. This stream could be ideal for students who are already proficient in other subject areas or who are not yet ready for the full Immersion Stream. If you are enrolled in the virtual classes, you may find it easier if you have some basic understanding of technology before starting, though this is not required.
Building the Future
The future of the Blind People In Charge program is the Bowen Island Centre for the Blind and DeafBlind, an initiative of COBD: Camp Bowen and the PTC that will create a recreation, training and meeting Centre to permanently house the ten-month intensive blindness/DeafBlindness skills training program from September to June and summer independence camps for blind and DeafBlind children, youth, adults, and their families during July and August. The centre will help address the ever increasing need faced by many blind and DeafBlind Canadians for meaningful connection, independence, and peer support. For more information about the Bowen Island Centre for the Blind and DeafBlind capital project, please visit BowenIslandCentre.ca, or see the project FAQs.
Apply to the Blind People In Charge Program
We encourage students to apply to the Blind People In Charge program as there is currently a wait list. Getting your name on the list ensures you can receive services as soon as possible.
Please contact us to apply or make an inquiry today!