Blind People In Charge

Erin, a blind woman, walks independently.

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 in Greater Victoria, and elsewhere in 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.

CARF seal

This national, award-winning program, which is provided free of charge to people who are blind, Deafblind, and low vision, 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 and other life skills, and work with students to develop positive strategies for coping with blindness 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 currently held in downtown Victoria. Teaching takes place in group and one-on-one sessions and participants 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. No referral is required.

Some of the independence / blindness skills offered at the centre 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.

Streams

The Blind People In Charge program is divided into 4 streams, described below. Each stream is designed to meet the needs of different types of students.

Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many classes are being conducted virtually, with travel as the main exception. All classes during the pandemic are one-on-one.

Core Stream

Please note: This stream will be replaced by the Blind People in Charge: Immersion Stream when the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre is opened.

The Core Stream of the Blind People in Charge program is designed for students in Greater Victoria. Normally, it runs two days a week from 10:00 – 4:00 in downtown Victoria and encompasses all areas of the curriculum. This is recommended for students from Greater Victoria in order for them to get the maximum benefit of the program.

Focused Stream

Although students are encouraged to apply for the Core Stream, it is possible to take only one subject area, for example Braille or technology. This is known as the Focused Stream. This stream could be ideal for students who are already proficient in other subject areas or who are not yet ready for the full Core Stream.

Out of Town Stream

Please note: This stream is a stop-gap measure until the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre is opened, at which time it will be replaced by the Blind People in Charge: Immersion Stream.

Students from outside the Greater Victoria area are accepted into the Out of Town Stream of the Blind People in Charge program, which is more intensive but shorter than the Core and Focused Streams. Students in this stream are responsible for their own food and lodging while enrolled at the centre.

Immersion Stream

The Out of Town and Core Streams will be replaced by the Immersion Stream of the Blind People In Charge program when the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre opens. The Immersion Stream will merge these two streams, along with the Camp Bowen Society’s ILS Training Program.

The Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre is an initiative of the Camp Bowen Society and the PTCB to create a recreation, training and meeting Centre to house a 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.

Students in the Immersion Stream will stay in student residences at the Bowen Island recreation, Training and Meeting Centre 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. The centre will be located on Bowen Island, BC, which is near West Vancouver and offers a tranquil environment for students. Opportunities for advanced travel in complex city settings are available to students in nearby West Vancouver and Vancouver.

For more information about the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre, 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!