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 British Columbia, 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, which is provided free of charge to blind, Deafblind, and low vision people, is also the only program of its kind in western Canada that offers regular, intensive rehabilitation to adults who are blind or who are losing their vision. It uses an empowering, problem-solving model of instruction, called “Structured Discovery”, where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators. Traditional training models use fixed methods which train blind people 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, believes 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 blind people and sustains high expectations of all participants.
The program applies a collaborative, positive, and empowering approach to blindness, in which blind people learn from and teach each other in a supportive, can-do atmosphere. 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 instructors engenders a belief in participants’ own abilities as a blind person; if they see another blind person 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 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 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.
The Blind People In Charge program is divided into 3 streams, described below. Each stream is designed to meet the needs of different types of students.
The Core Stream of the Blind People in Charge program is designed for students in Greater Victoria. It normally 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.
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 while the Blind People in Charge: Immersion Stream (part of the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre project) is implemented. The Immersion Stream will replace the Out of Town Stream when it begins accepting students.
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.
Apply to the Blind People in Charge Program
Contact us to apply or make an inquiry.