When the coronavirus struck earlier this year, major adjustments were made quickly. People learned how to wear a facemask and wash hands or use sanitizer more frequently. Restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and other businesses had to shut down. Terms like “pandemic,” “sheltering in place,” “social distancing” and “virtual” became a part of our daily vocabulary. People learned how to use Zoom and started working from home.
These changes impacted the services and programs offered to the blind and visually impaired community by Outlook Enrichment. Like many nonprofits, Outlook Enrichment canceled some programs and events. With your help, we adapted others and established new ones for continuous services to the more than 35,000 people whose lives are impacted by vision loss in Nebraska and beyond. Immediately, we shifted focus to a case management model and deployed a rapid response team to increase access to essential goods and services.
Usually, adaptive technology training sessions are held at Outlook in person with direct one-on-one instruction. Now, those sessions are online in a virtual classroom and enrollment has actually increased.
“When the clients were in-house, we could show them with their hands the gestures needed to use the iPhone. When we started virtual training, we had to think of better descriptive ways to get them to do these gestures. This builds up the confidence of our clients since they have to do all the changes on their devices themselves by listening to what we tell them,” explains Doug Wampler, Enrichment Program Adaptive Technology Facilitator. “Clients coming in for training limited us to people inside of Omaha city limits and surrounding areas. Now knowing how to distance train, we have clients from greater Nebraska, greater Iowa, West Virginia, and several clients in other states that found us online in need of our services.”
The virtual training sessions allowed Jane to get the help she needed even as the pandemic continued to grip our country. “These classes kept me going. Even with COVID-19, I knew I could have my class every week. I don’t know where I would be right now without the technology training from Outlook Enrichment.”
With your support, Outlook also established a technology helpline for people with visual impairments: (531) 365-5334. The adaptive technology trainers respond to messages within 24 hours, providing technology solutions to help the blind stay connected to their loved ones and continue to conduct business.
Outlook understands the needs of our clients during these unprecedented times and that social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Peer support groups, an audiobook club, board games and other social activities were created virtually so that clients can come together and interact with each other. Katie says that the Family Feud game was a lot of fun and it was so nice to get together. TJ enjoys the audiobook club and is taking typing.
“The training has assisted me to be more independent and continue enjoying things I love, like reading and surfing the net,” TJ said.
TJ also appreciates the positive environment, especially during a pandemic.
“The Outlook Team has provided me with options, tools and information to help me overcome and become more independent. Their guidance, knowledge and inspiration help me to keep going. They are like a breath of fresh air.”
You can help more people with limited vision, like these clients, use their technology, socialize and increase their confidence. We get calls every day from people losing their vision and family members seeking help. Your support of your time, gift or talent is needed today. Outlook’s technology training and other programs are not sustainable without your help. Donate while shopping through Amazon Smile or complete a donation form as an end of year gift.