Visual Impairment Part I – Getting to know each other

We pride ourselves at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health to provide Massage and Holistic Health training for those who are visually impaired or blind. February is Low-Vision Awareness month, so here we review what Healing Hands School does when a visually impaired or blind student contacts us.

Healing Hands School has worked with the Department of Rehabilitation – Blind Field services for over 15 years. We have also reached out to the Braille Institute for additional recommendations for how to help our students over the years and appreciate their service to the visually impaired community.

When a visually impaired or blind person comes to visit the school, we try to get to know them and what their needs are. Here’s some of the questions we may ask a visually impaired student:

Shiatsu Massage is a traditional Japanese massage often practiced by blind or visually impaired therapists. There is deep history to Massage and Shiatsu for the Blind. We instruct Shiatsu here at Healing Hands!
  1. Support: Are they in contact with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and/or program?  Have they received support from the Braille Institute in the past?  What means of transportation will they be using to get to school?
  2. Level of visibility and comfort: Are they blind, or visually impaired?
    1. Blind: How long have they been blind? Are they still getting used to it?  Do they read Braille?
    2. Visually impaired: How long have they been visually impaired?  How much sight do they have? Would they still rely on sight for homework? Do they need special paper?  Do they see better colors then other colors?
  3. Massage is a physical career so we ask: Have they participated in any physical activities or sports in the past?
  4. Electronics: what electronic equipment are you comfortable with? Does it read to you?  Are you able to take notes during class in order to be able to test on the information later?  How will you take notes? What will you use to review the information that you learn in class?

The goal of these questions is to determine if the student will have the ability to benefit from taking a program at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health.

About these questions:

First we determine if the potential student has access to the support they need.  They should be utilizing Department of Rehabilitation to help fund their program, and to receive the training and equipment necessary to thrive in a school.  We may refer them to the Braille Institute for additional training and resources.  Transportation can be a huge barrier to success so we will often make sure the potential student has access to a means of transportation.

Scars of Yesterday Healing Today

People can become visually impaired or blind at any point in their lives! This means some of our students have only been visually impaired for a few years, where-as some have been visually impaired or blind their entire lives.  Due to this, what a students needs are can vary drastically from person to person.  Knowing where on the spectrum of length of impairment, and comfort of impairment helps us to determine how much help the student will need while they are in school – and the type of support.  Some have special colored paper to help them see text, others can read Braille, and others use recording devices exclusively.

All students need to be able to give and receive a professional massage.  This is one of our requirements in our school, and can be hard to determine until someone is in class.  If they have done any physical activity before (like a sport or exercise) they will be fine.  If a student does not have spacial reasoning, then as Massage Therapist they may accidentally endanger or harm their client. For example: Imagine not being aware of where a clients neck is while rotating the head.

All students need to be able to: take notes, review notes later, and learn from those notes to study.  The manner of note taking can vary drastically from person to person.  Whether they are using Braille readers, laptops to recording devices, we make sure that a visually impaired student has the ability to take their own notes while in school to review later.

If you, or someone you know, is visually impaired and may benefit from and education in Massage Therapy and Holistic Health, contact the school today! We are quite proud of our successful visually impaired or blind graduates.

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