RCIL’s Mandy Smith will be hosting the following events:

  • Low vision fair April 7th at the Parsons Public Library from 1:00-3:00pm
  • Low vision independent living classes April 23rd and 30th at the Riley County Senior Center in Manhattan from 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Low vision fair May 13th at the Marion Senior Center from 12:15pm-2:15pm

Please look for more information in the future or call Mandy at (785)528-3105 if you have questions.

As I get ready to get in the car for today’s appointments, I thought I would take this rainy morning to remind everyone of iKan-RCIL.  iKan-RCIL is a program for those who are 55 years and older and have a vision loss caused by such conditions as Glaucoma, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and many more.  This program is often referred to as the “older blind program”.   The person does not have to be totally or “legally” blind but the condition causing the vision loss must affect their daily living to qualify for services.  The iKan-RCIL program covers 32 counties which are listed below and if you are interested in a county not listed email Amanda Smith and I’ll get you the contact information. iKan-RCIL coverage includes: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Coffey, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Labette, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson counties.

I visit individuals at their home and teach them skills or give them technology to live as independently as possible with their vision loss.  To qualify for this service you must live in one of the mentioned counties, be 55 years or older and have a vision loss. There is no cost to participate in this program and if you or someone you know is interested they can email Amanda Smith or call at (785) 528-3105.

Mandy Smith, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, will be presenting at the Chase County Health Department on May 1st.  The presentation will begin at 1:00pm and last approximately an hour.  Mandy will be explaining what the iKan-RCIL program does and the services it provides along with showing pieces of assistive technology.  Anyone who has a vision loss or anyone who works with people who have a vision loss is welcome to attend.

iKan-RCIL serves individuals who are 55 years and older and who are blind or have low vision, so this program will be focused on that age group.

Chase County Health Department
301 S. Walnut
Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845

If you have questions please call (785) 267-1717.

iKan-RCIL is funded by Kansas Rehabilitation and Services and covers 23 counties in Kansas.

I read a story by Dr. Chris Kuell this week and I pulled this quote from it…

“My cane does announce to the world that I’m blind, but I’m okay with that. It only symbolizes inferiority in the hands of those who don’t have the skills and confidence to use it properly. When I’m walking down the street, it signals to cars and pedestrians alike that I’m going places.” – Dr. Chris Kuell

In my short time as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, I’ve learned that for most people learning to use a white cane can be very tough.  This toughness can be physical when in training the person uses arm muscles a lot to move the cane.  But mostly it is an emotional toughness.  They must admit not only to themselves but also to their friends, family and the public that their vision is either leaving or gone.  Using a cane does not allow them to hide their disability anymore.

When people lose their sight they go through a grieving process.  Most people go through denial, anger and depression which could be a short amount of time or a year or longer.  This can also occur to individuals who lose some sight but keep a remainder (low vision).  (Most of the people who I’ve worked with who have low vision say the worst part was losing their driver’s license.)

I wish people looked at their cane the way Dr. Chris Kuell now looks at his cane.  (He did not always feel this way…)  Yes, a cane does “label” a person as blind but that can be a very good thing.  Using a white cane gives the pedestrian the right of way and also makes drivers be a little bit more carefully.  People should not think that their cane shows off their disability but instead shows off their capabilities.  Just like Dr. Chris Kuell said, “…it signals to cars and pedestrains alike that I’m going places.”

If you’d like to read all of Dr. Chris Kuell’s story follow this link. http://www.blindskills.com/jul_aug_2007_sample3.html

RCIL was awarded part of the grant from Kansas Rehabilitation and Services (KRS) to serve individuals who are 55 years and older and are blind or have low vision.  RCIL has been serving this population since August of 2010 with the PILR/RCIL/SKIL consortium that was also funded by a grant from KRS.  This time, however, RCIL applied on their own.

This program is titled iKan-RCIL and covers 23 counties from Northeast Kansas to Southeast Kansas. These counties include: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Washington.  (There is a map below which iKan-RCIL’s area is in yellow.)  iKan-RCIL county coverage changed by no longer covering Cowley, Butler, Elk, Linn or Sumner counties.

Funds provided for this program are included to pay for services to individuals who have low vision or blindness and are 55 years and older.  Services include teaching independent living skills to promote independence and allowing the individual to live in the environment they chose.  Also, orientation and mobility which individuals are taught how to travel safely, independently and efficiently and this can include learning to use a white cane, talking GPS and many other tools.  Other services include advocacy, information and referral, peer counseling and deinstitutionalization.

If you are interested in learning more or know someone who would benefit from these services please call (785) 267-1717 and ask for Mandy Smith.