HKNC Overview of Services
A SIGN OVER A BUILDING’S ENTRANCE - HELEN KELLER NATIONAL CENTER FOR DEAF-BLIND.
A WOMAN WORKS AT A COMPUTER: So one Friday in May these three women came in and they are talking to me about the Helen Keller National Center and I said “it’s time.”
TRACEY, INSTRUCTORS AID.
I said I'm falling over things more. I'm scraping up my knees.
SHE WALKS WITH A GUIDE DOG.
As my training started it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
FRANCIS HKNC STUDENT. HE SIGNS IN AN INTERVIEW: My dream has always been to write a book and that’s one dream that my two daughters have been bugging me to do. I just kept putting it off and avoiding it because of my problems. Those were the real issues. But now I see more and more that I will be effective in achieving my goal to write that book.
A YOUNG MAN WITH A CANE STEPS ON TO AN ELEVATOR AND SELECTS A BUTTON. WORDS READ: MARK, A STUDENT: I would absolutely recommend it for any deaf-blind individual that feels they're not doing anything with their lives and they just kind of stuck and they need more training on anything from independent living to communications to work - come here and make the best of your program and learn from it and take those goals home with you and be a productive member of society.
ANOTHER STUDENT, JILL, SIGNS: I’ve seen so many new things that have changed my vision of the future. HKNC is awesome and it’s changed my life.
A LOGO HELEN KELLER NATIONAL CENTER FOR DEAF-BLIND YOUTHS AND ADULTS.
WORDS READ: MISSION AND HISTORY. IN THE LOBBY A RELIEF AND AN OIL PAINTING DEPICT AN OLDER HELEN KELLER. A PLAQUE NAMES THE PAINTER, ALEXANDER CLAYTON
Man’s Voice: The mission of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults is to enable each deaf-blind person in the United States to live and work in the community of their choice. Created in 1967 by an Act of Congress called the HKNC Act, the Center is unique in that it is the only agency in the United States that exclusively works with adults who are deaf-blind and it continues to provide a wide variety of services to the deaf-blind population including vocational services, independent living skills and so much more.
IN CLIPS, STUDENTS TRAIN WITH INSTRUCTORS.
Man’s Voice: The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults provides a transdisciplinary approach to training programs where nothing is done in isolation and everything is designed for an individual's needs. The various departments all come together and function as one unit with a single purpose - to meet the needs of each and every student.
A STUDENT WITH A GUIDE AND A DOG CROSSES A STREET
WORDS READ: BEYOND HELEN KELLER
Man’s Voice: For people who are new to learning about deaf-blindness - their only image is the iconic one of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. But as the famous phase goes, deaf-blindness didn't stop with Helen Keller.
A PAINTING SHOWS A YOUNG KELLER AT A WELL. SULLIVAN WRITES ON HER HAND AS WATER POURS.
Man’s Voice: There are now 1.2 million people in the United States with a combined vision and hearing loss ranging from people who are born deaf-blind to people who are born sighted-hearing but now, because of the aging process, are losing both. The Helen Keller National Center specializes in working with this diverse group of people who have entirely different life experiences, communication styles and needs.
IN A CLASSROOM A WOMAN BEADS.
WORDS READ: LOCATION AND CAMPUS. BLOSSOMING TREES FILL A YARD AT THE CENTER
Man’s Voice: Since 1976 the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, also known as HKNC, has been located in Sands Point, New York, on a beautiful 25-acre property that has both the serenity of rural life and also presents access to the town of Port Washington and the bustling hub of New York City.
A WOODED LOT SURROUNDS THE CAMPUS.
Man’s Voice: The campus itself is designed to be both a comfortable, inviting living environment for students but also an educational one that presents natural challenges to mobility and will allow students the chance to hone their independent mobility and living skills allowing to better navigate the real world when they return home.
A YOUNG MAN DESCENDS STEPS OUT FRONT.
ADMISSIONS PROCESS – MARK GETS ON AN ELEVATOR.
MARK: The admissions process was when I signed up with the Braille Institute in California and while I was there I talked with my counselor there and she let me know about the Helen Keller National Center and set me up with my Helen Keller representative from my state.
A US MAP.
Man’s Voice: The Helen Keller National Center has 11 regional offices across the United States. The role of the regional reps is to provide information, support and advocacy to individuals with a combined vision and hearing loss, their families and the professionals who serve them. The reps play a key role in the application process to the training program at HKNC headquarters in Sands Point, New York.
TWO WOMEN SIGN IN A VIDEO PHONE CONVERSATION.
Man’s Voice: For a majority of the student population the regional reps are the first point of contact at HKNC and serve as a critical link between home and the Center.
ONE WOMAN TOUCHES ANOTHER WOMAN’S HAND AS SHE SIGNS,
ARRIVAL. STUDENTS ENTER A LOBBY.
Man’s Voice: HKNC accommodates each individual's travel needs when students first arrive at the Center. During the first week students will experience a comprehensive orientation to the program where they will meet with key staff on their team. Students will meet with a communication evaluator who will go over the different areas of training. It’s during this period that HKNC staff will come to understand the students’ goals and personal needs and begin working together to design an individualized program to help each student achieve those goals.
EMPLOYMENT AND VOCATIONAL SERVICES. AN INSTRUCTOR LISTS VOCATIONAL GOALS.
Man’s Voice: Vocational training is at the core of the program at the Helen Keller National Center. This comprehensive community based training program starts with a vocational evaluation in which the students have the opportunity to explore different kinds of work. With over 75 work sites and growing, HKNC continues to develop more opportunities reflecting the diverse interests of the student body.
A STUDENT GREETS A MANAGER IN A FLORAL SHOP.
Man in video speaks: We've been working with John for the last few weeks and he's come to learn the basic skills of how to do floral design. He really has mastered the skills of putting a dozen roses in a vase. We also work with doing centerpiece work, plant baskets with attractive flowers. We've been training him to be able to work in a flower shop and handle all facets of working in a shop.
DEIDRA WHEELS A CART: I do a work experience and it's at a grocery store.
SHE STACKS BREAD.
I work in the bakery and some of the things that I do are I price the items, I package.
SHE ADHERES A STICKER
I put the labels on and I put the products out on the floor for customers to purchase.
HER MANAGER: Deidra is such a great worker. She came here she didn't` know too much about bakery but picks up very fast. Just have to tell her once and that’s it. The next day I don't have to tell her anything.
AT AN OFFICE BUILDING
Man’s Voice: Most recently HKNC has begun to work with local government. One student, John, is currently working on data entry in the town clerk's office.
LESLIE GROSS: He's been such a wonderful addition to our office. He's been doing a lot of the work that we do here and we have adapted our hardware so that John could do some of the entries and he has really just fit in so well to our whole office environment.
JOHN: We're not alone, we can still work. We are still able. Just because we can't see and hear as well, we can still do just as good. Now I know what I want to do with my life. I feel like I have a purpose - a voice for disability. That is my goal to go back to college to eventually earn a congressional seat.
Man’s Voice: Another part of the HKNC training program is a job readiness group in which students learn about interviewing skills update their resume, learn about cover letters and have the opportunity to discuss any challenges or issues they may be facing at work.
IN A WOODSHOP A MAN CRANKS A DRILL PRESS BORING HOLES IN A LENGTH OF WOOD. AN INSTRUCTOR AT HIS SIDE WATCHES. IN A CLASSROOM AN INSTRUCTOR HELPS TWO WOMEN LEARN TACTILE SIGNING. IN A BOOKSTORE A YOUNG MAN SHAKES A WOMEN’S HAND AND SHELVES BOOKS.
Man’s Voice: The students regain their self-confidence as a result of the program knowing they can go back home, go to work and have a full and productive life.
TECHNOLOGY. A STUDENT WORKS A KEYBOARD WITH A BRAILLE DISPLAY.
Man’s Voice: Technology is a great equalizer in today’s world where any deaf-blind person can have the same access to society's most popular communication methods via their personal computers. They can email, blog, vlog, communicate through Twitter, Facebook, and so much more.
Magic yeah magic - the magic of technology.
Man’s Voice: At HKNC students will have access to various cutting edge technologies. The training programs at HKNC help students to learn the skills to effectively use this technology to meet their personal goals and needs.
A STUDENT HUGS HIS PARENTS OUTSIDE. HIS MOM WAVES POM POMS.
Jon’s Mom: My husand John and I have a son Jon who was born deaf-blind - totally blind and totally deaf and in high school we realized how far behind he was technology wise and he would come on his school vacations for 5 days or a week at a time and be able to have individualized technology instruction. There was no one in our home state who could provide that kind of training.
FRANCIS SIGNS IN AN INTERVIEW: I'm learning about technology and computers and displays which have all helped me so much. I can braille something, read it and then go right back to brailling.
SCOTT TECHNOLOGY INSTRUCTOR: The Refreshabraille is a braille display that's electronic the braille pops up and it refreshes kind of like a monitor would and this Refreshabraille is connected right now to my iPhone through Bluetooth . I am able to write text messages read text messages, check out the weather. I do a lot of my banking with my phone.
TRACEY AT A VIDEO MAGNIFIER: With this piece of paper I cannot read it with my naked eye so I put it on a CCTV and it enlarges it for me.
ON SCREEN THE TEXT IS ALMOST AN INCH HIGH.
MARK IN A COMPUTER LAB: I never thought I'd be able to use a computer again. And it wasn't until I came here that I learned about the JAWS program which is a screen reading program that opened the doors of communication for me and the use of my laptop again.
COMPUTER: I'm 32 years old and am from Los Angeles, California. When I first came to HKNC I didn't know about all of the adaptive equipment available nor did I know how it would change my life.
STUDENT ARMOND WORKS A COMMUNICATOR – A KEYBOARD WITH A BRAILLE DISPLAY. BESIDE HIM A WOMAN TAPS A PHONE.
Man’s Voice: At a recent HKNC holiday party Armond first used the Deaf-Blind Communicator because he found the party too noisy and overwhelming for him. However after he started using it and people came up to him and were talking to him with it, he started dancing and joined the conga line and later told staff that it was the best day of his life.
ARMOND DROPS HIS HEAD BACK AND SMILES.
ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY. A STUDENT AND INSTRUCTOR WALK DOWN A HALL.
Man’s Voice: At HKNC students will have extensive orientation and mobility training following strategies and techniques that are research based to fit the unique needs of people with a combined vision and hearing loss. All O & M instructors are knowledgeable in American Sign Language or use specially trained interpreters during class. Assessment and instruction take place on campus or out in the community progressing from simple to complex situations.
A STUDENT RUNS ERRANDS.
Man’s Voice: O & M staff also factor in the students’ home environment and try to match the area they are training in to the students’ home neighborhood all with the goal to restore and maintain safety and independence.
A STUDENT ELOISE CARRIES A “TO GO” FOOD BOX INTO THE CENTER WITH A SMILE. SHE SIGNS IN AN INTERVIEW: Yes I have Usher syndrome and I didn’t even know it. For example I kept having problems falling when I would walk. I came to HKNC and in my training I learned how to use a cane in my mobility class so therefore when I came to a barrier or a curb I was able to walk safely and I am so thankful to HKNC for helping me. It’s really wonderful.
SHE WALKS QUICKLY, HER CANE SWEEPING BACK AND FORTH IN FRONT OF HER.
COMMUNICATIONS. A SIGN ON THE DOOR SAYS COMMUNICATIONS LEARNING CENTER. INSIDE A STUDENT READS BRAILLE
Man’s Voice: HKNC communications staff will train students in numerous areas of communication including braille, sign language, tactual sign language as well as academics for students pursuing a college education. HKNC also puts great emphasis on communication out in the community providing students with training on how to use simple but extremely effective tools such as communication cards.
AN ICE CREAM SHOP. THE WORKER READS ARMOND’S CARD AND FILLS THE ICE CREAM ORDER.
AN INSTRUCTOR IN A LAB.
My name is Maricar Marquez and I am a senior instructor in the Communications Learning Center known as CLC.
MARICAR SIGNS: I can relate to our students who are deaf-blind. I know their challenges. I’ve experienced the same experiences as they have. I know their frustrations. I know what it’s like to struggle and learn braille. I get it. I know those struggles myself.
AT THE PARTY PEOPLE CHAT USING TACTILE SIGN.
Man’s Voice: The beauty of the Helen Keller National Center environment is the sense of community and that for the first time a person who is deaf-blind may meet another person who is deaf-blind with similar communication styles. To further facilitate communication, the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults provides not only the services of sign interpreters for its student population but also seminars in training for interpreters.
A BLINDFOLDED WOMAN READS TACTILE SIGN AND CHEERS.
WORDS READ: LOW VISION, MEDICAL AND AUDIOLOGY DEPARTMENTS
Man’s Voice: Each and every student will visit with two eye doctors, an optometrist who will make sure each student has the right prescription on and an ophthalmologist who will check overall eye health and who will conduct visual field testing to determine how much peripheral or side vision a student has. Students will also visit the Medical Department. For many students it can be overwhelming going so far from home however when students are at Helen Keller National Center, they never leave their home life lines. For example, many of the students who come to HKNC may only have health care insurance in their home state. But HKNC staff carefully coordinates all of their efforts to go through a student's home doctor so as to provide for the continuity of care.
AN AUDIOLOGIST SHOWS HEARING AIDS
Man’s Voice: Students also will visit HKNC's in house audiologist who will help determine the level of hearing loss and who provides all HKNC students with numerous options for hearing aids that are tailor made for each person’s individuals needs.
SHE ASSEMBLES ONE
INDEPENDENT LIVING DEPARTMENT. A STUDENT WEARING OVEN MITTS PULLS A DISH OF WATER FROM A MICROWAVE.
Man’s Voice: HKNC's Independent Living Department provides reality based training where students can learn how to effectively and safely navigate everyday situations and environments. HKNC offers apartment living experiences. The SILE which stands for Supported Independent Living Experience has 5 apartments located on campus in the HKNC Residence Hall. HKNC also has a service called AIM which stands for Apartment in the Mainstream which provides two garden studio apartments that HKNC rents in the nearby town of Port Washington. A student's home state would sponsor the student to live there for about 4 to 6 months and have a true real life apartment experience.
A STUDENT WORKS A STOVE.
Man’s Voice: HKNC also provides students with support in transitioning to their own housing when the student feels the time is right.
FORMER STUDENTS JAY AND MURIELE.
JAY: I am happy I go to Helen Keller because I become more independent. I learn how to pay my bill how to do communications and I learn sign language. I learn more how to cook and how to stay more healthy. Go to work. I really thank Helen Keller for helping me and teaching me how to become more independent.
TOGETHER THEY CHOP VEGGIES.
WORDS READ: CAMPUS LIFE. PHOTO SHOWS A STUDENT IN HER OWN ROOM HANGING CLOTHES IN HER CLOSET THEN ARRANGING PERSONAL ITEMS ON A DRESSER. IN A LAUNDRY ROOM A STUDENT FOLDS CLOTHES FROM A DRYER. STUDENTS DINE COMMUNILY AT LARGE TABLES.
Man’s Voice: For students the HKNC campus becomes so much more than a dorm or a cafeteria. It's a hub - a warm inviting community where people live while they are in training.
A GUIDE LEADS FRANCIS TO A DINING TABLE. NOW HE INTERVIEWS:
Well, what can I say? I feel like I'm back in the old days at Gallaudet College where I always had a lot of fun living in the dorm. It was really a blast. It was a great time. Hanging out playing with friends. It was a great time to socialize. We’d stay up at night chatting, eating – it was fun. One thing I can say though is that food is better here. I’ve put a little bit of weight on since I’ve been here.
CONVERSATIONS AT A MEETING.
Man’s Voice: Frequent Town Hall Meetings showcase the vast array of communication styles and underscore both the diversity in the student body and also the sense of unity and democracy in the HKNC community where each and everyone belongs.
WORDS READ: THE FUTURE . PHOTOS SHOW CAMPUS LIFE OUTSIDE. STUDENTS WALK WITH CANES OR GUIDE DOGS. DEIDRA TALKS TO AN INSTRUCTOR AND THEN INTERVIEWS: When I leave Helen Keller National Center, my plans are to go home find a job, find roommates and maybe go back to college.
IN THE CAFETERIA, MARK AND A WOMAN CHAT.
Mark: After coming to the Helen Keller National Center and learning all the independent living skills that I needed to know to go back out into the real working world or in the world and the vocational services skills. After the training that I've had here I'm going home and I'm going live, well, I'm not going to live independently because I have two children. I've been here 2 years and I think that's going to be the biggest challenge for me is to go home and be a father again and be responsible for my children - the daily routine of cooking for them, making their lunches, cooking their dinners so my future goals are to go home and be a dad.
FRANCIS AND HIS GUIDE DOG LEAVE HIS APARTMENT. THEY MOVE DOWN A HALLWAY TO THE FRONT DOOR. HE INTERVIEWS: I have a several weeks left here. But I do know that HKNC has helped me to see that my future is bright now.
SUNSHINE AND BLUE SKIES OVER THE BUILDING’S AWNING WHERE WORDS READ HELEN KELLER NATIONAL CENTER FOR DEAF-BLIND.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SERVICES, PLEASE CONTACT AGENCY HEADQUARTERS, 141 MIDDLE NECK ROAD, SANDS POINT, NEW YORK 11050. 516-944-8900 EXT. 253. TTY 516-944-8637. VIDEOPHONE: 516-570-3246. AGENCY EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.helenkeller.org/hknc
Man’s Voice: This video was made possible by funding from the Gladys Brooks Foundation.