I crabbed at Katherine too. I always feel odd disagreeing with her. She is hyper-sensible and one of the smartest people I've encountered in a long time. I think, though, that I'm pretty far out the usual mold at Alphapointe and may not fit the usual plans and procedures. We disagreed on demonstrating job-related skills I've learned. I'm willing to demonstrate about anything they want me to, but relatively few of the skills I'm acquiring here are easy to relate directly to keeping or performing my job.
I had a sleepless night Sunday which probably accounts for some of my crabbiness. I hope that is the whole of it. I didn't sleep well last night and had dreams about people tormenting my feet. If that doesn't lend itself to another crabby day I don't know what does.
The work I'm doing at Alphapointe is extremely valuable to me, but it is not very directly to be related to job tasks. I've brought a COBOL program and some JCL to KC on diskette, but it is largely a novelty to to the staff here, not a tool. There are no real "computer people" here, I don't think there is a strong understanding of what I do for a living. I've tried to explain, but even to me, it sounds rather whiny and may be discounted somewhat by the staff as rationalization. I don't know, perhaps not. There is little here to train on that closely simulates the work I do.
In Daily Living I've concentrated mostly diabetes. I've seen a few gadgets and signed up for a medic-alert bracelet. All good, but not closely related to my work.
In Mobility (white cane) I've gained some confidence and done good things, practicing with a blindfold, moving around in the mall, taking a city bus, but those fall in the realm of practice. I was doing all those things when I got to Alphapointe. I have become more comfortable with all those tasks much more quickly here than I could have under other circumstances.
In communications I've connected with Newsline (a telephone newspaper service), improved my job documentation (resume, references, etc.) and looked at a number of assistive devices (largely eliminating them - I don't need an electronic thesaurus or calculator).
My Braille studies have been the most closely relatable to my job. I'm progressing in level-two braille more rapidly in this environment than I could at home. I will use braille as an adjunct to the screen reader and magnifier. It will permit me to create "screen prints" and various forms of reference used in programming tasks.
In my computer-related work, I have had time to become more familiar with JAWS, especially the obscure and non-intuitive bits. I've also become all too familiar with forms under the Internet Explorer. This is something I hate because I detest IE and because I think the forms mode is utterly counter-intuitive. I find the whole process annoying in the extreme. If I hadn't been working on this the first time I was forced to use IE on an internet form I would have been utterly helpless. That I intend to avoid both like the plague has nothing to do with the fact that now that I know I can cope when necessary. I've also worked pretty extensively with something called a voice-note. In many respects it is a talking laptop without a screen. I think it will be very useful for me as a planner and address book. I've also spent a good deal of time connecting to various blindness related sites. I've made some contacts but they have not been outrageously encouraging. Most of the programmers I've contacted either aren't programmers, don't do anything even remotely like what I need to do, or got out of the business when their vision changed. Not encouraging at all. Those who do any of the same work that I do tend to do it in braille.
My facility with computers is outside Alphapointe's anticipated range. In general I am on the fringes of this program. Most of the people here have less experience, perform at a different level, have less sight, and on the whole have a considerably different set of needs than I.
The mock interview and the various job readiness tasks I regard primarily as insurance in the event that I don't succeed at retaining my current job. The job market, according to what Clay and Katherine, is almost unrecognizable to me. The practices they advocate seem, in some cases, to be precisely the opposite of what I believe to be good or useful. Without their explication of the realities of the current world I'd have been very lost in the event I needed to look for a job.
I have my Staffing today, which is basically a status report. I hope that I will make it clear to RSB and the Alphapointe people that I am not at all negative about my experience here. What I am doing is good. The only thing I wish I was getting that I'm not is some sort of training in becoming a better auditory learner. The research everyone has been doing seems to indicate that if there is any sort of program out there to accomplish this it is well hidden behind some sort of terminology, methodology, or mindset that we haven't been able to discern.