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State of New Jersey Department of Human Services  
 
Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
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130 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 937-6363; Fax – (732) 247-6628
MANAGER: Diana Cortez
E-mail: diana.cortez@dhs.state.nj.us

Vocational and Life Skills Training
The Joseph Kohn Training Center (JKTC) offers people who are blind and visually impaired an opportunity to learn skills that enable INDEPENDENCE. Students gain skills to attend college, to seek employment or become independent homemakers. The JKTC is located in New Brunswick and opened in the fall of 1988, replacing the former facility that operated in Newark for more than 30 years.
 
 
Eligibility and Admission
The program curriculum of the JKTC is primarily developed for consumers seeking a vocational goal. Individuals 16 years or older who are blind or visually impaired and want to learn the independent living skills that will enable them to be integrated into their community may be eligible. The Center's Pre-Admission Team determines final eligibility for each consumer. There is no fee for participating in the program for New Jersey residents.
 
 
Program
The most fundamental adjustment to the loss of vision is to learn how to use sensory cues from hearing, touch, taste, and smell more effectively for day to day functioning. Each student, regardless of their remaining vision is required to participate in all areas of training using sleep shades, an instructional tool that fosters sensory development and the mastery of blindness skills. After completing the program students have received the training necessary to combine using sensory cues and any remaining vision to their best possible advantage.

The JKTC setting offers the opportunity for intensive training to develop blindness skills. The program is completed in 16 weeks. The vocational rehabilitation and blindness skills training program is offered at the center Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. The center is closed on weekends and holidays. Optional activities are routinely scheduled in the evenings.
 
 
Residence
The JKTC features residential accommodations for 24 consumers in the Irving J. Kruger Residence. The residence is available Monday through Friday and consists of 12 rooms that are shared by two participants. The center is designed to provide wheelchair access and also includes accommodations for individuals who are deaf/blind. Onsite meals are provided for the residents and commuters in the center's Richard R. Friend Dining Room.

The JKTC Nursing Staff collaborates with the students, their personal physicians and a dietician to attend to healthcare needs. Students are provided with information about their dietary requirements, eye condition, overall health, and receive instruction in adaptive techniques to administer medications safely and independently.

 Program Curriculum

Rehabilitation Teaching in Activities of Daily Living


Kitchen Skills: This program of study provides training in both basic and adaptive techniques for safe and independent functioning in the kitchen. Instruction includes the preparation of simple meals, clean-up, safety and organizing and labeling kitchen items and appliances for easy retrieval, storage and use.

Independent Living Skills: This program of study develops the adaptive skills necessary to effectively perform everyday responsibilities such as personal grooming and homemaking activities including laundering, sewing, budgeting, grocery shopping and maintaining household cleanliness. A transitional apartment is available within the center that offers a “real life” experience to students at the end of their training.

Communication Skills: This program of study provides training for literacy and personal communication such as handwriting, use of the telephone, tape-recorder, and electronic equipment for storage and retrieval of information.

Braille: The reading and writing of Braille is introduced to all students regardless of their degree of remaining vision. Students learn how to incorporate Braille into their day-to-day lives as they learn to use it functionally to label kitchen items, personal folders and write out grocery lists, telephone numbers etc.

Orientation and Mobility Skills: This program of study provides sensory training for students to develop skills for orientation to their environment. Instruction includes the use of non-visual cues and safe long cane techniques for travel. The JKTC's environment allows for intensive practice enabling students to internalize skills and concepts as they progress towards becoming a safe and confident independent traveler.

Technology Skills: This program of study provides training in the use of assistive technology to access the computer for personal use or possible employment opportunities. Students with no knowledge of computers learn to use appropriate adaptive software including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access as well as basic computer skills such as keyboarding, use of the Internet for information retrieval and learn to send and receive E-mail.


Career Assessment and Vocational Counseling 

This program area begins with the administering of a group of tests called Comprehensive Vocational Evaluation System. These tests were designed specifically for the vocational assessment of people who are blind. After completing the tests, students gain a better awareness of their strengths as well as any areas that may need improvement. A basic skills assessment is also completed when a student's goals relate to academic training. As necessary, remedial work, as an initial preparation for determining an appropriate plan is recommended.

Vocational counseling helps students evaluate their interests and abilities and decide upon the appropriate vocational directions to pursue. Students also gain useful information through career exploration and job shadowing experience.

New training programs that would serve as viable vocational options are constantly explored. The B.E.P (Business Enterprise Program) and Customer Service are examples of such training programs.

 Adjustment to Vision Loss

At the Joseph Kohn Training Center we recognize that adjustment to blindness is both a group and individual process. The philosophy and environment of the center is equally as important to the process as having a curriculum that fosters a positive attitude towards vision loss to assist the student in their individual adjustment process. A group class, facilitated by the JKTC consulting psychologist and other center staff is a valuable component of the program and includes discussions, lectures, guest speakers and the use of audio-video presentations.

 Psychological Services

The nature of these services involves: Psychological assessment, primarily IQ and personality to help develop appropriate vocational goals and identify specific strengths and needs for job training or placement. In specific cases with mental health issues, clinically oriented instruments are administered; Counseling and Psychotherapy to assess mental health needs and to provide consultation to help staff incorporate psychological data in the student's rehabilitation plan; and when required the psychologist acts as a liaison with other mental health services being provided for the client.

 Social Work Services

The center social worker provides assessment of each student's social and community supports and utilizes available resources such as the County Senior and Handicapped Housing Programs, the Social Security Administration, the Community Health Law Project and Community Counseling Practioners and Agencies as needed. Individual and group counseling is available to people who want to explore the impact their life experiences and vision loss may have on success in reaching their goals.


The Selma and Nathan Rogoff Low Vision Center

Dedicated in November of 1997, the Selma and Nathan Rogoff Low Vision Center provides clinical and training services to JKTC students. Here the staff can demonstrate and prescribe optical devices (e.g., high tech magnification devices), evaluate non-optical devices such as sunshields, and triage vision emergencies.
Students learn when to use vision as a secondary sense rather than a primary sense. The ability to make this transition is a major factor in the process of adapting to vision loss. They are also taught why they lost their vision or never had any, which helps them self-advocate when speaking to their doctors or others.

The Center also works with community low vision providers and ophthalmological subspecialists to ensure optimum follow-up services for JKTC graduates. Group discussions help students determine what reasonable accommodations they might need to function independently at home and in the work environment.


Our Philosophy: “ INDEPENDENCE: Believe & Achieve!”

At the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, we believe that blindness or severe visual impairment doesn't mean the end of life. The mission of the Joseph Kohn Training Center is to help visually impaired people live full and productive lives by learning to do old tasks in new ways. Whether developing a vocational goal or working toward an independent lifestyle, each participant, young adult through senior; creates a personal plan of action to accommodate the unique circumstances associated with their visual impairment.

The center's formal setting encourages growth by stressing the joys and successes of meeting the challenges encountered in day-to-day living with limited vision. By working with staff, as well as helping one another, participants evaluate their abilities, harness their strengths, and explore options that are appropriate to their wants and needs.

 
 
 
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