Oak Hill’s work with blind and visually impaired veterans through its New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center is critical to helping them return to self-sufficiency and employment. The Veterans’ Administration and states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are eager to get veterans back to work, offering tax benefits to companies who hire them.
Oak Hill has worked with the Veterans Administration for over seven years, servicing blind and low vision veterans of all ages in CT and MA.
Our program focuses on computer and visual supports. We introduce new technology to veterans, perform needs assessments, create networking systems, provide training and ongoing support. In 2012, Oak Hill conducted professional training with the VA’s Visual Impairment Team on the iPad. The service is growing and now several iPads are in the hands of our veterans.
For many blind veterans, the computer is their primary access to the outside world. It is how they contact Dial-a-Ride for transportation, order groceries and pay bills online, and keep in touch with friends and family members who don’t live close by. Technology also connects them with other blind veterans through the VA’s network email. When their device or connection fails, Oak Hill is there to help. For more information please contact Jennifer Baker at Jennifer.Baker@oakhillct.org or 860.286.3102.
Here’s how the program for blind or visually impaired veterans works
The veteran’s VA coordinator contacts the NEAT Center at Oak Hill, and we assess what needs to be done. Based on a computer access evaluation, we provide one or more of the following services:
Set up and Networking
- Setting up computers, closed caption TV (CCTV), or scanners
- Loading or updating software
- Creating a computer network
Comprehensive Training for New Software
- JAWS from Freedom Scientific
- ZoomText (AI Squared)
- GUIDE from Dalaton group
- Removing viruses
- Fixing damaged hardware
Onsite or off site, our program keeps technology running smoothly
At times, when our vets have software problems of if their systems crash, our technicians can remotely fix the problem. We also offer distance training. These remote services allow us to provide faster service to veterans. And veterans don’t have to wait to schedule appointments for trainers to drive out to their homes.
As technology advances we plan to be on the forefront to ensure veterans get the best, most effective technology possible.
What Veterans are Saying:
Larry Humphries, a Korean War veteran, uses his computer to do banking, pay bills and keep in touch with friends. Now that he’s president of a regional Blind Veterans Association group, he relies on his computer even more.
“I use the computer every day. When there’s a problem, my visual impairment services coordinator calls the NEAT Center and they straighten it out.” Larry’s program has a voice feature that tells him what he types so he knows if it’s accurate. “One day, it started talking in a foreign language,” Larry laughed. “All in all it’s wonderful, because here I am, 86 years young, and using a computer… it’s a whole different world from what I grew up in.”
Larry Humphries, Korean War Veteran