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Living with Vision Loss

​​​​Helping People Work

The OCB Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program provides Oregonians with job readiness assistance. Experienced VR counselors help clients hone many of the skills necessary to obtain or retain employment. We then pair businesses in search of skilled and dedicated employees with a pool of talented candidates. All OCB job readiness services are free to qualified Oregonians and to the employers who hire them. 

In order to participate in OCB’s VR program, clients must be legally blind or have conditions leading to legal blindness in less than two years from eligibility determination. For additional information related to legal blindness/ OCB VR eligibility please visit the State of Oregon's  ​​Admin Rule: Definition of legal blindness.

Want to learn more? Click here to read our VR rack card!​

Please note that in all OCB programs, employees are subject to state mandatory reporter laws related to child abuse and elder abuse.

Orientation and Career Center for the Blind

The Orientation and Career Center for the Blind (OCCB) is an in-depth, residential training program located in Portland. Eligible clients are referred to the training program by their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Clients from outside of Portland participate in the program while living in a nearby apartment provided by the agency. The majority of the Center's participants are people who have become blind in adulthood and must learn new methods of performing everyday activities. Read more about the program in the documents below.

OCCB Student Welcome Packet.docx

Services Include:

Living with Blindness

The Living With Blindness (LWB) class is designed to assist clients with the process of mental and emotional adjustments of living with sight loss. Using peer and staff support and by working through a comprehensive and deep curriculum which includes discussion and homework, clients move towards adjustment. The class provides a place to discuss how vision loss impacts every aspect of life, i.e. employment, relationships, social interactions, self-esteem, self-confidence, and more. The opportunity to share with others the issues that they face on a daily basis is extremely beneficial.

Adaptive Devices

Worlds of opportunity open to clients as they learn to use an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. The touch screen is now accessible through the use of VoiceOver, Apple's built-in accessibility answer for blind or visually impaired individuals. Clients can create documents, send and receive email, surf the internet, and read mainstream books. Clients can also use these devices to give them GPS and travel information. All of these applications help our clients in furthering their independence.

Adaptive devices also include refreshable braille displays and braille notetakers. Through the use of a braille display, the content of a computer or Apple device can be read and edited. Notetakers with a braille display offer the functionality of an all-in-one unit with word processing, calendar, calculator, and a host of other applications. These devices truly provide portable options for braille readers who want access on the go.

There are other miscellaneous small devices such as barcode readers, color identifiers, audio labeling tools, and more. In many situations, Apple iOS devices can replace most of these, but in some circumstances, a designated device may be preferable. 

Braille Training

For those who are unable to effectively read print, we offer courses in reading braille as well as using braille equipment.

Career Exploration

The objective of this course is to help clients establish and maintain the tools necessary for effective career preparation. This will be accomplished through exploration of various areas in the career process. Throughout the course, meaningful assignments will be given to further reinforce learning and maintain accountability. The course will end with a discussion around what clients have learned throughout the course and how they can apply that learning to the future.

Communication/Socialization Class

This class is designed to give clients strategies for enhancing their professional and social lives. The class is highly individualized to a client’s particular needs. The goal is to enhance self-confidence so that clients can become comfortable in social and professional situations. 

Some types of skills/strategies include:
  • Making introductions and shaking hands
  • Making eye contact
  • Reading a room, i.e. entering and joining conversations comfortably
  • Learning about self-perception/self-image, how we see ourselves, and the image we present
  • Blending into a sighted world
  • Exploring job interview behavior and appropriate dress
  • Acknowledging feelings and fears that arise from sight loss
  • Learning how to make a good first impression
  • Asking for or declining help easily

Low Vision Assessments

Low vision assessments are provided for Oregonians experiencing sight loss which is causing difficulty with independent living, school, or work. The goals of the assessments are:

  1. Identify correct amount of magnification needed
  2. Identify skills or tasks that need to be addressed
  3. Evaluate different types of tools (optical, electronic, or general) appropriate to the task
  4. Provide training on use of tools identified to meet client needs
  5. Provide purchase information as needed

Meal Prep

Meal Preparation class is designed to teach a wide range of alternative kitchen skills to people with vision loss. Our clients learn essential skills for working non-visually, including techniques for kitchen organization, grocery shopping, recipe gathering, food preparation, and cleanup. Emphasis is on learning safety skills and increasing competency in the kitchen.

​Mindful Movement

Mindful movement is a fitness class focused on improving endurance, flexibility, and balance through combined techniques of yoga and strength training. The lessons of Mindful Movement are structured in a way that can be foundational to help a client with body/mind awareness and thus O&M. The mission is to improve the client's knowledge with basic functional exercises and yoga poses to practice and incorporate with their daily living and routine. A water bottle and loose clothes are recommended for these classes. ​

Orientation and Mobility

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) teaches people adaptive travel skills to safely navigate through their everyday environments. Often vision loss comes with a belief that everyday travel is limited to traveling with friends or on familiar routes, causing a lack of confidence.

Using a nationally standardized curriculum as a model, we individualize the training program starting with the client's current skills and comfort level. Our curriculum includes use of a long cane, orientation skills, intersection analysis and crossing, route planning, bus travel, problem solving, and use of electronic aids. As the client gains confidence we branch out allowing the individual to fulfill their daily functional travel needs, whether it's going to the grocery store, visiting friends, or going to work. Each lesson continues to build on the skills and confidence of previous lessons. 

With full belief in the abilities of our clients, the goal of travel instructors is to maximize the safety, confidence, and independence of each person; learning the skills to travel independently can often transform a client’s belief about vision loss in all areas of life.

Techniques of Daily Living

This class is designed to teach clients independent living skills which they have identified as barriers to living independently in their homes. Classes are taught one-on-one and are geared to the type of learning most useful for the client, such as auditory or kinesthetic. Types of skills which may be taught include: use of washer/dryer; clothing care and management; personal hygiene; cleaning, such as vacuuming, cleaning a bathroom, sweeping, mopping, etc.; organizing and identifying medications, and many other skills as identified.

Technology Center

Our Technology Center was created to enable Oregonians who are blind or visually impaired to achieve independence and a richer life through technology, whether for home or the workplace. To reach this goal, we:

  1. Assess an individual's adaptive needs
  2. Train individuals in one-on-one sessions to use adaptive technology
  3. Work with employers and employees to optimize adaptive software, hardware, and general software at a job site
  4. Provide technical support for adaptive software and hardware
  5. Participate in public awareness and education programs

The Center contains workstations with commonly used current adaptive and general Windows software and hardware to help us meet our training and assessment goals.

This Center is a resource for both our clients and the community. The core of our software includes screen-reading, optical character recognition and magnification software, as well as several brands of refreshable braille displays.


We encourage clients to develop confidence in their abilities by completing a tangible, finished woodworking project. This process helps our clients realize that they can accomplish their goals through adaptive techniques and use both hand and power tools safely and with confidence.​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Please note that in all OCB programs, employees are subject to state mandatory reporter laws related to child abuse and elder abuse.

Person working at his computer