Conklin Center was the first agency in the nation dedicated to providing vocational and daily living skills training to adults who are blind and have one or more additional disabilities.
- 70% is the national unemployment rate for working age adults who are blind.
- Program is designed for each student based on their unique abilities and needs.
- Students live in a dorm-style room while completing their training program which can take six months to as long as two years, or more.
- At least 85% of graduates become employed, live in homes of their own choosing or continue their education.
- Our Early Intervention program serves infants, toddlers and children who are blind or severely visually impaired and their parents in the most natural environment – their home.
- 80% of early knowledge is learned through the sense of sight.
- The Center provides educational materials to parents and loans equipment and toys to continue working on skills between sessions.
- The immediate goal is to prepare visually impaired children to enter the public school system; the long term goal is to learn to be as independent as possible.
The goal of Conklin Center students is to work and live independently in the community.
Conklin Center’s adult students are blind (the best correction possible in whichever eye has better vision does not exceed 20/200) and have one or more other disabling conditions such as deafness/impaired hearing, developmental disability (e.g. intellectual disability, cerebral palsy), learning disability, or brain injury any of which, alongside blindness, may complicate the vocational rehabilitation process. The Center serves adults from throughout the state of Florida. Participants in the Early Intervention program are children who are blind or severely visually impaired from birth to age six and their families.
Conklin Center engages adult students in an intensive, full-time (8:10 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. Monday through Friday) regimen of training. Training is highly personalized because of the students’ secondary disabilities. A person who is deaf/blind, for example, doesn’t learn in the same way as a person who is brain injured/blind. Instruction includes Activities of Daily Living (meal planning, cooking, shopping, etc.) in a double kitchen classroom, Adult Basic Education (money management, computer and communication skills, use of assistive devices/technology, etc.) and Mobility (safe travel using the white cane and public transportation).
Conklin Center’s program emphasizes experiential learning in the most natural and community-based settings that can be achieved. For example: if a student sets a goal related to cooking skills, the student doesn’t simply report to a cooking class. That student would first be involved with an instructor in planning a meal, then in compiling a shopping list for the planned meal in the medium (Braille, large print or recorded) of choice. The student then travels to the grocery store (using public transportation when he/she has acquired the skill to do so, or with instructional support until that time), buys the groceries, and stores them at the Center in preparation for the cooking session. The lesson has incorporated skill development and application in the areas of Orientation and Mobility, money management and banking, recording and management of information (possibly using Braille, low vision aides, etc.), community integration and organizational skills, in a personally meaningfully way, making maximum use of real community settings.
Staff conducts a Job Readiness assessment and provides various paid work tasks such as packaging and assembly. The staff gathers information about important work behaviors such as punctuality, on-task behavior, productivity, motivation, endurance, as well as the individual’s interests.
Using this information, an Employment Specialist will arrange a work experience. This is an opportunity for a student to work at a business to evaluate the possible match of skills, desire and feasibility in a real job setting at no cost to the employer. This allows both employer and potential employee to determine if the placement is a good fit without the commitment of hiring. Once the student is hired, an Employment Specialist helps the employer train the individual at the jobsite.
The Early Intervention Program was established in 2000 to provide services where none existed in Brevard, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia Counties to children who are blind or severely visually impaired and their families.
Infants and toddlers, from birth to age three and preschoolers, from four to six who are blind or severely visually impaired receive a thorough evaluation. Each child’s vision, strengths and needs are unique and an individualized teaching plan is designed with age-appropriate skill building activities.
Through instruction, the children will improve functional vision and/or blindness skills and be prepared to enter school alongside non-disabled children in the community. Parents will understand how blindness affects development and learn how to create an enriching learning environment in their home and families will participate in community activities.
Current Program Highlights
Through careful planning, management and stewardship, this past year:
- 31 children and their families received Early Intervention training and services
- 105 adults were served by our Supported Employment/ Supported Living program
- 69 adults received Supported Employment services and 51 were helped by our Supported Living services to continue living in their own homes or apartments in the greater Daytona Beach area
- 31 adults were provided with work experiences in businesses within the greater Daytona Beach area
- 13 new adults were successfully established in employment (employed for six months or more)
- 100% of employers reported satisfaction with program participants’ performance.
- 100% of the adults served by our Supported Employment services expressed satisfaction with the services they received.
- 100% of the adults served by our supported Living services expressed satisfaction with the services they received.
Case for Support
When she first came to the Conklin Center, Janette thought she’d learn some skills that would help her be less reliant on her family, but wasn’t at all sure going to work and living on her own was right for her. In fact, discussion of those possibilities made her uncomfortable. Janette found new confidence as she learned new skills and her hopes for the future got a lot higher. By April 2015, she was working on new goals-- a job and her own apartment in Daytona Beach.
During her training program, Janette learned how to cook, use public transportation, shop and manage her own money. As she progressed, the Conklin Center’s employment staff helped her find the job she has today at Break the Cycle, where she emails clients and makes follow-up phone calls. She was also able to move into her own apartment in Daytona Beach last year.
Today, Janette has accomplished all of the goals she set for herself and has taken control of her life. Last year, she celebrated her success in a graduation ceremony at the Conklin Center in the company of her friends, her boss and her instructors.