Q&A with Becca Kelley, Orientation & Mobility Instructor and Vision Rehab Therapist

Becca Kelley walks down a hallway next to a client who is practicing using a white cane. Becca Kelley joined The Chicago Lighthouse as an Orientation & Mobility Instructor and Vision Rehabilitation Therapist in early 2024. In this new role, she will teach people who are blind or visually impaired to use white canes to navigate independently, as well as teach Braille and independent living skills like adaptive cooking and cleaning. With a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University in special education, Becca has experience working with a diverse clientele ranging from students to adult clients.

What drew you to The Lighthouse?

When I researched The Chicago Lighthouse, I was thoroughly impressed by the wide range of services that the organization offers: job placement, assistive technology training, living skills training, and children’s programs. I’m excited to be part of an organization that makes a meaningful difference in so many facets of people’s lives.

What will you do as an O&M Instructor and Vision Rehab Therapist at The Lighthouse?

I will be working primarily with adults who are visually impaired, helping them develop the skills necessary to feel comfortable and confident navigating their communities independently. In addition to the O&M skills of independent cane travel (using a white cane to get around safely), and public transportation travel, I’ll also be teaching some Braille and independent living skills like adaptive cooking and cleaning.

Why is O&M training so important for people with visual impairments?

Orientation & Mobility plays a huge role in building confidence and independence. In the beginning, some people don’t even want to leave their homes. By the end of O&M training, I see them have the confidence to leave their homes, go to the grocery store, become paratransit users, and report that they’re falling less and feeling safer. Being able to get outside and go see family and friends or run errands is crucial for living independently.

Who is a client you’re proud of working with?

I worked with a young woman who was afraid to leave her home and relied solely on rides from her mother to get around. But by the end of our work together she was using paratransit by herself to go to doctor’s appointments and the mall. With her new skill set, she felt confident signing up for college courses, and we worked together to get her oriented to her college campus. Seeing all that progress was really impressive, and it’s very rewarding to see people reach their goals like that.

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