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International Perspective

For your reading convenients below you will find all the International Perspective published in 2018

January 2018

By Karen Santiago as told by Keao Wright
A Bit about Hawaii:
Oahu is the third largest island in the Hawaiian chain of 132 islets. Located on Oahu is the state capital, and the largest city, Honolulu. Oahu is Known as the Gathering Place. It is Hawaii's most populous island.

Some places to see while on the island of Oahu include the beaches of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, and a host of other wonderful attractions.

With beautiful weather nearly all year long, outdoor sports and recreations activities are plentiful. Some activities include surfing, kayaking, whale watching, skydiving, hang gliding, or a relaxing dinner cruise. The island is full of wonderful music. Most weekdays, and weekends you can enjoy an evening out in a local bar and listen to some great lively music.

Schools for the Blind:
Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind is in Honolulu. Students who are hard of hearing, deaf, or deaf blind attend this school from preschool to grade 12. Initially this school was designed for blind and visually impaired students.

Now a days, most blind students are mainstreamed into the public school system. Depending on the school district, TVI (teachers of the visually impaired) and O&M (Orientation & Mobility) teachers work at the schools. In addition, sighted teachers are instructed on how to teach and work with blind students.

Students learn braille and can submit their assignments in braille, and via email. Mobility is also taught within some of the school districts.

The University of Hawaii (U H), is difficult to get into. However, the state agency collaborates with the U H disability service office in providing assistance to students. They help with signing up for BookShare, NLS services, and other accessibility needs.

Job training:
The state agency provides a transition summer program for students from age 15 to 24. Interested students can choose, or be paired up with a company for four weeks in the summertime as an intern.

The state agency provides classes on what one needs to know when being interviewed for a job. Furthermore, they teach interviewing skills, and conduct mock interviews.

Like the others states in the US, blind individuals in Hawaii are able to receive either Social Security Income (SSI), or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

HandiVan is a transportation system available for persons with disabilities. Individuals need to call to arrange for rides three days in advanced. The fair is 2 dollars per ride.
The public buses are not available throughout Oahu. The fair for all to ride the bus is currently 2 dollars and 50 cents per trip. However, the rate will increase to 2 dollars and 75 cents beginning in January. Not all buses have automated announcements, but it is getting better.
Uber and Lift are available in Hawaii. These two options tend to be a bit pricey.

Walking Around:
Many rural regions do not have sidewalks. However, the business and tourist areas have tactile markers and curb cuts on the sidewalks. This also holds true for the presence of audible signals at intersections.

In Oahu, braille is not consistently seen in the public. Some restaurants have braille menus, some companies provide their documents in braille, and some public buildings have braille on doors, restrooms, and in elevators. Keao says that the best thing to do is to request items in braille.

Reading Service:
Blind individuals living in Hawaii are able to sign up with the National Library Service (NLS). With this agency, blind and visually impaired people can call and request a book in either braille or audio format. These materials can be mailed, and at no cost to the individual.

Guide Dog Schools:
There are no guide dog schools in Oahu, or throughout Hawaii. However, guide dogs are allowed in Hawaii, and all must enter via Honolulu International Airport. The guide dogs have access to public buildings as stated in the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). people and business owners are getting accustomed to the reality of blind individuals using guide dogs.

Blind Organizations:
Ho Opono Services for the Blind: this is a branch of the Department of Human Services. They provide comprehensive and specialized services that meet the varied needs of those across the state who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf/blind. These services are provided free of charge. Some of the services they provide include:
White cane awareness
Prevention and blindness awareness
Vocational rehabilitation services
Low vision clinic
Instructional services in mobility, braille, computers, living skills, and more.

New Vision Program: Students are enrolled in program classes that run from 6 to 9 months. Program students commit to full-time participation. Curriculum includes such classes in braille, mobility, computers, athletics, personal and home management.

Island Skills Gathering: ISG seeks to inspire people with disabilities to discover solutions of assistive technology while serving as a role model; a trusted mentor and end-user of technology.

Guide Dogs of Hawaii: Members are offered technology aides, adaptive aides, and guide dog placements. One can explore the benefits of technology, gain safety and independence, and experience mobility freedom with continued orientation and support.

Hawaiian chapters in both ACB and NFB.

Final thoughts:
Keao would like to see more pedestrian audible signals throughout Oahu, and a reduction in transportation fees for those with disabilities.
Keao believes that blind people in Hawaii are accepted and treated well. She agrees with her friend, Derrick who says, “Diversity is a strength. The fact that different cultures can live together on a small island is certainly a positive. We learn about each other by sharing our customs, food and music.” Keao believes that Oahu is a great place to be blind!

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