Charles E. Bosma Rehabilitation Center

Blind and Visually Impaired Services (BVIS)

Decreased vision affects many activities of daily living and requires new techniques and skills to perform these activities safely and effectively. Center-based training, located in Indianapolis is available to enable individuals to learn skills that will enhance full participation in work, community and home. Independent travel, household management, employment services, communication and group interaction are components of the program.

The Bosma Rehabilitation Center offers training in independent living skills. The Center provides real life situations through which individuals can become skillful in activities of daily living, independent travel and new methods of communication. Skills can be learned and practiced under the direction of trained and experienced instructors, Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors, several of whom are visually impaired or blind. Group discussion opportunities are an integral component, let by a trained social worker so individual counseling is available to assist with adjustment to the loss of vision.

The Center is based in downtown Indianapolis and individuals attend training six hours a day, Monday through Friday. During the first four weeks of the program, the individual develops his/her personal goals jointly with the instructor. Progress meetings are held regularly to monitor progress. The average training period is about twelve weeks, but may vary depending upon the needs and progress of the individual. Transportation is provided in some cases and housing if needed. Bosma Rehabilitation Center has over 30 years experience in the provision of personal adjustment training for persons with vision impairment.

Areas of Training:

Orientation and Mobility - Independent travel is the primary goal of this course, whether using the white cane, a sighted guide or a dog guide. Training is geared to each person's desires and needs. O&M training will enable the individual to travel safely, efficiently and confidently; a skill that is critical to independent living.

Communications - Blindness or loss of vision many times requires different methods of communication than used prior to vision loss. The course in Communications will include techniques to enable the individual to continue communication and may include reading and writing Braille, tape recording, handwriting, the use of adaptive aids, the Talking Book program, and low vision techniques.

Adaptive Technology - The Center offers demonstrations and training with many types of specialized equipment. Among these are computers with speech, which includes adaptive software programs such as JAWS and Window Eyes and screen magnification such as Zoom Text. More in depth instruction with technology is provided at the Adaptive Technology Lab adjacent to Bosma.

Employment Services - Most of the individuals that attend Bosma Center are seeking to obtain employment or regain or resume employment once independent living skills have been learned. Individuals participate in interest inventories and develop resumes and ability statements that can be shared with a potential employer. Individuals who are employed are invited to the Center on a regular basis to discuss their careers and answer questions regarding the adjustment to blindness or low vision in their particular field or vocation.

Personal and Household Management - This course focuses on the daily needs of life. The skills acquired apply to personal grooming, cooking, health management, clothing care and financial management and other daily living tasks.

Counseling - Individual and group counseling is available to assist persons in making the adjustments required by vision loss. Learning more about blindness and low vision helps the person to understand how to accommodate for the changes in their lives. Meeting individuals who are successfully employed and experiencing similar situations provide the person with the incentive that they can be successful and regain their lives.

Focus on the Elderly - Independent living services for individuals 55 and older who are visually impaired is available at the Bosma Center. People are living longer than ever before, and vision loss is closely associated with aging. Age-related vision loss is caused by eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even complicated cataracts in some cases. Services provided may include training in skills of routine daily living, travel, communication, adaptive devices, and maximizing low vision. In addition, community integration services, peer support groups, outreach programs, and information and referral. Transportation may be provided in some cases.

Other Services:

Diabetes Maintenance Instruction - The Center arranges for professionals from a local diabetes clinic to provide information about diabetes management. Individuals learn to measure and administer their own insulin and other skills needed to manage their health needs. This is an important step in independence.

Family Day - Studies have supported that when the family becomes an integral support in the rehabilitation process, the individual is more likely to succeed at their rehabilitation goal. When a member of the family experiences the loss of sight, all family members are affected. As a result, family members are invited to the Center to observe classes, participate in training and activities. Lunch is prepared by their family member in training, using unsighted or low vision techniques. Participation of the family provides insight into blindness and low vision.

Acquiring independent living skills gives the person who is blind or visually impaired the tools needed to regain their independence and the confidence and the ability to resume normal activities, enabling individuals to successfully pursue vocational and personal goals.

How to apply?

For more information, please call Bosma Rehabilitation Center at (317) 232-1513 or toll free at 1-877-241-9288, or call Blind and Visually Impaired Services toll free at 1-877-241-8144. Application for training may be made through any Vocational Rehabilitation Office in Indiana.

Celebrating 31 Years of Service

For those experiencing vision loss, everyday tasks can seem impossible. Bosma Rehabilitation Center has provided comprehensive Personal Adjustment Training (PAT) to such individuals for the last 31 years. As a result, the personal, educational and vocational dreams of many people have come to fruition.

Prior to December of 1973, three Itinerant Rehabilitation Teachers (i.e. instructors serving clients in their homes) provided training to adult residents of Indiana who were visually impaired. These services did not, however, provide the comprehensive daily skill building training needed for many people.

A Rehabilitation Center for the Blind began offering service on December 10, 1973, in a doublewide mobile home located at 536 W. 30th Street in Indianapolis. The mobile home sat adjacent to an industrial workshop known as the Board of Industrial Aid for the Blind. Until 1988, the Rehabilitation Center and the industrial workshop were both governed by the state.

On February 13, 1984, the Rehabilitation Center was dedicated as the Charles E. Bosma Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The industrial workshop was named Charles E. Bosma Industries for the Blind. Both were named in honor of Senator, Charles E. Bosma, who died in September of 1983. Senator Bosma served in the State Legislature for 18 years, and was a strong supporter of issues that best served the interests of people with disabilities. In 1988, Bosma Industries became a private, not-for-profit agency. Bosma Rehabilitation Center continues to serve as a state agency, and as a part of Blind and Visually Impaired Services (BVIS), a division of the Family and Social Services Administration. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) refers individuals to Bosma Rehabilitation Center. Generally, this referral is made early in the VR process.

When the Rehabilitation Center first opened, only four clients at a time could be served. Training was offered in Communications, Personal Management, and Orientation & Mobility (O&M). The staff included a Director/instructor, two full-time instructors, and a part-time secretary. Over the years, other skill areas have been added to the curriculum, the staff has grown tremendously, and the number of clients served has more than doubled. The Center has relocated twice; first, to 311 W. Washington St. and then to its current location at 445 N. Pennsylvania.

While at Bosma Rehabilitation Center, clients are given the opportunity to develop alternative communication skills that they can use at home, in school, or as part of a vocation. Alternative methods may involve Braille, tape recording or digital recording devices, handwriting techniques, keyboarding skills, or use of magnification aids. In the area of Personal Management, clients learn how to accommodate the daily needs of life. The skills acquired apply to personal grooming, cooking, cleaning, sewing, telling time, health management, clothing care, money identification, financial management, and other daily living tasks. An O&M Specialist helps clients to become an independent traveler, whether it is using a white cane, a sighted guide or a dog guide. O&M training will enable the individual to travel safely, efficiently and confidently; a skill that is critical to independent living. Training in all skill areas is geared to each person's desires and needs.

Kay Hervey began working at Bosma Rehabilitation Center as an instructor, and served as the Program Director for 25 years. Mrs. Hervey, who recently retired, reflects on the past 31 years in the following statements. "When the Rehabilitation Center first opened, we worried about how to pay for supplies for cooking classes, how to cope with break-ins and vandalism to our facility, and how to find more clients to serve. We have really come far. At present, nine staff members serve an average daily enrollment of 10.1 clients. Primary areas of training now include Personal Management; Communications; Lighting Assessments; assessment/training in the use of optical magnification aids; O&M; Counseling and Group Discussion; Vocational Readiness; a Family Participation Day; and exposure to Adaptive Technology and computer literacy. Guest speakers are frequently invited to present on topics related to advocacy, technology, dog guides, resources, recreational opportunities, the Talking Book Program, etc. Additionally, visually impaired role models offer Bosma clients insight through their personal experiences. We have a downtown suite of offices, clients from all over Indiana, and a reputation of which to be proud. Now we worry about how to make maximum use of our technology, how to accommodate the increasing number of referrals, and how to extend our staff most efficiently to provide greater impact on improving services for persons who are blind in Indiana. Bosma Rehabilitation Center has progressed to greater challenges, and will confront and resolve them just as we did those challenges faced in earlier years."

Training received at Bosma Center helps clients adjust to their vision impairment and/or blindness, and assists them in developing adaptive skills necessary to accomplish personal goals. Following an extensive evaluation, plans are established in appropriate skill areas to meet the unique needs of each individual. On an average, a client receives 12 weeks of training, five hours of instruction per day. Staffings are held monthly to review client progress. Transportation is provided for those who have no other alternative. Although Bosma Rehabilitation Center does not have on site residency, clients living outside of Indianapolis are given options for temporary housing.

Qualified staff members, all of whom have Masters degrees in their areas of expertise, work closely with other services/professionals to maximize a client's skill development. Bosma Rehabilitation Center is privileged to have the support of many volunteers who contribute countless hours of service. A majority of the volunteers and some of the staff members are visually impaired, and serve as mentors/role models. The Bosma team works jointly with Occupational and Physical Therapist, Academic Training programs, Mental Health Professionals, Diabetic Nurses, Work Evaluation/Training Specialist, VR Counselors, Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Occularist, etc.

In addition to providing direct service to individuals who are visually impaired, Bosma Center serves as a resource to the community. Training is provided to VR Counselors, Itinerant Rehabilitation Teachers, Business Counselors, and other professionals that work directly with individuals who are visually impaired. Staff members of Bosma Center supervise university interns in areas of Rehabilitation Teaching, Counseling, and O&M. Additionally, Bosma staff members provide presentations and in-service training on a regular basis.

BVIS opened an Adaptive Technology Lab (AT Lab) in 1992, and chose to locate this facility immediately next door to Bosma Rehabilitation Center. As a result, individuals are able to participate in both programs at the same time. Students at Bosma Center can be scheduled in the AT Lab once they have demonstrated skill in typing the letter keys. They continue to develop touch-typing skills, however as part of their Bosma program. Since computers are used to develop keyboarding skills, some computer skills are incorporated into the Bosma Center curriculum. In order to help clients develop the most appropriate methods of communication, various adaptive technology tools are available for use at Bosma Center. Since the AT Lab and Bosma Center are located so close to one another, staff members from both agencies are able to work efficiently as a team to serve the unique needs of their clients.

Many clients have acquired their GED as a direct result of a special program provided at Bosma Center. Participants in this program receive diagnostic testing that identifies strengths/weaknesses, and then they are assisted in a guided self-study program to minimize the weaknesses. When appropriate, clients are given assistance in signing up to take the GED exam.

In addition, Bosma Rehabilitation Center has made it a priority to assist clients in preparing for a vocation. A Vocational Readiness Specialist helps start those interested in seeking employment on a journey toward a successful future. Program participants are given the opportunity to consider and learn about many options for obtaining employment. For example, they are given assistance in exploring employment goals that are most appropriate for them, and begin the process of determining what needs to be accomplished before they may become employed.

Bosma Center is privileged to employ Ardis Dobson, CVRT, who is a Rehabilitation Teacher as well as an expert in the area of low vision. Mrs. Dobson has developed a Lighting Lab, and provides in-depth assessments. Following the assessment, a report containing appropriate recommendations is drafted. In addition to the Lighting Lab, Mrs. Dobson offers a mini-course that introduces partially sighted clients to a variety of Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs). A report is then developed highlighting the device that might work best for an individual.

Low Vision Optometrists in Indiana work closely with Bosma Center's staff to maximize an individual's visual efficiency. Instructors frequently accompany clients to a Low Vision Evaluation. Working in combination with a client's optometrist and their VR counselor has proven to be very successful.

Bosma Rehabilitation Center is pleased to provide a program designed exclusively for senior citizens who are visually impaired. Participants in this program are at least age 55, and are not VR clients. The program, Focus on Older People with Visual Impairments, is a mini PAT course. Individuals in this program receive training in skills of routine daily living, general O&M techniques, alternative methods of communication, low vision services, etc. Numerous resources and a few adaptive products are given to participants. Information and referral is provided when appropriate. Transportation is provided within Marion County.

In addition to individual and group counseling sessions, Bosma Rehabilitation Center hosts a Family Support Group. Residents of Indiana who are visually impaired (even if they are not enrolled at the Center), and their family/friends, are invited to participate.

As a result of services provided by Bosma Center, hundreds of people have learned that an individual experiencing vision loss can certainly enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. Bosma Rehabilitation Center has truly blossomed over the last several decades. Just imagine what the next 31 years will bring. Staff at the Center greet each day with enthusiasm, and look forward to making a positive impact on the lives of Hoosiers who are visually impaired.

Bosma Rehabilitation Center Testimonials

  • "They believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. They never let me give up and challenged me to claim the promise of my future. They taught me the skills I needed to thrive in this world, regardless of my visual abilities. And, most importantly, they helped me reclaim my sense of self worth, my dignity and my pride. My life is forever changed because of these talented, loving and dedicated women and men. I shall be forever grateful.”
  • “All teachers gave the extra mile.”
  • “Anyone who has a chance to come and doesn’t…they are missing out on a lot.”
  • “Words cannot begin to express the achievements I have been able to experience from this wonderful program. There were so many people working in my benefit…when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Everyone went beyond their call of duty to encourage, support and offer their friendship. I can now look back on the past 7 months and say with confidence that I have come a very long way and that there are many new paths waiting for me in the future. Without a doubt, Bosma will be advocated through me in hopes that others can be informed and directed to this program. Again, thank you, Bosma Family for allowing me to remember who I am and what challenges are out there for me to achieve.”
  • “The staff was friendly, helpful and courteous and the Center lived up to its reputation.”
  • “Please tell everyone…how good the program is. Tell them to call and get started on a new life. They won’t be sorry, I promise.”
  • “At Bosma I found friends, fun and a new future.”
  • “Why did I wait so long to go to Bosma?”