For Ed Worrell, teaching the visually impaired is personal. After losing his vision at age 24, he attended the Montana Association for the Blind’s Summer Orientation Program (SOP). He returned to teach the following year and now is part of the nonprofit’s three-person team of computer technology instructors.
This summer, students will learn how to use computers when they can’t see a screen or track a mouse, using specialized, adaptive technology. The goal is to instill new skills for workplace and personal use. “Training will be customized to each student, based on how they use the devices,” Worrell says. A certified Apple instructor, he will focus on helping students navigate iPhones, iPads, and the iOS.
Worrell runs OverHere Consulting with wife Becky and with guide dog Helen at his side. The company—the only one of its kind in Montana, according to Worrell—serves visually impaired individuals across the state. Worrell also works with Montana School for the Deaf and Blind and the state office of Blind and Low Vision Services, and consults for Sony Entertainment, Microsoft, and Apple.
Worrell credits the SOP for part of his success: “It helped me so much. It’s a pay-it-forward scenario. I want to help other people.”
The summer program, June 13-July 9 in Billings, is free and open to all visually impaired Montanans. It includes training in daily living skills, Braille, and the new program in computer technology.