One of the many services that the Lighthouse offers to employees is paid time to participate in programs like the Computer Training Program (CTP). Recently, we’ve introduced remote computer training!

The CTP exists to help employees improve their computer skills for their current jobs, their personal life, and for any job they hope to get in the future. Since its inception, the program has developed into a robust program with curriculum that teaches eight different courses ranging from basic keyboarding skills to creating Excel and PowerPoint documents, and even iPhone navigation.

From in Person to Remote Computer Training

“Currently I’m working with 14 people weekly,” says Gaylen Floy, Computer and Assistive Technology Instructor at our Seattle facility. With the onset of COVID-19, Gaylen was inspired to innovate and make classes available via remote learning. It was no small task. Remote work, by definition, requires at least basic computer skills to begin. Remote computer training requires even more!

But for Gaylen, this isn’t the first time she’s transitioned into a role where she had to innovate. She hasn’t always been a technology instructor. In fact, she spent the beginning of her professional career as a newspaper graphic designer. When her eyesight started changing, she decided to switch careers.

Training People Who Are Blind

Computer training at the Lighthouse is different than many other remote computer training programs because in addition to teaching computer skills, our training program can also introduce students to assistive technology. Students who are blind or visually impaired learn to navigate complex programs, software, and pages through assistive technology like speech output, braille, or ZoomText. This extra step presents a number of challenges that sighted technology users don’t experience.

The remote computer training program offers a series of course curriculums, depending on what each individual person is interested in and their existing skills and abilities. Classes range from basic keyboard skills for someone who is just getting started to more complicated skills, such as navigating internet pages.

All Lighthouse employees across all our locations who are blind or low vision have the opportunity to access computer training.

What Skill Level is Required?

“People come with a variety of skill levels,” notes Gaylen. “We take everybody from people who’ve never sat in front of a keyboard or a computer before. We have keyboard classes so that they can learn how to type without looking at the keyboard. To people who really know the office software well, but now need to adapt as their vision changes and learn, for example, how to use more of the screen reading magnifier tools or make the big jump to JAWS of NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access).”

Curriculums Offered

The CTP offers assessment and training on current assistive technology and computer programs, including:

  • Typing and keyboarding
  • Introduction to computers
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • iPhone with VoiceOver/Siri
  • MS Windows
  • Assistive technology
  • Refreshable braille displays

Learn more about assistive technology for people who are blind or low vision >>

Preparation for Upward Mobility

“The computer technology, it opens up doors and opportunities,” Gaylen shares. “It also helps people engage not just with their coworkers, but also to find out the news, and stay in touch with people. Especially during COVID, people have felt so isolated, so that has been a big, big plus.”

She continues, “Being able to get skills that will make you more valuable in the work force, that’s going to open doors and I’m hoping to see more opportunities for people to utilize their skills online.”

“People are very motivated. They’re very, very motivated so I really enjoy working with the employees here. It’s been very gratifying.”