A group photo of the ProMOTE program graduates holding their certificates

By Cindy Van Winkle, Development and Community Outreach Coordinator

Cindy and classmate Kosi at computer training

Cindy Van Winkle (left) and her classmate Kosi (right) pose with their instructor and Cindy’s guide dog Balsa

For four weeks, Kosi Asabere, Assistive Technology Specialist, and I attended ProMOTE (Professional Mastery of Office Technology for Employment), an extensive training program offered through National Industries for the Blind and administered by the East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler, Texas.

The training program covered Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, the internet, Windows Explorer, and JAWS computer screen reading program. For the first two weeks we attended online classes through the Zoom platform and the final two were onsite in Tyler, Texas. Classes were all day, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time., which meant, during the two weeks of online training, we were rising early to begin at 6:30 a.m. and eating lunch at 9:30 a.m.

This was a jam-packed training program: learning JAWS and Windows commands, navigating the ribbons and various help options, hot keys, and keystrokes. Throughout the program, students were expected to complete individual exercises and projects, participate in group drills and Jeopardy rounds, a two-day comprehensive review, and a two-day final with multiple projects to demonstrate what was learned.

ProMOTE is designed for students who have a fairly strong working knowledge of the assistive technology they use but may have gaps and need additional training to be competitive in the current job market. Both Kosi and I had to pass an entry exam to prove our skillset was at the required level; only four of the ten who applied were accepted.

Cindy and Kosi studying in the computer lab

Cindy Van Winkle (right) and her classmate Kosi (left) studying in the computer lab

Some of my favorite takeaways the programs were:

  • In Word: creating and navigating tables, columns, and headings, tracking changes, and learning hotkeys for bullets and numbering, inserting a page break, and many others.
  • In Outlook: learning hotkeys for creating meetings and appointments, moving email, inserting the BCC field, and creating and editing a signature.
  • In PowerPoint: without any prior exposure, I found slides fun to create and easy to make the accessible. I am looking forward to creating PowerPoint presentations in the future and presenting to others.
  • In Excel: using functions such as “if” and “count if,” hiding and filtering data, and also creating and navigating tables.

I’m so glad I was able to take part in the ProMOTE training program. Not only did I gain several new skills that I will be able to use daily, I also left with some new friends.

For more information about ProMOTE:
contact Billy Parker at bparker@nib.org