Program helps blind women get her life on track

When Heidi Propp was young, she always thought she lived a normal life.

Blind since birth after her optic nerves never formed, Propp relied heavily on her parents for most things. Her parents cooked, did her laundry and drove her around, or she used HandyDart to get from one place to another.

In grade school it never seemed odd, but it wasn’t until she graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Victoria that Propp slowly began to realize she wasn’t like her peers.

 

“I did not feel good about it [relying on her parents] at all. I wanted to have a normal life just like everybody else … that was a really difficult struggle,” said Propp, who grew up in Langford and lived there for more than 20 years.

“Though it wasn’t my parents’ fault, I felt like my dependence on them held me back socially and professionally.”

In an effort to gain back her independence, Propp was of the first participants to enroll in the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind’s blind people in charge program in 2014, which recently won an award. The only one of its kind in Western Canada, the program has served more than 40 blind, deaf-blind and low-vision adults through a non-traditional model of instruction where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.

As part of the two-year program, Propp learned skills such as how to cook, travel, do laundry, take B.C. Transit and picked up financial skills that taught her how to take care of herself.

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