Suzanne Decary, CNIB Rehabilitation Teacher

Decary graduated in July 2005 from the blindness rehabilitation instructor program at MohawkSuzanne Decary, Rehabilitation Specialist College in Hamilton, Ontario. Since then she has been working as an independent living skills specialist at CNIB.

Decary teaches in an intensive training program offered at The CNIB Centre in Toronto, where people newly diagnosed with vision loss learn the skills they will need to adapt to their eye condition. She has worked with many people who have AMD, most of them seniors.

When a new student enters the program, Decary sits down with that person to make a list of all the skills he or she will need. Simple things, like dialing the phone or threading a needle, come up time and time again.

Decary has a variety of ways to help people adjust to AMD. She will introduce them to “very small, easy adaptations” such as large-button phones or liquid level indicators. She teaches a technique called “eccentric viewing,” which involves tilting the head to look from the side, in order to use peripheral vision more effectively. She also has tips for home layout and organization. Keeping living spaces uncluttered, and always putting things back in the same place are a must.

“When people start the program, they may feel scared or helpless,” Decary says of some of her students. “They may feel as if their lives will change immensely because of vision loss, and that there may be a great loss of enjoyment. But helping them to do even one thing that they enjoyed again can make a huge difference.”