BISM Logo, blue compass

Blind Industries & Services of Maryland

BISM Logo, blue compass

BISM

Rehabilitation

Blindness Skills Training

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) offers life skills rehabilitation programs for blind and low vision people of all ages. Our mission at BISM is to provide each student with the ability to achieve self-sufficiency, personal growth and independence.

Our mission is to embolden blind and low vision people of all ages through innovative training programs that lay the foundation to achieving the life and career they desire.

Steps to Independence

All programs offer training in these areas (click the icon to learn more):

BrailleBraille icon - dots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A language of raised dots that can be read with the fingertips, Braille gives people who are blind a powerful communication tool for both reading and writing. Statistics show that most successfully employed people who are blind use Braille efficiently.

We not only teach Braille but also instruct students in how to use it to manage information. Students learn to take notes, record phone numbers, addresses and other important information. Students also learn to use Braille as a labeling tool for files, canned goods, medications and other items.

Cane TravelCane Travel icon - silhouette of a white cane

Having the ability to travel independently is key to a happy, successful lifestyle. As a pedestrian using a long white cane, people who are blind can explore the environment around them, gain full mobility, and unlock the door to freedom.

In cane travel, students are taught to move independently and go where they choose. They learn to interpret sound, smell, and tactile cues to gather information. Our students also learn to navigate on a bus, subway and other forms of public transportation. These skills are taught in both familiar and unfamiliar settings so students can learn to travel anywhere, anytime.

Technology Technology icon - laptop silhouette

In computer class, students are introduced to the exciting world of technology. Speech access software enables them to learn typing, word processing and database management. Other applications, like creating spreadsheets and learning how to use scanning systems to read print, are also incorporated into the syllabus.

Independent LivingIndependent Living icon - silhouette of a house

Independent Living allows students to take on real life tasks and learn the skills necessary to live on their own or take care of a family. Emphasis is placed on cooking, grocery shopping and other home management activities using non-visual techniques. This multi-tasking class also includes instruction in sewing, doing laundry, ironing, clothes shopping, nutrition, and much more.

Braille

A language of raised dots that can be read with the fingertips, Braille gives people who are blind a powerful communication tool for both reading and writing. Statistics show that most successfully employed people who are blind use Braille efficiently.

We not only teach Braille but also instruct students in how to use it to manage information. Students learn to take notes, record phone numbers, addresses and other important information. Students also learn to use Braille as a labeling tool for files, canned goods, medications and other items.

Cane Travel

Having the ability to travel independently is key to a happy, successful lifestyle. As a pedestrian using a long white cane, people who are blind can explore the environment around them, gain full mobility, and unlock the door to freedom.

In cane travel, students are taught to move independently and go where they choose. They learn to interpret sound and smell and use tactile cues to gather information. Our students also learn to navigate on a bus, subway and other forms of public transportation. These skills are taught in both familiar and unfamiliar settings so students can learn to travel anywhere, anytime.

Technology

In computer class, students are introduced to the exciting world of technology. Speech access software enables them to learn typing, word processing and database management. Other applications, like creating spreadsheets and learning how to use scanning systems to read print, are also incorporated into the syllabus.

Independent Living

Independent Living allows students to take on real life tasks and learn the skills necessary to live on their own or take care of a family. Emphasis is placed on cooking, grocery shopping and other home management activities using non-visual techniques. This multi-tasking class also includes instruction in sewing, doing laundry, ironing, clothes shopping, nutrition, and much more.

Youth

Middle-High School

We offer three programs: GLIDE, Work to Independence, and Independence 101. The GLIDE program is a series of workshops running the course of the school year, aimed towards helping high-school students and recent graduates find employment or enroll in higher education. Work to Independence and Independence 101 run in the summer and are geared towards showing blindness skills and confidence building to high school and middle school age youth, respectively. For more info, click one of the buttons below.

Summer Programs

Work to Independence

The Work to Independence program is a 7 week residential camp that runs from the end of June to the first week of August. Primarily for high-school age youth, the program helps them develop blindness skills, build confidence and peer relationships through activities and trips, and get some hands-on, paid work experience with various organizations in the Baltimore area.

Independence 101

Independence 101 is a great program to start building the skills of middle school age youth. The three week residential program runs from mid-July to the first week of August and offer confidence building, fun activities and classes to teach independence skills. Students will have an introduction to the blindness community through access to blind peers, mentors, and organizations.

Summer Staff

If you want to become a mentor and instructor for either summer program, click the button below to get started.

Summer Program Application

* Indicates a required field


Have you had training in any of the following:








This section is for Work to Independence Applicants only.


GLIDE Workshops

Gaining Leadership, Independence, Direction, and Experience, GLIDE, prepares transition-aged youth for life after high school, either college or employment, through hands-on workshops. The topics range from self-advocacy and workplace etiquette to time and home management skills for when you have the job. We encourage students to attend all of the workshops, but you are able to attend select ones as needed. Applications are accepted year-round. Please note that applicants must have an open case with the Office of Blindness and Vision Services at DORS. BISM staff are able to assist with the referral process.

GLIDE Workshop Application









Melissa headshot

Melissa Lomax
Youth Manager
410-737-2642
mlomax@bism.org

Adult (CORE)

Ages 18 - 55

The Comprehensive Orientation, Rehabilitation, and Empowerment (CORE) program is geared towards adults who are interested in gaining employment or continuing their education. It is an intensive residential program that runs for 8-11 months, 5 days a week. During your time here, you'll receive thorough training in all the skills of independence by blind instructors while also tailoring certain aspects of the program to your personal goals. Classes include: Braille, Cane Travel, Technology, Independent Living, Woodshop, Physical Fitness, and Job Readiness.

Most of our dedicated instructors are blind and serve as mentors and counselors to our students. Instruction is based on a positive, confidence-building curriculum that enables students to acquire diverse skills that can be applied at home, in school and on the job.

CORE Specific Classes

In addition to the main areas of our programs, the CORE program has 3 other classes it offers: Woodshop, Physical Fitness, and Job Readiness.

Woodshop: In Woodshop, students build confidence by learning how to measure, mark, and use power tools. After completing two tests and learning all the basic skills, students have the opportunity to design and complete a project of their choosing to take home after they graduate from the program.

Physical Fitness: Physical Fitness is offered twice a week and is taught by a certified instructor. The gym is inside our facility and offers a variety of cardio and weight machines, along with a punching bag and free weights.

Job Readiness: From day one, our program is geared towards helping you start on the career path you want. In the Job Readiness class, the instructor will help you build a resume, perform job searches, fill out college applications, learn what skills you may need, obtain an internship, job shadow associates at BISM, or something that is tailored especially for you. This is your opportunity to find out blindness is not an obstacle to success.

College Prep

College Prep is a modified version of our CORE program, created in 2013 in partnership with Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) and gives current CORE students the opportunity to enroll and attend local college classes, which also includes mentoring from BISM staff. While in College Prep, you continue your college courses while residing at the CORE program apartments. Two or three days a week, depending on your class schedule, you participate in the CORE program, with Job Readiness classes dedicated to learning notetaking, accessibility needs, and self-advocacy. We will help you figure out your needs and work with your counselor to ensure you get those resources.

How to Apply

To get started, contact Nikos Daley at 410-737-2607 or via email at nikos@bism.org. The program is free to all students sponsored by their state vocational rehabilitation agency. Nikos will assist you with applying for your state agency's rehabilitation program and scheduling a tour with us to learn about the program from current students and staff. The CORE program is able to service 12 students at time and students are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Nikki Jackson headshot

Nikki Jackson
CORE Manager
410-737-2682
njackson@bism.org

Senior Programs

Ages 55+

For senior residents of Maryland, we offer a large variety of programs. We have a support group and our Seniors Achieving Independent Living (SAIL) program at all three of our Maryland facilities. In addition, we offer workshops at various locations throughout Maryland and host an annual SILVER residential, week-long retreat.


Support Groups

We host monthly support groups in Baltimore, Salisbury, and Hagerstown. Meet other blind and low vision individuals, learn about available resources, participate in group discussions, and more! The support groups regularly have guest speakers, adaptive aid demonstrations, or community outings. To learn when each group meets, contact the organizer for the group in your area.

Baltimore Area: Annette Gordon - 410-737-2675 or agordon@bism.org

Eastern Shore: Amy Crouse - 410-845-2333 or acrouse@bism.org

Western Maryland: Cindy Holden - 240-803-2091 or cholden@bism.org

Seniors Achieving Independent Living (SAIL)

The SAIL program is a two-day per week program geared towards helping seniors regain their independence after vision loss. it offers instruction in Braille, computer technology, independent living, cooking, adjustment to vision loss, and cane travel (advanced travelers will learn to utilize public transportation systems). Seniors enjoy making new friends, peer interaction, off-site training excursions, community activities, and special classes such as gardening, crafting, and more! SAIL is available at our Baltimore, Cumberland, and Salisbury facilities.

To schedule a tour or enroll, contact BISM today at:
Baltimore: 410-737-2648
Cumberland: 240-803-2091
Salisbury: 410-845-2333

Community-Based Workshops

Throughout the year, we host workshops at various locations throughout Maryland. These workshop a chance for seniors to meet in their local communities and receive a full day of skill training, peer interaction and support, and see adaptive aid demostrations. Topics range from aids in the kitchen, using braille, cane travel, non-visual diabetic management, and more. A luncheon is included. To learn more, or to see if we can have a workshop at your community, contact Amy or Danielle at 410-845-2333 or 410-845-2348.

SILVER Retreat

Our Senior Independent Living, Vision, Education, and Rehabilitation (SILVER) retreat is an exciting four-day residential retreat specifically for senior citizens dealing with vision loss is presented in June at our Baltimore location. Seniors learn new skills, build self-confidence, and develop strategies for living independently with vision loss. Classes include cane travel, Braille, adjustment to blindness seminars, computer technology, independent living, cooking, as well as community outings, social activities, and crafts. The residential format allows for expanded training time in the evenings and the opportunity for special evening outings. Meal preparation at dinner time provides an additional avenue for learning. Overnight accommodations are provided at a hotel in close proximity to the training center. Senior participants form lasting friendships among their peers and establish a strong support network for the future.

  • Amy Crouse headshot
  • Danielle Earl headshot

Amy Crouse & Danielle Earl
Senior Managers
410-845-2333 or 410-845-2348
acrouse@bism.org or dearl@bism.org

Outreach

Many organizations, medical providers, businesses, and schools are not aware of the many programs and services offered on a regular basis by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland’s (BISM) Rehabilitation division.

Our Outreach division is available to speak about BISM programs, products and services, as well as anything blindness related. We will make a presentation at your business, school, support group, Senior Center or home.

To schedule a visit by the BISM Outreach division, contact Andy McIver at 410-737-2648 or amciver@bism.org.

Aids & Appliances (A&A) Store

We operate a small Aids & Appliances store at our Baltimore facility. Here, you can find various adaptive items and products for the blind. To place an order, contact us at 410-737-2600 or send an email to aastore@bism.org.

LJ Bowens headshot

LJ Bowens
Manager
410-737-1754
lbowens@bism.org

CONTACT US

white divider line

Andy McIver
Director of Rehabilitation
410-737-2648 or amciver@bism.org