Earnest T is from the Republic of Congo. His first language is French, but he is also fluent in English. He moved to the United States in 2009 with the goal of working to save enough money to bring his family to a safer place to live. With the help of his sponsoring church, Earnest immediately started working at Life Bridges in Cleveland from 2009-2016.
One day, Earnest felt something was in his right eye. His symptoms became worse and after a week, he went to a doctor who prescribed over-the-counter eye drops for allergies. After taking the eye drops, Earnest had blurred vision, then no vision at all in his right eye. He was referred to a specialist who determined he had experienced an optic nerve stroke in his right eye.
After one week, he began having problems with blurred vision in his left eye. He was sent to Erlanger and suddenly couldn’t see anything at all. While he was in the hospital, he met with Low Vision Therapist Cheryl Saucier. Ms. Saucier connected Earnest with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Low Vision Network with Dr. McBryar, and they discussed the vision training services available at Signal Centers Assistive Technology Services.
After two weeks of testing, he was released, but had no relatives and nowhere to go. He was able to stay in a temporary assisted living facility for one month but his vision fluctuated from being extremely blurred to seeing shadows and only being able to distinguish light and dark. With the help of church members, Earnest was taken to the grocery for shopping and to social activities. He also started his training at Signal Centers, attending classes Monday through Thursday to learn a variety of new skills, including independent living skills, cooking skills, locating and cleaning techniques, orientation & mobility to successfully navigate with a cane, how to use a phone without depending on vision and he has been introduced to new technology to help him remain independent in his home.
Earnest has a CCTV, which is a tabletop magnification device that can help him read his mail, and he practices daily on a computer with a talking typer program to be able to use a keyboard. With the help of the Signal Centers’ staff, he recently moved into a new apartment. His goal now is the continue to learn new skills to be able to go back to work so he can save money to bring his wife, Nicole, and two sons, 15-year-old David and 1- year-old Gift to his new home to live. Earnest says “I’ve learned a lot at Signal Centers. The staff is friendly and helpful. They have helped me so much.”
Jesse came to Signal Centers before the age of 2. Due to his disability, Jesse was unable to walk and would combat crawl around the classroom. Jesse's family worked closely with his teachers and therapist so that he could be successful and gain deserved independence.
Jesse came to Signal Centers before the age of 2. Due to his disability, Jesse was unable to walk and would combat crawl around the classroom. Jesse's family worked closely with his teachers and therapist so that he could be successful and gain deserved independence. Jesse worked hard in therapy and his teacher worked hard to motivate and encourage him each day. In November of 2013, Jesse's mother came to pick him up from school and his mother got the dream she had been waiting for so long. Her son, Jesse, took his first steps to his mother. The excitement of the teachers and therapist roared down the hallway and the tears of happiness flowed down his mother's face. Seeing Jesse walk has been her favorite milestone since he arrived at Signal Centers.
“I love his story,” said Chattanooga Children’s Program Director Pam Hudson. “He took his first steps just before Thanksgiving last year and his progress continues to be remarkable as his world has broadened and his interests are varied!”
Today, Jesse is 5-years-old, and is walking everywhere and exploring. He loves coming to school at Signal Centers and Jesse continues to work on his independence and academics, said his teacher Jenni Edge. “I really have enjoyed working with Jesse and his family, and watching him grow over the years,” she said. “Jesse is the perfect of example of why I chose to teach Special Education. All of the hard work has paid off and Jesse will leave Signal Centers with the skills he needs to be successful,” Edge added.
“It’s a great blessing to have Signal Centers,” said Jesse’s mother. “He seems always happy to be here. It has brought us much hope that one day he might be able to do things on his own and take care of himself.”