Charles W. McDowell Center for the Blind

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the McDowell Center?
The mission of the McDowell Center is to empower individuals who are blind and visually impaired to achieve greater education outcomes, become more effective in the workplace, and enjoy participation in community life.

Is this an entitlement program? How much will it cost me if I would like to enroll? 
Vocational Rehabilitation is not an entitlement program such as Social Security. Eligibility for participation in the OVR program is based on a reasonable expectation the person can enter/reenter the workforce upon completion of services, which includes those provided through the McDowell Center. 
For persons declared eligible for OVR services who choose to come to the McDowell Center, there is no cost for lodging, food, in-house training services, and other basic services. Persons who come to the McDowell Center do not lose their Social Security/Medicare benefits or have them reduced. 

Does the Center provide around the clock assistance for individual students? 
Yes, there will be a residential aide available in the evening and night to provide assistance as needed. Training is offered from 8:00am to 4:00PM in a learning environment designed to encourage independence and teach appropriate social/work skills that are vital to succeed at work and in the community.  

Who makes up the student body? 
The Center serves individuals with a range of visual impairments, and a range of skills and abilities related to home management, computer skills, work readiness skills, and adjustment to vision loss.

Does the dorm ever close during the year? 
Yes. Residential services at the McDowell Center typically closed for adults in July to serve transition aged youth, and for a few weeks during Winter Break and long weekends for other holidays. During these times classes are not held and students return home or make arrangements for their housing during this time. 

Who decides what programs and services I need? 
Individuals interested in attending the McDowell Center will complete an evaluation to determine what blindness services would most benefit them. The evaluations will include Home Management, Braille, Assistive Technology, Keyboarding, Orientation and Mobility, and a Vocational Evaluation.  
Once the evaluation is completed, the consumer can make an informed choice regarding ongoing training.  McDowell Center staff and the OVR counselor are good resources for helping make these decisions.

Is there ever a waiting list for program services? 
Yes. Course schedules are completely filled from time to time. When this happens, a waiting list for that particular service is created. Students are placed on a waiting list based on course availability.

How long would I be enrolled at the Center? 
There is not an exact answer to this question.  This depends on your vocational goals.  Six to nine months are typically needed to take all of the courses offered.  Your stay may be shorter or longer.

Who will be allowed to receive information about my participation at the Center? 
Once admitted, the student will identify persons with whom information can be shared by a signed release form.  The Center operates under state and Federal confidentiality guidelines to protect your information.  However, we encourage families and those who provide support to the consumer to be involved throughout the rehabilitation process.

Will the Center staff manage my money for me while I attend? 
The Center staff does not oversee or regulate a student's finances; however, training is provided in financial empowerment, including banking, saving, and budgeting.  A safe is available to secure cash, cards, and other valuables if desired.

Can I cash personal checks while I am at the Center? 
The Center does not cash student checks or money orders. Students may want to consider opening an account at a local bank or using a bank debit or prepaid Visa card. Several banks have branches in walking distance from the McDowell Center including Chase, PNC, Fifth-Third, BB&T, and others.  Money Orders may be purchased at Kroger and at PL$. 

Where can I purchase everyday items I might want? 
Several shopping centers are within a mile of the McDowell Center.  These include grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, barbers/hairdressers and others.  Malls, Walmart and Target are a short ride away using public transportation. 

Do the dorm rooms have telephones and satellite/cable T.V.? 
There are phones in each of the dorm rooms, but they are for calls inside the McDowell Center and in Louisville.   Phone cards for long distance calls are available for purchase at nearby retail/outlet stores. Students may also keep and use cellular phones, and there is good coverage in the area. Although there is no cable available in dorm rooms, the recreational area and the student kitchen have cable TV, and the Center has a wireless connection available to students. Viewing selection is on a "first come/first serve" basis. Students may also bring DVD players, and video game systems. 

Can I bring a personal computer? Does the Center have Internet access? 
Students may bring a personal computer. A wireless network connection is available for students. Students must abide by wireless rules that are discussed at the time of their admission.  

Can the Center transport me if I have no way to come to the McDowell Center? Will the Center staff take me home on weekends to visit family and friends? 
The Center provides transportation to students without a means to come to the Center and to travel home during breaks.  Also, transportation is provided to facilitate student training. However, transportation is not provided for students to return home for weekend visits.  Student can be trained on TARC3 paratransit, public transportation and ride shares.

What types of laundry services are available for students? 
Washers/Dryers are available to residential students free of charge in the dormitory. A residential aide will assist students doing their own laundry if needed. 

Can I be guaranteed a room without a roommate? 
No. In times of high usage, students must share a room. Individual beds, dressers and locking closets are provided to each student in each room.  Each room has a shared bathroom.

If I am scheduled to begin my program, how much money should I bring with me when I come to the McDowell Center? 
It is not necessary or desirable to bring more than you might need to purchase items for personal grooming such as shampoo, soap, etc., or incidental items you might want such as snacks from the vending machines, meals out, etc. 

Can I leave the Center as I choose when my classes and/or therapy sessions are completed for the day or on weekends? 
Dorm students may return home on weekends if desired.  Leaving for the evening, students must sign in/out, and leave a cell phone number.  Day students must sign in/out each day at the receptionist’s desk.

Can I keep a family/personal vehicle while I am at the McDowell Center? 
Yes, but keeping a vehicle on Center property is subject to a vehicle policy that will be provided to in-coming students at their Orientation session. 

Can I keep medication in my room? 
The Center Nurse will discuss medications with students upon arrival.  Each student is required to keep their prescribed and over the counter medications locked in a med box in their individual closet. The Nurse will provide education and assistance with a self-administration system.

Are students allowed to smoke at the facility? 
Effective August 1, 2006, smoking is not allowed inside state government buildings and offices by Executive Order of the Governor. Designated areas outside the building have been established where staff, students, and visitors can smoke.
 
I am interested in coming to the Center, what do I need to do now? ​
​You will need to contact your Kentucky OVR Counselor and let them know. The Counselor will determine your eligibility for services and then forward your case to our admissions staff. Prior to service, you will receive a phone call from our Admissions Office followed up with a letter with more detailed information. If required, we will also arrange transportation services. 

When does the Center admit new students? 
​​The Center typically admits new students every week on Mondays.  Alternate arrangement may be made on an individualized basis.

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