In our visually oriented society, Kathy Blake helps young people with vision impairment adapt to their universe.
Although she originally planned to become a biology teacher, Kathy also enjoyed transcribing Braille for students with vision challenges, an interest that subsequently sparked a desire to earn a Masters of Education (MEd) in Blind and Vision Studies from the University of Massachusetts. The increasingly critical role of technology inspired Kathy to enroll in the UNH Online Assistive Technology Graduate Certificate Program where she found a new passion within the field.
Today, Kathy Blake is both a certified Teacher for Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and a certified Special Education Teacher. In 2014, she received the Dean W. Tuttle Professional Education Award from the Hadley School for the Blind in Illinois.
Blake serves the Bedford, NH school district where she works with students of all ages who are dealing with blindness or neurological visual impairment. She teaches Braille and trains kids to use visual assistive devices that help them connect with school, home, and the world at large. “Students embrace the technology”.
Teaming up with physical therapists, occupational therapists, special education teachers, speech and language pathologists, and computer technologists, she believes that they are collectively responsible to reach out to all parts of each child. In fact, Kathy receives calls from professionals in various fields who are looking for advice on using technology to help with their own students.
The excitement of collaborating with her colleagues to build solutions combined with the satisfaction of successful student outcomes creates a motivational challenge.
“My career is joyful and fulfilling.” Kathy expresses her love of the work, “I have the best job in the world!”
Kathy researched multiple assistive technology programs before enrolling at UNH Online to earn a graduate certificate because the course content is geared to serve the needs of all ages. Professor Therese Willkom was her inspiration, bringing her ingenuity in assistive technology to the underserved and underfunded population not only in the United States but also internationally.
Kathy enjoys the community of the interactive discussion boards and finds the class videos effective because she can playback sections at her own pace. The immediacy of the courses allows her to try out new techniques right away. After a UNH online class about smart home devices, Kathy installed one for her 100-year old grandmother who was delighted with the independence and ease it provided.
She finishes her certificate at the end of January 2020 and wonders what she will do next. “I hate to clean house!” declares Blake with a grin. Looking ahead is second nature to this energetic teacher. She ponders getting her national certification in assistive technology, then pursuing a Ph.D. to become a professor so she can inspire others in the field.
Despite her busy schedule, Kathy is the advisor to the school’s Equestrian Club. She enjoys helping them organize, supervising meetings, and lending a hand to students competing in horse shows. She refers to her own home as a “three-horse family.”
Kathy’s work is living evidence that technology creates benefits far beyond the standard business requirement or personal computer. It plays an increasingly significant role in human life, especially for those with special needs.
The success of Kathy’s work in assistive technology is unconsciously summed up in a student’s comment in the hallway, “That’s Mrs. Blake. She’s a tech genius!”