Hadley Always Evolving, Meeting New Demands
Coping and keeping pace with technological
advances has challenged many an organization with an age and history
that now approaches the century mark.
A model for adapting to and taking
advantage of technology is the renowned Hadley School for the Blind, an
institution whose programs, curriculum, and methodology have, for
decades, reversed life's course for hundreds of blinded veterans and
The mission of the Hadley School for
the Blind is to promote independent living through lifelong distance
education programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired,
their families, and blindness service providers.
The school is the single largest
provider worldwide of Braille education and distance education for the
blind community. It serves 10,000 students in all 50 states and more
than 100 countries.
The Hadley School was founded in 1920
by William A. Hadley, a former high school teacher who lost his sight at
age 55, and Dr. E.V.L. Brown, an ophthalmologist and neighbor. Hadley
taught himself Braille so that he could continue to enjoy reading but
was frustrated to find that there were few educational opportunities for
blind individuals. He and Brown conceived the idea of teaching Braille
by mail so that others could acquire skills to foster independence.
The school's curriculum consists of four programs: Adult Continuing Education, Family Education, High School, and the Hadley School for Professional Studies.
Adult Continuing Education courses are available to any blind or
visually impaired individual 14 years or older. Courses in this program
span a wide variety of subjects, including Braille and academic studies,
independent living, life adjustment, technology, business and
employment skills, and recreation.
Courses in the Family Education
Program are available to family members of a visually impaired
individual. These courses teach students to read and write Braille, help
foster the development of a child with a visual impairment, and support
a loved one's adjustment to vision loss.
Hadley is also an accredited high
school. The High School Program was established in the 1930s. Students
in this program can transfer credits from Hadley courses to their local
school district or they can earn a high school diploma through Hadley.
Courses in these three programs are
all tuition-free. The school is funded by contributions from
individuals, foundations, and corporations. All courses are offered in
the student's medium of choice: large print, Braille, audio, or online.
The Hadley School for Professional
Studies courses are available to anyone who works directly with blind or
visually impaired individuals in a work, school, or community setting,
whether as a paid employee or volunteer. While some of these courses are
tuition-free, a few require a fee.
The Hadley School for the Blind's popular "just in time" webinars that
address a variety of relevant topics for people who are blind or
visually impaired and for related professionals who work with them.
These webinars are free, open to the public, and available "live" or in
streaming audio or in an audio download from Hadley's website at any
time. To date, there have been more than 100,000 downloads from learners
throughout the world.
typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. Many of the courses have been
approved for continuing education credit. To receive credit for a
seminar, participants are required to pay $25 and take an online quiz to
demonstrate understanding of the material presented.
As the economy and technology change,
Hadley continues to evolve to meet students' needs. Although statistics
vary, reliable data sources indicate that the under- or unemployment
rate for those who are visually impaired is 70 to 80 percent. Hadley is
responding to the new world economy by helping individuals achieve
gainful employment while fulfilling its mission to help the blind live
In 2011, Hadley launched a new course,
"Self-Employment with a Minimal Investment." This course presents the
basics of discovering a business idea, preparing a budget, and
developing business and marketing plans, as well as information about
disability programs and benefits. A modified version of the course is
also available for professionals who work with visually impaired clients
interested in self-employment.
With support from the Oregon
Commission for the Blind, Hadley kicked off a series of mini-courses in
2011 to help students become proficient in using text to speech output,
searching the Web, and developing professional looking documents. These
mini-courses are two lessons each and help screen reader users improve
their speed, accuracy, and knowledge of utilizing this technology in a
school or employment setting.
In addition to courses focused on
employment and professional development in all four program areas,
Hadley is also developing two exciting new programs: a Leadership course
and the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship. In 2010, Hadley initiated
the Leadership course for emerging blind leaders. A second group of
students joined the program in 2011. This collaboration between Hadley
and the World Blind Union is a one-year academic program designed to
address the potential for blind individuals to assume leadership
positions in government, nonprofits, and private sector organizations.
The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship will launch in the fall
of 2011. This new program is designed to provide individuals who are
visually impaired with the knowledge, resources, and networking
opportunities enabling them to advance in their careers or to
successfully launch and grow their own businesses.
"We're very excited about all of the new
courses and programs at Hadley that will enable our students to reach
their full potential and achieve all of their academic and professional
goals," said Hadley President Chuck Young.
For more information or to enroll in courses, please visit www.hadley.edu or call 800-323- 4238.