Vocational Programs

Olmsted Center for Sight in conjunction with the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) offers a wide range of programs and services to children and young adults who are legally blind.  Our staff has developed these programs to allow the student a natural transition as they proceed from one program level to the next.

While most of our structured programming does have preferred age ranges, we consider each candidate individually and place them in the program that will best meet their needs.

Programs are funded by the NYSCB and require authorization from the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to participate.

OCS offers a unique and one-of-a-kind continuum of vocational/employment readiness services for transition age students.  In 2017 Olmsted Center for Sight was recognized by the NYSCB for its program development and presented at the 2017 Vision Rehabilitation Institute in Albany.

students doing some O& M

students in a group with their tie-die t shirts

students in the computer lab


Youth Experiencing Success ( YES) 

The goal of the YES introductory program is to increase pre-teen’s (generally ages 10-14) self-awareness and prepare them for success as they approach working age.  Program components include:

  • Introduce themselves

  • Use of appropriate body language

  • Self-advocay

  • Speak to and in front of their peers

  • Listening skills

  • Begin to learn about their personalities and interests and how each differs from one another

  • Learn about responsibility and the daily living skills that should be managed independently for their age

  • School activities, how to get involved and what it’s like being a student with vision loss

This four-day program held in late August incorporates these life skills into fun, community based activities while visiting local attractions, businesses and restaurants.students at the ropes course

Pre- Vocational Skills

The Pre-Vocational Skills program introduces and reinforces the necessary skills to prepare young adults ages 14-18 years old for a successful work experience or part-time employment prior to their completion of high school.

Objectives include:

  • Learning appropriate interpersonal skills

  • Shaking hands and creating a “one minute” introduction

  • Identifying interests and abilities

  • Self-reported independent living skills checklist

  • Learning how to fill out a job application

  • Introduction to resumes and how to start building a resume

  • Difference between school and workplace behaviors

Our Pre-vocational Skills classes typically run over winter and/or spring breaks here at the Olmsted Center.  While the students benefit most from the group instructional setting, individual training is also available.students working in the kitchen



This Center and Community-based program was developed to assist students in acquiring the skills necessary to succeed in an entry-level work experience.

*Students may be placed in a part time paid work experience or participate in only the Center-based sessions.  This is determined among the rehab counselor, OCS staff, student and the family.

It is recommended that the student have successfully completed both the YES and Pre Vocational Skills Class prior to participating in Onsite

The weekly center-based session address both vocational and daily living skills, components include:

  • Necessary soft skills learned to be successful in the workplace

  • Personality/interest profile testing

  • Research career opportunities in their area of interest including educational requirements, demand in that area, pay scale and anticipated job duties

  • Career exploration by visiting/touring community businesses

  • Socialization and self-advocacy

  • Orientation and Mobility training (community travel and public transportation)

  • Assistive technology

students at the Apple Store

The Onsite program runs for approximately 7 weeks over the summer.  Center-based lessons and field-trips take place on Wednesdays.  Participants must arrange their own transportation or use public transportation to get to/from the work-site as well as to the Olmsted Center for the center-based portion of the program.

*Students partaking in the work experience must obtain working papers.

Transitions ( NEW Program) 

Transitions is an exciting new program to meet the needs of Western New York high school juniors and seniors either preparing to go to work or planning on attending college after high school.

The summer program will focus on the skills necessary to successfully transition from high school into employment or college with emphasis on career exploration and research of their field of interest.

Lessons are focused on three major areas:

  • Personal Management

  • Career Management

  • Life Management.

All major student activities will create a transition portfolio, which will help with their exit IEP meeting from school, in addition to having a chance to complete several worthwhile inventories and profiles identifying their career preferences, learning styles, personal strengths, etc.

The capstone project will encompass research for careers for the work based students and majors if they are going on to pursue a college education.

The classes will be held four days per week. 

Three half days will be devoted to classroom learning and the other half day will be in the community shadowing employers and visiting local colleges. 

The final week will be one-to-one student teacher meetings to edit, review and complete the capstone project.

Students in session

OCS offers a full range of educational and recreational programming and activities for children birth to age 21.


For more information please contact:

 Joli Morgan at 716-888-4554 or jmorgan@olmstedcenter.org