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Blind students with white canes waiting to cross Congress Avenue, a busy six lane road.

Adjusting biopticGetting a driver's license is a rite of passage for many teenagers in America.  Yet for many teens with low vision there is a lot of confusion about whether they can or should drive.  This confusion and uncertainty is usually shared by their parents who naturally worry about safety for their young adult and issues such as getting insurance coverage, providing driver's education, and other alternatives to travel.

bioptic 2In the Driver's Seat is a weekend workshop for teens and their parents sponsored by Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired Short-term Programs and Outreach Programs.  In this workshop young adults with low vision have the opportunity to learn, side-by-side with their parents, what it takes to drive using bioptics and what other travel options are available to them if they choose not to drive.

Both students and parents also have opportunities to meet in separate sessions to discuss their concerns.  In this highly interactive workshop both students and parents will have the opportunity to try out bioptics and other low vision devices used for scanning and locating important signs, landmarks, and road hazards.  They will learn activities for parents and students to practice pre-driving skills at home.  They will also gain information about laws, driver's training options, and orientation and mobility skills that are needed to become safe, licensed drivers.

Our presenters for In the Driver's Seat include:

  • Dr. Laura Miller, O.D., Low Vision Specialist
  • Chuck Huss, C.O.M.S. at the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services
  • Representative of the Strowmatt Rehabilitation Services Driver Training
  • Panel of Individuals with Low Vision who are Drivers and Nondrivers

Listen to some of the comments from the young adults and parents who have attended past sessions of In the Driver's Seat.



Passenger in car bioptic driving exercises

The exercises that follow were developed by Chuck Huss, COMS, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist with the West Virginia Bioptic Driving Program.  They are meant to be activities that prospective bioptic drivers can use to improve their use of a bioptic before actually getting behind the wheel.  Done with the support of a parent or other licensed driver they can help the aspiring driver identify skills that they need to work on and provide practice to improve these skills.  They can also help parents understand better what their child is able to see from the front seat of a car before deciding if their child should get behind the wheel.

  • Distance viewing
  • Bioptic usage
  • Hazard perception 

5 Keys to Safe Space Cushion Driving

  1. Aim high in steering
  2. Keep your eyes moving
  3. Get the big picture
  4. Leave yourself an out
  5. Use of lights, horn and signals

(Source: Smith System Driver Improvement Institute, Arlington, TX)  

Bioptic Driving Exercises

How do I register?

Registration for this event is through TSBVI Short-term Programs.  To learn more about eligibility requirements visit the Short-term Programs Spring Catalog.

Where will this event take place?

The activities take place at the TSBVI Conference Center in Austin, TX. Students will be housed on campus. Parents will stay in a nearby hotel. Special activities are planned for parents, providing them an opportunity to talk about their concerns with other parents. We will also hear from adult and young adult low vision drivers and non-drivers, a certified driving instructor, and a low vision specialist.

Is there funding to cover the cost of travel, room and meals?

TSBVI will provide housing and meals at no cost to families. Student travel is also paid by TSBVI. Parents who are not eligible for travel assistance from DARS-DBS may request travel funds from TSBVI. If flying, please let us handle the arrangements.