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Are men under represented in the Older Blind Programs?

There has been some discussion about how older blind programs often do not attract males in numbers that reflect the percentage of the older population. Some may be served by Veteran’s Affairs, but there is some concern that programs traditionally may focus more on housekeeping tasks and less on areas of interest to older men. Do you know of any innovative ideas to attract men to the older blind program? Any ideas about what might be the hindrance?


BJ LeJeune's picture

We are moving to a culture that is less gender specific, but some older persons may still value traditional gender roles. Curriculum changes could include sports and recreation, pre-employment activities, house maintenance and repair, and community outreach to interact with more male groups. I worked with a 70 year old gentleman who was having a difficult time separating himself from a career as a house painter. It was like he lost his identity. Finding a volunteer position at a high school where he was helping to teach shop was very meaningful to him. I believe it kept him alive with a better quality of life far beyond what might have been otherwise. Part of what we taught him beyond basic ADL skills was the use of power tools to build things, and adjustment to blindness skills. We developed a volunteer program and that was the innovative thing to get him out and doing.
Bill Tomlin's picture

Those are great comments BJ, would anyone else like to share an experience that you have with any of your clients?
Adele Crudden's picture

As technology assistance becomes a bigger part of OIB services, we may see more and more people interested regardless of demographic issues.
Matthew Haynes's picture

My point of view on the underrepresentation of men in OIB's is that its a factor of demographics and perceptions of men on services like ours. We know people who live longer - regardless of race or gender - are more perceptible to vision loss. And guess what...women live longer (lucky gals!). So its predictable that we will always have more women served than men. In the past men have been less likely to seek assistance from programs like ours, but that perception is changing. Our agency has worked to make sure we address basic training in basic home maintenance for our staff and finding ways for recreation for men. I think we also need to be mindful in how we promote our programs as one for men as well as women.
Bill Tomlin's picture

Adele and Matthew thanks for your comments!