Ph.D. Students at Envision Dallas Focus Capstone Projects On Accessibility | Envision Blog

Ph.D. Students at Envision Dallas Focus Capstone Projects On Accessibility

By Beth Walker • Apr 24, 2023
Envision Dallas yoga participants stretching during the yoga class.

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Two Occupational Therapy doctoral students Kyra Sorensen and Isabel Diaz made an important impact during their time with Envision Dallas working on their Capstone projects which will help to improve lives and quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired in Texas.

“We will be so sad to see them go,” said Jennifer Svelan, Envision Dallas Manager of Rehab & SPT Programs. “The Occupational Therapy field and its patients will be lucky to have them.”

For their projects, Kyra Sorensen focused on accessibility in the bar and restaurant industry. Isabel Diaz focused on exercise and health.

The two issues are often interconnected. A lack of accessibility often leaves people who are blind or visually impaired only going to places familiar and accessible. One thing that can be affected by this lack of accessibility is exercise options. 

“When people lose their sight they tend to feel very isolated and alone,” said Svelan. “They tend to shy away from a lot of those things they were comfortable with previously when they had sight because everything has changed. It becomes even harder to try new things and visit new places when you are unsure if you will be accommodated for.”

As part of Kyra’s project, she visited bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys with a group of Envision Dallas program participants and took note of how establishments were accommodating people who have blindness or low vision.

Managers were generally receptive to learning more about how their staff could be more inclusive, and were open to learning from the program participants about experiences they have had and how they can be better at supporting and including people who are blind or visually impaired in their businesses.

Program participants who took part in Kyra’s Capstone Project enjoyed a few sojourns out on the town. Raymundo, a program participant, hadn’t been out socially except for Envision Dallas bingo nights since he lost his sight two years ago. He went with Kyra on nearly every activity she hosted. 

“Getting a chance to go out was a huge boost to my self-esteem and made me feel happy,” said Raymundo. 

Isabel’s Capstone project on accessibility in the exercise field was an important topic that has led to more opportunities at Envision Dallas.

“Exercise for people who are blind or visually impaired is often very difficult to find. Some people may be denied entry to a gym or are told that if they have any questions about equipment, they have to pay a personal training fee to ask. This inaccessibility makes it very difficult for people who are blind or visually impaired to benefit from something that can greatly improve quality of life” said Svelan.

Through Isabel’s connection, a new monthly yoga class at Envision Dallas taught by Gretchen House, Owner of Stretch with Gretch has started and will continue after Isabel  moves on. 

“I've made incredible connections and friendships here and am so grateful for the experience,” said Diaz. 

While staff at Envision Dallas are sad to see both students go, they are confident they will do amazing things for people who are blind or visually impaired in their careers.

For more information on other exciting projects taking place at Envision Dallas, visit our website.