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November 27, 2004

'Store' opens for deaf, deaf-blind

From: The Advocate - Baton Rouge,LA,USA - Nov 27, 2004

People can test products before ordering them

Advocate staff writer

A small room at the Louisiana Career Development Center for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind opened for business Friday.

The small room has become a "store" that now offers people a place to try out things such as Braille Scrabble or a Braille cooking timer before going through the trouble of ordering one, center director and founder Carole Lockwood said.

"You're not going to find these items at the Mall of Louisiana," Lockwood said. "Deaf-blind people, when they need equipment to be independent, they can't just go to the store and pick it up."

She said that buying these items requires someone to find transportation to go to a store or to a post office when the items are ordered through a catalogue, she said.

Also, she said, ordering through a catalogue means buying something that may or may not fit a person's needs.

"They get something and it's not what they want and they have to send it back and they have to pay double postage. It's a mess," Lockwood said.

The center, 121 Convention St., offers help to deaf and deaf-blind people with job training, as well as ways to live and travel independently.

The center also teaches people who are losing their sight how to communicate through tactile signing by feeling an interpreter's hands while they sign.

Although the "store" is set up as a place where people can try things out before deciding if they want to buy them, eventually there will be duplicate items for sale as well, Lockwood said.

"We want to stock some items, but instead of just guessing we decided to wait to see what the community wants," he said.

On Friday, Lockwood's daughter Brittany, 18, volunteered to help set up the store for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout award.

Brittany Lockwood, who is interested in working with disabled children, is a freshman at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

"I was just interested in it (the store) since I did the library upstairs," she said.

As part of a previous award project, Brittany Lockwood helped set up a reference library in the building for people who had someone in their family losing their hearing.

Brittany Lockwood worked with Jackie Broussard, the center's deaf-blind program manager, to decide which items to display first.

"A few years ago, I did a survey of deaf-blind people in Louisiana to ask what they really wanted in the deaf-blind store," Broussard said through a sign-language interpreter.

Broussard said that so far, about 300 people in Louisiana have been identified as being deaf-blind, with about 50 to 60 living in the Baton Rouge area.

Carole Lockwood said she's not really sure how popular the new "store" will be, but because the deaf-blind community is relatively small, the news that the store is open should travel fast.

For more information about the center, call (225) 387-0889.

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