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Vision Loss

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Individuals Losing Vision

There are many excellent resources to assist someone who is either losing vision or attempting to deal with vision that has already been lost. One may want to consult the best eye doctors, or rely on ever-advancing technology, or even try to find credible and respected eye surgeons. While Club VIBES realizes that the following list is far from complete, it is, nonetheless, a good starting point.

Photo of a Chart used to test vision

Ears for Eyes

With the onset of declining vision comes the need to relearn how to do many daily activities. EARS provides free, audio cassette lesson tapes that teach adaptive daily living skills to the visually impaired and their caregivers. The lessons are modeled after current blind rehabilitation techniques for coping with loss of vision. Lesson tapes give uncomplicated, straight-forward ways to help do the things made difficult by low vision: personal grooming, doing the laundry, dialing the telephone, etc. This is an excellent free resource for anyone coping with vision loss.

Read This to Me

ReadThisToMe allows blind and low-vision people to have printed documents read to them over the phone. All a person needs is a phone line and a fax machine (no computer is required.) The client faxes the document to be read to the ReadThisToMe toll-free fax number: 1-877-333-8848. The first page of the fax needs to be a cover page that includes the client’s first name and callback (voice) phone number. The document itself can be just about anything: a handwritten letter, a bill, a can of food, a multi-page magazine article — just about anything that can be faxed. One of ReadThisToMe’s volunteer readers will call the client back — usually within an hour — and read the document. That’s it!

Braille Institute of America

The Braille Institute offers a number of good documents and resources including a number of multimedia files to help one learn to cope with vision loss. Most of the training is offered in theSouthern California area but the online documents are a great help to anyone.

Texas School for the Blind

While the name of the site may be a bit misleading in that it covers “vision loss” and not just blindness, it is an excellent compendium of resources on the topic. It contains sections on vision related web sites, organizations providing assistance to someone dealing with vision loss, information on eye disorders and syndromes, information for families, and much more.

Blind Access Tools and Services

This website is created by visually impaired people for visually impaired people.” Whether you are just confronting vision  loss or have dealt with it for some time, this site offers information on books, adaptive technology, web sites for shopping, tips related to vision loss, and more.

There are a number of free phone services that permit you to access information that typically require vision. All that is necessary is to just call. Chief among these are the following:

There are two numbers you can use to phone and get free business and residential phone numbers throughout the United States. “Free 411,” 800-373-3411, and “Free Yellow Pages,” 800-945-5697, they both only require you to listen to brief advertisements to get the number you want. While the numbers you receive from these automated services may not be correct 100% of the time, they are generally pretty dependable.

United Way Help Line (211) within the east Tennessee area. It connects you with “referral specialists” who can help you locate community resources 24hours a day, 7 days a week;

Knox County Government (311), which connects you with a trained assistant who can direct you to the appropriate City or County office for questions or problems regarding governmental services; and Tennessee511 (511) offers an automated menu that provides weather information, traffic conditions, information about public transportation, airports, and more.

NFB Newsline: Accessible by phone or online.


“Every day, a subscriber can choose that day’s, the previous day’s, or the previous Sunday’s issue of any newspaper [of the 300 currently] in the service. The user can easily choose which newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touch-tone telephone. The menu provided allows the user to change the speed and voice settings, spell out words, or search for a particular word or subject. Over 35 magazines, ranging from the Arts, Science, Health and Fitness, Pop Culture and National and International news are [also] available.” You can also get local TV listings. The service may also be accessed online or you can have the features you designate sent to your e-mail. Users must provide proof of a print disability. CALL TOLL FREE: 1-866-504-7300 for more information. “

Medical Resources

This site features a searchable database of abstracts from articles in current and past issues of The American Journal of Ophthalmology, including topics about the latest advances in ophthalmic surgical techniques or recent research findings. A one-time registration is required, but access is free. Browseable and accessible.

Eye Disorders: Merck Manual

Based on The Merck Manual, but written in everyday language by 300 outstanding contributors, the site explains eye disorders, who is likely to get them, their symptoms, how they’re diagnosed, how they might be prevented, and how they can be treated.

Mayo Clinic

More than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers from Mayo Clinic share their expertise to empower you to manage your health on this site. You will find links to diseases, symptoms, medical tests and procedures, and drugs. Browseable and searchable.

MedilinePlus: Medical Information from the National Library of Medicine

Featuring 800 topics on conditions, diseases and wellness. There are extensive sections on drugs and supplements, a medical encyclopedia, a medical dictionary with spellings and definitions, current health news and announcements, and a service for finding local resources for health related issues.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

You can search an extensive list of articles on an exceptionally large number of medical conditions. These range from information that is understandable by the layman to highly technical writings.Hopkinshas one, if not the best, of the ophthalmology departments in the country.

Family Doctor

Intended to be a general site for medical information, there is, nonetheless, a great deal of material here relating to eye conditions and eye diseases. There is a dictionary of medical terms, and you can search by symptoms. Both simple and advanced searches are offered. Text may be enlarged.

Understanding Cancer

An indepth explanation to the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of cancer.

Friends and Family

A young man walking using a cane for the blind

Even more than with sighted peers, the education of the blind or visually impaired child needs to be expanded and reinforced by family and friends. The sites below will serve as resources to help you and your family in this process.

WonderBaby: Resources for Parents of Blind & Disabled Babies 

“This site provides a series of tip sheets covering different activities and ideas for working with children who are blind or visually impaired. Each month [the site] puts out a new tip sheet on a different topic . . ..” Also includes an extensive list of products and learning strategies for working with young blind or visually impaired children.

Tennessee Early Intervention System

“Tennessee’s Early Intervention System is a voluntary educational program for families with children ages birth through two years of age with disabilities or developmental delays. The primary goal of TEI is to support families in promoting their child’s optimal development and to facilitate the child’s participation in family and community activities.  The focus of TEI is to encourage the active participation of families in the intervention by imbedding strategies into family routines.  It is the parents who provide the real early intervention by creatively adapting their child care methods to facilitate the development of their child, while balancing the needs of the rest of the family.”

Resources for Parents of Blind Children

“This is an excellent introductory site with lots of information for parents of children who have been recently diagnosed with significant vision loss.”

The Hadley School for Professional Studies

“Provides programs in 24 distance learning courses, 20 of which offer continuing education credit. Tuition is charged for most courses, and enrollment must be done online. Three classes are likely to be of particular interest to parents of blind or visually impaired children:

Beginning the Special Education Journey

“Learning the basics of special education services helps you make sure your child obtains an appropriate education. This mini-course discusses professionals and the system of services in theUnited States. It explains the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and outlines the range of placements for children with visual impairments. It also gives ways to prepare for the transition from early intervention to preschool. Photos and insightful comments from experienced parents enhance the course.”

How to Be Your Child’s Advocate

“Working with other members of your child’s educational team can greatly benefit your child.” You know your child best, so you are the captain of this team. This mini-course discusses parents’ rights and the laws pertaining to special education in theUnited States. It presents advocacy strategies to help you ensure that your child receives a free, appropriate public education. Photos and insightful comments from experienced parents enhance the course.”

Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Blind Students and Their Families

There are a handful of laws related to the education of the disabled and their associated interpretations that are essential for any student, parent, teacher, or school administrator to understand. The following articles written by attorneys specializing in disability law, educational advocates, and school authorities are both readable and practical.

U.S. Department of Justice Guide to Disability Rights Laws 

A Concise, readable summary of all of the major laws effecting people with disabilities. This document is also available in large print, Braille, audio tape, and computer disk upon request.

Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee

For people who qualify, DLAC may be able to assist with problems related to their disability like:

discrimination in housing, transportation, and employment; access to public and private programs and services; access to rehabilitation and support services; access to appropriate education programs and services; obtaining and utilizing assistive technology services and devices; and access to vocational rehabilitation services that promote employment and independence.

Family Connect 

“On Family Connect you’ll find videos, personal stories, events, news, and an online community that can offer tips and support from other parents of children who are blind or visually impaired. Get information by age ranges or browse by individual topics.” You may also find the following links from The American Foundation for the Blind’s site also to be helpful:

This excellent page from the American Printing House for the Blind contains a storehouse of useful information for families. While there is much more than the following pages of value, these are likely to be of special interest:

The page also contains sections on products, services, resources, information on blindness, as well as related sites and resources.

V.I. Guide Home Page for Parents and Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Children

This site was developed by Betsy Walker, the parent of a blind child. It is intended as a resource for teachers and parents of blind and visually impaired children. Topics include vision related services; special education services; assistive technology; assistive products; as well as information on medical, legal, entertainment, and research related to blindness and vision loss. This is an excellent, well-organized site.

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

NAPVI is a non-profit organization of, by and for parents committed to providing support to the parents of children who have visual impairments. In addition to the support services and programs of the organization, the site offers links to other sites of interest to parents of visually impaired children.

Other useful Clubs or organizations:

American Council of the Blind

“The ACB provides excellent lists of catalogues of products; computer publications; venues for computer training; computer products; educational scholarships and financial aid; low vision resources; medical resources; resources for seniors.”

Council of Citizens with Low Vision International

“CCLVI is devoted to improving life for people with low vision. The site provides links to some excellent resources not frequently found elsewhere.”

Medical Resources for Parents and Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Children 

This site features a searchable database of abstracts from articles in current and past issues of The American Journal of Ophthalmology, including topics about the latest advances in ophthalmic surgical techniques or recent research findings. A one-time registration is required, but access is free. Browseable and accessible.

The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners

“The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts, estates and related issues. STEP members help families plan their long term financial future, facilitating good stewardship and financial planning across future generations.” While this is a valuable service for anyone, it frequently is especially important for a family with a disabled child. Alternatively, your family attorney may be able to provide these services if your needs are not complex.

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