6 Groups Working To Help The Blind & Visually Impaired
Those with visual impairments deserve the same opportunities as the rest of society, regardless of where they live. These organizations are all working in their own ways to level the playing field through advocacy, community support, educational initiatives, and services intended to help the blind and visually impaired learn, work, and interact with their neighbors. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
6 Organizations Serving the Blind & Visually Impaired
|American Foundation for the Blind||Arlington, VA||Advocates for policies, guides the creation of accessible products and technology, promotes research, and educates the public to improve acceptance and inclusion|
|WRBH||New Orleans, LA||The only full-time FM reading radio service in the country|
|LightHouse||San Francisco, CA||Provides cane and mobility training, braille instruction, independent living skills, counseling & youth services, and community events|
|VISIONS||New York, NY||Offers in-home training, rehabilitation and social services, and job placement, along with operating a senior center and community center|
|Perkins School for the Blind||Watertown, MA||An international NGO, whose programs–in Massachusetts and around the globe–work to improve the lives of individuals with blindness and other disabilities.|
|Braille Institute||Locations throughout Southern California||Counseling, mobility training, classes, youth services, and libraries, serving more than 37,000 people each year|
AFB on Changing the Way the World Sees Blindness
Vision Loss Statistics
- 3% of Americans aged 40 years and older are either legally blind or visually impaired
- 21 million Americans report functional vision problems or eye conditions that may compromise vision
- 27.7% of adults aged 21 to 64 with a visual disability live below the poverty line
- 12.4% of the same group are uninsured
- Over 70% of working-age adults reporting significant vision loss are not employed full-time
- Globally, more than 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness
- The leading causes of vision impairment worldwide are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts
- The number of people with legal blindness in the U.S. is projected to increase by 21 percent each decade, to 2 million by 2050
- As of 2014, there were approximately 61,298 U.S. students in educational settings who were legally blind
- 55% of moderate or severely vision-impaired individuals are women
Inside the Classroom at Perkins
Accessibility and inclusivity are critical elements of a healthy community, and of a personal sense of fulfillment. It is crucial to ensure people with vision loss have equal opportunity to things like education, exercise, books, and technology. Six organizations dedicated to this important cause are listed here, in no particular order.
#1 on the list is the American Foundation For The Blind. It is working toward expanding possibilities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Since 1921, this nonprofit has been championing access and equality to promote broad systemic change. Advocating for improved policies, guiding the creation of accessible products, and promoting research with a scalable impact are all ways it works to meet the needs of people with vision loss.
AFB seeks to cultivate in-depth and actionable knowledge to promote the issues surrounding vision loss. Through programs aimed at education, vocational rehabilitation, aging, and technology, it is accelerating advancement for its targeted population. Most of this organization's funding comes from individuals, and donations can be made through its website. There are many more ways to get involved, including attending conferences, sponsoring its annual fundraiser, and teaching disability history.
There are many more ways to get involved, including attending conferences, sponsoring its annual fundraiser, and teaching disability history.
Next, in the #2 spot, is WRBH, America's only full-time FM reading radio service. This organization works to keep everyone equally informed by turning the printed word into the spoken word. Most of the information in print and on the internet is not easily accessible for the blind, which creates a sense of isolation and becomes an obstacle to everyday life. Volunteers at WRBH read printed news and information on an FM radio channel, promoting cultural enrichment and encouraging independence for listeners.
The use of volunteer readers is especially helpful to the newly blind or those who are experiencing age-related vision loss, since it can take several years to become accustomed to mechanized voice software. People in areas of Mississippi and Louisiana can access the news, books, cooking shows, grocery store ads, and interviews featured on WRBH. If you'd like to help, this group is always looking for people to read on-air. It also accepts money and vehicle donations.
At #3 on the list is LightHouse, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California. Since 1902, it has been providing training, education, and community for blind individuals in California and worldwide. By utilizing its rich network of advocates and professionals, this group provides a wide variety of programs to suit a multitude of needs. Cane and mobility training, braille instruction, independent living skills, and introduction to accessible technology are all services it offers.
Since 1902, it has been providing training, education, and community for blind individuals in California and worldwide.
Counseling and youth services, such as social events and summer programs, are offered, as well. It also operates LightHouse Labs, a tech think-tank promoted to the innovative use of technology to open opportunities to the community. Those interested in helping can be a fitness partner, or volunteer at events, camps, or as a personal services helper. You can also donate to a specific program, or make a general one-time or recurring donation.
Coming in at #4 on the list is VISIONS, a non-profit group formed in New York in the early 1920s. It focuses on rehabilitation and social services, offering programs to people of all ages. In-home training and adaptations are provided by therapists and counselors, allowing for increased safety and independence. It also facilitates job placement, and gives training and support to unpaid caregivers.
Community outreach events, like presentations and staff training, increase awareness and knowledge of the necessary services. It also operates a senior center and an adult community center, and offers teen programs. If you are interested in volunteering with this group, there are many opportunities. You can read mail and other printed materials to participants, or help with activities like crafts or ceramics.
If you are interested in volunteering with this group, there are many opportunities.
In the #5 spot is Perkins, a nonprofit helping children and young adults to realize their potential. It collaborates on local, national, and global levels to change what it means to be blind. It operates an eLearning hub, and provides assistive technology products. Perkins also founded America's first school for the blind, addressing additional needs and providing training that traditional school districts cannot.
Its international program reaches underserved children and young adults across the world, and prepares them for an active role in their families and communities. Getting involved is easy, as Perkins offers many ways to support their mission. You can participate in a blindfolded taste-test and attend student musical performances, or you can volunteer to help in any of the many ways available.
#6 is Braille Institute, which operates seven centers and over 200 outreach locations in California. It recognizes that vision loss does not have to mean the end of independence, but instead a new way of living. Counseling services offer emotional support, and it also provides in-home services, mobility training, and a music program. Its library features audio and braille versions of books, periodicals, and other texts.
It recognizes that vision loss does not have to mean the end of independence, but instead a new way of living.
Youth services, like the summer reading program and Cane Quest, provide opportunities for children across the country. There are many ways to give, including making a donation in your name or in honor of a loved one. Braille Institute offers internships and volunteer opportunities for college credit. You can also join an auxiliary group to help with raising awareness and fundraising.