October is Blindness Awareness Month. That is a good time for us to review some of the services that are available to those that are blind or vision impaired. Whether you are living in your house, apartment or an assisted living, you can tap into these resources to help you maintain or increase your independence.
A key collection of resources to utilize in Minnesota is the State Services For The Blind. You can find them online here or call them at 651-539-2324. They provide access to or referrals to:
- Low vision aids and other adaptive devices
- Travel skill training
- Training in daily living skills
- Training in assistive technology
- Access to the Radio Talking Book, a closed-circuit broadcast network for listening to readings of the local newspapers, magazines, and the latest bestselling books
- Access to books and other print material in audio and other alternative formats through our Communication Center.
All of these services can help you to remain active and independent.
One of the local groups that provides services is the Vision Loss Resource Center. They provide many types of classes for people with all levels of vision loss and blindness. They also have support groups, which provide a place to talk about challenges and solutions with others who are also working to adjust to their loss of vision. Vision Loss Resources has a great video about their Rehabilitation Center that can be found here. To speak with them about which of their services might be right for you, give them a call at 612-871-2222.
One of the newer services is called Be My Eyes. This is an app that you can download on to your IOS device or Android type device. This app will connect a blind or low vision person with one of over 1.6 million volunteers. The app turns on your phones camera, so you can point it at something and ask the volunteer your question. I have been a volunteer for three years and have helped with cooking, picking out clothes and shoes and even someone working on some electronics. They have volunteers in over 150 countries that speak over 180 languages. They have a video on how it works on their homepage here. Give it a try and see if it works for you, whether you can be a volunteer or you need the help of a volunteer.