This page contains descriptions and contact information for some of the most important nonprofit and governmental organizations providing services and products to people of all ages with little or no vision.
General Resources and References
American Printing House for the Blind
The Printing House has been the world’s largest source for adapted educational and daily living products for the blind since 1858. The site contains information on APH products, research, catalogues, and more. The Printing House has a long established and well-deserved reputation for quality products of service to the blind and visually impaired.
American Foundation for the Blind
You can locate the information you need on blindness and low vision and such issues as advocacy, aging and vision loss, education, employment, literacy, technology, and Web accessibility. Of special interest is the AFB Directory of Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons in the United States and Canada which may be searched to find organizations that provide services to people who are blind or visually impaired and their families. This is arguably the most thorough and accessible one-stop-shop for resources for the visually impaired on the web.
Enrichment Audio Resources
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 ofvision. 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 resource for anyone who is coping with vision loss.
Texas School for the Blind
For an excellent list of sites on the Web related to blindness, visual impairment, and vision loss, this site can't be beaten.
The Blind Readers’ Page
This site is a guide to sources of information in alternative formats (Braille, recorded cassettes, large print, e-texts, and web audio) accessible by people with print disabilities--those with visual and physical disabilities as well as dyslexia. It is also a guide to information about blindness, visual impairment and other physical disabilities, with a special collection of Wisconsin resources. There are about 2,300 individual links, all evaluated, annotated and organized by subject.
National Alliance of Blind Students
NABS, an informal organization of blind and visually impaired high-school and college students, provides resources of interest to student. In addition, this site gives contact information for NABS state affiliates. The most unique feature of the site, however, may be several avenues the organization offers for visually impaired students to network with one another.
The Hadley School for the Blind
Hadley has a long-established and well-deserved reputation for providing free high-quality distance learning courses for qualified students and adults. The classes range from traditional academic subjects to courses that impart skills to help with adjusting to vision loss.
American Council of the Blind
ACB provides an excellent list of links to a number of resources of use to visually impaired students and professionals. Of special interest are sections devoted to computers and technology, Braille instruction and production, diabetic resources, scholarships and financial aid, guide dog schools, and low vision resources.
The Carroll Center
The Carroll Center is a private non–profit organization that provides training programs and services to persons who are visually impaired or legally blind. The Center offers a vast array of services for children, working–age adults and seniors who are blind or visually impaired. Services are available at the campus or in the community and include: independent living skills, computer training, educational services, employment services, low vision rehabilitation, community orientation and mobility training, outdoor enrichment program, and international training program.
Sight Loss Solutions
This over one hundred page website was launched in 2004 and is specifically designed to be the most screen-reader friendly site on the Internet. Also, the 100% low-vision print, (no graphics or images) serves both partially sighted and fully sighted visitors which can include eye doctors, independent living counselors, assistive technology specialists, rehabilitation counselors, as well as family and friends.
Perkins School for the Blind
A long-established and well-respected figure in the field of blindness and visual impairment, Perkins offers a highly accessible site. Among other topics, the visitor will find links to international programs, professional development, talking book library, assistive technology, advocacy, accessible science, webcasts, and products for sale.
National Center for Deaf-Blind
The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults (HKNC) offers intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation training to individuals who are deaf-blind. The rehabilitation and personal adjustment training program at HKNC's headquarters in Sands Point, New York provides evaluation and training in communication skills, adaptive technology, orientation and mobility, independent living, work experience, and other support services. Field Services include ten regional offices, and more than forty affiliated programs, a national training team, technical assistance center, and older adults program.
Senior Site - American Foundation for the Blind
This claims to be the first web resource of its kind – a virtual community that seniors, their concerned loved ones, and the dedicated professionals who serve them can use to find critical resources and connections to local services they need to live independently. Visitors can see examples of others living with vision loss who have continued to thrive.
If you or someone you love is facing vision problems, you want all the information available. Topics include health and fitness, independent living, computers and education, vocational rehabilitation and more. The strength of the site is that it provides information on topics seldom found elsewhere on the Web.
This is an "interactive global Internet portal for people who are partially sighted or blind," their families, friends, and related professionals. It features "the latest information on vision impairment, its prevention, and vision rehabilitation" including articles, statistics, a bibliography of "low vision" literature, links to related sites, downloads, and a glossary. It also includes information about legible fonts and a guide to accessible Web sites. Quite user friendly. Available in Spanish. Searchable.
Adaptive Technology Center for New Jersey Colleges
While the mission of this organization is to assist all students with disabilities and, therefore, there are some resources not relevant to the visually impaired visitor, there is still a great deal of value. Most of the links are to organizations that do not appear on other sites. Brief descriptions of each link are especially helpful. Although there is much here intended for the New Jersey college student, the large majority of the site is potentially useful for anyone.
"Founded in the belief that education is a right and not a privilege, Learning Ally, formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, has a library of over 90,000 books it has recorded for school or professional use. Its materials are for all people, both inside as well as outside the United States, who cannot effectively read standard print because of a visual, perceptual, or other physical disability. If you need a book for class or as part of your job, Learning Ally is one of the first places to go for assistance."
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
The NLS, which is a part of the Library of Congress, administers the Talking Books program, the free service that loans recorded and Braille books and magazines, music scores in Braille and large print, and specially designed playback equipment to residents of the United States who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical impairment. The site provides links on eligibility as well as a catalogue of materials that is both browseable and searchable. NLS attempts to provide a wide variety of materials, including mystery, romance, nonfiction, do-it-yourself, inspirational, etc. In recent years, the program has been in the process of converting to digital recordings.
This site, from Eastern Michigan University, provides a good description of Braille, its history, and how it works. Links to additional resources are also featured.
National Braille Press
National Braille Press is a nonprofit Braille printing and publishing house. It provides transcription services, courses for learning the various types of Braille, Braille books for children and adults, and an extensive catalogue of its products. If you are interested in learning Braille or simply looking for Braille materials, this is an excellent site.
Read This to Me: Free Reading Service for the Blind
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.
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