Envisioning independence: Making the most of reduced eyesight

Established in 1971 by 35 Lions Club members and other local citizens, the nonprofit self-funded center provides direct services to more than 500 Monterey County residents and comes into contact with more than 1,000 others seeking referrals and resources throughout the year.
Sonja Jackson is one of those clients. She had already been dealing with progressive vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa for a decade when she retired from the U.S. Probation in 2004, relying on increasingly specialized technology to get by. Her condition has continued to rob her of her eyesight, but she is determined to do everything she can to continue leading a joyful, productive life. BVIC is escorting her in that effort.
“I always had decent vision,” says Jackson. “I wore glasses, but my eyes were fine. All of a sudden, I was using magnifiers, then larger screens, readers, and finally Braille, which I learned at the center. Today, I still have vision, mostly lights and shadows, but I also have Melanie, my guide dog.”
Jackson is the kind of person who likes to get out and about: shopping, socializing, exercising, and enjoying the ambience of her community. She had taken to using a white cane to help her navigate, but it was not a comfortable experience for her. Research led her to Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Melanie, a 6-year-old black Labrador retriever. But first, she had to be ready to work with her companion.
Jackson needed to be able to orient herself in her environment, to have an understanding of where she was going, and to be able to use her cane before she could benefit from working with a guide dog.
“The dog gets me from point A to point B,” says Jackson, “but I have to know what those points are, and where I’m going. My orientation and mobility teacher at the center trained me to listen for traffic and traffic patterns, and how to walk confidently, using the cane as I walk along the sidewalk, up stairs or through buildings.”
With a vision of independence, the center offers orientation and mobility instruction for clients, which may involve how to get around the home safely, how to negotiate a public setting with the use of a cane, or how to use public transit. It may be as simple, yet essential, as differentiating clothing, marking appliances in Braille, or teaching a client how to cook………..
More: http://www.montereyherald.com/health/20150916/envisioning-independence-making-the-most-of-reduced-eyesight
Source: Monterey Herald
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