Staffed by an Optometrist and two specially trained professional staff, the Low Vision Clinic provides full functional vision assessments to determine if there are prescriptive or non-prescriptive vision aids which may help a person best utilize the remaining sight they have. This exam compliments the persons primary eye doctor's medical exam by looking at how the visual functioning may be enhanced. If an exam by the Society's doctor is not indicated or desired, other Low Vision staff can assist a person with identifying and training in the use of non-prescriptive aids, such as magnifiers, lighting and lamps, computers and other devices which enlarge regular print onto larger screens. Appointments are required for both services.
The Society carries over 250 different low vision and adaptive living aids. All strengths of magnifiers are available with or without lights, some are hands free while others are hand held. In addition, monocular and telescopic aids are available for near and distance viewing. Larger and more expensive aids are available for demonstration, sale or rental and include lamps and CCTV electronic screen magnification reading devices. Aids provided for those unable to afford needed equipment with CCTV’s available on loan. Appointment needed for low vision aids.
Individuals are taught adaptive living skills on a one-to-one basis, including safe cooking methods, safety in home maintenance and other activities related to adapting appliances and household items for maximum functioning and safety, as well as techniques for daily living. Marking appliances and home organization for safest and easiest use by the individual is stressed and taught.
Orientation and safe travel within a person’s home, including adaptation of the home for maximum and safest movement are taught. Traveling safely and independently in the neighborhood or community are also taught, including the use of the white cane and public transportation. Some individuals utilize a white support cane if appropriate.
In small group settings individuals learn adaptive techniques to help the person continue cooking in a safe manner, whether it be full meals, snacks, or other items. Peer interaction helps provide adjustment and support. Transportation assistance is offered.
A number of other adaptive living aids are available to assist daily living needs and activities, including those for writing, safe cooking, independent money management, telling time, leisure activities, address books, calendars, thermostats, and other items.
As well as conducting initial assessment with individuals to help identify what services may be helpful, individual adjustment to vision loss counseling may be provided to help adjust to recent loss of vision, and where helpful will include any family member. Additional referrals and help in accessing other community support services are also provided, including Wolfner Library for the Blind, Mind's Eye Radio Information Service, free telephone directory assistance, religious resources, and the State Rehabilitation Services for the Blind.
Support groups are offered focusing on meeting the needs of the newly blind or visually impaired person. Support groups meet in eight-week sessions and are held throughout the calendar year. Support groups give the opportunity for peer support and to learn from others facing the same life situation. Transportation assistance is made available for those participating in support groups.
Four times a year an evening program is focused on the family member in order to help them understand more fully the person’s vision loss and impact on daily activities. How the other person’s vision loss impacts the family member is also discussed. Those attending may be spouses or adult children of a parent losing their vision.
In addition to magnifiers and other low vision devices, a number of computer programs are available for demonstration. Some items serve as complete reading machines whereby printed words can be scanned and read aloud by a voice program, while other programs enlarge material onto computer screens. Various speech synthesized voices can be demonstrated as well as programs that enlarge what comes from within a computer. Screen reader software enables a computer to “talk” and say everything which is visually seen on the screen. Appointments needed for demonstration and ongoing training.
For individuals wanting to learn braille for reading and/or writing, all levels of braille are taught. Some individuals prefer braille only for
identifying items (clothes, food, etc...) while others want to learn it as a complete communication system. When indicated or desired, the use of a slate
and stylus are also taught. See your name in Braille:
Two times a month the Common Ground group meets to provide members the opportunity on an ongoing basis how each person shares a common situation with the rest of the group. Common Ground meets at the Society's office to provide socialization, support, help reduce isolation with peer interactions that stress how a person is not alone in their vision loss and can help in the way one perceives their circumstances. A variety of activities such as exercises, cooking, arts & crafts and guest speakers allow the individual to remain active and adjust to their vision loss. Spouses are encouraged to attend as they desire
The VIEW group is a monthly outing aimed at reducing isolation from others and remaining active within the community. Trips to see selected sites, favorite St Louis landmarks and various venues in the metro area allow individuals to remain connected to others and the community. There is quite a bit of walking at times, requiring one to be in shape enough to participate
Special interest classes are held throughout the year offering a wide variety of options. Examples of such classes include pottery, gardening, picture frame making , and much more. A nominal fee for supplies is requested, transportation is the responsibility of the individual attending these classes.
There is no charge to individuals for most services. There is a $20 fee to see the Low Vision Optometrist through the Low Vision Clinic. For Adaptive Technology Training most individuals are covered by Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Missouri Technology Assistance Program or the Veteran’s Administration. If not eligible for other funding for technology an initial $150 deposit is requested, which is credited towards Technology Training classes. Individual fees are on a sliding scale based on income and expenses. No one is denied services if unable to afford the minimal fees.
The majority of services are provided in the individual’s home. The Society’s Low Vision Clinic, support groups, therapeutic recreation groups, adaptive cooking classes, and technology training are provided at the Society’s main office. Some Technology Training may be provided in the individual’s home, based on personal needs and preferences.
In order to insure that access to the Society’s programs and services are available to all, the Society can provide transportation to the individual for most services at the Society’s offices.
All professional staff have a Master’s Degree and/or state license or national certification in their area of expertise. Such licenses and certifications include those through the State of Missouri, the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals, National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and National Association of Social Workers.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from any of the services of Saint Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, please call us at 314-968-9000 or click Make A Referral.
Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired
8770 Manchester Rd. St. Louis, MO 63144
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