PEER SUPPORT

Goals:

The goal of the Peer Support program is to enhance the quality of life for persons affected by vision loss by empowering participants through peer support, education, information and interaction. We strive to assist persons experiencing a loss of vision with the adjustments necessary to cope with losing sight and becoming independent, self-sufficient, contributing members of their community. Services are offered to anyone affected by vision loss, including family, caregivers, community members and professionals working with blind and low vision adults.

Services:

1. Information, Referral, and Intake

BCB accepts and responds to inquiries for information on programs and services available to persons affected by vision loss through phone calls, emails, in-office visits, and social media posts, messages or tweets. We provide appropriate referrals, as needed, to other programs and organizations.

We offer Individual Empowerment Plans (IEP) for our consumers. Through the IEP, we discuss and document specific challenges and needs related to your vision loss, and set goals to address these needs. To obtain your goals, we assist with referrals and information needed. We also follow up periodically to be sure goals are being met, and adjust the plan, if needed.

Informing the public to raise awareness of vision loss is an important part of our Peer Support Program. Bi-monthly newsletters are distributed to blind and visually impaired persons, family and caregivers, professionals serving and working with those who are low to no vision, and available to the general public in large print, cassette tape, or electronically via email or website viewing. Our website and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, are updated regularly with pertinent information of low vision. Our Speaker’s Bureau is available to speak to community offering presentations, and we host special educational events that are open to the public.

Through collaborations with other organizations and businesses, BCB can better serve those with low to no vision. Some of our partner organizations include:

Blind Services Coalition of Kentucky
Kentucky Nonprofit Network
Downtown Lexington Corporation
United Way of the Bluegrass
Independence Place
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government – Office of Aging Services and Disability Support
Mayor’s Commission for Citizens with Disabilities
Radio Eye
Lexington Lions Club
Visual Impairment Services Team at Lexington VA
Blinded Veterans Association of KY
Teachers of the Visually Impaired – University of Kentucky
Retina Associates of Kentucky
Visually Impaired Preschool Services
Red Cross Wheels
Kentucky Optometric Association
Kentucky Office for the Blind
Kentucky School for the Blind
Kentucky School for the Blind Charitable Foundation
UK Clinic, Low Vision Services
Independence Place

 

2. Group Meetings and Community Outings

A topic is chosen each month for discussion at group meetings and community outings. This is a suggested topic and consumers are encouraged to share ideas, thoughts, techniques, and ways they overcome challenges and difficulties.

Our group meetings are held once a month, on the 4th Wednesday from noon to 2:00 pm. The meetings include a free lunch and presentations with informative share sessions.

Our community outings are scheduled monthly (typically on the 2nd Monday of the month) to encourage independent travel, reduce isolation and encourage community involvement. Watch our schedule for various dates and times for outings and activities.

3. Mentoring

One-on-one support is provided in the mentoring component of Peer Support. Interested mentees are paired with our members for a minimum of a one year relationship. Weekly contacts are made between mentors and mentees. Mentor/mentee mixers and mentor follow-up trainings both are held twice a year. Newly blind individuals, or those experiencing difficulty coping with vision loss, are paired with an experienced member of BCB who would serve as their mentor. This relationship is supportive with established goals relevant to vision loss adjustment. Individuals needing more in-depth counseling are referred to a licensed counselor or partner agency experienced in diagnosing and treating mental illness.

4. Membership

BCB is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and membership is $10 a year for both a BCB and ACB membership. Members are critical to the development of nonprofits for people who are blind or visually impaired because they have voting privileges at BCB and ACB meetings. Membership meetings are held quarterly in March, June, September, and December and include a dinner and business meeting. As an affiliate of ACB, our consumers are connected with thousands of individuals who provide support and share information about issues related to vision loss. ACB has over 70 state chapters and special interest affiliates where members can connect, share and learn with hundreds of others from across the nation.

Membership Brochure with Application PDF

Membership Brochure with Application Word Version

Outcomes:

Based on our follow up survey, consumers get great benefits through our Peer Support Program. They are more informed and aware of their choices and community resources, more included in their community and feel less isolated, feel encouraged, empowered, more confident in their decisions and more self-sufficient in managing personal goals; live more independently because of knowing where to go for services after obtaining referrals; able to travel independently more comfortable and safe. With increased knowledge of visual aids and other assistive technology, consumers are able to handle personal care needs and maintain household responsibilities with reduced reliance on caregivers. Consumers and the general public stay informed of relevant information pertaining to those with low to no vision. The awareness of the rights, needs, and abilities of the blind and visually impaired persons in the community is also increased, promoting advocacy and inclusion for people with vision loss.

See the calendar page for specific dates and times of Peer Support events

Members Gary & Sara Faulkner group picture at July 2015 peer support meeting
Andrew Thomas Gary & Sara Faulkner Kate McCabe and Judy Potter Martha Wilhoite