PROGRAMS

BCB provides 2 main programs – Peer Support and Assistive Technology and Training.

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

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 – 2pm. The meetings include presentations with informative share sessions.
Our community outings are scheduled monthly (typically on the 2nd Monday of the month from 5pm to 6:30pm) to encourage independent travel, reduce isolation and encourage community involvement.

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 consumers can be involved with, as well as an annual state convention members are encouraged to attend.

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, and are 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 and advocacy and the rights, needs, and abilities of blind and visually impaired persons in the community is also increased.

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

Susan Ament, Peer Support Program Coordinator with her mother and member, Ruth Ament Members Gary & Sara Faulkner Members Fred Ament and Charles Sidney Members Shelagh Cassidy and Randall Deaton
Susan Ament and Ruth Ament Gary & Sara Faulkner Fred Ament and Charles Sidney Shelagh Cassidy and
Randall Deaton

Assistive Technology and Training

Your Window to the World

Loss of vision does not have to mean you lose the ability to work, go to school or participate in many social and recreational activities you enjoy.  Bluegrass Council of the Blind offers training seminars on the many technology resources available to individuals experiencing blindness or vision loss.  Resources include magnifiers, computer screen reader software, desktop and TV devices, kitchen aids, smart phone applications and other devices to assist with independence and safety at home and at work.

Through group seminars and/or individual assessments, skilled members of Bluegrass Council of the Blind will provide hands-on experience to try out a variety of aids and appliances to determine what works best for individual needs.  This includes items for use at home, work, and school and for social opportunities too.  Training participants will receive product information, basic training and guidance in choosing what assistive technology works best for your unique situation.

Technology assistance available to you:

  • Bluegrass Council of the Blind offers group seminars on technology and accessibility each Friday morning by appointment. Please contact the office for more information and to reserve your spot.
  • You can also contact Bluegrass Council of the Blind to schedule an individual appointment.  A skilled member of the BCB team will assist with an individual assessment and demonstration of devices which may be helpful to you.
  • BCB also has several items available for loan through the Technology Lending Library.   Contact BCB to find out what may be available for you.
  • Specific trainings are often made available for demonstrations of new equipment and software.  To learn more about these opportunities, please contact Bluegrass Council of the Blind and join our mailing list today.

With the assistance of technology to enhance the vision you have, or support individuals with no vision, Bluegrass Council of the Blind is a resource to help you continue living an active and independent lifestyle.

For more information on training opportunities available to you, contact Bluegrass Council of the Blind at: 859-259-1834 or by email at info@bcbky.org.

Technology Lending Library

BCB has expanded its Technology Lending Library. We have many items available for consumers to check-out and try at home. Through the assistance of items such as digital magnifiers or Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities, consumers can read their mail and pay their bills without waiting for assistance from others, allowing them more independence and privacy. BCB accepts donations of any assistive aids and makes them available on a loan basis. Anything from hand-held magnifiers to expensive magnification machines that capture and read text are made available through our lending program.

BCB logo on a CCTV, making it larger and easier for some with low vision to read SARA CE scanning and reading appliance, camera edition Sapphire handheld magnifier
Some assistive technology items in our lending library, including magnifying glasses, two hand-held magnifiers, and a CCTV. SARA CE is a stand alone device designed to help the blind and those with low vision read printed materials. This was kindly donated to BCB by Ron Dukes from Vision Help. Sapphire handheld magnifier is portable and easy to use. This was also donated to BCB from Ron Dukes from Vision Help.