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"Independence Day(s)" For Low-Vision Adults

Low Vision Museum Visit

Millions of Americans lose some of their sight every year, but that doesn't mean they have to lose their independence or give up on the things they love to do.

"Here in Utah, we have access to a wealth of services for low-vision adults," says Moran Eye Center Patient Support Program director Lisa Ord, PhD, LSCW. "Our goal is to get the word out—to let people know that, in spite of the fact they may no longer be able to drive, read, shop, or cook the way they used to, they don't have to give up on enjoying an independent life. The same is true of re-orienting a passion—whether it's bird-watching or painting. Bird watchers can become more attuned to bird calls, artists can explore and discover other mediums. We're here to help make that happen."

What Is Low Vision?

The National Eye Institute defines it as "A visual impairment, not corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, which interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities."

So if you, a loved one, friend, or neighbor, could use some friendly assistance, start with a note from an eye doctor, stating that you/they are sight-impaired. Then, check out these options:

Discount Cab Coupons: Cab vouchers are 60 percent off for Utah Council of the Blind (UCB) members (membership is $10 a year). Available in Provo, Salt Lake, Davis County, Ogden, Park City, Cedar City, Logan, and St. George. Contact Leslie Gertsch 801-292-1156.

Driver-Guide Program: Also through UCB, members may enroll a friend or family member (unless the family member lives with them) to be reimbursed for mileage, up to 300 miles/month.

Utah Transit Authority (UTA): UTA offers free mobility assistance in the form of a specialist who rides preferred routes with low-vision adults until the riders feel comfortable doing it alone. Contact Mobility Specialist Jeff O'Connell at 801-287-2275.

In Salt Lake City, Club Vision is a popular source of free fun and socializing along with rides to events. Activities include lunches and music at Granato's deli on Redwood Road; readings; musical entertainments and sing-alongs. Contact Susan Woolstenhulme at 801-262-3769.

Moran Eye Center's Patient Support Group offers a variety of no-cost low-vision orientation and mobility seminars as well as cultural outings conducted by certified low vision therapists. Counselors and social workers are also available to help patients and families with a wide array of information, experiences, and assistive devices. Please call 801-585-2213 for details and to register.