For nearly a century, the Braille Institute has been on a mission to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe vision loss. This goal is made possible by providing an environment of hope and encouragement and teaching its students that life is more than just vision. Each year the Braille Institute serves more than 80,000 people through a variety of free classes, programs and services at six centers and 220 community outreach locations throughout Southern California.
Adults, young adults and children can take advantage of the Braille Institute’s suite of free services, including classes in art, technology, business of living, health and fitness, music and communication. Each center offers a unique schedule tailored to members of the community. A typical weekday could begin with salsa dancing in the morning, followed by personal home management and end with a game of Scrabble with friends in the afternoon. The Braille Institute also brings its services to various communities through the Mobile Solutions vans that travel throughout the region. Perhaps one of the most reputable and beneficial services is the Braille Institute Library, offering more than 100,000 titles and 1.2 million volumes in their collection. The library amenities include a browsing area, patron computer, mini café, and a Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) station.
The Braille Institute offers two seminars a year, focusing on low vision and technology. Vivek Patel, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology and director of neuro-ophthalmology and adult strabismus at the USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, was a guest speaker at the last event. His discussion focused on how USC Roski Eye Institute researchers strive to understand the structural and functional connections of the visual brain. Deeper understanding of the visual brain holds great promise for future innovations. Attendees asked many questions about brain mapping and what is next on the horizon.
We look forward to meeting many of you at the next event in May.
Cathy was considered legally blind when she was four years old. Cathy has been a Braille student for more than 30 years and speaks very highly of all the classes offered. She loves that each center offers unique programs, allowing her to break out of her comfort zone. Cathy’s favorite center is the Los Angeles location because of the acting classes.
In 2012, Nancy noticed that her vision was deteriorating. She saw a specialist who diagnosed her with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After the treatments prescribed by the doctor weren’t helping, she was referred to another specialist who diagnosed her with dry AMD. Nancy decided to reach out to the Braille Institute to utilize their free resources and learn how to adapt to her ever-changing reality. She considers the Braille Institute to be an incredible source of support for her.
Beth has had to undergo countless eye surgeries and corneal transplants. Her optimistic attitude has prevailed in her interactions with her doctors and she is grateful for the care she has received. At the Braille Institute, Beth takes as many art classes as possible and enjoys the support groups where she and other students are able to share their experiences with each other. Beth feels part of a community every time she is at the Braille Institute.