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Broaden Your Horizons

diane vision loss resources client and ambassadorGuest post by Diane, a Vision Loss Resources client, ambassador and founding member of the Centennial Book project

They say that knowledge is power, so I want to share my knowledge of Vision Loss Resources with you, our readers, who may have vision loss, or know someone who does.  

By investing a little time to visit Vision Loss Resources, you can gain the power to become more independent, hone your skills, have some fun, and meet new friends who share your vision loss…friends whom you can relate to.  

My name is Diane, and I am speaking to you as a volunteer as well as a client of Vision Loss Resources.  This is a non-profit organization that is a result of a merger with the St. Paul and Minneapolis Societies for the Blind.  They have been in existence since 1914 and a well-respected part of the community.  The mission of Vision Loss Resources is to create a community of service, skills, and support for people with vision loss.  

I am a person with vision loss.  I have been partially blind since birth, a degenerative retinal disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa that I inherited. This disease has a mind of its own–it can progress rapidly or slowly.  I consider myself fortunate, as in my case, it has progressed slowly.  

Luckily, I still have some vision…very little, but I’m not totally blind.  

As my vision continued to decrease, I contacted State Services for the Blind to see if I could get any help.  Because I was working at the time, they came to my workplace and put a special magnified software in my computer so I could continue reading and working.  It was a life saver.

That lasted for about five years, and then my vision got a lot worse, and I had to retire two years early. 

I was horrified.  I had just recently lost my license to drive, and then my job and, (I thought) my independence.  I was devastated at the loss and I felt a great deal of grief.  

Then my counselor introduced me to Ellen from Vision Loss Resources, as these two organizations do work hand-in-hand.  Ellen has been a staff member for quite some time. She told me about Metro Mobility, which was a godsend.  We all need a way to travel.  She also informed me about a Vision Loss Resources support group that she was facilitating at the St. Paul location.  I attended the meeting and loved it.  It felt good to be in the presence of a group of people, like myself, who all shared one type or another of vision loss, people whom I could relate to.  There are several of these support groups around the metro area, should you be interested.  

To enjoy some of the services offered at Vision Loss Resources, all you need do is call, or better, just walk in and visit. If you are interested in services, one of the staff members will, with your approval, come to your home and do what we call an in-home assessment to see how to help.  It may be with reading mail, or marking your appliances, anything that will make living easier for you.  

At that time, the staff member will offer support with any emotional issues you may be experiencing regarding your low vision.  If you feel that you would like someone to talk to, we also have peer counselors.  Because our entire group of peer counselors has some form of vision impairment, they are the people whom you can really relate to.  They will call you, or come and visit, whichever you prefer, and be a confidential companion.  Many good relationships have been formed this way.  We also have Phone Pals, for people who just want someone to converse with by phone.  

You are not alone.

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