Blind & Visually Impaired

  • There are dozens of conditions and diseases of the eye which may result in blindness.  
  • 50,000 Americans become blind each year—and a large portion is elderly persons who have had no contact during their lifetimes either with blind people or with the service programs to help them.  

What You Can Do
  • There are many things you can do to help make it possible for blind people to live full, happy, and productive lives.  
  • Record books chosen by the blind so they may listen to them (Lilac City Blind Foundation)
  • Educate yourself on causes, preventions, and how to treat/speak to the blind.
  • Get to know a blind person on a personal basis.  Find out the things they do which help them learn and feel useful, such as talking books, large print and recorded Bibles and magazines, talking alarm clocks, and reading Braille.  
  • Volunteer to read, drive, or assist with shopping and other errands. 

  • Be My Eyes is an iPhone app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chats.  Users tap their phone, and a volunteer can read for them.  People are connected in more than 80 languages.  There are 20,000 users and 230,000 volunteers.  Download at the Apple Store, and start helping blind people see.  An Android app will likely be developed soon.  (Be My Eyes, Reporter Kristine Johnson, CBS Evening News, July 4, 2015) 
  • If you are near a Guide dog -
    • Don’t’ pet him without permission.  
    • Keep your own dog leashed.  
    • Do not distract a guide dog.  They are working—navigating through crosswalks, cars, strollers, bicycles, pedestrians, steps, etc. 
  • Help find ways to ensure that blind children in the public schools are given the opportunity to learn Braille, because most blind children are never given the opportunity to learn it.  
  • Employ a blind person.  Inform yourself about the abilities and capacities of blind people as employees.  They can make very productive employees. 
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

  • Seeing Al App by Microsoft
    This free app is a Seeing Eye for the blind.  It narrates the world around you.  It translates the visual world into an audio experience for the site impaired, with facial recognition.  Just hold up your phone and hear information about the world around you.
    • Short Text.  It can scan, read and speak text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.

    • Documents.  Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting. 

    • Products.  Gives audio beeps to help locate barcodes and then scans them to identify products

    • Person.  Recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their facial characteristics, approximate age, emotion, and more. 

    • Scene.  An experimental feature to describe the scene around you

    • Currency.  Identify currency bills when paying with cash. (Coming soon)

      Seeing Al can take a picture and describe what the camera sees.  Designed for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of Al to describe people, text and objects. For an online demo, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/seeing-ai/

  • Natl Federation of the Blind of Washington
    220 E. Wellesley  Ste 220
    Spokane, WA
    509-487-1732
    mtbradford@q.com
    http://www.nfbw.org

  • Washington Council for the Blind
    1-800-255-1147