Living Visually Impaired in Prescott Arizona — The 2013 Story

See the accompanying Links for Living Visually Impaired in Prescott.

Living Visually Impaired in Prescott Arizona — The Story

If your vision is beyond correction by traditional medical and optical procedures, if you are anticipating this situation, or you are assisting someone like this, you need resources and training known as “Vision rehabilitation”. Good news! Technology and well known practices offer great techniques to reduce many vision limitations to inconveniences if you’re willing to tackle the learning curve. Bad news! Prescott is limited in its access to rehabilitation personnel, awareness of possibilities, and diffusion of people who can help each other.


Below are resources collected by a person who maintains independence and vision loss coping skills after reaching legal blindness 8 years ago. With plenty of room to improve the community resources, please consider action, suggestions and collaboration possibilities for everybody losing vision in these days of abundance of technology and information sharing.

What is Vision Rehabilitation

Useful techniques range from marking appliance settings by sticky dots through using a smart phone to read books, identify money denominations, and manage phone contacts. “Active Daily Living” refers to these sticky dot tricks and myriad organizational tasks formerly taken for granted. Serious safety concerns are addressed as “Orientation and Mobility Training” for climbing stairs, walking with the miraculous long white cane, and crossing streets. Gaining or maintaining computer skills requires adapting to magnification or audio interaction or the adventure of mastering assistive apps on a touch screen smart phone. New interpersonal skills come into play when a conversation partner must be identified by voice or sighted assistance must be requested. All these are conquered by learning and practice, leaving only the misery of transportation until the day of civilized public transit or affordable driverless cars.

Where does one start?

When the page text becomes wiggly or haze surrounds you or objects jump into your path, eye doctors may help for a while, but normal aging effects and eventual vision rehabilitation should not be denied. A great starting place is MDSupport.org with ongoing discussions of treatments, vitamins, iPads, good lamps, photography, travel, comfort, and just about everything a Macular Degenerate lives with. Care-givers and eye professionals are welcome and guide books and tips abound. This member since 1998 checks in daily on a mailing list and refers everybody in low vision land to this community.

Locally, here are resources beyond the vision medical professionals who do not customarily offer vision rehabilitation as described above. Veterans have great residential training in Tucson. Students grow through school disability services and special education programs. People seeking jobs have state Department of Economic Services special programs and assistance to work. Otherwise retired people must generally develop and implement their own rehabilitation programs.


  • People Who Care offers seminars introductions to topics in Vision Rehabilitation and Causes of Vision Loss. Limited transportation and other elder support services are also available.
  • Georgeanne Hanna is a contact with and certified rehabilitation contractor for state services that also assist retired individuals. Her phone is 928-775-5857. Watch for Public Service Announcements. Orientation and mobility trainers can be imported at state expense upon request.
  • Yavapai Guidance Clinic has offered disability emotional support groups.
  • New Horizons Independent Living center provides a broad spectrum of independent living services and a transportation system based in Prescott Valley.
  • Yavapai Library Network sites may have assistive computers and computer mentor training. Contacts are available for the National Library service “talking books” program.
  • YC OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) offers occasional workshops on vision and hearing loss adaptation. Summer 2013 includes “Using Things That Talk” demonstrations and a documentary movie.
  • Prescott Fine Arts Theater honors requests for front row seating for visually impaired people and companions.
  • Lions clubs underwrite medical and optical services for low income persons and occasional publicity events. Some localities may provide grants for assistive technology and vision rehabilitation trainers.
  • Former organizations now defunct include: Northern Arizona Vision and Hearing Loss, “old blind center”, Yavapai Association for Blind and Visually Impaired (YABVI), “new blind center”. Check out carefully Daily Courier articles for dates referring to any possibly defunct vision organization.

In summary, People Who Care Confident Living Seminars and state DES rehabilitation coordinators are the primary currently active resources. A mobile person losing vision should also consider relocating to gain a full multi-month training program from a facility such as Southern Arizona Association for Visually Impaired, see saavi.us.

What help is available from government?


  • AZ Department of Economic Services supports a local vision rehabilitation professional (see above) special services for vocational training, and limited assistive technology. An online directory is available.
  • Many cities have a Disability Services Coordination council based in the Mayor’s office. Is there a Prescott contact?
  • The American Disability Act (A.D.A.) has been in law over 20 years, although “civil rights laws are not self-enforcing”. Websites disability.gov and Disability Scoop track federal government A.D.A. developments.
  • with A.D.A. enforcement, airlines, banks, and hospitals have trained personnel for providing equitable services. Notable within Prescott are bank “talking tellers” for automated cash withdrawal (e.g. Chase Bank).
  • social Security offers documents and transmittals in electronic formats on CD.

What do blindness support organizations offer?


  • The American Council for the Blind (ACB) and National Federation of the Blind (NFB) advocate and educate on blindness issues that benefit people with all kinds of vision loss. State affiliates hold annual conferences and support local chapters (but not currently in Prescott).
  • The American Federation for the Blind (AFB) has special websites for seniors and is affiliated with the Vision Aware service. A monthly newsletter evaluates technology
  • MDSupport.org specializes in macular degeneration with myriad free downloadable guides and an ongoing support mailing list.
  • Books and newspapers are available from Bookshare.org, with a library of 200,000 fiction/nonfiction, adult/adolescent volumes readable on the website or downloadable to book readers. The NFB NewsLine offers national newspapers and magazines in various formats and reading services. National Library (NLS) provides narrated books played on special readers (free) or mobile devices.

How about technology?


  • PC and Mac computers have built-in magnification and voice support. For Mac, VoiceOver is a click away while for PC a free NVDA package is easily installed. Various $1000 commercial products offer versatile magnification and audio with support and training. These “screen readers” enable a synthetic voice to speak web pages, documents, and buttons or typing. The technology is great, but the learning curve is steep and trainers are scarce.
  • Elegant hand-held devices can read books from NLS or Bookshare, notably Victor Reader Stream and BookSense. Amazon Kindle and Nook devices are regrettably not usable without sighted assistance.
  • The smart phone has put mainstream devices into the hands of people without full vision but with sufficient hearing. The iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch have Voice Over built in to read buttons as fingers glide across the screen as well as text in mail and web pages. Book reader apps from Bookshare, Nook, and Amazon enable downloading and listening to books, magazines, and documents. Special apps provide walking navigation, location awareness, remote identification of photographed objects, reading money, and other assistive tools. Many games and apps are fully accessible and speech recognition increasingly replaces keyboarding. Alas, the Android family of smart phones lags Apple devices, but does provide many limited capabilities. Verizon offices can set up these products but trainers and patience are required for full mastery.
  • The blindness communities maintain a “Internet radio network” of interviews, demonstrations, and advice on all topics related to vision loss and especially technology. The iBlinkRadio app on iPhone and Android is a great portal. Accessibleworld.org, EyesOnSuccess.net, and Hadley.edu have highly informative weekly updates. These are MP3 files for subscription and downloading as podcasts via iTunes or podcatcher apps.
  • Hand-held readers also serve as recorders for presentations, memos, and bookmarks. Some also provide radios with audible controls.
  • Audio labelsing devices provide means for recording contents of files and food cans. Color identifiers, GPS systems, and thermostats exist to overcome daily eye sight annoyances.

  • Twitter social media is a river of news about technology and blindness under the keyword #accessibility and people like slger123 and all major vision-related organizations and federal agencies.

Where can I get more information on vision rehabilitation in the Prescott region?

Further links and updates from this handout are online at http://asyourworldchanges.wordpress.com or search for “visually impaired Prescott Arizona”. Essays depict the vision self-rehabilitation and personal lessons learned from the world beyond Prescott substantiating the selected resources here, notably MDSupport, Bookshare, and white cane travel.


Isn’t it time Prescott had full service vision rehabilitation for retired people with vision loss? For an example, see saavi.us, the Southern Arizona Association for Visually Impaired. Following the MDSupport motto “No one should leave an eye doctor’s office thinking their situation is hopeless”, vision loss is a journey of learning and adaptation and challenges that build on established rehabilitation practices and abundant technology if only the community realizes these potentials.


By mail and email, we are attempting to provide a more thorough, accurate, and timely resource page. Please send corrections and additions to slger123 @gmail.com or leave a message 928.848.9292 or 928.445.6960.

Links and Other Posts

See the accompanying Links for Living Visually Impaired in Prescott.


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11 Responses to “Living Visually Impaired in Prescott Arizona — The 2013 Story”

  1. slger Says:

    This blog is mentioned in the Daily Courier May 27 2013 written by Debbie Stewart of Senior Connection.

    http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&SubSectionID=104&ArticleID=119555

    The “Using Things That Talk” workshop June 24 and documentary screening July 8 require an OLLI membership and registration. A nominal cost trial membership is available. Call the office at 7177634. For more information on OLLI, see http://yc.edu/prescottolli.

  2. slger Says:

    Could the Prescott Public Library offer similar services to the Brooks Free Library located in a small Cape Cod town? View this Youtube video to understand how a library serves its visually impaired patrons through technology and an expert visually impaired facilitator.

    Video on Brooks Free Library VITAL facility

    or search Youtube for “Brooks Free Library Carla VITAL”.

    More on Brooks Free Library, which I visited in October 2012. The computer corner has essential equipment for patron use and further training. Most important is the capability and outreach of Carla Burke and the volunteers she has personally trained on both technology capabilities and the ways to interact socially with visually impaired patrons.

    http://www.brooksfreelibrary.org/brooks/

  3. slger Says:

    Here is the description of the AZ state program which assists visually impaired citizens.

    http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&SubSectionID=114&ArticleID=119554

  4. slger Says:

    New Horizons Independent Living Center

    has changed its name to

    New Horizons Disability Empowerment Center

  5. slger Says:

    Coming June 24 at Yavapai College OLLI 717-7634
    workshop on “Using Things that Talk” with demonstrations using a PC without a screen, book reading on a mobile device, and many useful daily living and news helpers on iPhones and iPads.

    http://asyourworldchanges.wordpress.com/using-things-that-talk-2/ u

  6. Joe Bingham Says:

    I had a choice of going to one of these centers, in fact I still have that option, however I went to see eye doctors to really see what the problem was and then a Wal-Mart optometrist realized that I may have a condition called Albino Albinism. None of the others I went to had any idea. Then I saw a eye specialist and now I have hope for better vision. :) Anyway, I think that a good place to see eye doctors is in Ttucson. Give it a whirl!

  7. slger Says:

    An update on the National Library Service Talking Book program upcoming at Prescott Public Library 11 a.m. on January 11. Learn how to receive free narrated books or download and play on an iPhone.

    Library event info

    http://199.104.138.10/evanced/lib/eventsignup.asp?ID=26941&rts=&disptype=info&ret=eventcalendar.asp&pointer=&returnToSearch=&num=0&ad=&dt=mo&mo=1/1/2014&df=calendar&EventType=ALL&Lib=&AgeGroup=ALL&LangType=0&WindowMode=&noheader=&lad=&pub=1&nopub=&page=&pgdisp=

  8. slger Says:

    Updates and Additions

    VRATE Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo
    http://vrate.org annnua in December at Phoenix Convention Center

    Low Vision Plus devices for reading and more

    http://lowvisionplus.com

    Governor’s Council on Blind and Visually Impaired

    https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=32&id=1974

    Advises DES programs

    Northern Arizona University Certificate Programs including Assistive Technology

    http://aztap.org/about/our-staff/

    ZoomText University

    http://www.aisquared.com/learning/more/arizona/

    Daily Courier January 16 2014

    Independent Living Skills for the Visually Impaired, a free state program, provides in-home skills instruction in communication, home and personal management, use of low vision aids and orientation and mobility skills to adults who are blind or visually impaired. Our goal is to help you stay as independent as possible. For information, call Georgeanne Hanna at 775-5857.

    Senior Peer Program is a no-cost program for tri-city elders focused on achieving and maintaining a healthy emotional life. Participants are matched one-on-one with a trained peer. There is also a range of support groups available. Those who are over age 55, and who are feeling stressed, depressed or withdrawn should call the program at 445-5211, ext 2672 or 2671 to learn more.

  9. slger Says:

    VRATE Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo
    http://vrate.org annnua in December at Phoenix Convention Center

    Low Vision Plus devices for reading and more

    http://lowvisionplus.com

    Governor’s Council on Blind and Visually Impaired

    https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=32&id=1974

    Advises DES programs

    Northern Arizona University Certificate Programs including Assistive Technology

    http://aztap.org/about/our-staff/

    ZoomText University

    http://www.aisquared.com/learning/more/arizona/

    Daily Courier January 16 2014

    Independent Living Skills for the Visually Impaired, a free state program, provides in-home skills instruction in communication, home and personal management, use of low vision aids and orientation and mobility skills to adults who are blind or visually impaired. Our goal is to help you stay as independent as possible. For information, call Georgeanne Hanna at 775-5857.

    Senior Peer Program is a no-cost program for tri-city elders focused on achieving and maintaining a healthy emotional life. Participants are matched one-on-one with a trained peer. There is also a range of support groups available. Those who are over age 55, and who are feeling stressed, depressed or withdrawn should call the program at 445-5211, ext 2672 or 2671 to learn more.

  10. slger Says:

    Blind Americans Equality Day 2014 from the President to the citizens of Prescott.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/14/presidential-proclamation-blind-americans-equality-day-2014

  11. slger Says:

    FREE ADA
    Training for People with Disabilities in Prescott Area Communities

    ADA Training

    Monday, October 20, 2014 3:00 – 5:00pm
    Presented
    by Az Commission for Deaf & Hard of Hearing

    Prescott
    Library
    Founders
    Room A & B

    Interpreters
    for the Deaf and Captioning will be provided.
    Everyone
    welcome and free admission

    · What
    is the “ADA”? The
    “ADA” stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

    · Why
    is it Important for People with Hearing Loss?
    It is
    important to ensure equal access for people with hearing loss and deafness to
    programs & services in the community such as government & public events,
    meetings, & services with assistive technology and communication services
    (interpreters for the deaf / captioning services)

    · Who
    Should Come?
    Prescott
    community people who are hard of hearing or deaf, and those who have a concern
    and interest in the welfare and participation for people with hearing loss and
    deafness.

    For
    more information, contact Jack Clevenger at
    (928)
    227-1809 or by email to HLAofPrescott@yahoo.com

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