Our Sun City Center Low Vision Support Group offers companionship to seniors who are either blind or have low vision due to age-related conditions like macular degeneration. Members meet monthly, benefiting from social connections, friendly conversation, and discussions following educational presentations from community experts.
Still, most have been unable to access training and assistive technology that could improve their ability to perform daily activities and reduce loneliness. Many people who are low vision face issues with reading their mail, choosing appropriate clothing to wear in public, or even relying on a cashier’s honesty to give them the correct change.
Tampa’s Lighthouse for the Blind and Low Vision offers deep knowledge of assistive devices and recommendations customized to help them all, like electronic magnifiers for reading mail or paying bills; Braille labelers for marking household items or currency; and clothing identification apps. Yet individuals must be on site to truly benefit, requiring reliable transportation to get there. And since these seniors don’t feel confident in their ability to adopt new adaptive technologies, they need moral support from their peers.
But NOW, thanks to new funding from the Senior Connection Center and DeBartolo Family Foundation, we are removing the barriers of accessibility and peer support by offering group transportation for 40 members of the Low Vision Support Group to go to Tampa’s Lighthouse for the Blind over the coming year, where they will access the expertise and proven technologies that can change their lives. We are partnering with Sun Towers Retirement Community to use their handicapped-accessible van to transport members at no charge to them. Riding with peers makes the experience more fun and less intimidating. With the support of their peers, clients are more likely to embrace their new-found life-changing resources together.
During our first trip, Lighthouse for the Blind CEO and President Sheryl Brown welcomed our Low Vision Support Group members with a presentation about their services. Lighthouse staff worked with our members to listen, problem solve, and help find the right adaptive resources for each individual. Shirley, who is totally blind, came with her seeing eye dog and was thrilled to purchase an Uno Braille card deck, set up exactly like a traditional Uno game, but featuring braille on the corner of each card to indicate its color, number, or action. She used to love playing UNO with friends, and now she can once again enjoy playing with both blind and even sighted friends. This successful trip inspired four Low-Vision Support Group members to sign up for future services at Lighthouse for the Blind to learn about new technology and resources to help with cooking and other essential household tasks.
Thank you, Senior Connection Center and Debartolo Family Foundation, for your generous support, enabling low-vision or blind seniors to embrace life-changing adaptive resources – with a little help from their friends!
For more information about the Sun City Center Low Vision Support Group, contact Michelle at 813-492-8920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured left to right: Barbara Phillips, learning about an assistive device that could help make her life easier. Sheryl Brown, President and CEO of Lighthouse for the Blind giving a presentation about services available to seniors who are either blind or low vision. Shirley Tracy, shown here with her service dog, Jack, and Michelle Mason, of Seniors in Service.