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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired - AFB Directory Profile

General Information

Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
456 Cherry Street, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 458-1187 (Local)
(616) 458-7113 (Fax)
(800) 466-8084 (Toll-Free)

Brief Description

The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (formerly Vision Enrichment Services) was founded in 1913 as the Association for the Blind and for Sight Conservation. The agency was incorporated in 1921.

Its mission is to advance the independence of people who are blind or visually impaired and help prevent vision loss through services and education.

The purposes of the agency are:

  • To assist visually impaired persons in developing skills to become more independent through rehabilitative services
  • To educate the general public, organizations, professions, visually impaired people, and their families about the nature of visual impairments and the capabilities of visually impaired people
  • To promote the prevention of
  • blindness

Hours of operation: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 AM-4:30 PM. Examinations by appointment only.
Staff description: 11 full-time, 2 part-time. Uses volunteers. Ophthalmologist, optometrist, social worker, orientation and mobility instructor, certified rehabilitation therapist.
Geographic area served: 13 counties in West Michigan, surrounding the Grand Rapids area.
Publications: Tips for Living with Low Vision, From My Heart to Your Heart, Health Care Workers Guide, To My Server.


Charis Austin, Client Advocate,
Cynthia Brown, O.D., F.A.A.O., Low Vision Doctor
Cheri Fox, Social Worker,
Jessica Hart, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist,
Lori Janssen, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist,
Laura Kenyon, O.D., F.A.A.O., Low Vision Doctor
John McElheron, Social Worker,
Nancy Misner, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist,
Karolina Smiley, Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist,
Lori Smolinski, O.D., Low Vision Doctor
Richard Stevens, Executive Director, (616) 458-1187,
Joy Wahby, Office Manager, (616) 458-1187

Services Offered

Services for Adults

  • Assessment
    • Provides low vision examinations and assesses individual's level of functioning in daily living skills.
  • Assistive Products
    • Sells low vision aids and devices. Products are available for sale on site.
  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • Offers braille instruction.
  • Braille/Electronic/Audio/Large Print Production
    • Menus, church hymns, birthday cards, etc.
  • Community Outreach Programs
    • Does outreach to at-risk populations and provides consultations to schools and residential retirement communities.
  • Counseling
    • Offers social evaluation, individual, group, family/parent, couple counseling. Provides referral to community services. Refers for other counseling/social work services.
  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • Provides all rehabilitation services in client's home and community (except low vision clinic): personal management, braille, handwriting, listening skills, typing, home management, and remedial education.
  • In-Home Services
    • In-home rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility instruction.
  • Information and Referral
    • Refers for other health services.
  • Low Vision Services
    • Provides low vision evaluation and follow-up. Prescribes and supplies low vision devices.
  • Recreation Services
    • Offers arts and crafts activities. Provides consultation to other agencies on other recreational services.
  • Support Groups
    • Provides support groups for seniors.
  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • Provides orientation and mobility training.

Services for Children

  • Counseling
    • Helps people express feelings, adjust to vision loss and make plans for the future. Also educates family members and helps them take maximum advantage of community resources for the visually impaired. And if in-depth counseling is required, ABVI makes appropriate referrals to other agencies.
  • Low Vision Services
    • Low Vision Services include: Screening to obtain background information, examination by a certified low vision optometrist, prescription or optical devices, recommendations regarding non-optical devices, and in-home follow-up.
  • Recreation Services
    • Recreational opportunities, discussion groups, and other leisure time activities are available to individuals throughout the year.
  • Support Groups
    • Provides a comfortable setting where groups of visually impaired people grow stronger together, and where family members and friends learn to provide more appropriate support.
  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • AN O&M instructor teaches individuals how to travel independently and safely in their homes, work places, neighborhoods, and communities.

Services for Professionals

  • Professional Training
    • Offers regular in-service training programs and workshops.

Ongoing Events/Programs

Blind Parents Teleconference
Successful Teens Exploring Positive Skills (Steps)

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