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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Aurora of Central New York - AFB Directory Profile

General Information

Aurora of Central New York
518 James Street, Suite 100
Syracuse, NY 13203
(315) 422-7263 (Local)
(315) 422-4792 (Fax)
(315) 422-9746 (TDD/TTY)

Brief Description

AURORA was established in 1991 through the merger of the Syracuse Association for the Blind (the Lighthouse, established in 1917) and Central New York Association for the Hearing Impaired, founded in 1976. It is the only Upstate New York-area non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting independence and opportunity for individuals who are experiencing a sensory loss. To that end, a full range of rehabilitative and support services are provided by professional and competent staff members who are specialists in their field.

Hours of operation: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 AM-4:30 PM.
Clients served on average per year: 1,400
Number of staff: 51
Staff description: Aurora's staff includes professionals in the field of blindness and deafness rehabilitation, (including cultural and linguistic perspectives), social work and employment services.
Geographic area served: Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, northern Cortland, and Jefferson Counties. Early Intervention Services are also provided in Tompkins County.
Publications: "Dawnings" newsletter published three times a year


Debra Chaiken, Executive Director

Services Offered

Services for Adults

  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • Offers braille instruction.
  • Business/Personal Services
    • Assists older adults with visual impairments with shopping, reading, transportation and other activities through our Volunteer Program.
  • Community Outreach Programs
    • Identifies older individuals with severe vision loss, provides information and referral services, and other means of assistance, and assists them in applying for all appropriate programs and services.
  • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
    • Provides evaluation and training for individuals who are legally blind on assistive computer technology including speech, braille and large print hardware/software input/output devices
  • Counseling
    • Assists individuals and their families in developing coping skills to live safely and independently in the community
  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • Provides training in skills of daily living.
  • Employment/Job Training
    • In conjunction with National Industries for the Blind and the Syracuse VA Medical Center, hires qualified employees with visual impairments to staff the telephone switchboard at the VA Medical Center on a 24 hour, 7 day per week basis. In addition to answering the switchboard and directing calls, Aurora's employees are responsible for coordinating all hospital emergencies and dispatch functions. Provides training in skill building and career exploration and preparation.
  • Information and Referral
    • Provides intake and referral services.
  • Low Vision Services
    • Provides low vision evaluation and follow-up. Prescribes and supplies low vision devices.
  • Services for Seniors
    • Provides instruction in adaptive daily living skills and safe and independent travel. Offers low vision services and some low vision devices for individuals who are legally blind. Also offers outreach services to individuals with visual impairments as the need is identified. Referrals are accepted from individuals, family members, friends, other social service agencies, public programs and area ophthalmologists.
  • Support Groups
    • Provides support groups in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties for adults with visual impairments.
  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • Provides orientation and mobility training.
  • Volunteer Services
    • Recruits, trains, places and supervises volunteers to assist individuals with sensory impairments with reading, friendly visiting, transportation to medical appointments, shopping and other chores.

Services for Children

  • Assessment
    • Assistive technology, functional vision, and orientation and mobility assessments.
  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • Offers braille and training in the use of optical devices.
  • Community Outreach Programs
    • Community education and outreach programs.
  • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
    • Provides computer assessment and training.
  • Counseling
    • Clinical evaluations, counseling, referrals, and support provided by professionals.
  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • Training in adaptive self-care skills, such as grooming and money identification provided.
  • Early Intervention/Infant Services
    • Services provided to infants, including assessment of the child’s condition and needs, developmental enrichment, and coordination of health, social, and related services. Provides specialized vision and auditory services to infants and toddlers with suspected or diagnosed sensory impairments.
  • Education Services
    • Services related to the education of blind and visually impaired children and young adults.
  • Employment/Job Training
    • Transition services, career and skill counseling, prevocational evaluation, career preparation training, and vocational placement. AURORA offers pre-vocational services to young adults age 14 - 21. Services include individual assessment, group instruction in career exploration, job hunting, resume development, interviewing skills, development of interpersonal skills, summer work experience.
  • Information and Referral
    • General information and resources about blindness and visual impairment, including referrals to sources of other information and services provided.
  • Low Vision Services
    • Vision evaluation and prescription of appropriate optical and nonoptical devices and training in their use. Also includes sales of such devices.
  • Preschool Programs
    • Programs for preschool-age children who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Recreation Services
    • Activities, such as social events, arts and crafts, sports, music, and drama.
  • Summer/Day Camps and After-school Programs
    • Activities provided for children after school hours and during the summer months.
  • Support for Parents
    • Training and workshops for parents and support services, such as in-home visits, respite care, and referrals to appropriate agencies for services.
  • Support Groups
    • Opportunities for children and families to share information and experiences through face-to-face meetings, telephone support.
  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • Training in independent travel techniques.

Services for Professionals

  • Professional Training
    • Provides training to professionals regarding issues related to vision loss.
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