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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Blind Service Association - AFB Directory Profile

General Information

Blind Service Association
17 N. State Street
Suite 1050
Chicago, IL 60602-3510
(312) 236-0808 (Local)
(312) 236-8679 (Fax)
blindsrvc@aol.com
http://www.blindserviceassociation.org

Brief Description

Founded in 1924, Blind Service Association provides reading and recording services free of charge to its clients, in addition to a number of other educational, recreational, and support programs for visually impaired people of all ages.

Publishes “Vision Connection,” a monthly newsletter that provides information on special events, coping strategies, and the latest updates on medical, legal, dietary and research developments related to visual impairment and is available in large print, on audiocassette or e-mail. Also offers Eccentric Viewing, a workshop on vision enhancement for those with macular degeneration or anyone who has lost the central part of their vision. Offers eye and body coordination exercises led by a developmental optometrist to teach those in the class to learn to use the portion of the eye that is still healthy, mainly the peripheral vision. Also has a peer counselor on staff for consultations and demonstrations to successfully use various optical devices. BSA staff members are available for off-site visits to retirement or assistive living complexes and rehabilitation or senior centers in the Chicago area to share information about services available for people with visual impairment. Call BSA to schedule a visit. Vision Connection sponsors social activities such as concerts, boat rides, and lunches at various dining spots in the Chicago area. Offers year-round educational seminars on topics such as eye diseases by well-known Chicago ophthalmologists or lectures on issues of transportation.

Hours of operation: Mon.-Thurs. 9:00 AM-8:00 PM, Fri. 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. 2nd Saturday of the month: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM.
Geographic area served: Chicago and five surrounding counties. Recording of material extended to State of Illinois, and parts of Wisconsin and Indiana.
Publications: Program brochures.

Staff

Debbie Grossman, Executive Director, bsadgrossman@aol.com

Services Offered

Services for Adults

  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • Offers braille instruction.
  • Employment/Job Training
    • Computer consortium helps members with support and job contacts.
  • In-Home Services
    • Offers family/caregiver services.
  • Information and Referral
    • Provides information and referral service via call-in or by appointment.
    • Provides information and assistance for seniors.
  • Reading Services
    • Offers reading by volunteers at main office at 17 North State and at suburban library satellites. Offers one-to-one reading where trained volunteers are available to read any type of material presented to clients.
  • Recreation Services
    • Once a month interested members, clients and volunteers gather at Blind Service Association's downtown office to hear a live reading of a short story and to join in a post-reading discussion.

      Several times a year at our downtown office, Blind Service Association hosts a one-day art workshop presented by various professional artists working in different media. Interested clients can learn such skills as Japanese origami or mask-making.
  • Services for Seniors
    • Vision Connection sponsors social activities such as concerts, boat rides, and lunches at various dining spots in the Chicago area. Offers year-round educational seminars on topics such as eye diseases by well-known Chicago ophthalmologists or lectures on issues of transportation. “Vision Connection,” a monthly newsletter, which provides information on special events, coping strategies, and the latest updates on medical, legal, dietary and research developments related to visual impairment, is available in large print, on audiocassette or e-mail. Also offers Eccentric Viewing, a workshop on vision enhancement for those with macular degeneration or anyone who has lost the central part of their vision. Offers eye and body coordination exercises led by a developmental optometrist to teach those in the class to learn to use the portion of the eye that is still healthy, mainly the peripheral vision. Also has a peer counselor on staff for consultations and demonstrations to successfully use various optical devices. BSA staff members are available for off-site visits to retirement or assistive living complexes and rehabilitation or senior centers in the Chicago area to share information about services available for people with visual impairment. Call BSA to schedule a visit.
  • Support Groups
    • Provides self-help and support groups for young adults, mid-lifers and seniors.

Services for Children

  • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
    • Provides computer training to blind and visually impaired students after school or on Saturday. Classes are held at BSA's downtown office
  • Education Services
    • Every year Blind Service Association awards 20 to 30 scholarships, ranging in amounts from $750 to $3,000, to young people planning to attend a professional school, college, or university. Applications are judged according to academic merit and evidence of community service. Interested individuals must reside in Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, McHenry or Kane counties in the state of Illinois.
  • Information and Referral
    • Publishes the Youth Connection, a bi-monthly newsletter designed to connect blind and visually impaired youth with each other. The newsletter also provides information to help with the many challenges of living with a visual impairment.
  • Low Vision Services
    • Glasses provided to children and adolescents with low vision from low income families.
  • Summer/Day Camps and After-school Programs
    • In June and July, Blind Service Association sponsors a six-week program open to blind and visually impaired students aged 11 to 18. Pathways includes training in daily living skills, such as cooking, house cleaning, shopping, cane travel and money management. Kids also enjoy sports and recreation and field trips to various cultural sites. They'll play baseball, go swimming, take tandem bike rides, learn yoga, and go on a boat ride. Headed by a rehabilitation teacher, the program runs from 9:00 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon, five days a week.
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