Kathleen Senn and Jeanette Fortin, OIB Specialists

The Independence Center is pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded a three-year Older Individuals with Blindness (OIB) grant from the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The OIB grant will enable us to continue helping older individuals experiencing low vision or blindness to remain independently in their homes, and to continue their hobbies or activities. As of 2016, The Independence Center had 110 consumers actively participating in the OIB program.

 

As we age, the occurrence of vision loss becomes increasingly likely for everyone. For some, this experience can be isolating and extremely difficult, often times resulting in the loss of independence. Imagine going through your daily routine with limited sight, or the loss of sight altogether. For many, this transition makes it hard to maintain a job or live at home, and can lead to feelings of loneliness and separation from friends and family.

When discussing the importance of the OIB program with Jeanette Fortin, an OIB Specialist at The Independence Center who is blind herself, she tells a story about a consumer who she worked with a few years ago. After losing the ability to drive and read, the woman thought that she was going to end up in an assisted living facility. A friend referred her to The Independence Center where she attended one of the peer support groups. While there, she was able to meet other people, who like her, had lost part or all of their vision. By talking to these people and working with The Independence Center, she was able to learn ways to cope with her vision loss and gain knowledge about resources and programs available to help people experiencing blindness and vision loss. Also, with help from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government (PPACG) grant, The IC was able to purchase a magnifier for the woman, which assisted her with reading. Now in her eighties, the woman is still independent.

When talking about the people that she has helped through the OIB program, Jeanette proudly says, “The whole point in what we do is to help seniors to continue to live independently, rather than feeling like they have to be put in assisted living.”

The OIB program at The Independence Center provides people age 55 or older with peer support groups, home visits, public outreach and education activities, assistive technologies, Braille instruction, as well as independent living and self-advocacy training. For so many, the OIB program is an important lifeline, and we are grateful to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation for potentially renewing funding through September of 2019. If you or a loved one is experiencing blindness or loss of vision and feel that The OIB program might be right for you, visit http://bit.ly/oibsupportgroup or call Jeanette Fortin at 719-471-8181 x126 for more information.