According to Prevent Blindness North Carolina, more than 25,000 preschoolers and close to 350,000 school-age children have visual problems. Children like seven-year-old Aiden Bradley who was born with vision challenges and whose family struggled for many years to find resources that would help make the most of what vision he did have.
“It was very frustrating for me as a parent not to be able to immediately connect him with the services he needed,” said Aiden’s mom Amanda. “We saw countless specialists before we finally found our answer at the Community Low Vision Center in Winston-Salem.”
The Community Low Vision Center (CLVC) is operated by nonprofit IFB Solutions, headquartered in Winston-Salem, the largest employer of people who are blind in the country. In addition to the Winston-Salem location, IFB has centers in Durham and Asheville—as well as a Mobile Vision Clinic, which travels across the state bringing IFB’s low-vision expertise directly into the community. Each CLVC is staffed by Low Vision Associates who are low-vision themselves and bring a wealth of personal experience in emerging assistive technologies and everyday solutions, such as talking watches and large-print books. The Centers serve all ages from young children to older adults.
While at the Community Low Vision Center, Aiden and his mom learned about IFB’s SEE (Student Enrichment Experience) Summer Camp and After-School experiences, designed specifically for children who are blind or low-vision, and IFB’s Focus on Literacy program. Focus on Literacy pairs school-age children with assistive devices to use at home to complete school assignments and foster a love of reading.
Both the SEE Summer Camps and Focus on Literacy are completely free, thanks to generous donations and grants to IFB. Each year, 150 children participate in the SEE experiences and over 150 families like Aiden’s receive assistive technology through Focus on Literacy.
“Both the SEE experiences and Focus on Literacy support IFB’s mission of providing opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, so they can succeed in every area of life,” said Barbara Soderlund, IFB’s Low Vision Services Manager.
In Aiden’s case, Focus on Literacy has energized a love of school and of learning. “Aiden is an entirely different kid, who now likes to go to school because he has the confidence that he can be successful,” says Amanda. “Since receiving the technology, he’s moved up two reading groups and is excelling at math. It’s truly been amazing.”
If you have a child who has been diagnosed as low-vision and would like to learn about the Focus on Literacy program and the SEE experiences, visit ifbsolutions.org,or communitylowvision.org,or contact the Community Low Vision Center at 336-245-5672.