From the CEO
Helping People Achieve Their Goals.
We're very proud that we help those who are blind or visually impaired improve and enrich their lives. That's our mission. We teach people how to travel safely, prevent falls, and stay independent in their own homes as long as possible.
Sometimes, we help folks (even technophobes!) use voice commands for their phones or have the computer read aloud what's on the screen. It's all about helping people adjust to the loss of vision, which has to include how to share it with family, friends, and neighbors.
After we teach the basics, we offer plenty of opportunities to practice newfound skills in a supportive environment. Take art history, for instance. Or yoga, ukulele, tap dance, birding by ear, exercise, and book group! There are also low-vision support groups to reinforce the training. Teachers and staff (many of whom have vision loss) inspire our students daily by sharing their own stories and leading full and exciting lives.
Some of the students in our classes have large goals like switching careers or traveling internationally. Others want to use their remaining vision to see family photos, knit, read, or watch shows. We offer a wide variety of training to help people achieve their goals.
Our community center provides a place where people learn from each other in less formal ways. Conversations over coffee, sharing a joke or a snack, or getting a much-needed hug can make all the difference. And on our beautiful Earle Baum campus, we can practice safe travel on well-kept walking trails.
The majority of our support comes from you. Your investment is helping local residents like Cindy and Jan who are highlighted in this newsletter.
Thank you. We are very proud to have supporters like you!
Dan Needham, CEO
Respecting Seniors and Wisdom
My swim buddy, Jim, took his last breath the day before I wrote this. He was 81. He led a life filled with learning, adventures, compassion, and work. He was most happy when he had a creative project going-a book of poetry, an exhibition of his photographs, or a person he was mentoring. We were good friends for over 20 years. We swam the English Channel as members of a 6-person relay team in 2002. I learned a lot from him; he shared his wisdom with many.
Jim received some services from the Earle Baum Center. He was a kind donor as well, enabling us to help others with their vision loss. The vast majority of people served by the Earle Baum Center have age-related vision loss. The average age of folks we help is around 72. Government support for many has diminished or ended. Insurance doesn't cover blindness or low vision training. Seventy percent of the blind are unemployed.
We strive to train people of all ages with vision loss to have active, fulfilling, and engaged lives. We look to our community to help us continue training seniors to travel safely with a cane, prevent falls, and remain safe and independent at home. With you in our corner, we'll keep offering access to books, the internet, and email. We'll help all who need us adjust to vision loss and learn to advocate for themselves as family and community members. We'll also offer activities for people to practice these learned skills and come together in groups to enjoy new or longtime interests and to embrace the support of their peers.
Many thanks to Jim and other individuals and organizations that help. I intend to heed his lessons of compassion and generosity. If you have the means and wisdom to be here for the Earle Baum Center today, we will be here for you tomorrow.
Dan Needham, CEO
The Importance of Our Training
I can talk about orientation and mobility, assistive technology, and independent living skills. But those terms don't describe the importance of our training. So I'm starting to use phrases like "fall prevention, safe travel, and finding your way to places you want to visit", or "how to do things at home like cook, clean, laundry, manage finances, and match clothes if you can't see things very well,", or "how to use a computer, tablet, or smart phone if you can't see the screen well or at all".
I describe this amazing place and all the people who help make it amazing as a school and a community center. First, imagine a strong foundation with two layers.
The first layers are our Low Vision Clinic and our Counseling programs. If you have any remaining vision, we help you find a combination of lenses, lighting, and tools to best use the vision you have. Also, vision loss is exactly that, a loss. And human beings go through a process when we lose something or someone we care about. It's normal. And getting help from a professional and others who have gone through something similar can be helpful and often necessary to move through the process and be ready to learn new skills to live safely and independently with sight loss.
On top of those two foundational layers rest our core training classes - the school. These are the classes, groups, and professional instruction that help people learn what I mentioned above.
ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY develops the skills required to travel independently, safely and confidently. Specific instruction covers spatial concepts, sensory awareness, white cane skills, and the use of public transportation.
INTRODUCTION AND LIVING WITH VISION LOSS are group classes designed to address an individual's emotional adjustment to sight loss as well as information, techniques and equipment to lead an active life.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES evaluate a person's skills and needs, and offers instruction in the use of adaptive hardware and software. One on one instruction is offered for: computers, notetakers, cell phones, screen readers, and Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems.
INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS teaches adaptive skills for cooking, shopping, financial and household management, clothing color matching and more.
BRAILLE INSTRUCTION teaches Braille reading and writing. Practical use of Braille includes labeling foods, files, clothing, games and more.
Learning those core skills are important, and people need to practice them outside of classes to use them to lead a full life. Supported by the foundation and core training classes is our Community Center. Our Community Center programs help people with vision loss continue hobbies and interests and develop new ones. There are exercise, dance, and musical opportunities. We have classes including art history, tai chi, and yoga. We have technology and book clubs, support groups and field trips. Peer support and teaching is a valuable part of the Community Center.
You can help us strengthen the foundation, maintain the school, and enhance the community center. Your contribution will help. If you are here for us today, we can be there for you tomorrow.
Dan Needham, CEO