SUPPORT, AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
is rather amazing just how many local and regional information,
support and assistance entities there are in any community.
All one has to do is step out and look for them! It is definitely
not easy to initially locate information, support, or assistance
groups, but they are there: in private and public agencies
or foundations, in various church programs, in local and regional
service clubs, and often in the form of community volunteer
assistance comes in the form of a previously known entity,
like your local phone company's 411 operator or the many guide
dog schools. Sometimes one can locate such groups by networking
with various individuals or community liaisons, or by simply
finding someone to look through the local phone book with
you. (Look under the listings here entitled Independent
Living Centers or ILC's, because these agencies are some
of the best information and assistance services available
to persons with disabilities.)
that to find a needed service or item, everyone in this world
has to act in a proactive manner; EVERYONE has to move forth
and address their own individual needs in some way. The real
key to being vision impaired and doing more than just surviving
is being proactive in your own behalf. Getting out and looking
for resources in your own community is assuredly one of the
best ways to find assistance, new friends, and a new world
of positive contacts. Listed below are several opportune contacts
to help you get out and get going in a variety of ways; go
by Voice Access Communications, Inc.
Dial: (888) 654-1236
this toll-free number at any time allows persons with disabilities
(not just the blind or vision impaired) to find contact information
on over 10 million businesses located anywhere in the Nation.
Before this service, it was nearly impossible for those without
access to print to locate a number for a business, especially
if the exact spelling of the business name was not known.
(Refer to the Dial O and 411 Waiver section
for general information on 411 accessibility.) Using the Audio
Yellow Pages is so simple, it's wonderful!
caller can use the voice activated system or use the corresponding
numbers to negotiate the system. There are several options
available at the onset of a call, such as a demonstration
of the system, establishing your password, or looking up a
specific business contact by stating the area and type of
business desired. First time callers must establish a password;
from then on, simply start out by saying "look up"
and you can locate your desired business's address, phone
number, and other minor details. Give it a try; and have no
fear! Audio Yellow Pages is absolutely free!
Dial O and 411 Waiver For The Blind
all 50 States and U.S. territories, telecommunications companies,
and in particular local telephone companies, are required
by Federal Communications Code (FCC) statutes to provide equal
access to the general information systems that they own or
utilize. Any vision impaired and documented caller using their
own phone (or cell phone) MUST be allowed equal access to
the 411 general information system which that company maintains
or provides. Additionally, the use of operator assistance
by such print-disabled users must also be provided at no charge
(because many newly blind and elderly phone users may have
great difficulty in negotiating the use of their phones).
Put simply then, for those phone subscribers who are documented
as legally blind or vision impaired, there can be no fee charged
for the use of the information system or operator assistance.
Nearly all phone companies however, require some sort of documentation
by the vision impaired phone subscriber before they are allowed
these free services.
phone subscriber in the nation pays a small access fee that
is attached to the taxes and other charges section of their
bill. This funding source is what pays for programs such as
the 411 Waiver Program and the Dial O Assistance Program,
and many other types of adaptive equipment which can provide
persons with disabilities equal access to phone systems in
our nation. Sadly however, many persons who are newly disabled
or blind never learn of or are not notified about the existence
of such services, equipment, or programs that these charges
the 411 and Dial O Waiver Program is managed by a separate
section of each phone company, such as a Special Needs or
Deaf and Disabled Department. To find out about your phone
company's policies on such waivers and what is necessary to
register, ask your local phone provider's Customer Service
Representative or 411 operator to give you the Special Needs
or related Department.
your documentation and registry, remind the billing agents
that they must remove any previous charges for informational
and assistance services. Let them know that as long as you
have been a vision impaired subscriber of the phone company,
you cannot be charged for 411 or operator assistance. Be polite
but firm, as often it is necessary to educate the very agents
that are involved with these services.
partial list of schools)
are at least a dozen dog-guide (or guide dog) schools in the
nation and each may be a little different in the types of
dogs bred, raised or trained, how they instruct their dog-guide
users, how graduates interact with their school, and how each
school deals with issues concerning dog ownership. Each of
the schools are separate unaffiliated agencies and some may
have more than one campus or training area. Most schools do
not charge fees for their dogs or training; or if they do,
the cost is usually low to accommodate their students.
Dog Users of America or GDUA is a consumer group affiliated
with the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and is composed
of dog-guide users who advocate the use of dog-guides in their
individual areas. Calling them may give some personal hints
as to the nature of the various dog-guide schools and their
resulting teams. Local Chapters of GDUA may be reached by
calling the ACB National Office at (202) 467-5081.
the establishment of the ADA and the rising use of "service
animals," it is important to understand what using a
dog guide in your community will mean. Asking dog-guide users
is one way to look into potential schools, though users are
VERY loyal to their respective schools, so it is important
to really check out a potential school. There is also an informational
tape produced by the US Council of Dog Guide Schools, which
may be obtained by contacting their website
, though the tape only describes Council member schools. (An
asterisk before the name of a school on the below list denotes
relationship between a dog-guide and its handler is very special
and will probably last for years, so be conscientious in your
research and final selection. It is probably best to contact
each school if possible and an abbreviated list of schools
in the US and Canada follows.
Dog Guide Schools List:
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Canine Vision Canada
Eye Dog Foundation of Arizona
* Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation - Bloomfield, Connecticut
Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind
* Guide Dogs of the Desert - Palm Springs, California
* Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind - Smithtown, New York
* Guide Dogs for the Blind - San Rafael, California
* Guide Dogs of America - Silamar, California
* Guiding Eyes for the Blind - Yorktown Heights, New York
Kansas Specialty Dog Service
* Leader Dogs for the Blind - Rochester, Michigan
* Pilot Dogs - Columbus, Ohio
* Southeastern Guide Dogs - Palmetto, Florida
* The Seeing Eye - Morristown, New York
Main Office, Eugene: (541) 484-0452
Sight and Hearing Foundation
local and State Lions Club has the same mandate and purpose
as does the overall international organization. Simply stated,
in honor and memory of Helen Keller, the entire Lions Club
organization "shall be the knights of the blind."
Accordingly, the general mandate for each community's club
is to assist local (as well as through national programs)
persons with blindness or visual impairments with their unmet
needs, whenever possible.
local Lions Club members need to be reminded of their mandated
obligation, as they may not actually be familiar with their
local blind community or the related issues. Because persons
who are vision impaired do not compose a large percentage
of the local population or business community, occasional
lack of awareness on the part of some Lions Clubs may be expected;
there are also few blind members in local mainstream Lions
Clubs. Often local clubs are made up of business folks and
prominent local citizens, meaning that they are probably not
aware of the varied issues within the visual disability arena.
The frequent result may be that local clubs miss their community's
vision-impaired population and concentrate on the annual "Sight
Saving" and "White Cane Week" fundraising programs,
which send funds and eyeglasses to the main headquarters in
Little Rock, Arkansas for disbursal. These are worthy programs
but rarely help local blind and visually impaired persons.
this, it may be up to individual proactive blind or visually
impaired persons to approach their local Lions Club or chairperson
and inquire about their assistance, grant, or programs criteria.
Upon inquiry, you just may find a slightly more informed group
than described above, or you may have a great opportunity
to inform your local
Lions members about vision impairment and how they might assist
you and your peers. Every community's club is different and
is composed of members who probably have the best of intentions.
Perhaps if you contact them directly, their funds will follow
their intentions and fulfill your needs. Check your local
phone book under Lions Club, International or call your Chamber
of Commerce for contact information.
ADA/IT Center (Portland)
Information & Business Technical Assistance Center
(503) 494-4001 (800) 949-4232
NW ADA/IT Center is a clearinghouse for issues that involve
access as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act
(or the ADA). This law and its associated set of statutes
is often misinterpreted and misunderstood by individuals with
disabilities as well as by the general public and business
community. NW ADA/IT handles many incoming calls and also
quite frequently holds local ADA training sessions for the
public and business community.
the phone and E-mail contact information for the NW ADA/IT
Center is important, because if you feel discriminated against
based on your disability and need to find a local ADA specialist,
they may be the best advocates. If you feel discriminated
against or have been disallowed access to a public place,
call the NW ADA/IT Center for assistance.
Princeton, NJ 08540
of the most difficult aspects for a visually impaired post-secondary
student to negotiate is getting their required textbooks.
(If you enjoy reading and are blind, visually impaired, or
print impaired, refer also to the Oregon
State Braille and Talking Book Library.) With more than
90,000 selections, nearly all common undergraduate college
textbooks used in the country are available through Learning
Ally. Their list of technical vocational and graduate level
textbooks is also extensive; Learning Ally is a must for vision
impaired post-secondary students.
Ally tapes are in National Library Services NLS) format, and
the players sent out by the state
libraries are compatible and extremely useful to students
because of the variable speed selector switch, which allows
students to speed-read their textbooks. Learning Ally also
has many E-texts on computer disc, and these are often for
sale for permanent use.
your Disabled Student Services Office on campus can assist
you in registering with Learning Ally, but one does not necessarily
need to do things in this manner. If you have a certifiable
disability, merely call the Learning Ally number from 8:30AM
to 4:30PM Eastern Time on weekdays. There is a one-time registration
and administration fee of $75. This allows you to order books,
use their bibliography services, have texts taped for future
classes, and access other benefits like their scholarship
and Mortgage Guide for People with Disabilities
people at refinancemortgagerates.org
provide a mortgage and refinance guide for people with disabilities.
The guide is available as both text and audio. Go
to the guide.