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INDEPENDENT LIVING
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

This is not a complete list of adaptive goods vendors, cane or computer suppliers; nor is this a sizable list of service agents. As one lives the life of a person with a significant disability such as vision loss, one's personal knowledge or database for accessing material goods and services will DEFINITELY grow. So be prepared to choose your favorite agent or supplier through your own experience.

 

Adaptive Goods -- Independent Living Aids Suppliers

Ann Morris Enterprises

551 Hosner Mountain Road
Stormville, NY 12582
(800) 454-3175 or (845) 227-9659
www.annmorris.com
E-mail: annmorris-subscriber@yahoogroups.com

For years, Ann Morris has personally gone to conventions and gatherings of blind and visually impaired consumers, and it is not unusual to strike up a conversation or even a budding friendship with her at such a meeting. Ann has a variety of adaptive goods available, tests them herself, provides good pricing and service contacts, and is generally good to call if you need hard to find items.

 

Independent Living AIDS, Inc.

27 East Mall
Plainsview, NY 11803
(800) 537-2118
www.independentliving.com

This company has an extensive list of products for a variety of disability needs. They back their products with lenient policies on returns and warranties and will usually record your contact information so as to assist you in any way at a later date.

 

Innovative Rehabilitation Technology, Inc. (IRTI)

Sales & Customer Services, Attn. Sue Smonetti
134453 Colfax Highway
Grass Valley, CA 96945
(800) 322-4784 (530) 274-2090
www.irti.net
E-mail: info@irti.net

IRTI has quality goods and warrantees, and they use and test their products prior to sales. IRTI has free tape and print catalogs to use and customers can also call or E-mail them for information on their countless adaptive goods products.

 

LS&S Adaptive Goods

P.O. Box 673
Northbrook, IL 60065
(800) 468-4789
www.lssgroup.com

LS&S has many unique recreational products, including Braille and large print playing cards, adaptive board games, beeping sports balls, audible flying disks, talking tape measures, a talking chess computer, talking and Braille dice and more. Call to find out more.

 

Low Vision Accessory Store (Vision Northwest)

9225 SW Hall Blvd., Suite G
Tigard, OR 97213
(503) 684-8389

The Low Vision Accessory Store has hundreds of large and small items for visually impaired consumers. Owned and operated by Vision Northwest, the store has everything from table top magnifiers and CC TV's, to small handheld items like monocular lenses and watches. Call or visit the store to check out their variety of useful items. The Low Vision Accessory Store is near Portland, located at the Southwest corner of Hall Blvd. and Greenberg Road, near Washington Square in Tigard.



Speak To Me Talking Products

330 SW 43rd Street, Suite 154
Renton, WA 98055-4976
(800) 248-9965
www.speaktomecatalog.com

The Talking Products Company or the Speak To Me folks sell audio products that cater to the general population as well as to those consumers with vision impairments. Their variety of items and gifts is large, so call or check their website for further information on what they have.

 


Cane Suppliers

The use of and choice of a white cane is a personal decision. There are too many cane companies and suppliers to list them all here. Nearly all the previously listed adaptive goods vendors sell canes upon order, and if you are familiar with a company or type, ask them and they will surely sell you your chosen cane.

The standard rigid, white long cane is slowly being nudged out of popularity by newer and more utilitarian collapsible canes, which are usually lighter and more convenient in situations where one must sit or put a cane out of the way. Although there are many cane manufacturers, at present only one is listed here. Ask an Orientation and Mobility Instructor to show you a few canes, check out your vision impaired peer's canes, use one or two and then choose BEFORE you contact an adaptive goods dealer to order one. The average cost of a collapsible cane is $20 to $25.

 

California Canes

16263 Walnut Street
Hesperia, CA 92345
(760) 956-5265 (866) 332-4883
Fax (760) 956-7477


Jeff and Tammy Carmer are the owners of California Canes, and they have exhibited at many conventions of blind consumers. Their several styles of canes have been received very well, as they are very strong, lightweight, and their canes hold a lifetime replacement warranty. Jeff is blind and the product he has developed was one of the first carbon fiber, graphite canes, which can be purchased in either collapsible or rigid form. Jeff's collapsible canes have very deep ferrules (the connector that slides between the joints) and this factor makes them very sensitive, flexible and nearly indestructible, while maintaining a light weight for hand control and comfort. Call California Canes and talk to Jeff personally about your particular cane concerns or a price list. He will enjoy talking to you and happily make a customized cane upon request.

 

Computers

In this new age of computerization, a computer at home or work should be considered a most valuable independent living aid. Persons who are blind or visually impaired have certainly not been excluded within the changing sphere of computerization; rather we have nearly been overwhelmed with products and services that can enhance access to mainstream computers and like electronic systems. A person who is vision impaired can now go into any computer store, buy a system off the shelf at a normal price, then go home and load the complementary adaptive technology that will be appropriate for their individual needs. That is of course if they have previous knowledge of computers, and can afford the appropriate hardware and software; that probably eliminates most of us.

There are far too many topics and resources related to assistive technology (also commonly called access or adaptive technology) and computers to cover in this listing. So, this section discusses only two areas specifically for those who may not know much or anything at all about computers, and then lists an Oregon direct resource for access technology.

If you are new to computers in general or have recently lost sight and need to learn about the adaptive technology involved with accessing computer systems, here are two suggestions: contact your local community college's Disabled Student's Office and inquire about the availability of classes on computers; or it might be more sensible to become a client of the Oregon Commission for the Blind and get adaptive computer technology training through them.

Using computers as a novice is not easy for anyone, and it will take serious education to learn the proper techniques to negotiate the Internet, word processing, data systems and other functions that computers are regularly used for. Add vision loss, and handling computers may not be easy, though with training it is possible and for some, even addictive. If you do have a real desire to learn about computers and the access technology that could put you in the game, get a head start and check out books from your local Talking Book Library (see details below). They have many books on general computer topics, and books on software systems for persons who are vision impaired.

If you decide to investigate the available opportunities at your local college, remember that the Disabled Students Office will have adaptive equipment available somewhere on campus, but this equipment will be for registered students only. Unfortunately, not all community or even state colleges or universities offer classes in adaptive technology. So consider when taking a computer class that the curriculum will probably cover only general computer hardware, application software, and the skills involving standard computer use.

If you decide to look into the opportunities that becoming a client of the Oregon Commission for the Blind might allow you, know in advance that this bureaucracy cannot train you overnight. But the training you will get totally addresses your individual situation as a person with a vision impairment. Being a Commission client also means far less time or financial constraints. In some cases and after training, the Commission can even provide clients hardware or software.

Call your local Oregon Commission for the Blind office and get the details from a lead counselor.

If you have previous knowledge of computers and feel that you can learn on your own about adaptive technology that can assist you with reentry into computerization, there are some simple ways to catch up without training. Joining a computer club or reading magazines and books related to the field are good ways to catch up on current technology. Both the ACB and NFB have very good resources listed within their journals each month that are related to vision-impaired users of computers. Also there is a magazine called Vision Enhancement, that though usually for low vision users, has many reviews of adaptive computer technology. Also refer to the NLS magazine Listings, to see what selections they might have to offer in the way of computer technology.

Check out the college, Commission and literary options to see which might best suit your needs. However, as a person with a vision impairment, do not venture into the well populated field of commercial training or computer education companies. Private "pay to learn" schools or companies are for the general and fully-sighted public; most of these for-profit schools do not even teach their fully-sighted consumers any comprehensive skills. Investigate, beware the quick fix pitfalls, and get into adaptive technology when you're ready to join the mainstream.

One final resource in Oregon is a federally funded, statewide program often referred to as Talon or Technology Access for Life Needs. The Talon or Access Technologies, Inc. contact information follows.

 

Access Technologies, Inc. (ATI)

3070 Lancaster Drive NE
Salem, OR 97301
Salem Administrative Office: (800) 677-7512 (503) 361-1201
Portland Office: (503) 725-8395
www.accesstechnologiesinc.org
E-mail: ati@oregonvos.net

ATI provides equipment or services that will make it easier for someone with a disability to live more independently, work at a job, learn in an academic environment, or pursue recreational activities. ATI specializes in accommodations related to independent or daily living, education or employment accessibility, worksite accommodations or assessment, oral communications accommodation, orthopedics technology and accommodation, and even recreational accommodations for Oregonians with disabilities.

ATI should be viewed by persons with disabilities in Oregon as an enabling problem-solving agency that can assist them in enhancing their life through a variety of technological solutions. ATI does not only serve state or federal agency consumer-clients; they will provide information and/or services to nearly anyone who calls with a valid need or request. ATI will work out of their office areas, and they have a sliding scale for the payment of services or equipment. If you cannot figure out a solution to your individual disability or technology-related difficulty and are wondering if some form of adaptive technology or training might not be the cure, contact ATI for assistance.

 

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