While the Center for Vision Loss could not deliver most of its services for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it earned excellent impact ratings again in 2019-2020.
In surveys recorded for the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB), 97% of agency clients said that its services helped them maintain their level of independence. A total of 96% of clients said that their quality of life has been improved or maintained and 94% reported greater acceptance of their impairments. A total of 92% of clients did not reside in assisted living facilities. In 2018-2019, 98% of clients said they had maintained their level of independence and 91% of clients did not reside in assisted living.
The agency’s service year ended on June 30, and nearly all its operations were suspended from March 26-June 29 under state orders. During those months, it could not hold several client programs and could not perform free vision screenings at kindergarten registrations throughout Lehigh, Northampton, and Monroe counties. The cancellation of routine appointments at medical offices also decreased the number of rides taken from its guided transport service. Pick-up and delivery services for groceries and prescriptions were introduced and many classes and activities have were modified for remote delivery.
The Center for Vision Loss provided services to 558 clients and patients in 2019-2020. A total of 65% of its active clients and patients on June 30 were ages 65 and up and 85% of them were from low-income households. Agency clients are enrolled for all services while patients are referred exclusively for functional exams by its optometrist. A total of 2,369 transport rides were provided – 48% of which gave clients greater access to medical care and food and 49% of which connected clients with agency services. A total of 6,359 children received free vision screenings or participated in a community education program.
“While we could not control much of what happened in the second half of our year, we continued to excel at that which we could control – the delivery of services that empower people with visual impairments to seize their independence,” said Dennis Zehner, Executive Director of the Center for Vision Loss. “We also are proud of how our services have provided sights of hope since the pandemic began. Our virtual activities and support groups have helped combat isolation and anxiety, and our deliveries of groceries and prescriptions helped those at greater risk limit their exposure to the deadly virus.”
The Center for Vision Loss empowers people with visual impairments to seize their independence and advances healthy eyesight. With operations in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Monroe County, it combines a service tradition motivated by Helen Keller’s advocacy in 1928 with contemporary practices and state-of-the-art technologies. The organization’s support and rehabilitation services promote the accomplishment of daily tasks, increased access to medical services and food supplies, enhanced personal wellness, and extended self-sufficiency. Its free vision screenings for children stimulate success in school and its community education programs advocate for eye health and safety. All agency services are provided at little or no cost.
The Center for Vision Loss is an independent member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB) that is accredited nationally by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and affiliated with the VisionServe Alliance, a network of nearly 120 North American agencies that serve people with impaired sight.