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Hope and Empowerment for the Visually Impaired

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July 2021 eNews

Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center logo

Learning to Live Blind

Alex Elman Foley

Losing sight is never easy but as one Lighthouse client points out, getting the proper education and training can help in the process. Alex Elman Foley was a successful businesswoman in New York. She lived an adventurous lifestyle, traveling across the globe to exotic places, driving and racing cars, soaring high above the clouds in the pilot’s seat; Alex loved the feeling of independence and the freedom that came with it. But when she was 27, she learned she would soon lose all her sight. This was an adventure she hadn’t signed on to, nor was she ready for the challenges.

“How was I going to live like this,” Alex shared. “I was going to have to learn a whole new way of being.” But Alex admitted that finding support groups and sharing her story helped her navigate this new chapter. “It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through,” she said. She later added that while going blind was the “worst experience” at the time, she would later come to realize that it was also “sort of a gift.”

Working in sales, she quickly learned how to use her blindness to her benefit when it came to her business. No one would forget this woman walking into their store or the products she was selling. People would recognize the saleswoman with the cane or seeing-eye dog. She learned to turn a negative into a positive and did so with the right mindset, but also with the proper training.

To operate her business in a successful manner, Alex knew she had to do her part by using technology and computer programs, designed for those with vision loss and blindness, to her advantage. Being a business owner, Alex knew she needed to get more computer training to aid in running her business. It was at this point when she was introduced to the Lighthouse and its Assistive Technology program.

“You can get whatever you need from them,” Alex exclaims. “They are very responsive and very respectful. It’s nice to be able to work with the Lighthouse staff virtually. You can learn more about the programs you want to use just by being on the computer with somebody.” Alex shared the importance of working with Lighthouse staff to aid in learning new technology and updating older computer programs. “The Assistive Technology services are so accessible. If I need help all I have to do is send an email, make a phone call, send a text and I get an immediate response. As a business owner that is really important to me.”

American philosopher Allan Bloom once stated, “education is the movement from darkness to light.” It can be interpreted that through education, individuals can better themselves as well as the communities that surround them. Alex decided to take what life had thrown at her and use it to educate others on the fact that there is more to life, and that sight wasn’t everything. “Over time you accept what you have, but also you can help other people that might be dealing with the same thing,” said Alex. “You’re not the only person going through this,” she adds, “If you’re either going blind or you’re born blind, there’s nothing more important than getting training.”

Click play on the video below to watch and hear Alex speak on the importance of receiving training when faced with vision loss. To read more client stories, visit https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/programs/seeing-beyond-reflection/.

Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center works with children, teens, adults and seniors affected by vision loss to gain independence and self-sufficiency. Our programs and services are provided at NO COST to every person we provided services to. These services are provided free because of individuals like you. We hope you will continue to donate to the Lighthouse by clicking the donate button.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHuMC3pEZFM


Join Us for Planned Giving Session at the Lighthouse

Join us for a Virtual Planned Giving Presentation by Attorney Richard Gans on Tuesday, August 10 or Thursday, August 12, 10:00-11:00 A.M.

Learn how to plan your estate while supporting Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center. Are you curious about the benefits of becoming a member of Lighthouse’s Legacy Society? Join us for a virtual Planned Giving Presentation via Zoom. For your convenience, you can choose between Tuesday, August 10, 2021 or Thursday, August 12, 2021 from 10:00 to 11:00 am.

Our presenter, attorney Richard Gans, is a shareholder in the Sarasota, Florida, firm of Fergeson Skipper, P.A., certified by The Florida Bar as a specialized Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). He is active in the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar. Mr. Gans is the current vice-chair of the Section’s Asset Protection Committee, and is past chair of the Section’s Estate and Trust Tax Planning and Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification Exam CLE course committees. 

Also in attendance will be Ms. Susie Bowie, Executive Director, Manatee Community Foundation on August 10 and Ms. Betsy Pennewill, JD, Corporate Counsel, Community Foundation of Sarasota County on August 12.


To reserve your space, please click this link! or RSVP with Terri Medina at terri.medina@LighthouseEducationCenter.org or 941-359-1404 ext 2.*Zoom link will be emailed to you prior to the presentation.


Young Adults Program Hosts Training with Technology at UTC

The Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center’s Young Adults Program met at The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) for last month’s Technology in the Community training. The Young Adult Program is specifically designed for students aged 14-22 years, affected by vision loss. The program provides services at no cost for young adults to develop independence and to prepare themselves for the transition from high school to continued education and/or employment.

The Technology in the Community sessions is joint instruction provided by certified Lighthouse Orientation & Mobility as well as Assistive Technology instructors to increase independence in community mobility for young adults to learn how to safely navigate around UTC while using various apps. During the session, students used smartphone apps such as Be My Eyes, which connects individuals with low vision or blindness to volunteers who are ready to assist the user to help see, Google Lens which uses image recognition technology, and Seeing AI which uses the phone camera to identify and audibly describe people and objects, among others. These apps use state-of-the-art image recognition technology to provide information about objects they identify. Students learn to implement practical mobility skills as well as using the latest technology to aid in their navigation of real-world situations. 

To learn more about the Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center’s Young Adult Program, go to https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/program/young-adults/.


Invite Lighthouse to Present at Your Next Meeting or Health Fair

While we navigate our COVID-19 response during this time, our Outreach Program remains available to present to your organization, virtually or in-person.


Our speakers provide insightful information on how together we can empower individuals with vision loss to live happy, healthy and independent lives. We will share different types of conditions that may lead to vision loss and are not correctable by glasses or surgery and how our certified instructors teach adaptive techniques to accomplish everyday tasks that promote self-sufficiency and independence.


Our presentations will also provide information on how Lighthouse programs and services help people of all ages live with vision loss, while focusing on improving their quality of life, at NO COST to the individual.


Invite the Lighthouse to your next meeting at your civic or community organization, school, nonprofit, house of worship, senior living facility or home health & rehabilitation agency in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Highlands counties.To schedule a Lighthouse presentation, please email Nicole Mobley or fill out a Speaker Request Form.


July is UV Safety Awareness Month

During the summer there is usually a lot of emphasis on protecting skin from UV rays. But one must not forget about protecting the eyes – the most exposure to bright sunlight increases the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and growths on the eye including cancer.


July is UV Safety Awareness Month. However, eyes are at risk to UV rays all year round. Sunlight is not the only culprit though – tanning beds offer a higher dose of UV rays than sunlight. This makes it important to protect the eyes from UV rays in all situations by wearing proper eye protection – either UV blocking sunglasses or appropriate tanning goggles.


Meet Our New Development Staff

Nathan LaForte, COMS, CVRT joins the Lighthouse after spending the past ten years working with the Department of Veterans Affairs. With certifications in both Orientation & Mobility as well as Vision Rehab, Nathan has experience working in a number of areas and will be able to provide instruction based on client needs. He hopes to bring his expertise to the Lighthouse to assist clients achieve independence in their lives as well as help them to enjoy a wider range of activities.

“I’m excited to bring my varied life experiences to the Lighthouse,” says Nathan. “I hope to bring classes designed to aid clients in keeping a healthy body and mind.”


Shop Peepers Online

From July 1-31, you can purchase the 2021 Large Print Calendar for only $10 and the 2021 Big Print Date Calendar for only $15. Act now while supplies last!

Peepers Online Store provides an array of products ranging from the newest equipment in assistive technology to high-quality office and writing aids, kitchen aids, lighting and hand-held or high-tech magnifiers* for individuals with low vision. Whatever your needs, Peepers has great selections available at reasonable prices. Go online to https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/about-peepers/shop/ to purchase locally. Items will be shipped to your door.

*APPOINTMENTS are available for personalized one-to-one
consultation for magnification devices.


Join our Monthly Giving Sustainers Club and Make a Monthly Impact!

monthly giving donation provides to clients

Our Sustainers Club is a monthly giving program with 100% of every dollar going directly toward changing the lives of those living with vision loss. Monthly giving allows you to donate a specific amount, to the Lighthouse, each month. Giving smaller gifts each month provides for a bigger heart to the clients at the Lighthouse.

As a member of our Sustainers Clubyou can be assured that your gift each month will provide hope, empowerment and independence to those we serve.


A State of Vision License Plate Supports Lighthouse

A-State-of-Vision-License-Plate2

Support the blind and visually impaired community regain independence by purchasing “A State of Vision” license plate when you renew your auto tag. Funds from the sale of “A State of Vision” license plates are distributed to Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, Inc., which funds direct-support services to blind and visually impaired people. Specialty tag gift certificates are also available.

This license plate is a reminder to people on the road of our mission of hope and empowerment for the vision impaired. The Florida-inspired colors will also look great on your car! Information is on the website: https://myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/a-state-of-vision.html. Purchase your license plate today!


AmazonSmile You shop Amazon Gives

When You Smile, We all Smile!

While shopping on Amazon, remember to to purchase your goods through Smile.Amazon.com and select Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center as your designated charity. Shopping through AmazonSmile provides a portion of your purchases to be donated to the Lighthouse.


Connect With Us!
www.LighthouseEducationCenter.org | info@LighthouseEducationCenter.org
941-359-1404