Technology to assist people who are blind or have low vision has made life a whole lot easier for George Strobel. He has devices that will read his mail out loud or tell him what is printed on a prescription container. On the other hand, he still relies on tried-and-true methods such as marking his microwave oven buttons and washing machine settings with tactile bump dots and making sure everything is in its place in his Great Bend home.
These are the kind of life hacks that members of the Central Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired support group are happy to share. The group meets from 1-2 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas Ave. Strobel is the president.
The group can’t help people with the cost of expensive adaptive equipment, but its members can help them find resources. For example, the Veterans Administration has a good program to help blind and low-vision veterans like Strobel, he said.
“If someone needs talking books, we can tell them who to talk to at the library.”
Member Paul Berscheidt said CKAVI is a great place to get information about accessibility and other issues. But more than that, it is a true support group. The loss of vision can come gradually or quickly, but either way there are physical and mental adjustments to make.
“Come to our meetings to see that losing sight is not the end of the world,” Berscheidt said. It isn’t easy, but those who lose their vision can still live on their own if they wish.
The members are always on the lookout for ways to make life better. They had input on the city’s crosswalk upgrades several years ago, and member Scharna Doll said she was successful in getting the Walmart pharmacy to adopt the Scrip Talk software to mark its prescription containers. Strobel gets his prescriptions through the VA and has used Scrip Talk for years, but not all local pharmacies have purchased the software. Doll said all she had to do was ask and a manager at Walmart quickly added the service. “I appreciate them working with me,” she said.
“It’s not just for us,” Doll said. Much of the technology that assists blind or low-vision individuals can be helpful to others as well.
When you ask the members of CKAVI if there is anything the group needs, Strobel, Berschedit and Doll agree that the thing most needed is people. They want to help more individuals who have vision problems, and they also welcome fully sighted people who would be willing to help with taking notes or other volunteer work.
For more information about CKAVI, contact Paul Berscheidt at 620-793-5645, George Strobel at 620-617-8980 or Scharna Doll at 620-786-0731.