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One Atlanta Organization is Empowering the Lives of the Visually Impaired

By Elisha Neubauer

When a company lasts over fifty years in today's tumultuous economy, it's impressive. When that company is a not-for-profit organization driven to provide a service that betters the community- it's time to take notice. The Center for the Visually Impaired, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has been helping people from all across the state adjust to their new life with limited or no sight, or improve the lifestyle they already had.

The not-for-profit organization was started in 1962 and has since grown to be Georgia's largest service provider for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Every year, over 5,000 people flock to the Center to learn, develop, and hone the skills that will allow them to live a full, independent life with their visual impairment.

Given that the Center was launched over five decades ago, obviously, they have made several updates and changes in practices, procedures, and tools. As changes in technology continue to grow, so too does the Center for the Visually Impaired, implementing updated technology into their practice as it comes along. "The advances in technology have been astounding," states Helene J. Erenberg of the Center for the Visually Impaired. "With the introduction of computers, then the worldwide web and, more recently, mobile technology, many tasks have become much easier to accomplish for everyone. For people who are blind, these tasks didn't just become easier- they became possible."

Erenberg is refers to talking screen readers used in computers and mobile devices as one of the new tools available to those with a visual impairment. "People who are blind now can access the same information as their sighted counterparts and, more importantly, they can access it at the same time," she tells us. Thanks to this new technology, people who are blind or impaired are now able to shop, enjoy the latest books, and participate in schools in an equal capacity.

While technology seems to be growing in leaps and bounds, the same cannot be said for social opinions. "Many people still hold very negative stereotypes about blindness and vision loss, often rooted in ignorance, since most people have never had the opportunity to meet or interact with someone who is blind," Erenberg explains. Some of these misconceptions include believing those who are visually impaired possess super-human hearing, or that they are all extraordinary musicians.

While in some cases, this may be true?think Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles?it is not the general rule. Erenberg giggles, as she says, "The reality is that many people who are blind don't play an instrument and, frankly, many can't even hold a tune!"

"People who are blind are also often either seen as super-human, like Helen Keller, or the opposite- as lower functioning and ignorant, as they were often portrayed historically," Erenberg says when asked about these popular misconceptions faced by the visually impaired on a daily basis. "But people who are blind are just like anyone else; they have a myriad of attributes, talents and challenges, just like people who are sighted."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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