October 9, 2014

Resources for People with Vision Loss in Washington State

I realize this is a very specific topic that many of my readers may not have any need for. That's OK, you can skip it if you want. It's something I've been thinking about sharing since I attended the Sight Connection Low Vision Expo last May. It just so happens that October is Blindness Awareness Month, and today specifically is World Sight Day, so I thought it fitting to post about it now.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year's Insight: A Low Vision Expo. I got lots of useful and interesting information that I want to pass on to those who might need it.

My (low) vision has been stable for the last 20 years. I adapted to my limitations a long time ago. I attended a living skills school for the newly blind and visually impaired when it first happened. This was back in California, so everything I've ever known about available resources for my particular disability were specific to that state. When I moved to Washington 11 year ago, I didn't know anything about what might be offered here, and frankly, didn't really need to know for a long time.

I had forgotten how important being informed can be. Just knowing all these resources are out there is kind of empowering as a person with a disability. I hope it will be helpful to whomever might stumble upon it.


Washington State Department of Services for the Blind: 1-800-552-7103. Offers employment services, assistive technology, vocational rehabilitation, Business Enterprise Program, employer/business services, orientation and training center, independent living program and assistance for children with vision loss and their families.

Washington Council of the Blind: 1-800-255-1147. A non-profit organization (affiliated with the American Council of the Blind at the national level) "dedicated to promoting opportunity, equality and independence with the blind community through education, public awareness and advocacy." Offerings include information and referral,scholarships and loans, awards programs, help for families with blind children, crisis assistance, environmental access and an annual Fall convention.

VA Puget Sound Health Care System Blind Rehabilitation: 1-253-583-1299. Offers outpatient services to blind veterans in much the same manner as the state services for the blind, as well as an inpatient rehab facility at the American Lake Blind Center(pdf).

SightConnection: 1-800-458-4888. Offering a low vision clinic, safe travel and independent living training, counseling and education services, assistive technology support and TONS of products for the blind and visually impaired in their store.

Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind: 1-800-914-7307. Offers Braille literacy, computer training, deaf-blind program, orientation and mobility training and supported employment program.

Inland Northwest Lighthouse (Spokane): 1-509-487-0405. "The first satellite operation of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., the Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) has helped to expand job opportunities to blind people across Washington State."

Audio Books

Washington Talking Book & Braille Library: 1-800-542-0866. "Access to information and reading materials for Washington residents unable to read standard print."

Audiobook Ministries: 1-206-243-7377. Christian oriented literature.


Regional Reduced Fare Permit(pdf): 1-206-553-3000. "Allows people with disabilities and senior citizens age 65 or older to ride for a reduced fare on various public transit systems throughout the Puget Sound region." It costs $3 and includes the ferry system.

Hopelink Transportation: In King County call 1-800-923-7433, or in Snohomish County call 1-855-766-7433. For more options go here.


Washington Access Fund: 1-206-328-5116. Help people with disabilities with loans, individual development accounts, CCTV rentals, and provides webinars.

Social Security Benefits for People with Disabilities: 1-800-772-1213. Just in case you are very new to having a disability and don't already know this, if you have ever held a job and paid taxes, you are most likely eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and depending on household income, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here is "The Ultimate Guide to Social Security Disability Benefits".

So there you go!
I hope this is helpful to you or your loved one with vision loss.
It may not be an exhaustive list, and for that I apologize, but it is what I have found,
and it should serve to point you in helpful directions.

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