Friday, September 16, 2011

Low Vision Support Groups, Tax Exemption for Equipment, Cooperative Minnesota Project

Tax breaks for visual aids remain out of sight. (Baraboo News Republic, 9/15/2011)

Excerpt:    Joan Wucherer began losing her vision in 2000, but she hasn't lost sight of helping those who are blind or visually impaired.

"I guess you can call it my own personal crusade," she said. "I want to help reduce the costs of the equipment that people who are blind or visually impaired need to buy in order to adapt to every day living."

When she was 66, Wucherer was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, a disease that over time destroys a person's vision. She was working at a local clinic taking blood, but when her vision began going she had to retire.

"I was going bonkers," she said. "I didn't know what I was going to do."

But her outlook changed once she began meeting new people and making friends at the Baraboo Senior Center. Some of them had vision problems similar to her own.

Now 77, she uses a closed circuit television, which can magnify and manipulate the brightness and contrast of images to help her read her checkbook, letters and cards.

But those specialized televisions cost about $3,000, and the magnifying glasses she uses can cost up to $2,000.

"The closed circuit televisions are like cars; once they leave the showroom their values go down," she said. "They're expensive to fix, too

Though I don't claim to have done a comprehensive search, this is the most impressive collaborative low-vision program I found this morning.

(Yesterday I learned that the City of Marshfield has begun a design development process for a library/community center facility to gather public input about the building style and the services people want integrated into it.  To me, this brings to mind the concept of the library as the anchor store of a community services mall.)

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