Vision Resources

According to the World Blind Union, 162 million people worldwide are blind  or visually impaired — yet 28 million suffer needlessly. In 75% of the cases, their blindness could have been prevented. Here are some organizations around the world who are dedicated to the prevention of vision loss or who provide support services for blind and visually impaired persons.  Simply click on the underlined name of each organization to visit their website.

Below these sites you'll find information on "Tips For Independent Living" and how sighted relatives and friends can help the blind or visually impaired, as well as Tips for Employers on accommodating blind or visually impaired workers.

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American Foundation For The Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss.

AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB's work in these areas is supported by the strong presence the organization maintains in Washington, DC, ensuring the rights and interests of people with vision loss are represented in our nation's public policies.

In addition to its New York City headquarters and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, AFB maintains offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Huntington, WV, and San Francisco. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB to expand possibilities for people with vision loss.


CNIB - Canadian National Institute For The Blind


CNIB got its start in 1906 as the Canadian Free Library for the Blind, a small home-based lending service operated by Edgar Robinson in Markham, Ontario. Sadly, Robinson died of typhoid in 1908, but his wife carried on his work with the help of volunteers who went on to found CNIB. The organization formally obtained its charter as a non-profit organization from Canada’s federal government on March 30, 1918.

CNIB’s stated purpose was to prevent blindness, and to help people with vision loss – particularly soldiers blinded in World War I - to achieve recognition and independence in Canadian society. At the time, government social services were virtually non-existent and many cases, people with vision loss were de pendent on their families for support, or working in menial jobs. A number of schools for children with vision loss provided limited education, but rehabilitation and employment services for adults with vision loss simply did not exist.

From the outset, CNIB recognized that its role was not only to offer physical assistance, training and rehabilitation services, but also to work with the government to improve the quality of life for all Canadians, regardless of vision loss. CNIB’s lobbying and advocacy efforts during the 1930s resulted in milestones such as compensation for workers blinded on the job, public transit passes for individuals with vision loss, and blindness prevention in newborns through universal treatment with antibiotics.


European Blind Union

The European Blind Union is a non-governmental, non profit-making European organization founded in 1984. One of the six regional bodies of the World Blind Union, it is the only organization representing the interests of blind and partially-sighted people in Europe.

EBU aims to protect and promote the interests of all blind and partially-sighted people in Europe. Its objects and powers are set out in Article II of its Constitution. EBU currently has 45 member countries, each represented by a national delegation. Its work is directed by an Executive Board of 11 elected members who are accountable to a General Assembly held every four years.

The detailed work of EBU is carried out by Standing Commissions and Working Groups, whose areas of activity reflect the major interests of EBU.

The Central Office of EBU is based in Paris. It is responsible for communication within EBU and for information to the general public. It produces a quarterly Newsletter in English, French, German and Spanish. The English version is also available in accessible formats (tape and braille).


Geleidehondenopleiding Ans L'abee

Geleidehondenopleiding is a school for guide dogs that help persons who are blind, visually or hearing impaired as well as those with balance or mobility difficulties. Its founders, Ans and Eveline, were the first people to help Laura achieve more independence.

Ans evaluated whether Laura was capable of working with a guide dog , and tried initially to get a guide dog for her, but, unfortunately because Laura was not a resident of the Netherlands and wasn't insured there, this wasn't possible. However, Ans put her in touch with the KNGF who then referred Laura to The Seeing Eye.

Laura is very grateful for the help she received from Ans and Eveline and is happy to refer others to their  fine school.

Guide Dogs For The Blind Association - UK


The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association wants a world in which all people who are blind and partially-sighted enjoy the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as everyone else. Our mission is to provide guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially-sighted people. We also:


  • campaign for the rights of people who are blind and partially-sighted,
  • educate the public about eye care
  • invest millions of pounds in eye disease research

Once someone has lost their sight, a guide dog can give back a degree of freedom that often feels little short of miraculous. Most guide dog owners will tell you that when it comes to mobility aids, these highly-trained and sensitive animals are second to none. We have been expertly breeding and training guide dogs now for over seventy years and have provided thousands of dogs to blind and partially-sighted people of all ages and from all walks of life.

When sight loss threatens to take away a person’s freedom of movement, Guide Dogs is there to help.


Hadley School for the Blind

Hadley is a not-for-profit, distance education school serving blind individuals and their families. In addition to courses for blind individuals, it offer programs for parents of blind children and family members of blind adults.

Hadley offers more than 90 courses to almost 10,000 students around the world, all completely free of charge.

The website provides information about Hadley programs as well as profiles of some of the students. It is available in graphic, low vision and text-only versions.


Helen Keller Worldwide

Founded in 1915 with the help of Helen Keller. Helen Keller Worldwide is the oldest and the leading U.S. nonprofit organization devoted to fighting preventable blindness abroad.

In 30 countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas, the agency provides the expertise, training, and technical assistance to establish blindness prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs within existing health care systems.

Helen Keller Worldwide's current programs combat cataract, trachoma, nutritional blindness, and onchocerciasis (river blindness).

Through ChildSight, Helen Keller Worldwide also improves the vision and educational performance of junior high school students living in urban and rural poverty. Since its inception the agency has supported programs in more than 80 countries worldwide.


KNGF- Geleidehonden


De Stichting Koninklijk Nederlands Geleidehonden Fonds (KNGF), the Royal Dutch Foundation for Guide Dogs has been training these service animals since 1935. This is the organization that Laura would have received her guide dog and training from if she had been insured as a physical resident of the Netherlands. Because she was a resident of the Netherlands Antilles on Curacao, the KNGF was very helpful in making her aware of, and referring her to, The Seeing Eye in the United States.


ORBIS International

ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS volunteers and staff have restored the vision and transformed the lives of more than 4.4 million people in 85 countries.

At the same time, ORBIS has been building local capacity to provide eye care in developing countries by training more than 154,000 eye care professionals aboard the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals.

The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital is literally a hospital with wings that brings together dedicated eye care professionals and aviators to give the gift of sight to developing countries around the world.


Pro Bista - Curacao - Netherlands Antilles

In March of the year 1972 the Vereniging Nationale Blindenzorg was founded by the Minister of Public Health. Soon this foundation came known as Sociedat Pa Siegunan. They had their own location on the Corrieweg, where the visual handicapped of Curacao could gather for support, care and some recreation.

In the year 1999 Fundashon Pro Bista took over the care for the visual handicapped on Curacao. Nowadays we are still located at the Corrieweg, and our purpose is to stimulate the independency and integration of people with a visual restriction on Curacao. Therefore we offer support, care and information. Not only to people with a visual restriction, but also to their family and friends. Besides that, we also inform organizations, companies and schools about having a visual restriction, and we stand up for the public interest of the visual restricted.


Royal National Institute of Blind People - UK

We are the UK’s leading charity offering information, support and advice to over two million people with sight loss.

Our pioneering work helps anyone with a sight problem – not just with braille and Talking Books, but with imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges. Our projects such as Talk and Support and Parents’ Place make a difference to people’s lives. We need your support to fund our vital work. As a charity we rely on your generosity. People are still losing their sight unnecessarily. We campaign to eliminate avoidable sight loss and support research into the causes and latest treatments of eye disease.

RNIB is a membership organisation which radically affects how we govern ourselves. Being a member is all about being closer: to information that can help you; to a community of other members; and to RNIB itself where you can make your voice heard and influence what we do.

RNIB across the UK

If you want to speak to someone to find out how RNIB can help you, please contact our Helpline on 0845 766 9999 / 020 7388 2525 /

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The Seeing Eye


The Seeing Eye,® Inc., is the oldest existing dog guide school in the world. Twelve times a year, as many as 24 students at a time visit the Morristown, N.J., campus to discover the exhilarating experience of traveling with a Seeing Eye dog.

Since 1929, The Seeing Eye has partnered with people who are blind who seek to enhance their independence, dignity, and self-confidence through the use of Seeing Eye dogs. About 14,000 of these specially bred and trained dogs have brought a new level of mobility, safety, and self-sufficiency to almost 8,000 men and women.

More than 75 years ago, a young man named Morris Frank read an article about dogs being trained as guides for blinded veterans of World War I.  Frustrated by his own lack of mobility as a blind person, (his mother was blind, and he lost his sight at age 16 in a fight at school), he was inspired to write its author for help.  Dorothy Harrison Eustis was an American training German shepherd dogs in Switzerland, & when she received Morris' letter, she agreed to help.

Morris promised he would return to the United States and spread the word about these remarkable dogs.

In 1928, having completed instruction in Switzerland, he arrived in New York City, proving the ability of his dog Buddy before throngs of news reporters.  His one-word telegram to Mrs. Eustis told the entire story  … “Success.”  The Seeing Eye was born, with the dream of making the entire world accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.


World Blind Union

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the only organization entitled to speak on behalf of blind and partially sighted persons of the world, representing 162 million blind and visually impaired persons from about 600 different organizations in 158 countries.

The WBU is a non-political, non-religious, non-governmental and non-profit-making organization. WBU has consultative status within the UN Agencies and ECOSOC. WBU is divided into 6 regions with constitutions of their own. Together the regions form the World Blind Union.

The hallmarks of WBU are openness and democracy. All countries fulfilling the conditions laid down in the WBU Constitution are welcomed as members with the right to express their opinions and points of view freely and without fear of recrimination.


The WBU 7th General Assembly will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from the 18th to the 22nd of August 2008. You will see in the section "WBU News" more info in this respect. In section "Practical Guides/Sites of Interest/Other sites" you will find a link to the website of the Swiss Organizing Committee.


Tips for Independent Living

Courtesy of the CNIB - Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Families, Friends and Caregivers

  • Whether you're working in a facility or assisting someone in their own home, be sensitive to the fact that you're on their 'turf.' Don't move things around or make adjustments without consent from the person with vision loss.

  • Ask what the person needs before stepping in with your own ideas. Talk about what you think would be helpful, but always start with what the person with vision loss identifies as most important to them.

  • Adjusting to vision loss takes time. Quite often, people with vision loss find it hard to ask for assistance out of embarrassment, frustration or fear of being a nuisance. Take the initiative and offer help as often as you think it is appropriate.

  • Be specific with your offers. Instead of an open-ended offer, such as "Let me know if you need anything," try a more concrete offer such as "I am driving to the store. Would you like to come?


Vision Impairment

Workplace Tools & Tips

Featured from the Cornell University ACCESS FOR ALL Program on Employment and Disability

There's a wide range of accommodations for people with visual impairments--the key is to match the particular needs of the person and the job. Below you'll find general guidelines--along with some very specific examples in the section on case studies.

Computer access
Phone use
Print materials
Video materials
General productivity
Environmental issues
Other tools


Computer accessibility is one of the most important issues in today's workplace. Screen readers and speech synthesizers enable blind users to use a computer independently. (The synthesized voice reads aloud contents of the screen or current active window.) Most programs provide a set of keyboard commands that allow the user to perform functions without the use of a mouse or pointing device.

Other relatively inexpensive computer-related accommodations:

  • larger monitors allow more information to be visible when larger type sizes or screen magnifications are used
  • monitors with high-resolution, high-contrast screens improve screen visibility
  • glare guards fit over monitor screens, protecting the user from glare that may cause eye fatigue
  • computer glasses can also provide glare protection
  • external monitor magnifiers can be fitted over an existing screen to enlarge type
  • screen magnification software can be loaded into the computer's memory, magnifying text and graphics. (Magnification programs function like a magnifying glass moving over a page; moving the cursor causes the area surrounding it to be magnified.)
  • large-print keyboard labels
  • Braille display terminals with refreshable type, if the individual reads Braille (A refreshable Braille display consists of a box with a metal strip containing pins that can be raised to create dots.)
  • dual-function headsets permit individuals who use both computer and telephone assistive devices to access both through the same headset (some offer switch boxes while others allow simultaneous access).
  • dictation programs make it possible for the user to speak into a microphone and have their words entered into a word processing program (without having to use the keyboard or mouse to do data entry).

  Many options are available to help blind and low-vision users on the telephone.
  •   Extra large or illuminated keypads display numbers on some sets
  •   Large print labels or overlays can modify existing phone units 
  •   Braille or tactile labels on keypads or feature buttons may also help
  •   Voice-activated dialing  allows the user to operate a phone using voice commands
  •   Talking Caller ID can announce who is calling when the phone rings



All memos, manuals and other employee information should be provided in large print, Braille, or audiotape format. If the employee has a computer with a screen reader program, information may be provided via computer. Depending on the employee's type of impairment, other aids include:

  • magnification tools, which range from small hand-held glasses to larger ones that can be mounted on a desk or workbench. Some also offer their own light souce.
  • closed-circuit TV systems also offer magnification. The print document is placed under a small camera, which transmits a magnified image to a computer or tv screen.
  • Optical-Character Recognition (OCR) technology provides fast access to printed text. The text is scanned; special computer software then interprets the scanned image into text and it can be saved as a computer file which can be accessed via speech synthesis software. (Caveat: text must be typewritten or printed and there is no provision for graphics, tables or line art.)
  • hiring a qualified reader may offer the most practical solution, especially if the visually impaired person does not often need to read printed material, if there is an unusual volume of reading, or the reading must be done away from the usual place of business.



Videos used for employment purposes should be described with descriptive video tracks, or information can be made available in the individual's preferred format.


There are many clever and inexpensive ways to generally increase productivity and even help to promote a sense of inclusiveness for all workers. For example:

  • Paint a dot of silicon on a knob, switch, or button to allow a person to align controls on a machine by touch
  • Use Braille labels or wide felt-tip markers to make file folder labels
  • Use different lengths of masking tape to identify parts bins for production employees
  • Label all equipment (fax machines, copy machines) with Braille or large-print labels
  • Use tactile labels to mark important buttons, mailboxes, etc.


For employees whose visual impairment involves light-sensitivity, you can provide:
  •   Lower wattage overhead lights to reduce glare
  •   Adjustable window shades or blinds that allow control of ambient light
  •   Desk lamps or task lighting to focus light where it's needed
  •   Fluorescent light filters (or nonfluorescent lights) can reduce eyestrain
  •   Glare-control lenses, faceplates, safety glasses or other optical wear to protect eyes

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Depending on the nature of visual impairment, the employee may benefit from other assistive devices.

  •  cassette recorders allow employees to record meetings,  memos, other messages; they also allow dictation for  transcription by support staff
  • equipment with audio/voice output (talking calculators, cash registers, light probes, money identifiers)
  • electronic notetakers with speech output help employee to keep track of to-do lists, appointments, etc
  • tactile or Braille labels on elevator buttons, room number and directional signs (consistent height and placement of such labels will make them easier to locate)
  • tactile/talking tools: many tools that offer visual output can be adapted to provide audio access (e.g. multimeters, micrometers, studsensors, levels, torque wrenches, tachometers, timers, scales)
  • voice-activated equipment: for example, there are copy machines that can be controlled vocally: "Two copies, doubled-sided."
  • special notepaper with heavy lines on one side and boards with grooved guidelines can also assist in writing by hand
  • light probes discern blinking phone lights, printer buttons, or other equipment, indicating audibly if a light is on