In addition to the program services that Club VIBES directly provides, the following local or State agencies or services may be of interest.
Although transportation is one of the greatest challenges for people who are blind or visually impaired, Club VIBES strives to teach the skills and knowledge of using the below transportation systems to our young members. In addition, the members learn tips on how to hire a driver and use car pooling techniques to achieve their greatest level of independence. If members should ever move out of the area they will need to know how to search out their own new transportation options and utilize them to match their needs in their new community. Club VIBES believes in teaching the youth to be problem solvers and think through all their options.
The following are some transportation options in Knoxville and East Tennessee. It has been our experience that they vary significantly in dependability and convenience.
Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) Lift and minibuses are available for passengers with disabilities, Monday through Sunday. The hours of service are the same as buses on fixed-line routes. Passengers must be certified before riding. Currently, fare is $3.00 per one-way trip. The service is door to door within service area. Call to request application and handbook. Telephone 865-215-7850. If you are eligible, this is widely considered to be the most efficient and least expensive transportation option for people who are blind or visually impaired in the Knoxville area.
Knox County CAC Transit provides lift-equipped minibuses to transport Knox county residents who cannot use the KAT bus system to get to medical appointments, employment, and other essential errands. Employment-related trips allow side trips for delivery of children to day care. Sliding scale fare. Call in advance for reservation; Evening and weekend trips can be arranged for a fee. Telephone 865-524-0319.
The program provides public and medical transportation [for a 16 county area in East Tennessee]. Residents are asked to schedule an appointment at least 48 hours in advance. Medical trips have priority. Currently, a one-way trip is $3.00 or $6.00 for a round trip within the county of residence. An additional $3.00 is charged for every county line crossed. All extra stops are $1.00. Telephone 865-691-2551.
While more expensive than the options listed above, cab service is another transportation option. There are a number of taxicab companies serving the Knoxville area, however, we have found Service Cab to be the most dependable. Telephone 865-523-5151.
United Way Help Line (211)
The United Way Help Line is available within the east Tennessee area. It connects you with “referral specialists” who can help you locate community resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Knox County Government (311)
Knox County Government connects you with a trained assistant who can direct you to the appropriate City or County office for questions or problems regarding governmental services.
Tennessee511 offers an automated menu that provides weather information, traffic conditions, information about public transportation, airports, and more.
The Information Line
The Information Line provides free information on news headlines, sports, driving directions, national weather by city, local movies in addition to a useful business search freature that may be done by any city in the United States. Be aware that long distance rates may apply depending on the type of phone service you have. Telephone 408-752-8052.
Besides the Outdoor recreational activities that Club VIBES offers, we support the below agencies:
The Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes (TNABA) is currently establishing a new statewide organization to promote the physical fitness of all individuals no matter their ability.
Blind or visually impaired athletes, their family and friends, are urged to find out what it means to be a part of an organization focused on adapting “typical” sports and athletic competitions, to more adequately level the playing field for those in Tennessee with a disability.
A free library program of braille, recorded and large print materials is available to residents of Tennessee who are not able to use standard print materials due to a visual or physical disability. The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) cooperates with the National Library Service: Library of Congress (NLS) to administer this free library service. Qualifying individuals can access free books and other materials from the State and the Library of Congress in an accessible format.
Karen Keninger, the Director of the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH)/Library of Congress, has “tasked” the nation’s libraries for the blind and physically handicapped to reach out to eligible persons who have NOT yet registered for LBPH service. In fact, Ms. Keninger has challenged Tennessee to increase our usership by 20%….within the next five years!
In order to do this, we need your assistance. If you know of readers who have physical disabilities that prevent them from reading standard print…whether it’s a visual problem, a manual dexterity problem which makes holding a book and/or turning pages difficult, OR a reading disability please refer them to the Tennessee LBPH.
Any of your patrons who need large print should be eligible to borrow audio and large print from us, too! We have over 60,000 audio titles and 10,000 large print titles available to supplement your collections.
We are hoping YOU will consider adding a link to our website (http://www.tn.gov/tsla/lbph) onto your own site. You will be providing access to public library materials for persons with print disabilities by providing access to the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped. You may browse our website to get more information about our service, including our criteria for patron eligibility, to download applications, and to read back issues of our newsletter.
“Tennessee’s Early Intervention System is a voluntary educational program for families with children ages birth through two years of age with disabilities or developmental delays. The primary goal of TEI is to support families in promoting their child’s optimal development and to facilitate the child’s participation in family and community activities. The focus of TEI is to encourage the active participation of families in the intervention by imbedding strategies into family routines. It is the parents who provide the real early intervention by creatively adapting their child care methods to facilitate the development of their child, while balancing the needs of the rest of the family.”
The Knoxville disABILITY Resource Center (dRC) is a not-for-profit organization run for and by people with disabilities.
The dRC is a Center for Independent Living (CIL). They are a community-based non-residential program of services designed to assist people with disabilities to gain independence and to assist the community in eliminating barriers to independence.
They work with people who have disabilities to create their own practical plan to achieve independence based on their goals, priorities and needs!
They strive to connect people with disabilities in East Tennessee to the adaptive technology tools and services they need to live with maximum independence and dignity.
For people who qualify, DLAC may be able to assist with problems related to their disability like: discrimination in housing, transportation, and employment; access to public and private programs and services; access to rehabilitation and support services; access to appropriate education programs and services; obtaining and utilizing assistive technology services and devices; and access to vocational rehabilitation services that promote employment and independence.
The Lion’s Club provides assistance for needy and qualifying individuals to receive eye exams and prescription glasses. They are also very active in fundraising for charitable organizations.
Please see the site for available areas and additional information. Where available, Southeastern Grocery allows for online shopping with next day delivery to a local iHub or delivery of dry goods by UPS.
The Pass It On Center is a great resource. It connects users with nearby exchange programs so they can find the technology they need. Users can find refurbished and reused devices easily. You can even do a search by your state.
STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents)
Educate and empower parents so they can become the best advocates for their children. This is done through workshops and conferences in Basic Rights, Early Transition (TEIS to School), Secondary Transition (High School to Adulthood), IEP and Communication.
A great handbood for all individuals considering conservatorship.
The use of Braille, assistive technology (such as computers with synthetic speech), IOS devices from Apple with Voice Over software included, scanners, or large-print displays provide alternatives to print reading and writing. The following resources are designed to help transition into or improve the use of these adaptive technologies. It is important to note that most of the resources described or titled for the blind are also appropriate for people with low vision.
While Club VIBES can not endorse any of the organizations listed on this page, the following is a list of the most established companies and nonprofit organizations providing various types of adaptive technology for people who are blind or visually impaired. As with any other consumer purchase, you are encouraged to research and check before buying. We have made every effort, however, not to include any entity with a poor professional reputation.
Apple has recently grown to be one of the new leaders in the field of serving blind and low vision. Using the built in screenreader called Voice Over,VO, they are competitively priced in the mainstream market and offer many hardware devices that with the use of apps can bring lots of independence to a totally blind user. Learning to utilize the touch screen with audio feedback can be a true learning curve, but offers much to the user once learned.
Freedom Scientific is perhaps the largest and best known company producing adaptive technology for the visually impaired. Its products include: screen reading software for the blind, magnification software for those with low-vision, and other products for accessible scanning and reading, as well as Braille displays, notetakers, and an accessible PDA.
GW Micro features a wide range of adaptive products, which include screen reading software, Braille notetakers. an accessible laptop, and a CCTV for enlarging print for those with low vision.
This is a free screen reader software download for people who are blind or have low vision. The free RoboBraille translation service has now officially added support for American English grades 1 and 2 braille. You can attach a document in a variety of formats, including pictures of print documents, and have the result e-mailed to you as a braille document. To generate contracted braille, e-mail your print document to email@example.com
Duxbury Systems provide high-quality software for Braille. The Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) and MegaDots are used by virtually all of the world’s leading Braille publishers. No one supports more languages than Duxbury Systems — DBT supports grade 1 and grade 2 translations in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Malaysian, Swedish, and other languages. Its software can produce contracted and uncontracted Braille, mathematics, and technical Braille.
APH provides a number of excellent computer and computer-related resources including:
Accessible Textbook Department: Because of changes in the way textbooks are selected and used in general education, the American Printing House for the Blind is revamping its procedure for recording and distributing texts for classroom use. It is creating new systems to provide accessible textbooks in an expanded variety of media. In addition to traditional textbooks, titles will be produced in Braille, hardcopy, Electronic files for embossing, and downloadable files from the APH web site.
Enabling Technologies designs, manufactures, and supports some of the most popular Braille Embossers, a device for quickly printing large quantities of high-quality Braille.
Although the home page highlights macular degeneration, this company provides high-quality services of use to virtually anyone with any type of vision loss. It produces BrailleNote, the world’s smallest PDA for the blind; PocketViewer, a portable magnifier; Orator, software to enable the blind to easily use the Blackberry PDA; and Victor Reader Stream, a digital talking book player. HumanWare is especially noteworthy for an excellent reputation for customer support.
While the quality of the speech leaves a good deal to be desired and the software is not as full-featured as its pricier competition, this screen reader is a unique technology with significant promise. It is also noteworthy that it is easier to to learn and, therefore, may be better suited for a user who is not interested in, or does not need, a more sophisticated product.
AI Squared makes Zoom Text, one of the leading screen enlargement programs for using computers. It is one of the largest and best known companies in this market.
This company offers a select assortment of Braille and speech products including: optical character recognition (OCR) packages; screen readers; enlargement software; a portable magnifier for laptops; hand-held organizers and many other products from a variety of key manufacturers.
Over 30 years old, ILA offers a wide variety of products, some designed for the general public and many others specially created for the blind/visually impaired market. You can order by phone, online, or through an accessible catalog. You may also get either a free PDF or text-based catalog.
Over 20 years old, MaxiAids offers over 6,000 products for several groups of customers with disabilities. Orders may be placed through their web site, by faxing 631-752-0689, or by calling their toll-free number, 800-522-6294.
“You can get free access to catalogs such as LL Bean, Lands End, Avon Campaign, Beauty Boutique, Anthony Richards and Carol Wright Gifts, and more. Catalogs are available as download, quad track cassette, or mp3/cd. Telephone 877-814-7323 and place your order.”
This online store offers audio books, software for entertainment, tools, electronics, housewares, kitchen products, sporting goods, toys, as well as other Adaptive products for the blind. Telephone 713-893-7277.
Although the catalog is not as extensive as some other sites, there is, nonetheless, a good listing of accessible products, especially for someone who is adjusting to vision loss. Major sections include toys and games, time keeping, low vision products, “Braille workshop,” copying services, housewares, greeting cards, gifts, computer lab, and a Braille bookstore. Phone 800-987-1231.
Billed as “your home” for the latest deals, and news for the blind and visually impaired. Blind Bargains scours the net to bring you the latest sales, deals, and news on computers, screen readers, notetakers, braille printers, hard drives, accessible cell phones, memory cards, talking products, household items, and much more. [It] also presents articles, news, and resources of general interest to the blind community and friends.” Highly accessible site so that a blind computer user may easily order online.
Top Dot Enterprises offers individual and small-group adaptive technology training to blind users in person, online or by phone. It also sells audio training courses which have helped many people gain confidence in using adaptive technology. You can also sign-up to receive a concise weekly e-mail newsletter containing the week’s news in adaptive technology, technology in general as it relates to the blind, and Internet audio.
The Chicago Lighthouse has established a telephone assistive technology support line. The toll-free number is 888-825-0080. Any person who is blind or visually impaired, their teachers, or others may call the support line regardless of what product they’re using. The service is available to anyone in the United States or Canada.
Carroll Tech, a division of The Carroll Center for the Blind, offers high-quality online courses in adaptive technology. Such classes are designed for you if you: need training in Microsoft Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint or any of a number of Braille, speech or large print devices; are a first-time user or need to upgrade your knowledge; or use the screen readers JAWS For Windows or Window-Eyes or the screen magnifiers ZoomText or MAGic.
This site, hosted by Ric Harmon, provides links to excellent audio tutorials, programs, web sites of interest to visually impaired computer users, mailing lists, and upcoming events of interest to blind geeks as well as would-be geeks.
The mission of this site is “to educate the general public, the disabled community and the professionals who serve them by providing highly relevant information about new products, services, and training opportunities designed specifically to eliminate geographic and access barriers that adversely affect them.” Especially good for frequent programs and training on the rapidly changing world of adaptive technology.
Visually Impaired Boston Users Group (VIBUG) is the oldest computer user group for the blind. They offer excellent audio archives of their monthly programs for no charge. In addition, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, people can join from anywhere for $20 per year, allowing you to take part in the meetings live, ask questions, get live computer assistance, and share resources.
“This site by the Web Accessibility Initiative, is designed to let you change the Text Size and Text Background Colors and other display settings through standard browser settings.”
“The main purpose of Simplehelp.net is to help beginner-to-intermediate computer users learn how to do various things with their computers. Simplehelp.net teaches a wide variety of topics to all levels, such as troubleshooting email, preventing spam and removing spyware.”
“AppleVis is a community driven website that was created in response to a demand for [a site that] collected information on the accessibility of apps developed for Apple’s iOS devices. [It aims] to build a directory of guides, tutorials and tips that will enable vision impaired users to get the most from their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.” It is arguably the best current site providing this type of information.
“For those wanting guidance on the use of the latest Apple products with VoiceOver, as well as with older versions, the adaptive technology podcasts from Vision Australia[is] a consistent source of good information.”
This database includes the names, locations, and qualifications of producers of accessible materials for visually impaired and blind individuals.
The Fred’s Head Database is a source of tips and techniques for and by blind or visually impaired individuals related to adaptive technology.
The American Foundation for the Blind has been a traditional leader in the field of blindness. The AFB Web site provides some especially good information for getting into, or refining, your use of all types of adaptive technology. One interesting link is about using technology. A variety of information on technology can be found in this web site section, which features descriptions of adaptive equipment, offers tips on using technology effectively, and gives technology specialists advice on making web sites and computer applications accessible to people who are visually impaired.
There are many online resources for blind or vision impaired on the web. Club VIBES believes that teaching someone to learn the skill of using the computer and its browser to access the internet to search opens up a whole world of new information on many subjects for the blind and visually impaired. This is one more way that Club VIBES is increasing the independent living skills of our young members.
Here are a few of our favorites, but check back for more online websites to be shared.
“Bookshare is an online library of digital books for people with print disabilities. It operates under an exception to US copyright law, which allows copyrighted digital books to be made available to people with qualifying disabilities. In addition, many publishers and authors have volunteered to provide Bookshare with access to their works. By requiring individuals to register as Members and provide a Proof of Disability, Bookshare ensures that only qualified individuals use the service.
Bookshare Members download books, textbooks and newspapers in a compressed, encrypted file. They then read the material using adaptive technology, typically software that reads the book aloud (text-to-speech) and/or displays the text of the book on a computer screen, or Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays.” Available free to all students from kindergarten through high school and other eligible older borrowers.
Has an IOS Apple App called Read2Go available in the Apple App store.
“Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s collection of more than 70,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – downloadable and accessible on mainstream as well as specialized assistive technology devices – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 6,000 volunteers across theU.S.help to record and process the educational materials . . ..” Borrowers must meet eligibility requirements and pay a registration fee. Telephone: 800-221-4792.
Look for the free Learning Ally app in the Apple App store.
Perhaps the best single source of free books and other printed materials which may be read using a computer with text-to-speech software. Each link is described to better enable to find exactly what you are looking for. The site includes pages on Online Children’s Literature , Electronic Books and Bibliographies and Electronic Journals and Newspapers.
An excellent list, with brief descriptions, of many of the most useful sites and periodicals for the blind and visually impaired.
“This website is created by visually impaired people for visually impaired people.” Whether you are just confronting vision loss or have dealt with it for some time, this site offers information on books, adaptive technology, web sites for shopping, tips related to vision loss, and more.”
Based on The Merck Manual, but written in everyday language by 300 outstanding contributors, the site explains eye disorders, who is likely to get them, their symptoms, how they’re diagnosed, how they might be prevented, and how they can be treated.
More than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers from Mayo Clinic share their expertise to empower you to manage your health on this site. You will find links to diseases, symptoms, medical tests and procedures, and drugs. Browseable and searchable.
Featuring 800 topics on conditions, diseases and wellness. There are extensive sections on drugs and supplements, a medical encyclopedia, a medical dictionary with spellings and definitions, current health news and announcements, and a service for finding local resources for health related issues.
You can search an extensive list of articles on an exceptionally large number of medical conditions. These range from information that is understandable by the layman to highly technical writings. Hopkins has one, if not the best, of the ophthalmology departments in the country.
Intended to be a general site for medical information, there is, nonetheless, a great deal of material here relating to eye conditions and eye diseases. There is a dictionary of medical terms, and you can search by symptoms. Both simple and advanced searches are offered. Text may be enlarged.