Blind center moves to bigger space in Palm Springs Palm Beach Post By Willie Howard http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/blind-center-moves-to-bigger-space-in-palm-1468310.html PALM SPRINGS — Florida Outreach Center for the Blind was started by the blind, for the blind. Three of its four full-time staffers are blind. And more than half of the nonprofit organization's board of directors is either blind or has a family member who is blind. Carolyn Lapp, who lost her sight in a car accident in St. Lucie County at age 14, started the Palm Beach County center in 2003 after organizing seven chapters of the National Federation of the Blind elsewhere. "Working with blind people, I saw the need for a training center that was run primarily by blind people," said Lapp, 51. "Who better to teach blind people than other blind people who have already been through the training?" The nonprofit recently moved into a new building in Palm Springs, at Congress Avenue and Dolan Road, which is twice as big as the old quarters in West Palm Beach. About 100 clients a year take advantage of the center's free services offered to those who are legally blind. They include living skills, such as cooking and washing clothes, as well as job skills that include using computers and reading machines, Braille reading, and learning to use new technology, such as the Nokia cellphone that can tell the difference between a $1 bill and a $20 bill. "We definitely work to make them independent," Lapp said. "If they want to be employed, we work toward that goal ." Some of the training, especially for elderly blind people, takes place in the client's homes. Beverly Gallus, the center's rehabilitation instructor, who is not blind, teaches clients how to read and write in Braille, how to sew, how to select the numbers on a phone and other life and work skills. Those who become proficient at Braille can read as fast as someone with normal vision, Gallus said. Computer instructor Jason Goldfield teaches clients about programs that read the text on a computer screen, such as the free NonVisual Desktop Access program and the JAWS screen reading program, both for Windows. Some clients need only ZoomText, a program that enlarges type on a computer. Others might use a Solo reading machine, one of the many adaptive machines for sale in the center's store. Set a book or a newspaper under the machine and it starts reading in English or Spanish, in a male or female voice. "They do a great job in the community to help people function in life," Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana said. "The more people who can function independently the better it is for them and for society." Special activities of the center include an Easter egg hunt (with beeping eggs) and the annual Dining in the Dark fund-raising banquet, during which sighted supporters of the center get to experience what it feels like to dine without seeing their food. This year's Dining in the Dark banquet is set for Oct. 15 at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport hotel. The center also lends out talking books and hosts weekly support group meetings, craft classes and workshops on topics for the visually impaired. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Florida Outreach Center for the Blind Blind people teaching other blind people to be self-sufficient. Address: 2315 S. Congress Ave., Palm Springs For more information: Call: (561) 642-0005, visit: www.flblindcenter.org or e-mail info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Cost: Free Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.