[tabi] Congrats to Florida Outreach Center for the Blind!

  • From: Lighthouse of the Big Bend <lighthousebigbend@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: tabi <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 May 2011 11:28:49 -0400

Blind center moves to bigger space in Palm Springs
Palm Beach Post
By Willie Howard


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

"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

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

The center also lends out talking books and hosts weekly support group
meetings, craft classes and workshops on topics for the visually


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
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