Hadley School offers Low Vision Focus for visually impaired

WINNETKA, Ill. (WLS) -- It's estimated that approximately 3 million Americans have low vision, and that number is expected to double by the year 2030.

But that doesn't mean those with vision difficulties have to lose their independence. Being able to navigate your own home is a big first step in living independently. The Hadley School for the Blind has a new program that aims to make that easier for people with low vision.

Vicky Young knows a few things about "vision proofing" a home.

"They're alphabetized so I know if I'm looking for oregano, I'm going to be reaching up higher," she said. "I also have the stove marked."

With just a few adjustments, daily tasks can become easier and safer for people with diminished eyesight. Young is a teacher at the Hadley School in north suburban Winnetka. She says small adjustments can have a major impact.

"First of all, talk to the person with low vision. Find out what makes them comfortable," Young said. "Sometimes you think red is good. It's got a good, deep color. But sometimes people look at red, and it's black."

A home demo is part of a new program at Hadley called Low Vision Focus.

"The broad definition of low vision is someone who even with eyeglasses, contact lenses, surgery or medications still has a significant difficulty seeing," said Doug Anzlovar, vice president, Hadley School for the Blind. "I've had low vision all of my life. I'm in my early 40s, so I have experience with it."

The program is designed to provide simple life hacks to help promote independence -- like using contrasting colors for cooking and dining, marking pill bottles to indicate whether to take one pill or two, or adding colors to stairs to show when you're coming to the end.

Low Vision Focus is one of more than 100 free courses Hadley teaches through distance learning. The school also offers courses to blindness professionals. Offerings range from publications in Braille to personalized videos.

"We also have a high school programs for adults who for whatever reason did not earn their high school diploma and they come to us and study with us," said Anzlovar.

Hadley is the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind or visually impaired around the world. It serves more than 10,000 students annually in all 50 states and 100 countries.

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