2009 Possibilities Fair for Seniors Losing Vision

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Each year, more than 350 seniors who are losing vision attend the annual Possibilities Fair for Seniors held in the spacious Members Hall of the National Federation of the BlindFair attendees make their way around the room to visit the many exhibits and demonstration areas. Jernigan Institute.  Americans are living longer, and vision loss occurs more frequently among those who are older.  More than 50 percent of the 70,000 individuals who become blind in this country each year are over the age of sixty-five, and this population is expected to more than double by the year 2030.  Yet less financial resources and fewer services are available to those over fifty-five losing vision than to younger blind people.

Seniors take time out for lunch and the beginning of the speakers program.Each year the National Federation of the Blind sets up more than twenty exhibit and demonstration areas.  Also on hand are representatives from NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free service to those who cannot read regular newsprint.  These coupled with the many community nonprofit and governmental organizations that provide resource and service information to low vision seniors.  In the past, our partners have included organizations like the Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and AARP.  Members representing NFB affiliates from around the country are encouraged to attend this National Fair to learn how to plan for a senior event in their home communities. 

The Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader is given a workout as many stop by to see a live demo.Of the more then twenty NFB exhibits, many manned by volunteers from Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM), there are tables for crafts and needlework, for food prep and shopping, and for dealing with personal finance and problem solving.  Community organizations and governmental agencies on hand share information about what services are available for the blind and visually impaired.  Much vital information goes home with our visitors.

Volunteers from BISM man one of the more then 20 NFB demonstration tables.There is also an opportunity to try out the portable Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader and other devices.  Attendees often observe a demonstration of the reader and have the opportunity to operate it themselves.  Staff from the NFB’s International Braille and Technology Center (IBTC) are available to answer questions about the latest in assistive technology, CCTVs, and speech programs.

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