are many ways to donate to BCB! We welcome donations online, by mail, or in
person and accept monetary, stocks, bequests, and in-kind gifts. You can also donate your vehicle,
sign up for Kroger Community Rewards, Amazon Smile, and more! For more ways to
donate, visit our website at www.bcbky.org.
Some in-kind donations we are in need of include office supplies and assistive technology equipment such as smartphones, computers, tablets, magnifiers, CCTVs, ZoomText, etc. We also accept donations of gift cards to places like Kroger, Walmart, or other businesses for our Peer Support Group Meetings, Quarterly Membership Meetings, or conferences we attend where we need to bring a door prize. Silent auction items are also needed for our annual fundraising event.
Founded by Cyrus Bayer in
Lexington, KY in 1975, this grass-roots organization has been offering peer
support and assistive technology services for 40 years in Kentucky. In 1978,
BCB obtained their 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the IRS and in 1980, became an
affiliate chapter of the American Council of the Blind. BCB is also proud to
celebrate its 20th year
at our current location on South Broadway, which is conveniently located near
downtown and the University of Kentucky campus. BCB has maintained this
accessible location since 1995, offering stability, familiarity, and
consistency for the Central KY community.
BCB is proud of its long history of serving persons affected by vision loss and is excited to celebrate its 40 years of accomplishments and service with an Open House scheduled for October 2015, during Blindness and Visual Impairment Awareness Month in Kentucky.
BCB is the only nonprofit organization in Lexington serving the needs of blind and visually impaired adults exclusively, with its programs of Peer Support and Assistive Technology and Training, BCB provides a wealth of services to enhance the quality of life for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers and other professionals working with the blind and visually impaired. The Peer Support Program provides monthly group luncheon meetings with speakers and added a mentoring component last year that allows for one-on-one support and training. BCB also maintains an assistive technology lending library for those individuals that are unable to afford or otherwise obtain assistive technology. In addition, BCB continues to develop collaborative efforts with other organizations serving the blind and visually impaired community such as: Kentucky Office for the Blind, Radio Eye, Low Vision Services of KY, Cardinal Hill Low Vision Services, Independence Place, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, LFUCG Department of Aging and Disability Services, KY Office for the Blind State Rehabilitation Council, and is an affiliate chapter of the American Council of the Blind.
Council of the Blind has served the adult blind and visually impaired (b/vi)
community in the Central Kentucky Area since 1975 through information,
referral, education outreach, advocacy, and assistive technology. Its monthly Peer
Support Group Meetings have provided individuals with the opportunity to
socialize, be provided with lunch, and listen to a presentation on a topic that
is not only educational, but is directed at providing an enhanced quality of
life. More recently BCB has expanded the scope of this program by adding a
Mentoring component and monthly Community Outings. BCB works continuously to do
outreach, make referrals, and provide advocacy to those b/vi individuals who
live in Fayette and surrounding counties. BCB has established a working
partnership with the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) to
re-train visually impaired and disabled individuals to help them re-enter the
workforce. BCB has achieved representation on the Kentucky Office for the Blind
State Rehabilitation Council and has also collaborated with a variety of
organizations that provide services to the b/vi community. BCB is a founding
member of the Blind Services Coalition of Kentucky and BCB’s Director of
Programs serves as the Secretary. Since its inception, BCB has published a
printed quarterly newsletter; in collaboration with Radio Eye, an oral version
is also broadcast. In the past year, this was changed to a bi-monthly newsletter.
Our most pressing needs include:
As Director of Bluegrass Council of the Blind, I have been challenged to promote awareness of the abilities, rights and specific needs of people with a vision loss. This is truly the Council OF the Blind. BCB members are self-governing and very cognizant of their abilities to serve as productive citizens of the community. BCB is unique in the fact that blind and visually impaired members require specialized equipment/software specific to their visual needs. Advances in technology have allowed visually impaired people to keep up with sighted counterparts in jobs, serving on boards and other positions.
The goal of BCB is to enhance the quality of life for persons affected by vision loss by empowering participants through peer support, education, technology, information, and interaction. We strive to assist persons experiencing a loss of vision with the adjustments necessary to cope with losing sight and become independent, self-sufficient, contributing members of their community. Services are offered to anyone affected by vision loss, including family, caregivers, community members and professionals working with blind and low vision adults.
For anyone experiencing vision loss, especially later in life, learning to cope, adjust, and manage day to day tasks is a basic human need, as well as a significant improvement in their quality of life. A recent study from Thomas Jefferson University revealed the best treatment for those who have macular degeneration was a combination of physical and emotional treatment from occupational therapists, which reduced depression. BCB provides very similar services occupational therapy low vision programs provide, but the superior thing about our program is our services are free, implemented by people who have firsthand knowledge of the trials and triumphs of living with vision loss.
The majority of our consumers are over 55 and are low income. Since BCB offers our services free of charge, our programs are essential to the estimated 40% of b/vi adults in our service area over 55. According to the Family Caregivers Alliance, nearly 3.5 million American over 40 have some degree of vision loss, most commonly from age-related conditions. BCB improves the quality of life for consumers by giving them the ability to manage everyday tasks that was taken away from them when they lost their sight. Consumers are able to manage daily tasks independently, they are more employable, and lead safer and healthier lives.
According to Lighthouse International, visual impairment is one of the biggest risk factors for falls and hip fractures. Vision loss can decrease visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, glare sensitivity, depth perception, and the ability to adapt in different lighting conditions. Through the use of assistive technology devices and the support and sharing of information, consumers learn techniques and methods to be more safe and independent.
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, 75% of adults who are visually impaired are not in the labor force and Lighthouse International reports the average annual earnings of individuals with vision impairment who are in the work force are about 33% lower than those earned by a person without disabilities. 75% of BCB consumers have low income and cannot afford to purchase necessary AT devices. Peer support and assistive technology loans assist b/vi individuals in becoming more independent and active in their communities, teaching them the skills needed to join the workforce or stay in their careers.
Our success is reflected in the increase of participants and the number of those achieving. Our membership is up by 16% over last year. The number of attendees for our peer support group meetings is up by 36%. Participants are surveyed following each session or presentation and approximately 90% respond as having gained new knowledge of techniques or information that is helpful in their own life for gaining independence, self-sufficiency, or adapting to vision loss.
In 2016 we expanded our office, meeting and training areas to over double. Now we are able to reach more persons affected by vision loss and increase attendance. Our conference room now seats a maximum of 50 people. With several consumers who use wheelchairs, scooters or walkers, mobility we now have the ability to comfortably accommodate everyone.
We encourage consumers to get the support and information they need to be successful and self-sufficient, but we also encourage them to come and share and support others, even though they are independent and successful. Techniques, resources and technology are constantly changing and being able to share this type of information on an on-going basis allows consumers to constantly learn, achieve and help others. Growing our membership and attendance is a big success.
Finding just the right match for mentees is another challenge. We have mentors and mentees on a wait list. Even though we have the numbers to make pairings, that doesn’t mean they would be a good match. We are researching ways to recruit mentors with the time and talents to be good mentors, and the best way to keep participants active and interested until we find a good match.
Other challenges include transportation, awareness, and space. Most b/vi consumers use Red Cross Wheels or depend on family members or friends to transport them to meetings. For those outside Fayette County, participating in any programs here involves a costly commute, as no affordable transportation is offered across county lines. Using Wheels is affordable, but only available within the county and requires a significant time commitment. This option is not functional for persons who are working or have other daytime obligations that require punctuality. The challenge of transportation directly affects attendance and participation.
Theresa is determined not to let her vision loss result in a “loss of vision”. Her background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Evansville and more than 25 years of community service: as both an employee and volunteer for many non-profit agencies and organizations across Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. Theresa was working for God’s Pantry Food Bank as a valued member of the Development team when she was approached about the position at BCB. Prior to God’s Pantry, she worked for the United Way of the Bluegrass as a Community Building Coordinator. She has served on several non-profit boards including Independent Transportation Network, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Glendover Elementary PTA, as well as volunteering and fund-raising for numerous organizations such as The American Cancer Society, National Downs Syndrome Society, The American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Association, and The Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Our challenge of space was solved in 2016 when we expanded our office, meeting and training to double of what it was. The new spaces also accommodate those who use wheelchairs, walkers or scooters.
1. Information, Referral, and Intake
BCB accepts and responds to inquiries for information on programs and services available to persons affected by vision loss and provide appropriate referrals, as needed, to other programs and organizations.
2. Group Meetings and Community Outings
Our group meetings are held once a month, on the 4th Wednesday from noon – 2pm. The meetings include presentations with informative share sessions. Our community outings are scheduled monthly (typically on the 2nd Monday of the month).
One-on-one support is provided in the mentoring component of Peer Support. Interested mentees are paired with our members for a minimum of a one year relationship.
BCB is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and membership is $10 a year for both a BCB and ACB membership. Membership meetings are held quarterly in March, June, September, and December and include a dinner and business meeting.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Copyright © 2014 Blue Grass Community Foundation
499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507