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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Champions of Decreased Vision

Jun 30, 2014 06:44PM ● By Debbie Schaab

If your vision is not what it used to be and those magnifiers are no longer working for you, many causes of vision loss are treatable by a board certified ophthalmologist. But if your problem can’t be treated, there is still help out there. Losing one’s vision to any degree is a frightening enough experience for a person and their loved ones, but the loss of independence is probably one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, along with a sense of isolation, fear, frustration and low self-esteem. Fortunately, there are several agencies to help those with any degree of vision loss, from mild impairment to total blindness.

Empowering and Mentoring for the Visually Impaired Association (EMVIA) provides resources of many kinds. Volunteers help access the agencies needed to get people back on the path to a better quality of life. EMVIA features weekly grocery bargains online, a list of activities pertaining to the visually impaired such as descriptive movies (the action on the screen is described and the person wears a headset), meetings, socialization, education seminars and restaurants that have large-print and/or braille menus, to name just a few.

Call EMVIA at 520-290-4770 or visit

The Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI) offers several classes for all levels of visual impairment, including basic skills in cooking, mobility training, computer use and braille, as well as instruction for diabetics that suffer visual impairment due to their disease. Many illnesses cause vision loss, and all are addressed here by a staff that is ready to help.

Call SAAVI at 520-795-1331.

Desert Low Vision is a business with just about anything you can imagine to help any level of visual impairment, including special telephones, cooking supplies, checkbook help, magnifiers, Victor Stream Readers and high-powered lighting for sale, to name just a few.

Call Janet Dylla at 520-881-3439.

Sun Sounds is a radio reading service for those with any kind of physical disability that makes it difficult to read printed matter. These disabilities include dyslexia, double vision, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, arthritis and diabetic retinopathy. The service is free and on the air 24/7, offering the Arizona Daily Star each morning, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Cuentos, poetry, short stories of all kinds and even an over-the-air descriptive movie on Saturday evenings. To get this free service, contact the Sun Sounds office to request an application to fill out, mail it back and you will be mailed a free radio.

Call 520-296-2400 or visit

Talking Books is a free service of the Library of Congress and has a large library in Phoenix. There are thousands of books available to be mailed to your home on a digital disc that you listen to on a special disc player, which is provided at no charge.

Call Talking Books at 1-800-255-5578.

The annual Prickly Pear Festival will he held from noon to 6 p.m., August 23, as a fundraiser to benefit EMVIA. Attendees will experience all things prickly pear from many venders, including beer, margaritas and lemonade, as well as other food samples, prickly pear art, crafts and other products. A special Kids Corner offers face painting, adoptable cats and dogs, demonstrations by the Tucson Fire and Police departments and a fingerprinting opportunity with McGruff the Crime Dog. Admission is free. Location: Holiday Inn Airport North, 4550 S. Palo Verde Rd.

Debbie Schaab is a volunteer for EMVIA, Sun Sounds and SAAVI.

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