CABVI offering range of vision services in wake of NNY agency permanently closing its doors – NNY360

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Mainly cloudy with a mixture of rain and snow showers developing in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the mid to upper 30s. Winds light and variable. Chance of precip 50%..
Mainly cloudy with snow showers around before midnight. Low near 30F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 40%.
Updated: December 30, 2021 @ 2:46 am
A participant with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s wellness program crosses the street. Provided photo
The Northern New York Community Foundation building, 131 Washington St. in Watertown, now houses an office for the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times
A participant with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s wellness program purchases vegetables at the Watertown Farmer’s Market. Provided photo

A participant with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s wellness program crosses the street. Provided photo
The Northern New York Community Foundation building, 131 Washington St. in Watertown, now houses an office for the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times
A participant with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s wellness program purchases vegetables at the Watertown Farmer’s Market. Provided photo
WATERTOWN — After offering professional services in the area for decades, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Northern New York has cracked under years of pressure associated with not being able to find credentialed staff, other hurdles, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, headquartered in Utica, has stepped in to make sure those with vision loss remain well cared for.
The transition took place in the spring. Priorities have been maintaining care for those in the north country and increasing awareness about other resources available through CABVI. The organization now has offices in the Northern New York Community Foundation building, 131 Washington St., where its staff will have regular hours beginning in 2022.
“We had a wonderful relationship with each other and they put their consumers first,” said CABVI Vice President of Rehabilitation Kathy E. Beaver. “They wanted to make sure that the services were available to those that they had previously served, so we entered into a memorandum of understanding where all of their consumers became ours. We reached out to those individuals, sent them letters and talked to them by phone, many of whom we are now actively serving.”
CABVI has been providing services in Jefferson County and the surrounding area for many years, close to 20, according to Mrs. Beaver.
The organization was approached by the New York State Commission for the Blind as Jefferson County was flagged as an underserved area, meaning it didn’t have a provider of professional rehabilitation services. The Commission approached ABVINNY, which didn’t have any credentialed staff with master’s degrees in visual rehabilitation therapy. But CABVI did. The two organizations co-managed the services in the county for a number of years.
Now, CABVI offers vision rehabilitation services in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Fulton, Montgomery, and northern Otsego counties. According to Mrs. Beaver, the past year saw the organization’s greatest service in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, serving over 250 people since the spring transition. In total as an organization, CABVI serves about 1,900 individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Services offered by CABVI include orientation mobility, or travel training; vision rehab therapy, or independent living skills; clinical social work; and adaptive technology. Mrs. Beaver said many services are provided in people’s homes.
“We have some grant opportunities that we were able to extend in the region as well,” she said. “We’re in partnership with Johns Hopkins and doing research in extreme low vision, using alternative reality headsets and helping to understand how much people can actually see. We’ve been doing some research out of our offices in Watertown that people can participate in.”
Due to the success of the research with Johns Hopkins, that program has been extended. The second phase includes incorporating movements with participants in a virtual travel environment — they must step off a curb and cross the street successfully.
The organization also received a Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grant, a wellness organization that funds programs in several categories for New Yorkers. CABVI’s grant looked at health and nutrition and their impact on vision. Mrs. Beaver said that program took place earlier this year.
Though CABVI is just starting in its new offices, it has an Adaptive Technology Center and is looking to build that program.
The organization plans on reaching out to school districts to serve more children with vision loss. CABVI already has contracts with some local districts like Watertown, LaFargeville and Indian River, but anticipates room for expansion.
“The north country region is growing — it’s probably one of the strongest regions which often gets overlooked in New York state, but it has a lot of upward movement as far as people moving into the region,” Mrs. Beaver said. “I know some of it’s associated with the base (Fort Drum), but it’s becoming very progressive and we want to be a part of that growth, part of that community.”
CABVI aims to be readily available to take questions and assist people. The private nonprofit doesn’t want anyone to go without necessary services and has a mission to help those with vision loss achieve their highest levels of independence, regardless of ability to pay.
Mrs. Beaver said the organization will provide as much information as needed, which is always free, to anyone who asks for it. CABVI staff assisting callers will speak with them about impairments, help get medical records, and help navigate options. Even if services aren’t needed now, people are encouraged to learn more so that in the future, should they need CABVI, they know what’s available to them.
Mrs. Beaver noted that CABVI is also interested in partnerships with other organizations, especially those serving a population with a high prevalence of vision loss. Eye doctors and other medical providers, for example, may be able to partner in the care of patients.
“We want to meet the needs of everyone who is having vision loss, not just those who are legally blind, but those who are in the early stages of vision loss,” Mrs. Beaver said. “We want to get to them early, make sure that they understand that we’re there and we’re available to them — just a phone call away.”
To learn more about CABVI, visit www.cabvi.org or call the Watertown office at 315-797-2233 ext. 4026.
Johnson Newspapers 7.1
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