In the early 1920s six women formed an organization devoted to serving New Yorkers who were blind. They saw needs of people that had been overlooked, such as the need for a place with specially designed accommodations and services. The organization, called Vacation Camp, started on March 5, 1923 with sixty-two charter members. The women rented a cottage in Rye, New York, where a few blind men could spend two-week stays. By the second summer, VCB hosted 150 blind and partially sighted guests over a ten-week season. VCB pioneered racially integrated groups.
On June 21, 1926, Vacation Camp and Dormitory for the Blind was incorporated. An estate in Rye was purchased, and a residence for 13 blind working men was established on 120th Street in Manhattan.
In 1951, a thirty-five acre facility in the Village of New Hempstead, New York, was purchased, offering year-round services. Local Lions Clubs adopted VCB offering volunteer and financial support.
In 1964, VISIONS introduced the first group of seniors with vision loss to a senior center in their own neighborhood. Today, we provide outreach, information services, and counseling to help older individuals integrate into community life, and serve as a liaison with over 152 centers and sites throughout New York City.
In 1972, CIL (Center for Independent Living) rehabilitation services began as the only program at the time providing comprehensive individualized services for older people who are blind. CIL and VCB merged in 1984. Today, consumers receive training at home, at VISIONS at Greenwich Street and VISIONS at Selis Manor. In 1993, VISIONS rehabilitation department received the Program of Distinction Award from the National Rehabilitation Association, New York Metropolitan Chapter.
In 1997, VISIONS Intergenerational Program won the Youth Serving Elders Award from NYSIGN, the New York State Intergenerational Network.
In 2001, VISIONS at Selis Manor inaugurated its new rehabilitation, vocational and social programs to serve tenants of Selis Manor and community users who are blind or visually impaired.
In 2004, VISIONS received a Best Practices Award from the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City for its senior center training and integration of seniors who are blind into center activities. VISIONS was named Outstanding Employer by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), an inaugural national recognition award.
In 2005, VISIONS created Blindline® a vocational training program and call center to enable people to locate resources and services for people who are blind or visually impaired.
In 2006, VISIONS received the New York State Coalition on Aging Intergenerational Program Award.
In 2007, VISIONS created an Employment and Training Center at VISIONS at Selis Manor. VISIONS was chosen by CONTRIBUTE Magazine as the #2 charity in the Health and Medical category.
In 2008, VISIONS won a SNAPPLE award for Intergenerational Volunteer Services and first prize in the FEGS Haym Salomon Juried Arts Competition. VISIONS expanded the Employment Center at VISIONS at Selis Manor renaming it Workforce Development and Training.
In 2009, VISIONS changed the name of VCB from Vacation Camp for the Blind to VISIONS Center on Blindness to reflect the changed mission of the facility.
In 2010, VISIONS added a separate program for caregivers of blind seniors offering information support and respite services. VISIONS was honored by the NYS Division of Human Rights for its programs and advocacy for the rights of people with vision loss. VISIONS was chosen as one of the Great Disability Nonprofits.
In 2012, VISIONS opened the first senior center in the country for blind and visually impaired older adults.
In 2013, VISIONS created a Youth and Vision Loss Coalition and held its first on campus pre-college program.
In 2014, VISIONS is chosen for PBS WNET American Graduate Day segment highlighting the success of blind high school graduates.
In 2015, VISIONS is chosen as a finalist for the Age Smart Employer of the year award from Columbia University and the NY Academy of Medicine.