VISIONS Response to COVID-19

A man wearing a white button down shirt hosts a video meeting on his laptop while in his home.

During these uncertain times, we remain committed to serving the needs of participants who are blind and visually impaired, living in all boroughs of NYC, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland County, and several counties in New Jersey.

We are proud to provide the following updates regarding our continued vision rehabilitation services during the pandemic:

  • VISIONS main office on Greenwich Street reopened on July 6th, 2020 with a skeleton staff to maintain social distancing. Beginning August 3rd, 2020, we are offering in-person programs and services for families of children who are blind or visually impaired at VISIONS Center on Blindndess (VCB), and training for youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired at the Vocational Rehabilitation Center (VRC) in Rockland County.
  • VISIONS general Vision Rehabilitation Services have resumed in person, offered by certified professional staff including in-home Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT), and Orientation & Mobility (O&M) training in our entire coverage area.
  • VISIONS Center on Aging staff continues to offer remote virtual classes and support groups for center participants. Classes include chair exercises, seated Zumba, and themed support groups, allowing participants to remain social, while social distancing. We are also continuing to supply vouchers for free breakfast meals at the Malibu Diner for center participants. Additionally, center staff are regularly communicating with over 350 older adult participants and performing safety checks. We anticipate offering in-person services in October 2020 if the pandemic does not worsen in New York City.
  • VISIONS Social Work Counseling services are offered both in-person and remotely by our licensed social workers (phone or video call) by appointment only.
  • VISIONS benefits counselors are remotely assisting participants with tasks including coordinating home-delivered meals (if qualified); locating pick up food sites; locating testing sites; and understanding economic impact payment information, medical services, and other benefits related to COVID-19.
  • VISIONS unpaid Caregiver Support Program continues to offer training and support for unpaid caregivers of older adults, if one or both are blind or visually impaired.
  • VISIONS Department of Workforce Development and VISIONS Department of Youth Services are continuing to provide remote work readiness and pre-vocational skills workshops utilizing video conferencing. Participants have been able to meet virtually “face-to-face”, share files, and conduct enhanced discussions with guest speakers. We recently helped four legally blind people get jobs despite the pandemic.
  • VISIONS Assistive Technology instructors have been providing remote (and in special cases, at-home) technology assistance for our staff and participants, all while maintaining social distancing and safety guidelines.

Our success with remote programming is thanks to our team of dedicated staff, who have been flexible in the way they teach, and quickly adaptable to new technology. We are very happy to report that the agency has had no staff layoffs or salary reductions. Our ability to continue serving our diverse population, as well as our commitment to protecting our staff during these unprecedented times, is only made possible through the support of individual donors as well as foundations. To learn more about VISIONS, please follow us on social media:

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To view previous updates, click here

Free COVID-19 Resources

Below are some free tools, blogs, articles, and resources for people affected by COVID-19. If you would like to suggest any additional resources, e-mail info@visionsvcb.org.

Technology

Freedom Scientific will be offering use of their software "JAWS", "ZoomText" and "ZoomText Fusion" free of charge until June 30, 2020

NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more.

TechOwl's article about using Zoom on mobile devices introduces readers to the program and helps introduce basic concepts, ideal for users who rely on assistive technology.

Benefits

Learn more about what you need to know about filing for unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Links available in various languages if you scroll down.

The National Council of Aging (NCOA) and FamilyWize are partnering to make older adults and their caregivers aware of another option to save on their prescription medications. The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card is free to everyone. Even if you have insurance, you can show the FamilyWize card to make sure you get the best price — FamilyWize or insurance.

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is currently offering relief to individuals, businesses, and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. The website below consolidates these resources for your convenience.

General Resources

FamilyConnect is a service offered by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to give parents and other family members of visually impaired children–and professionals who work with them–a supportive place for sharing and finding resources on raising their children from birth to adulthood.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has created a blog full of inspirational stories, current events, and resources tailored to people with visual impairments.

Blindline® is a uniquely comprehensive information and referral service for people who are blind or visually impaired, their family members, caregivers, and professionals in the field of blindness. The service includes a toll-free telephone number as well as a fully accessible website, Blindline.org, both of which are linked to a New York State database with more than 2,500 accessible products and services, such as:

Mental Health Resources

Graphic of a red circle with a white outlined heart inside of it

Access to free mental health resources is more crucial than ever during these uncertain times. Below are some of the free mental health resources individuals can take advantage of right now:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

NYC Well: 888-692-9355

National Disaster Distress Line: 1-800-985-5990

If you are feeling unwell physically or mentally, call 911 immediately!

For More Information

If you require assistance with learning more about or applying for additional relief benefits, please contact:

Elizabeth Lee
Director of Caregiver and Senior Services
646-486-4444, ext. 214
elee@visionsvcb.org

Diana Cruz
Senior Center Director
(646) 486-4444, ext. 215
dcruz@visionsvcb.org

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. We Will Persevere!