The Rutherford Report—Insitute Aids Those with Vision Loss

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“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.”

—Helen Keller
Institute Aids Residents with Vision Loss

Imagine learning to see again without your eyes. In a way, that’s what those who lose their sight must do.

Thankfully, San Bernardino County residents who lose their vision or become legally blind have access to Braille Institute—a well-known nonprofit that can help guide them back to their normal lives

The local branch of the organization is located in Rancho Mirage. It serves more than 80,000 residents in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties through outreach services, including classes, counseling, mobility training and in-home services to help them overcome the challenges of vision loss.

The Braille Institute will host a series of outreach classes at the Gibson Senior Center in May. For more information, contact the center at (909) 981-4501. 

Clients range from children who have been blind since birth to adults stricken blind by illnesses such as diabetes or through accidents. Either way, the Braille Institute has one key goal.

“It’s about you keeping your independence and being able to be self sufficient,” Orientation and Mobility Specialist Angela Rojas said.

Rojas, who joined the organization eight years ago, teaches clients how to use sound to determine their location—a process known as echolocation that many associate with bats. She also teaches them to feel their surroundings to avoid things like open cabinets and out-of-place objects.

“You really have to start tuning into all the different senses that you have,” she said.

Some clients have a better grasp on how to live without sight because they have been blind most of their lives, but those who lose their vision later in life have a more difficult time adjusting, as do their families.

“It’s not just an adjustment for the person dealing with the visual impairment,” Rojas said. “It’s sort of like going through a loss. That person you have known for so long has changed.”

Braille Institute counselors and support groups help clients as well as their families make those adjustments, and over time, most of those who seek the nonprofit’s support begin to see improvements in their lives.

“I don’t even have a word for it,” Rojas said. “It’s pretty wonderful to see someone come out of such a dark place.”

The organization also provides clients with access to a range of library services that allow those with vision difficulties to listen to books or view large text books and books in braille.

The Braille Institute is funded through private donations, and it provides services to clients free of charge. Learn more about the organization at or by calling (760) 321-1111.

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