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SAIL presents tools to help visually impaired seniors

By Staff | May 25, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle H. Curtis Jamison, a Division of Rehabilitation Services skills trainer, helps Shepherdstown Area Independent Living?member Diane Kradel try on a pair of glasses during the SAIL luncheon Friday.

Division of Rehabilitation Services Skills Trainer H. Curtis Jamison visited Shepherdstown Area Independent Living during its monthly Brown Bag Luncheon on Friday, to discuss simple, free tools that can help visually impaired seniors navigate through life.

Jamison, representing the West Virginia branch of Visually Impaired Seniors In-Home Outreach and Networking Services, said his eyes were opened when he started his job two years ago. He had already gone through WVDRS training in Nitro.

“I was in my church in a setup just like this, and this precious lady I knew was ping-ponging around the room, running into things while she was trying to find the trash can,” said Jamison. “I realized then that she couldn’t see.”

Jamison helped her out, giving her a cane that would fit her petite height and was color-blocked in red, black and white for easier visibility.

“Now, she holds her plate in one hand and the cane in the other hand, and she has no trouble moving around,” Jamison said. He said he can do in-home consultations or meet people in neutral locations to give visually impaired seniors the tools they need to help them enjoy life.

VISIONS offers 20 to 30 MaxiAIDS items to help with everyday tasks, like cooking, applying makeup, reading, writing, dialing the phone, writing checks, keeping time and signing one’s name.

“This is a program that provides free visual, adaptive aids for the visually impaired,” said Jamison. “The biggest thing that bothers me about this job is when people don’t know I exist – and this is free to any West Virginia resident 55 and older with a medically recognized eye condition.”

Jamison said he has enjoyed speaking about the federal grant-funded program at churches, Lion’s Clubs and other community groups since he started his job.

“I try to do as many presentations as I can, anywhere people 55 and over meet,” he said. “The biggest thing I hear people saying is, ‘I didn’t know this existed!’ So I want to help as many people know about VISIONS as I can.”

One of four DRS Skills Trainers in West Virginia, Jamison said he covers 10 counties, “from Jefferson all the way to Preston and Tucker.”

“My favorite part is, when I’m actually giving people something, the gleeful exclamation that seniors give,” Jamison said. “It never gets old.”

To learn more about this program, visit wvdrs.org, email Curtis.Jamison@wv.gov or call 304-267-0005, extension 51172.