Blindness Summit

The first ever Blindness Summit was held at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 12th. Agencies and organizations from across the state provided information based around the three topics of employment, education, and independent living. Each panel presented in both morning and afternoon sessions, and time was saved at the conclusion of each panel for questions and comments from the audience.

The Blindness Summit was sponsored by the American Council of the Blind of Texas (ACBT) and the Alliance of and for Visually-Impaired Texans (AVIT).

Here is a listing of the organizations that presented at the Summit:

Employment Panel:

Albertsons, LLC:
www.albertsonsmarket.com/#1
An equal opportunity employer

Marriott
www.marriott.com
Based in San Antonio, Marriott features a call center, flexible work schedules, and work from home opportunities

Stephen F. Austin State University
www.sfasu.edu
Discussed the importance of training at the school level to prepare students for eventual employment

Texas Workforce Commission:
www.twc.state.tx.us
“Work in Texas” is a an online board for job seekers. Prospective employees can post resumes, search for jobs, and fill out a state of Texas job application.

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind:
www.wsifb.com
Features seven locations in the U.S., including one in El Paso. Staff complete projects for the federal government. Security clearance is required for employment through the Department of Homeland Security.

Education Panel

ACBT
www.acbt.org
Consumer groups for the blind often differ on their viewpoints
regarding certain issues, but they do feature special interest groups and offer opportunities for activism, social activities, and bonding.

DB-MAT
www.dbmat-tx.org/
The Deaf-Blind Multi-handicapped Association of Texas features networking and support opportunities.

East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
www.etlb.org
The various lighthouses for the blind across Texas offer various programs and services. The East Texas Lighthouse features assistive technology training, an i-device lending program, a model apartment for learning independent living skills, and a job mentoring/shadowing program called “Careers on the Horizon.”

Texas Education Agency Education Service Centers:
www.tea.state.tx.us/regional_services/esc/
Region 19 in El Paso mentioned some of the their activities, including a Technology Olympics and Sports Extravaganza.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
www.tsbvi.edu
Located in Austin, TSBVI’s newly renovated campus proudly offers both residential and outreach programs, including vocational, core curriculum, short-term enrichment, summer school, and early intervention classes.

Independent Living

Bexar County Area Agency on Aging
One of more than two dozen AAA’s in the state, the San Antonio Agency operates through the Department of Aging and Disability and offers a wealth of services, including family caregiver support, health and wellness programs, benefits management, and a nursing home ombudsman.

Memorial Hermann Home Sight Low Vision Services
www.memorialhermannhomehealth.org
Offers a wide array of services for homebound seniors in the Houston area.

San Antonio Independent Living Center
www.sailstx.org
Like the lighthouses, independent living centers offer a variety of services. SAILS offers many programs, including information and referral, peer support, benefits management, and telecommunication devices training.

San Antonio Lighthouse
www.salighthouse.org
This lighthouse offers a low-vision clinic, full assessment of needs, and provides adaptive aids.

The Division for Blind Services also particpated in all three panels.
www.dars.state.tx.us/dbs/
Services include independent living and assistive technology training, information and referral, counseling, and diabetes education.