September 2015
In This Issue
New Insight Blog Post: "A Day at the MFA" 
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner 
New Volunteer Training Dates
Low-Vision Peer Support Group Members Convene at 21st Annual Senior Connection Conference
A woman at Senior Connection smiles and applauds.
A woman at Senior Connection smiles and applauds
This summer MABVI and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) held the 21st annual Senior Connection conference!
This year's theme was "Turning the Corner on Vision Loss: Moving Forward and Keeping Confident." Hundreds of our Low-Vision Peer Support Group members from all over Massachusetts convened to connect, learn, and share strategies and techniques for living confidently with vision loss.
MCB Commissioner Paul Saner addressed the attendees, speaking about his own experience in coming to terms with his vision loss and what he has found to be the best ways to move from the initial emotion of receiving a diagnosis to adopting new ways of living independently. Saner recommended the use of low-vision examinations to understand the nature of one's vision loss, as well as being a self-advocate. He also noted that technology can be a great benefit, as mainstream devices such as iPads can be used in a myriad of ways to assist those with vision loss in their daily lives.
"It's very important," Saner concluded, "to do what you're all doing here today: to be amongst peers and to seek their support and insights towards regaining your confidence."
Paul Saner, at a podium, speaking to the audience at Senior Connection
Paul Saner addressing the audience at Senior Connection

This year's Senior Connection also featured a panel discussion, in which four courageous panelists each shared their powerful and inspiring stories about how they have overcome vision loss to live confidently.
Panelist Kerry MacDonald, the Coordinator of our Quincy Low-Vision Peer Support Group, is also a licensed social worker and therapist who works with adults adjusting to vision loss.
"You may not be able to do all the things you did before you went blind in exactly the same way," MacDonald told the attendees, "but you can find ways to do all the things you want to do. Have that sense of hope - there is life after blindness, and it can be full, rich, good, and happy."
Attendees also had the chance to visit with exhibitors providing information on helpful vision loss services and adaptive technology devices.
"Senior Connection is always one of the highlights of the year," says Kyle Robidoux, MABVI's Director of Volunteer and Support Group Services. "We know how crucial peer education can be when one is learning how to cope with vision loss, so we think it's important to give our Low-Vision Peer Support Group members this opportunity to exchange ideas, techniques, and information."
The event concluded with table discussions in which attendees shared with each other their tips and strategies for "turning to corner" from the initial vision loss diagnosis to regaining their confidence.
We would like to thank MCB, the exhibitors, the panelists, all the volunteers from East Boston Savings Bank, and everyone else who helped to make this event a success.

MABVI Expanding Its Orientation & Mobility Services
Director of O&M Services Bianca Fillion training an individual in how to navigate the community using a white cane
Director of O&M Services Bianca Fillion training an individual with visual impairment on how to navigate the community using a white cane
MABVI's orientation and mobility (O&M) services are expanding the populations they serve in the Greater Boston and Metro West regions to include those in the community who have vision impairment but are not legally blind.
O&M involves teaching safe, efficient, and effective travel skills. Our O&M specialists travel to the individual's own environment, be it at a private residence, work, day or residential program, or nursing home.

There, they provide instruction that can help them develop or relearn the skills and concepts they need to travel safely and independently both within their own home and in the community. Our service model is based on a three-tiered approach: direct services, consultative services, and education and advocacy.
This expansion of services will allow us to provide needed support to even more people, including those who are coping with vision loss but are not legally blind, helping them to remain as safe, confident, and independent as possible.

To learn more about our O&M services, call 888-613-2777 or visit the Orientation & Mobility page of our website. 
MABVI's United In Stride Gives Athletes with Visual Impairment More Freedom

Richard Hunter smiling at the camera, wearing a United in Stride t-shirt
Richard Hunter
A few months ago, MABVI and Richard Hunter launched United in Stride, a new online resource to connect sighted guides with runners, walkers, and joggers with visual impairment.

When Hunter, a former Marine and triathlete with visual impairment, decided to run a marathon eight years ago, he didn't know of any resources to help him.

"I didn't know a single other athlete," Hunter says. "I didn't know any of the organizations that existed to support me."

Since then, Hunter has devoted himself to fostering and mentoring other athletes with visual impairment in endurance sports.

A runner on MABVI's Team With A Vision, Hunter joined with us to, along with support from the Gibney Family Foundation, create a resource that would allow anyone in North America to connect directly with a sighted guide, allowing them more freedom and independence. No longer would they have to know other runners or try to find an organization to match them with a guide.

"What we needed to do was come up with a central resource so anybody who contacted us about guiding opportunities or wanted to know how to meet people [to guide them] could come to each other independent of us through the Internet," Hunter says.

Now this vision is a reality, and United in Stride is helping runners, joggers, and walkers with visual impairment to stay active and healthy on their own terms.

Since its launch, United in Stride has gained over 600 users across North America and continues to grow! United in Stride has recently been mentioned in a number of publications, including Competitor Magazine, the New York Observer, and the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

Whether you are interested in being a sighted guide or would like a guide for yourself, register today at to connect with someone near you!
About Us:
The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a program of MAB Community Services. MABVI has been creating opportunities for blind and visually impaired individuals since 1903. Our experience allows us to forge strong community partnerships to meet the pressing need for high quality services and transform lives. 
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