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Lenore's Story

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      Picture of Lenore reading a Braille book in her home

      Lenore began losing vision in her early eighties due to macular degeneration. In her mid-eighties she quit driving and purchased a closed circuit television (CCTV). Her vision continued to decrease, and while the CCTV remained helpful, it was of diminishing benefit. She also became increasingly fearful of her ability to go anywhere by herself and began to limit her outings to those occasions where friends and family volunteered to take her places. Lenore, who had always been active and had a lively interest in the world around her, began to fear the possibility of becoming isolated and losing her independence. She knew she could count on family support, but she did not want anyone to worry about her.

      Lenore was referred to the Independent Living (IL) program at the Iowa Department for the Blind and was soon contacted by a rehabilitation teacher. Lenore chose to apply for services with two basic needs in mind: better access to print information and the ability to go whenever and wherever she wanted. As Lenore put it, she wanted to stay among the living.

      So, in the year 2002 at the age of 87, Lenore decided to embark on the process of learning some new techniques. She participated in both a home training program and Senior Orientation where she learned Braille, travel with a long white cane, and techniques for cooking and home management. Her rehabilitation teacher also helped her to access and learn to use other services such as talking book services and public transportation. In addition, she began to participate in a local support group for the blind and visually impaired.

      Now, at the age of 91, Lenore is in the full swing of life. She is able to use Braille for practical purposes like labeling and grocery lists. She enjoys audio books and feels her reading needs are fully satisfied. And, with her white cane in hand, she feels very confident in her ability to use public transportation and takes full advantage of the bus service. This independence has made it easier for her to ask friends and family for transportation to places that are not on a bus route. Lenore knows she is not asking from a position of total dependence, but from the position of someone who is fully in charge of her life and capable of using a variety of techniques to go where she wants and to do what she wants.

      In response to a standard request for comments and feedback on services provided, Lenore had this to say: “I would like to express my appreciation for the services I have received from the Department for the Blind and from my instructor, Jonathan Ice. He has worked hard with me to teach me to read Braille and get about independently. He has also answered many questions to help me to adjust to my ever failing vision. I also appreciate the audio books from the library, and the help I receive selecting them. I was an avid reader, and with their help, can still enjoy books.” Elsewhere she comments: “I am so glad I put away my fears and decided to accept training.”