MAB Annual Meeting

  • Ivy Street School
  • Adult Disability Services

Solutions in Sight: Where We Are Now & Where We're Headed

It was a night of solutions, of partnerships, and even a surprise visit. Thank you for attending the MAB Community Services Annual Meeting. If you weren't able to attend here are a few highlights.

In just 18 short months since the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired convened the Solutions in Sight Vision Loss Summit, new programs have launched, curriculum has been created, and technology has been put in the hands of those who need it.

The annual meeting program focused on three key topics made possible by incredible partnerships: Closing the Gaps in Health Care, Healthy Living, and Transformative Technology.

Paul Saner, Commissioner of Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, highlighted the work that has been done to ensure that vision loss is a part of the dialogue when it comes to age-friendly communities, workforce needs, and health care reform including:

* Boston University now offers one course in vision rehab for Occupational Therapists.
* Mass Health has included Orientation and Mobility in its frail elder and Money Follows the Person waiver.
* Massachusetts General Hospital is using their OT doctoral students to do research on the impact of vision rehab on health outcomes.

Shaun Kinsella, Director of MAB's Adult Disability Services, highlighted healthy living initiatives:
* Adjustment to vision loss
* MABVI's 1:1 volunteer program has expanded. Volunteers now act as guides for running, swimming, and other community inclusive activities * MABVI's Orientation and Mobility is partnering with community based organizations for its new MAB ON THE MOVE. This program for adults, who are developmentally disabled or brain injured, in addition to being visually impaired, believes that individuals will be motivated to improve their travel skills when they have someplace exciting to go to. Partnering with the Dedham Theatre, Nobles and Greenough School, and other community organizations to use the community as a way to learn new skills.
* MABVI is also collaborating with JCHE (Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly) to embed case management services for Russian speaking residents who are blind or visually impaired. Lasell Villages is also a valuable partner. We are training their staff to understand the needs of their residents who are blind or visually impaired.

The Transformative Technology discussion focused on the VIBRBANT program and the Innovation Marketplace. Technology can even the playing field for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Tina Kurys, a volunteer who is blind, talked about the power of giving back. She loves teaching seniors dealing with recent vision loss. Wynne Miller spoke how hard it was coping with blindness, however, with the use of assistive technology she is able to call an Uber and FaceTime with her grandkids.

Technology took center stage during a live demonstration of the AIRA device.

Boston Marathoner Erich Manser demonstrated Aira, using smartglass technology to stream Manser's field of vision to a remote assistant, who he can speak with in real time for help navigating his surroundings.

As Manser was using the technology, Jessica, the Aira agent from San Diego who guided him during the 2017 Boston Marathon, emerged from the back of the room.

It was the first time the two had met in person. Jessica, a runner herself, said she was thrilled to have been able to guide Erich. "There was a moment, when he was going through a tunnel and above the tunnel it said "Boston Strong" and there was a cop on one side... I felt like I was running Boston, too," she said after she and Manser hugged.

And, we are so grateful for the support of our community partners, who we were pleased to recognize last night:

The Highland Street Foundation

For addressing the pressing needs of those dealing with vision loss. Assistive Technology provides access and opportunities thanks to you.

Aira Technology

For their commitment to innovation. By imagining and collaborating, you are creating options for those who are blind or visually impaired. Thank you for making such a difference.

Elaine Ellenbogen

A member of the MAB Community Services Board of Directors, in recognition of your leadership and generosity of self and spirit. By embracing technology, you are empowering others.

Thank you to all who attended our meeting, and for your continued support of MAB Community Services.

Listen to a recording of the meeting here via TIC Network:

View an electronic copy of our annual report here:

Tell us how we did, take a short survey about the annual meeting. Click here.

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