Pennsylvania: Keystone Blind Association Offers Technology Information Club

Pennsylvania’s Keystone Blind Association Offers Technology Information Club

by Audrey Demmitt, RN and VisionAware Support Group Advisor

older woman using laptop to learn zoomtext with instructor looking over shoulder

The Technology Information Club is a Featured Support Group of Vision Aware.

Keystone Blind Association (KBA) offers a unique Life Skills group which meets in several counties for people who are visually impaired. The Technology Information Club (TIC) began in 1998 and is a way to inform and support people who want to learn how technology for the visually impaired can enhance their lives. Jeanne Hink, the Access Technology Specialist at KBA, facilitates the TIC meetings at three different locations. She says the "groups provide a non-intimidating place to explore and ask questions about access technologies." These groups are open to everyone, regardless of their level of experience with technology and are free of charge. Family and friends of the visually impaired are welcome to attend.

What Are the Meetings Like?

Jeanne provides learning opportunities about exciting technologies that can enable members to live fuller lives. Past presentations have included topics such as how to use BARD to download audio books, cell phones and their accessibility options, social media, and email. The groups have also discussed topics like internet safety as well as the latest devices to hit the market. She provides information on how to access the computer using software like ZoomText, JAWS, and NVDA. At the meetings, Jeanne may demonstrate various iOS-devices and helpful apps for people who are visually impaired. Though the meetings do not provide one-on-one instruction on members’ specific technology needs, Jeanne will do brief on-site trouble shooting and make subsequent appointments to train individuals in their homes on their technology.

The Impact of TIC

Jeanne believes in using technology to bridge the gap between the visually impaired community and mainstream society. "I’ve reduced the isolation that visually impaired persons commonly feel when they can’t use a cell phone or communicate via email, or social media," she remarked. TIC informs people who are new to vision loss about what tools and technologies are available and how they work. Technology is changing every day and it is a challenge to keep up with what is new. Jeanne hopes to encourage members to do their own research on access technologies so they can bring what they learn back to the group. She wants to grow the groups and encourage members to learn from each other.

Where Does TIC Meet?

Currently, TIC meets monthly from 10:30-12:30 in three different locations. The KBA Beaver County group meets on the 2nd Monday at the Beaver County Association for the Blind. The KBA Lawrence County group meets on the 2nd Thursday at Kings Restaurant in New Castle. And the KBA Crawford County group meets on the 3rd Monday at Westbury Commons Community Center.

Contact Information

If interested, please contact Jeanne Hink, Access Technology Specialist at Keystone Blind Association at: jhink@keystoneblind.org or call: (724) 347-5501 x234.

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