In addition to our main services, Sight Loss has several on-going projects. Newest developments about these projects can also be found on the News & Events page.
Art Classes for the Visually Impaired
Beginning in 2008, we started offering Art Classes for the Visually Impaired.
The “Palette Art for the Visually Impaired” program is the agency’s effort to incorporate art into the lives of people who have lost vision.
We usually have 5 sets of classes every year around the Cape since at places like the Falmouth Art Guild, the Cape Museum of Art, the YMCA, the Provincetown, Mashpee and Orleans COA’s, and the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in Yarmouth.
Sometimes it’s assumed that this isn’t ‘real’ art – that it’s a sort of occupational therapy for the blind. After all, how could the visually impaired use color, or form, or technique? Even some of the participants assume that they have lost their talent and passion along with their sight.
Sight Loss discovered by offering this program that there were many individuals who had given up painting because of vision loss and they were having difficulty emotionally coming to terms with the loss of art from their lives. By attending this class, many of them were inspired and encouraged to pick up a paint brush again and approach their painting on a more impressionistic level.
Our award-winning instructor, Frances McLaughlin, shares her ideas with the students as someone who must constantly adapt her personal techniques as her vision changes due to the progression of her glaucoma.
She reminds the students that artists like Michelangelo, Degas, and Georgia O’Keefe all continued to work even though they were going blind. Frances’ painting above, “Country Peaches” was donated to the agency in 2014 to hang in our office as a testament to the talent of this legally blind artist.
Activities for Visually Impaired
Sight Loss is embarking upon more group tours and activities. We began with docent-led tours of the Cape Museum of Art a few years ago, and for several years have helped host the annual Vision Impaired Picnic in Dennis, hosted by the Dennis-Harwich Lions. Now we are now going to other institutions. Tours were offered, with Sight Loss providing admission, transportation and guides, at the RCA/Marconi Museum in Chatham and the Mayan Exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. We have also co-hosted a White Cane Awareness Day Zoom Watch Party in conjunction with Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and Thirwood Place and a holiday concert and sing along. A trip to the Cape Cod Symphony is planned for April 2022
Low Vision Legislation – House 137
Working with the New England College of Optometry and the MA Commission for the Blind, Sight Loss has originated legislation to authorize the first-ever Register of Low Vision.
Filed by Rep. Tim Whelan and Sen. Richard Ross, with many other co-sponsors, this would allow the MA Commission for the Blind to authorize referrals to non-profit organizations like Sight Loss, the Perkins Library, the Carroll Center, etc. to those who are not yet legally blind and do not qualify for their services.
It is reliably estimated that for every person who is legally blind, there are at least two or three others with significant low vision who receive no services at all.
If you would like a fact sheet about the bill, please contact the agency and we will provide updates as it moves through the 2-year legislative process.
Low Vision Housing
Sight Loss is proud to be the advisors for the Thirwood Place Low Vision Assisted Living program.
We have worked with them to develop the first units and staff training to assist those with low vision and blindness in all of New England, let alone Cape Cod.
As the eye conditions of age become more commonplace, this program will serve as a template for others; for now, it is a unique service and the commitment to excellence from the staff at Thirwood Place is inspiring.
Sight Loss has started a Recycling Program for CCTV stationary readers.
These wonderful appliances make it possible to read a book, look at a grandchild’s photograph, dispute your credit card bill, and read the instructions on a frozen meal – all by digitizing and broadcasting print to a screen.
But as sight deteriorates or people move into assisted living and have no space, the machines are no longer used.
We maintain a list of those who need, but cannot afford, such machines, and pick them up and redistribute them.
Since starting in 2012, Sight Loss picked up and distributed over 60 machines with a used retail value well over of $40,000. Please note that these are older, donated machines. While they function, they are not always the newest or nicest but are certainly better than nothing at all.
This machine is given to the recipient in working order and becomes theirs as we cannot repair or maintain them. If a recipient ever finds they no longer need, want, or use the machine, they can call us and ask us to take it back. There are always more people who can use such a machine, and we would be able to find it a new home. We ask that they inform friends and others of this as well, but it is their machine to use or dispose of they see fit.
Eye Care Project
Our Eye Care Project, when funding allows, pays for basic eye exams and/or glasses for those who cannot otherwise afford to pay for such care.
These eye care services are provided to those whose income “falls between the cracks,” eliminating qualification for any other type of financial assistance.
The agency deals directly with the local eye doctors and optometrists, and also provides referrals to other eye care resources, like the voucher program available at local Lions clubs.