Braille Monitor                                                                  November 1985

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Connecticut's Ophthalmologist Cards

by Mary Main

(Note: As Federationists know, Mary Main is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.)

The most frequent complaint we hear from the newly blind is that when they left the doctor's office after being told that they were legally blind, they had no idea of what to do next or where to go for help. Ophthalmologists themselves are often unaware of what help is available for the legally blind and, indeed, sometimes seem to consider that their responsibilities have ended once they have told a patient that nothing more can be done to save his sight. To repair this deficiency we of the NFB of Connecticut have had cards printed giving the basic information needed by the legally blind. We call them the Ophthalmologist Cards although they are intended for the patient and not for the doctor. We distributed these among the local ophthalmologists but found that, since they were not held together in any container, they were apt to be scattered, lost, or put away and forgotten.

After some detective work we found that Siegel Display Products of Chicago could provide what are known as "literature holders," which are designed to be set on a counter or a table. We ordered a supply and are delighted with the result. They are of strong white plastic, six inches wide, and the back about seven inches high. The front, which is lower, has the NFB logo on it. Each will hold at least forty cards.

The cards, which we had professionally printed, are five and three-quarter inches by eight inches. On the front and visible above the logo on the holder are the words: "Information for the Legally Blind." Below are the names and telephone numbers of one member in each Connecticut chapter. These members have been chosen not because they are the presidents of their chapters but because they are easily available on the telephone, knowledgeable about matters concerning the blind, and have a positive attitude toward blindness. The NFB logo is on the front of each card.

On the back of the card is the following information:

"Legal blindness does not necessarily mean total blindness. To be legally blind you must have no better than 20/2 00 in the better eye with correction--which means that you can see at 20 feet what a person with normal sight can see at 200--or that you have a field vision of 20 degrees or less. Legal blindness entitles you to certain privileges and free services: a deduction on your income and real estate taxes; help in education, retraining, and employment; reduced fares on trains and buses; free recorded books and magazines. "For training which will help you to continue living an active, independent life call: [Here is the name and telephone number of the local state services for the blind.] For information about recorded books call: [Here is the name and number of the local library for the blind.] For further information, encouragement, and support from others who are blind call one of the numbers on the other side of this card."

These cards should be fairly heavy so that they do not bend when left standing in the container. We have had a space left in the print across the middle so that the card can be folded in half and easily slipped into the pocket.

The holder can be had from Siegel Display Products, telephone 1-800-328 6795 extension 246. Ask to speak to Barbara. One hundred containers costs $430. Each of our chapters is now in the process of distributing these cards in their neighborhood to ophthalmologists' offices, optometrists, hospitals, homes for the elderly, etc. We have great hopes that they will not only be of help to the newly blind and perhaps bring some of them into our fold but will also prove to be good publicity for the NFB.