Do You Know A Blind Person?

Copyright © 1995 National Federation of the Blind

          Do you know a blind person who needs help or information? Perhaps he or she is newly blinded and having trouble adjusting to the loss of sight. Maybe he or she does not know about all the services that are available. Services such as Social Security benefits, rehabilitation, employment, scholarships, civil rights, products and aids, the free reading matter mail privilege, publications, education of blind children, and library services.

          Whoever it is-a newly blinded man or woman, a senior citizen with failing eyesight, a blind child or infant-we (the National Federation of the Blind) would like to help.

          It is estimated that about 750,000 people in the U.S. are blind and each year 50,000 more will become blind. Studies have shown that only A.I.D.S. and cancer are feared more than blindness. However, blindness does not need to be the tragedy which it is generally thought to be. With proper training, knowledge and opportunities blind people can be productive, first-class citizens.

          But first the blind individual must know where and how to get the training and services he or she needs. We-you and the National Federation of the Blind-can work together to find and provide necessary information to the blind.

          Here are some of the services available to the blind in our communities. For more specific information about any of these services, please contact us.


  • Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.):
    Legally blind persons who have paid into the Social Security system may be eligible for S.S.D.I. under the special rules which apply to the blind. Legally blind senior citizens considering early retirement should first learn if they might qualify for more benefits under S.S.D.I..

  • Supplemental security Income (S.S.I.):
    Blind persons who have little or no regular income or savings may qualify for monthly payments under the S.S.I. program. Again, there are special rules which apply only to the blind.

          Contact your local Social Security office for information and applications. We also encourage blind persons to contact us if they have any problems understanding the regulations, feel they have been unjustly denied benefits, or have other problems about which we may be able to provide information and guidance.


          Every state has a public rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation agency which provides training, counseling and employment placement services to the blind. Sometimes the service is provided directly and sometimes it is contracted out to private rehabilitation facilities. Some funds through the rehabilitation agency are usually available to students for college education or other post-secondary training. Contact us for information about where to apply for services in your area.


          Blind persons may use the regular public and private employment agencies just like anyone else. However because of widespread misconceptions about the abilities of the blind, special employment services are extremely helpful. Job Opportunities for the Blind (J.O.B.) is a special nationwide job listing and referral service sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. J.O.B. uses recorded materials, computers and volunteers to help blind people find competitive employment. There is no charge for this service.


          Blind students can take advantage of the same scholarship programs that are available to sighted students and should be encouraged to do so. However, there are also scholarships which are only available to blind students. The National Federation of the Blind, for example, awards over $75,000 in scholarships to worthy blind students. Contact us for further details about these and other special scholarships for the blind.


          There are federal and state laws and regulations which protect the civil rights of the blind in such areas as employment, education, housing, insurance, public transportation and public facilities. If you know of someone who thinks he or she has been unjustly treated or discriminated against just because of blindness, please contact us. We will try to help.


          Technology has made many useful products available to the blind. Some aids make daily life easier (example, the Braille watch) while others have opened up more employment opportunities for the blind (example, talking computers). Contact us for more information about local and national resources regarding products for the blind.


          Recorded, Braille and large print reading matter (including library books and magazines) may be mailed to and from blind persons free of charge if "Free Matter for the Blind" is written or stamped on the envelope or package. Braille watches, white canes and other special appliances for the blind are included in this privilege. We will be happy to answer questions about the Free Reading Matter mail privilege.


          There are any number of publications dealing with blindness available. Here are just a few of them.

  • The Braille Monitor.
    The monthly magazine published by the National Federation of the Blind in Braille, print and on cassette. The Braille Monitor keeps blind and interested sighted readers informed about issues, news and events which have special significance to the blind.

  • Future Reflections.
    The quarterly publication of the Parents of Blind Children division of the National Federation of the Blind. This magazine features information for and about blind children and their parents, alternative techniques, personal experiences, news and many other subjects.

  • Voice of the Diabetic.
    This is the quarterly publication of the Diabetics division of the National Federation of the Blind. It provides information about the problems blind diabetics may have and the alternative techniques available to deal with them.

  • Walking Alone and Marching Together, A History of the Organized Blind Movement 1940 - 1990.
    An indepth look at blindness from ancient times to the present, what blind people have done, how and why they organized and the impact of this organization on the lives of blind people.

  • Kernel Books.
    This series of books relates the experiences of many blind people, the alternative techniques they use, how they've dealt with the negative attitudes some people have about blindness and there are books with general information about blindness.

          If you'd like information on how to get copies of these publications, click here to go to the N.F.B. web site.


          The passage of Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped children Act, established certain rights and protections for blind children and their parents. Blind children are now entitled to a free public education in the "least restrictive environment," and parents have the right to help plan their child's educational program. Contact us for more information about the education of blind children, parent organizations, newsletters, etc. Also, the National Federation of the Blind publishes a magazine for the parents of blind children, Future Reflections. This publication provides information and insights into all aspects of raising blind children from infancy to adulthood.


          Every state has free library reading materials for blind individuals provided through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically handicapped, Library of Congress. Books and magazines are available on loan and free of charge in Braille, on cassette and on records. Special cassette machines and record players for use in listening to recorded reading matter are also loaned without cost to blind library users. For details about where and how to apply for services you may contact us, your local public library or call the toll-free library service telephone number: (800)424-9100 for a list of cooperating Regional Libraries.


          To find out more about blindness, the National Federation of the Blind, and/or what you can do to help, just click here.

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