Blind Center seeks tech donations
Published 3:18 pm Sunday, March 15, 2015
Miraculous is often how modern day technology is described, but for some, technology can have a far greater impact, especially when it comes to aiding the impaired. That’s why the Blind Center of North Carolina has launched a drive for donations of Apple products.
Donations of iPads, iPad Minis and iPod Touches, between two and four years old, are being sought in order to give the center’s clients the opportunity to learn the technology built into the devices, according to Blair Bergevin, director of the Blind Center. These are programs like Eye Note, a money identifier; TapTapSee, which allows users to take a picture of an item to be identified through recognition software; Color Identifier; and Around Me, which uses GPS to give a user their location, as well as items of interest nearby, like restaurants, transportation and hospitals. For the blind and visually impaired, learning such programs can be life changing.
“Technology makes them so much a part of the word. Once they learn it, it frees them,” said Kim Revels, a North Carolina Division of Social Services social worker for the blind.
Revels covers Beaufort and Pamlico counties, working out of an office at the Blind Center. The partnership between the state and the nonprofit serves the needs of the center’s clients, as well as the greater community — there are 141 registered blind people in Beaufort County. One recent example was when the Blind Center brought in resources to perform free eye exams, after which those in dire of need of glasses could apply for them through Revels, and the state. The same can be said of educators, paid by the state, to train the blind and sight-impaired how to navigate the intricacies of independent living, like cooking, using the center’s kitchen. With the Apple product drive, once again the center and state are each pitching in to the tech-savvy effort.
“The state cannot pay for (the devices) because they do not have the funds to provide them, but they will offer the training,” Bergevin said.
First the hardware is needed, however. Bergevin is looking for five or six devices to use in the training, and are not asking clients to buy their own because they want to give clients the opportunity to try their hands at the technology first. The center is also looking for volunteers who either already know, or could easily learn the technology. While the Independent Living Rehab educator with the state does provide initial training, the one assigned covers a 16-county region.
“ILR covers broad territories and can’t be here all the time, or make return trips easily,” Revels said. “Somebody who’s learned it locally can come in and teach, then say, ‘Let’s do it again next week.’”
Bergevin said, depending on the number of donations the center receives, any additional devices will be donated to visually impaired students in Beaufort County Schools.
Those interested in donating used iPads, iPad Minis and iPod Touches can call Bergevin at 252-946-6208.