Summit Participant: Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind Logo

The Massachusetts  Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Whole Community Preparedness Summit will be held at the UMass Amherst Conference Center on May 22nd, 2013. This event is going to feature a whole host of organizations and agencies from both the MA State and local level that provide services and resources to members of our communities who have disabilities or who might require additional assistance during a disaster event.  In a series of blog posts we will provide some basic background information about these organizations, discuss their overarching missions and highlight how they will be contributing at the summit.

Today, we are pleased to turn our spotlight toward the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB). MCB was established in 1906, and was originally comprised of 3 men and 2 women, including Ms. Helen Keller. More than a century later, the MCB is now one of fifteen agencies in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

MCB provides a wide range of rehabilitation and social services to blind individuals of all ages in order to help them lead independent lives and fully participate in their communities. MCB accomplishes this critical mission by working in partnership with legally blind individuals, families, community agencies, health care providers, and employers. There are currently more than 35,000 legally blind persons registered with the Commission. The services they provide include: 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), including diagnostic studies, counseling and guidance, individual plans for employment (IPE), restorative and training services, rehabilitation and mobility instruction, assistive technology, adaptive housing, job placement, and post-employment services
  • Assistive technology
  • Independent living social services, including homemaking assistance, assistive devices, mobility instruction, and peer support groups
  • Specialized services for blind seniors (BRIDGE program)
  • Specialized services for blind children, including referrals for early intervention, public benefits, respite care, and socialization and recreation programs
  • Specialized services for blind/deaf individuals and others with multiple disabilities
  • Rehabilitation instruction, including Braille and typing, use of low-vision devices, labeling and recordkeeping, food preparation, home safety, and self-care techniques
  • Orientation and mobility instruction, including guide dogs
  • MassHealth services for financially eligible people who are legally blind, including long-term care services, hospital services, personal care attendants, private duty nursing, and transportation services
  • Consumer assistance and advocacy for issues related to blindness such as housing and job discrimination, guide dog issues, or transportation problems.

You can find out more about the Commission’s work and how it relates to disaster planning and response at the summit. The “Disaster shelter guidelines for an emergency” is a great resource developed by the Commission. You can view it by clicking the hyperlink. Meg Robertson, the Director of the Orientation & Mobility Department at MCB will be speaking in Break Out Session 2: Strengthening What Works on a Daily Basis. Register here.

For more info: Massachusetts Commission for the Blind Website http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/mcb/

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