DENVILLE, NJ – Grants from the William G. and Helen C. Hoffman Foundation and the Hyde and Watson Foundation help Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey stay on track to open its Technology Learning Lab in early 2020 and enhance both the personal and professional lives of people with vision loss.

The William G. and Helen C. Hoffman Foundation contributed $25,000 to the initiative, while the Hyde and Watson Foundation gave $10,000.

“We are grateful to both the William G. and Helen C. Hoffman Foundation and The Hyde and Watson Foundation for recognizing the value in this initiative,” said Vision Loss Alliance of New Jersey Executive Director Kris Marino. 

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“People who are blind or have low vision are a greatly underserved population, and our Technology Learning Lab will help them increase their independence, as well as their peace of mind,” Marino added. Participants will learn to use specialized desktop software that magnifies and reads text, and to get the most of out of their virtual assistants.

Vision Loss Alliance identified a need to broaden the scope of its technology program to include training in specialized software like Fusion for desktops, and getting the most out of Alexa and Google Home devices. The nonprofit has been teaching participants how to harness the power of their smartphones and tablets since 2011.

“We’ve found a lot of people need to be trained in using a desktop to go back to work,” Marino said. While the number of people losing vision is expected to increase as the population ages, few options for affordable training and support exist. Only 20 percent of participants are employed, and three-quarters of them live below the poverty line.

Vision Loss Alliance served more than 1,225 individuals in 2018, mostly through outreach programs. About 225 people received direct services in Denville, the 76-year-old nonprofit’s main location, and at satellite facilities in Bergen and Essex counties. In addition to its technology initiative, Vision Loss Alliance teaches people who lose their sight life skills training, and assists with their mobility, overall fitness and emotional wellbeing.

 

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