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Mobile Unit Helps the Vision-Impaired

August 14, 2000|TRACI ISAACS

Pilar Garcia said she wasn't impressed with the magnifying glass offered by technicians aboard the Braille Institute's Mobile Solutions Van.

Though she bought one of the hand-held devices, her real interest was in the books on tape and free tape recorders offered by the Santa Barbara-based institute.

It's difficult for the 86-year-old Fillmore woman to read, said her daughter, Alice Bilvado. Garcia is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other.

Like others with severely impaired vision, Garcia doesn't have access to things that could make her life easier. That's where the institute's van, which travels as far as Palm Springs, comes in handy.

When people have drastically impaired vision, it's impossible for them to drive anywhere for services, notes Steve Salazar, a visual aids consultant who signed Garcia up for her books on tape.

"We're trying to build an awareness of the Braille Institute," Salazar said. "What we have to offer is free to the public."

"The institute has so many tape recorders, if we put them side-by-side, it would line up for seven miles," said Petros Alemayhu, a technician who accompanied Salazar on Friday for a four-hour stop outside the Fillmore Senior Center.

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