According to national statistics, there are 700 to 800 people in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties who are legally blind. Legally blind covers a wide range of limitations, according to Independent Life Center Director Evelyn Tileston.
Some people who fit the definition of legally blind can still read or ride a bike, but they may have trouble dealing with the disability creeping up on them
"Think of all these seniors who are generally healthy, but are losing their eyesight gradually," Tileston said. "They may need special tools to help them read or get around."
Through the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Northwest Colorado Independent Life Center (ILC) has received a $13,800 "Older Individuals Who are Blind" grant to offer services for legally-blind people over age 55. The grant will allow the ILC to provide services for people who fit into this group.
Using grant funds, a Routt County woman who is a retired special education teacher was hired to work with legally-blind people in Routt and Moffat counties. Tileston will work with eligible seniors in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.
Services will include homemaking tips, mobility lessons and lessons covering the skills of daily living.
"It's just how to cope with vision loss if you want to go on living," Tileston said. "We want to help them live as full a life as possible."
The ILC plans to ask the Routt County United Way for funds for teaching aids.
The program is up and running, Tileston said. She encourages anyone who qualifies to call the ILC. Volunteers will travel to a qualified person's home if needed.
This grant is meant to last 22 months.