Their view: Northeast Sight Services ready to safely serve clients

Sara Gorgone Peperno Guest Columnist

Northeast Sight Services is going green.

Just like everybody else, we couldn’t be happier – but we also realize that this new phase comes with its own challenges for our organization and clients.

We have evolved as an organization over the last three months, incorporating a slew of virtual programs aimed at keeping our clients connected to us, but more importantly, to each other. These programs have been extremely well-received and will continue for the foreseeable future. Immediate needs of our clients have always been addressed, though handled through a contact-less system, to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

As we enter into the Green Phase, we’re excited to again be opening our doors to resume all one-on-one services that had been halted. Of course, as many of our clients are at increased risk of serious complications if contracting COVID-19, we’ve established all the necessary safety precautions, which we invite you to view on our website at www.northeastsight.org, in order to ensure the safety of our staff, clients and the community.

These precautions, while needed, often pose more challenges to those with visual impairments. And it’s not something we think about, until we experience it. Northeast Sight Services has identified many of these challenges, including ones related to social distancing, requiring a sighted guide, grocery and meal delivery, and continued social isolation. It is our goal to educate both our clients and the community at large on how to conquer COVID-19 with vision loss.

As you can imagine, for social distance requirements of 6 feet, those with visual disabilities are at a disadvantage – not knowing where people and things are in proximity to them. Many of our clients are older and don’t have smart phones, and so Instacart and Grub Hub are not always accessible to them to have groceries and meals delivered. Ensuring our clients have the necessary skills and tools, such as Identification Canes and having access to other options for sighted guide and food delivery, is imperative. A Virtual Program, planned for clients this coming week, will educate, engage and answer any questions they may have about this topic. If you’re living with vision loss and are interested in more information on this subject, please contact us at 570-693-3555.

In addition, our Community Accessibility Campaign fits quite nicely with this education component, and we’ve simply been able to make some small tweaks to communicate the ways to meet the changing needs of those who are blind and visually impaired. We look forward to working with organizations of all types to share this important information with their staff.

As you can see, even though we know challenges are still ahead, we stay steadfast in our mission to ensure those with visual impairments remain as independent as possible in both their homes and their communities.

Sara Gorgone Peperno is the president and CEO of Northeast Sight Services. She contributes a monthly column to the Times Leader.