Frequently Asked Questions
Who does Braille Institute serve?
We serve people of all ages who have a visual impairment. This means we help families with babies who are born with conditions affecting their sight and we work with seniors who have developed eye conditions like Macular Degeneration, Cataracts or Glaucoma. We help individuals at all stages and degrees of vision loss.
Do I need to be totally blind to receive your services?
No. Nearly 90% of Braille Institute students and patrons have some remaining vision. While some of our students are totally blind, anyone who has vision loss that is not corrected by glasses and is affecting their daily living activities (like reading, cooking, driving) can contact us about our free programs and services.
How much does it cost to get services from Braille Institute?
Programs and services from Braille Institute are entirely free of charge to everyone, thanks to the support of our generous donors.
Do I need insurance to use Braille Institute services?
No, because all of our programs are free you do not need insurance to use Braille Institute services.
Do you offer programs in languages other than English?
Yes! Our centers offer programs in Spanish as well as English. Also, our Los Angeles Center has an active program for people who read American Sign Language. For more information on Spanish language programs and services, call the center closest to you.
I just started losing my vision, how can Braille Institute help?
If you are newly experiencing vision loss, you’ve come to the right place. Braille Institute offers a broad range of free programs and services at our seven centers and hundreds of community locations in Southern California. Our programs include:
- Adult Programs like one-on-one consultations and small group classes to help adults with little-to-no vision build practical living skills and gain or regain independence.
- Youth Programs including weekend classes, a music program, and our popular nationwide events like Braille Challenge and Cane Quest.
- Child Development Programs to help families develop early intervention plans to address their child’s specific development needs.
- Library Services with free access to digital book machines and downloadable ebooks, as well as book clubs, special youth collections, and a Telephone Reader Program where patrons can listen to publications in both English and Spanish.
Is there someone at Braille Institute that I can talk to concerning how I am feeling about losing my vision?
Yes. There are a variety of ways to obtain support in your emotional adjustment to vision loss.
- One-on-one short-term adjustment counseling is available through many of our centers and even in your home, in some circumstances.
- Support groups led by staff and peer facilitators are available at most centers as well as in several community locations.
Call one of our centers today!
I can’t get to your center, do you have a location close to where I live?
We understand sometimes it is difficult to get to one of our centers. Due to COVID-19, we’re also here to support you with remote service options. Otherwise, we proudly offer many ways to reach you in your community and will return to offering all options hopefully soon!
- Online Workshops and Classes, and Virtual Sessions are available for you to attend from the comfort and safety of your home due to COVID-19. Attending classes, workshops or virtual one-on-one sessions by video or phone call enables you to participate remotely in a “live” session with Braille Institute instructors.
- In-Home Services are also available through many of our centers as an option to people in the community.
- Classes in Your Community which are designed for adults who don’t live near one of our centers. Our outreach efforts bring our programs, events and seminars to hundreds of community locations. With topics ranging from home management to knowing your rights and resources, Braille Institute classes in the community can provide you with the skills you need to live your life to the fullest.
- Orientation and Mobility Braille Institute Orientation and Mobility Consultants work with one-on-one with Braille Institute students to help them learn to get around town safely using public transportation and other transportation options. Often, they will travel with the student from their home to Braille Institute to help the student learn how to travel independently along their usual routes.
- Connecting with Technology Access to technology means empowering yourself and our blind and visually impaired students are leaders in their own right. Our centers offer state-of-the-art Connection Pointe centers with accessible technology to help our students empower themselves. We also offer technology classes and training sessions, and an exciting internship program. To learn more about using technology, visit our Connection Pointe page.
For more information about Braille Institute programs and services near you, call the center closest to you.
My doctor told me to contact you. How do I get started?
It is easy to start your journey with Braille Institute. Though not mandatory, it is helpful to bring a completed Doctor Referral Form from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or health care provider. To schedule a Low Vision Consultation or to talk with someone about programs that may help you, call the center closest to you and ask to speak with a Low Vision Consultant or Registrar.
When are classes offered at Braille Institute Centers?
Classes typically based at our centers are offered on a semester basis, although registration in most classes is possible at any time. There are three Braille Institute semesters, which run from September through December, January through March, and May through July. Most classes are 2 hours and take place Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PDT). Read our COVID-19 FAQ.
Since our centers have been temporarily closed due to COVID-19, you can attend workshops or classes remotely by phone or video. Read our April 2022 reopening plan for required protocols to visit a Braille Institute center.
What classes are offered at each of your centers?
Braille Institute offers hundreds of exciting classes centered around daily living as well as arts and healthy living options. Some of our most popular classes include cooking and kitchen orientation and mobility as well our music classes. Please visit the webpage of the regional center near you for class schedules.
How do I register for programs at Braille Institute?
Call or visit the center closest to you and ask to speak to the registrar to set up an appointment. You may also call our general hotline at 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553) Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PDT) to arrange an appointment. During COVID-19, view our online workshops available where you can participate from the safety of your home via video or phone. View our April 2022 reopening plan for required center appointments and protocols.
How do I refer a client or patron to Braille Institute?
To refer someone to Braille Institute, please complete our Doctor Referral Form, them mail or fax the form to the Braille Institute the location closest to them. Alternatively, have the person call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553) Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 pm. A physician referral is helpful, though not mandatory to begin receiving Braille Institute services.
I am a doctor, teacher or other community organization, and would like to request material for the people I work with. How can I do that?
Please call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553) and ask to speak with the Braille Institute Marketing department to request the latest materials from Braille Institute. We can provide free referral pads, general brochures and much more.
How can I stay up-to-date with information about new programs from Braille Institute?
Connect with us on Facebook or sign up to begin receiving emails about the latest developments at Braille Institute.
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