Who is Braille Institute?

Braille Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to positively transform the lives of those with vision loss. We offer a broad range of free programs, classes and services serving thousands of students of all ages helping to demonstrate that vision rehabilitation is a beginning, not an end.

We serve the community from seven centers, and hundreds of community outreach locations throughout Southern California, and lead popular national programs like Braille Challenge and Cane Quest. Our staff and volunteers understand losing your vision can be scary, but we believe it is not the end of independence, but a new way of living.

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, remotely online, and at community locations in Southern California.  Call the center closest to you to get started. Our services include:

  • Adult Programs like one-on-one consultations and semester-based small group classes to help adults with little-to-no vision build practical living skills and gain or regain independence. A variety of fun and informative, free, single-day, one-two hour workshops are also available year-round – online and in-person.
  • 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, audio books and downloadable e-books, 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. That’s why we’re here to support you with remote service options.  We also offer other ways to reach you including in-person at a neighborhood community center, in-home, and through remote/in-person hybrid options.

  • Online Workshops and Classes, and Virtual Sessions are available for you to attend from the comfort and safety of your home if you can’t reach a center. 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 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 — our blind and visually impaired students are leaders in their own right. Our centers offer state-of-the-art Connection Pointe centers with assistive technology to help our students empower themselves. We also offer technology classes and training sessions.

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: September through December, January through March, and May through July. Most classes are two hours and take place Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (PT).

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 music classes. Click the link of the center nearest you to visit their schedule of classes, and to register for free workshops open to everyone.

How do I register for programs at Braille Institute?

Call 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. (PT) to arrange an appointment.  View our workshops free and open to the public; many available online where you can participate from the comfort of your home via video or phone.

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 p.m. (PT). 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.

Have a question that we haven’t answered here?

Connect with us!

Our rich History dates back nearly one hundred years. We are funded almost entirely through private, individual and foundation sources. Generous donors and dedicated efforts by our volunteers enable Braille Institute staff to provide training, programs and services all free of charge.

Our award-winning Library features more than one million volumes in audio, large-print and braille formats. For those whose vision has diminished to the point where reading print is difficult, audio books are the perfect solution.

“…My husband became a patron of Braille Institute’s library services and enjoyed their talking books immensely. The books gave him great pleasure and allowed him to continue to feel connected to literature.” —Marjorie Roberts, Donor

For more information call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553) Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST).