What is Braille Institute?
Braille Institute is a non-profit organization offering a broad range of free programs and services to empower people with vision loss of all ages. Our staff and volunteers understand losing sight can be scary, but we believe it is not the end of independence, but with support it can be a new way of living. Hear from some of our students to learn more.
Who do you 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 and Glaucoma.
Do I need to be totally blind to receive your services?
No. Nearly 90% of Braille Institute students and patrons have some remaining vision. Anyone who has any amount of vision loss that is not corrected by glasses and it is affecting their daily living activities (like reading, cooking, driving) can contact us about using our services.
How much does it cost to get services from Braille Institute?
Programs and Services from Braille Institute are free to everyone thanks to the support of our generous donors.
Do I need insurance to use Braille Institute services?
All of our programs are free and we do not involve insurance.
Do you offer programs in languages other than English?
Yes, our centers offer programs in Spanish as well as English. And, our Los Angeles Center has an active program for people who read Sign Language. For more information on Spanish language programming, contact the center closest to you.
I just started losing my vision, how can Braille Institute help?
Braille Institute offers a broad range of free programs and services at our 6 centers and hundreds of community locations in Southern California. Our programs include:
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.
- 1:1 short term adjustment counseling (available through many of our centers and in-home in some circumstances)
- Support groups led by staff/peer facilitators are available at most centers and in several community locations.
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. We proudly offer ways to reach you in your community. Options include:
- In Home Services (available through many of our centers) as an option to people in the community.
- Classes in Your Community Designed for adults who don’t live near one of our Centers, our outreach efforts bring our programming, events and seminars to more than 330 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.
- Connecting with Technology We are exploring ways to connect with people in need of our services using technology. To learn more about using technology, visit our Connection Pointe pages.
To get more information about Braille Institute programs and services near you visit or call the regional center closest to you.
When are classes offered at Braille Institute Centers?
Classes based at our centers are typically offered on a semester basis, although registration in most classes is possible at any time. Braille Institute semesters run from September– December, January – March, May – July. Most classes are 2 hours and run Monday – Friday between the hours of 10AM – 4PM. However, due to COVID-19 orders, we are only offering online and over-the-phone classes and services at present. View our FAQ and schedule of online classes here.
What classes are offered at each of your centers?
With more hundreds of programs and services offered, Braille Institute classes include both Daily Living as well as Arts & Healthy Living options. Please visit the webpage of the regional center near you for class schedules.
How do I register for programs at Braille Institute?
Review the class schedules at the center of your choice (see above question and links)
Contact the center and set up an appointment to meet with the regional registrar to review your application in person or over the phone or call 1-800-BRAILLE (272-4553) Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM PST to arrange an appointment.
My doctor told me to contact you. How do I get started?
It is easy to start your journey with Braille Institute.
Bring in a completed Doctor Referral Form from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or health care provider and we will schedule a Low Vision Consultation. You’ll also meet with a student advisor who can speak about programs and classes that may help you. We invite you to call the center closest to you as ask to talk with a Low Vision Consultant or Registrar.
How do I refer a client/patron?
To refer someone to Braille Institute, please complete our Doctor Referral Form, then mail or fax the form to the Braille Institute location closest to them. Or have, the person call 1-800-BRAILLE Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM to arrange an appointment.
A doctor referral is mandatory to begin receiving Braille Institute services.