AccessChicago 2016 Highlights for People with Vision Loss

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Having resources and knowing where to look for help is of vital importance to people with disabilities and their families. Thousands gathered at Navy Pier yesterday for the biennial AccessChicago disability expo. Sponsored by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the event showcases the latest in accessibility services and resources for people with all types of disabilities. The daylong event included information booths, recreational activities, entertainment and seminars for people of all ages and abilities.

This was my first year attending AccessChicago – in fact, I had never heard about it until I began working at The Lighthouse two years ago. Several exhibitors, including The Chicago Lighthouse, shared information about resources available to individuals with vision loss. The following are some of the resources highlighted in the event. Please note that most of these organizations are not affiliated with The Lighthouse and are only meant to serve as resources for readers.

  • Hadley Institute for the Blind offers a variety of long-distance courses for people with vision loss and their families. Course subjects include Braille, technology, sports and recreation, reading and writing.
  • iCanConnect Deaf-Blind Program provides telecommunication services to qualifying individuals who are both deaf and blind throughout the United States free of charge. The program’s purpose is to help individuals who are deaf-blind stay connected with others. Currently, The Chicago Lighthouse is the only agency in Illinois that provides these services throughout the state.
  • RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace provides public transportation throughout the Chicagoland area. All trains and buses offer accessibility services for people with all types of disabilities. The paratransit program offers door-to-door transportation to qualifying riders with disabilities.
  • Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services helps adults with disabilities receive training and services they need to go back to school, find employment and live independently. Individuals interested in receiving services must first apply through their local office.
  • Equip for Equality works to advance the civil rights of Illinoisans with disabilities. The organization also provides legal assistance and resources to individuals with disabilities and their families.
  • I See Music is an organization that provides access to music recording and production to individuals with vision loss. Located in Beecher, IL, it provides training in recording technology and resources for music producers and engineers who are blind or visually impaired.

AccessChicago was filled with information and activities for people of all ages, interests and abilities. Best of all, it was a one-stop place for people with disabilities and their families to learn about what is available throughout the Chicagoland area. As a native Chicagoan with a disability, I was fortunate to grow up among so many great resources that helped me as a child and beyond. It is great to know that events like AccessChicago can help everyone become better informed about the resources available to those of us with disabilities. This was just a brief listing of the nearly 100 exhibitors at the event. The full list can be found on this website.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by The Lighthouse’s booth, we enjoyed meeting all of you! It was great seeing many familiar faces and knowing that many attendees are familiar with our agency. We hope you can join us again in 2018!

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