The support agency for the visually impaired opened its Fraser Valley outlet in Abbotsford on Sept. 6, to offer visual aids, services and workshops.
“A large number of our clients are in the Fraser Valley and the area is growing. We want to make it easier for them to access our services,” said Andrea Gronfeldt, CNIB assistant director for B.C.
The agency provides services to about 4,000 people in the region, and Gronfeldt expects people from Hope to Surrey and the north shore to visit.
The Abbotsford outlet has a number of products that clients can try out, and either purchase or order them there.
Ninety per cent of CNIB clients have some sort of vision, said Gronfeldt.
Clients can come in and be assessed for their visual needs, and then technical specialists like Christine Nieder can help the client find a device that is best suited to the vision they have remaining.
“Depending on eye disease, vision loss may in the centre of vision, as with macular degeneration, or at the periphery, as is the case with glaucoma,” said Grondeldt, so different technology is used in each case.
The shop has a range of items at varying prices that can make everyday living easier: these include talking wrist watches and clocks, self-threading needles, playing cards and labels. There is are electronic magnifiers, like the handheld close circuit device that magnifies and takes images, a computer mouse that can be used with a regular computer monitor or laptop, to very affordable magnifying sheets.
While gadgets can help, the CNIB office also offers independent living services and workshops to help people adapt to life with vision loss, said Marcia Zaganas, client services manager for the Abbotsford office.
From pouring a cup of coffee to taking transit across town, the office has specialists who can work with clients to develop confidence and safe living skills.
There is even a small kitchen on site where clients learn safe cooking techniques.
Other services include independent travel instruction, the CNIB library of talking books, and special support services for children.
Zaganas said the Abbotsford office is also welcoming volunteers, to help out in the office, to take part in the visual mate program in which volunteers may help with grocery shopping, reading material or going for walks.
To find out more about services and programs, contact Zaganas at 604-746-1192.
CNIB Fraser Valley is in the Little Oak Mall, at #7 – 2630 Bourquin Cres. West, Abbotsford. Hours are Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- If you’re looking for social activities with others who are visually impaired, the local Blind and Visually Impaired Society meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, from 1 – 3 p.m. at Abbotsford Community Services on Montrose Street. For information call May at 604-626-0643.