2 Your Health: New improvements help visually impaired become self-sufficient

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - For those that are blind or visually impaired, your ears become your eyes and you have to rely on other senses. A center in Anchorage is training people to become self sufficient regardless of their impairment.

Outside the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the sound of chimes blowing in the wind make all the difference for someone who can't see.

Whether it's crossing the street, typing on a computer, or using a cell phone, the center is committed to empowering its clients to live an independent life. It recently underwent renovations adding in four kitchens, eight bathrooms, painted ceilings and walls, among other things.

"This project was an attempt to just do the entire building so that we could really focus on the mission and the services we provide rather than trying to keep the building from falling apart," said Executive Director Regan Mattingly.

In addition to the resources offered in Anchorage, they visit about 20 to 30 rural communities every year. "It is nice in the sense that we are able to train people in our own communities for our communities," said Mattingly.

To this day, the center is the only full service vision agency in Alaska. People from out of town are able to stay and receive training and work with people like Bonnie Lucas, a Certified Vision Rehab Therapist.

Lucas helps people understand how much their life can change once they learn "blindness skills."

"So there are just different things that people need, encouragement and assistance making sure that they really can do the things that they've always done and so we try to make sure that that can happen," said Lucas.

Lucas said that while it's an adjustment that doesn't happen overnight, it's a step in the right direction.

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