The Outlook

Official Newsletter of the Sight-Loss
Support Group of Central PA, Inc

The Sight-Loss Support Group of Central Pennsylvania, Inc.
Turning Darkness into Light Since 1982

P.O. Box 782, Lemont, PA  16851            814-238-0132

June 2019


Please join us on Thursday, June 13th for lunch and a special presentation by Jane Jantzen-Wilson who will share her knowledge of how nutrition and lifestyle impact the health of the eye. For those of us with vision loss, we can’t know too much about nutrition and how to care for ourselves. Nutrient-rich foods, a glass of red wine, a good night’s sleep, and knowing how to relax and appreciate what each day brings – all these things support the health of our eyes. The eyes are an extension of the whole body - anything you put into your body, good or bad, you are also putting into your eyes. Jane’s talk will help us broaden our knowledge and strengthen our motivation to give our eyes and our bodies what they need.

Also join us for lunch and more on Thursday, July 11th. Cindy Stahlman, supervisor of the Centre Region Active Adult Center, will talk about the activities and events at the senior center.

Our monthly 2nd Thursdays lunch group is a good place to be if you are new to vision loss or an old hand. We have a simple lunch and share our stories and experiences with one another. After lunch, there is a short presentation on a topic of interest to individuals with sight loss. The group meets at Mt Nittany Residences in the community room from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. Occasionally, we get together for a special event such as a play, baseball game, or special tour. Come, eat, share, and connect at 2nd Thursdays. We hope to see you soon.

2nd Thursdays is a collaboration of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, North Central Sight Services, and the Sight-Loss Support of Central PA. Each month, staff members and clients from each organization come together and find common ground.


View Via Voice (VVV), our audio-description program, will be describing two local productions this summer – Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, both local “Fuse” productions. Always a favorite, Fuse consistently awes our members with the outstanding quality of their productions.

VVV has also been training and preparing for a rigorous fall and winter schedule. We will showcase the service in our autumn newsletter; you will be wowed with their new energy! In addition to many local performances, a dozen shows at the Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) will be audio-described this fall/winter. Our lips are sealed about the spectacular shows planned at the CPA until their official announcements this July, but we think you will be as excited as we are with some of the popular musicals and children's offerings this year. Watch for details from the CPA on July 8; the audio-described schedule can be easily viewed at , or check our website,, in July.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Musical): Saturday, June 22, 2:00 PM, Schwab Auditorium.

FUSE Productions presents Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera about the final days leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ, as seen through the eyes of of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot. The legendary score includes “I Don't Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane,” “Heaven on their Minds,” and “Superstar.” With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the talents of Fuse Productions, you won't want to miss this one!

Note: A-D service provided at the Saturday, June 22, matinee performance only. Tickets are available through FUSE ( or phone (814)-380-8672; ask for reduced "student" price). Please reserve the A-D service through the SLSG office (814-238-0132 or by June 15 (note shortened reservation time due to late press time!) and be seated by 1:45 pm.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Shakespearean Comedy): Sunday, August 18, 2:00 PM, Foxdale Auditorium.

FUSE Productions presents one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream. This multi-layered examination of love portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus (Duke of Athens) to Hippolyta (former queen of the Amazos). Young Athenian lovers and a troupe of amateur actors are controlled and manipulated by fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” but we hope your evening with us will!

Tickets are required ( or phone (814)-380-8672; ask for reduced "student" price). Note: A-D provided at the Sunday, August 18, 2:00 pm performance only. Please reserve the A-D service by August 4, and be seated by 1:45 pm.

What is Audio-Description? At theater productions, audio-describers provide pre-show information about the production, characters, costumes, and sets. During theater and dance performances, without interrupting dialog, these professionals describe the ongoing visual elements. Receivers and headsets are provided free of charge for use during performances; the description service is also free. For tours and art exhibits, describers detail individual works, provide background, and often provide “tactiles.”

Please arrive in plenty of time to acquire your headset and go to your seat before the 15-minute pre-show description begins. Those with full-vision may also find the introduction and description helpful and interesting. REMEMBER: Reservations are required AT LEAST TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE for audio-description. Also, assistance with ticket costs is available for many performances. Please call the Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA at (814) 238-0132 or email at for reservations or for further information.

Ticket Information for the PSU Center for the Performing Arts (Eisenhower Auditoruium):

Tickets are necessary and may be purchased by calling the Center for the Performing Arts at (814)-863-0255 or (800)-ARTS-TIX. A limited number of complimentary tickets are available at the Eisenhower Auditorium for patrons with sight-loss and a guest through their Accessibility Program; phone Joi Loree McKenzie directly at the Center for the Performing Arts at 814-865-5011 for SLSG client reduced tickets.

Tip: View the calendar page of the Sight-Loss Support Group's website ( for more information on past and future events.


If you are experiencing vision loss there are many services, resources, and devices that can help you navigate your new life. Vision loss doesn’t have to mean the loss of independence or quality of life. With the right support, people who are blind or partially sighted can do almost anything.

Step 1: Start with Your Eye-Care Professional

The best place to begin the vision rehabilitation process is to make an appointment with your eye-care professional.

  • An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and the prevention of eye disease. An ophthalmologist treats eye diseases, prescribes medication, and performs all types of surgery to improve or prevent the worsening of eye and vision-related conditions.

  • An optometrist is an eye care professional who specializes in function and disorders of the eye, detection of eye disease, and some types of eye disease management. An optometrist diagnoses vision problems, prescribes corrective lenses, and may perform certain surgical procedures.

  • During your appointment be sure to talk to your doctor about appropriate vision rehabilitation services in your area.

Step 2: Have a Low Vision Examination

If your vision loss cannot be completely corrected by your regular eye care professional, a low vision specialist can conduct a low vision examination and help you make the best use of your remaining vision. A low vision specialist will recommend devices to help you accomplish essential tasks and enjoy your favorite activities. Reading, paying bills, watching TV, cooking, exercising, going for walks, grocery shopping – all these activities often involve the use of low vision devices.

Low vision optical devices use lenses to magnify images so that objects or print appear larger to the eye. Examples include magnifying reading glasses, stand magnifiers, hand-held magnifiers, and small pocket-sized telescopes.

Non-optical devices help optimize vision by increasing lighting levels, decreasing glare, or increasing print size. Examples include high-intensity lamps, large print, electronic video magnifiers, iPads, and tablets.

Adaptive daily living equipment is designed to make everyday tasks easier to do with little or no vision. Clocks and timers with large numerals, writing guides, needle threaders, large print or talking watches, large print and tactile tablets, and talking pill bottles are examples of such equipment.

Step 3: Investigate Additional Vision Rehabilitation Services

Vision rehabilitation services can help you function safely and independently in critically important daily living areas:

  • Independent travel such as getting around indoors, walking with a guide, using a long white cane, crossing streets, using public transportation, and using electronic travel devices.

  • Continuing to read and write.

  • Independent living skills such as preparing meals, managing money, labeling medications, making home repairs, enjoying crafts and hobbies, and shopping.

  • Using a computer or tablet, using a phone, and telling time.

  • Job training and vocational rehabilitation services such as vocational evaluation, job training and placement, workplace adaptations, and workplace technology.

  • Counseling and peer support groups to help you adjust to vision loss and manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

What Types of Benefits are Available to Me?

If you are legally blind, you may be eligible for income tax exemptions and Social Security disability benefits. You may also be eligible for property tax exemptions and accessible public transportation. Every state offers vision rehabilitation services (blindness skills training) that can help with independent living and/or employment. Also, check into the free Library of Congress talking book program and receive free audio books and a digital player.

Don’t Give Up

Vision loss can be a daunting challenge. At first the sense of loss may be overwhelming. But with proper training and support you will learn skills and techniques that give you new ways of doing things. You can live a full life and be independent again.

(Excerpted from Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home After Vision Loss (New York, NY: AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind, 2015), pp. 14-26).


Book famine is not something you hear about on the evening news. We assume that access to information and knowledge is a basic human right, yet around the world over 100 million people are denied this basic right – people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled. Currently, less than 10% of all books published worldwide are available in accessible formats such as braille, large print, and audio talking books. Much of this book famine stems from access barriers found in copyright law. Obtaining copyright permission before converting a book into an accessible format is a lengthy and expensive process. Also, accessible versions of books are not allowed to cross international borders. The Marrakesh Treaty removes these barriers in two main ways

Firstly, any country that ratifies the treaty grants an exception to domestic copyright law for visually impaired and print disabled people. Permission from the holder of the copyright, usually the author or publisher, is no longer required. Secondly, cross-border sharing of accessible works is permitted between the countries who have ratified the treaty. This allows countries with large collections of accessible books to share these collections with visually impaired people in countries with fewer resources.

The United States ratified the Marrakesh Treaty on February 8, 2019, joining the 70 other countries that have ratified the treaty. The U.S. can now import titles from other ratifying countries and these countries have access to the U.S collection of accessible works.

This historic treaty paves the way for a future in which people who cannot read regular print materials have equal access to books, regardless of where they live. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 285 million people worldwide who are visually impaired – 90% live in developing nations. The Marrakesh Treaty will help bring literacy and education to blind and partially sighted people in these developing nations, a necessary first step towards achieving personal, economic, and social equality.


The Access Technology Affordability Act was introduced in Congress on April 4, 2019. This bipartisan legislation would create a refundable tax credit of $2,000 to offset the cost of accessible technology designed for people who are blind and visually impaired. The passage of this legislation would help remove the employment, education, and societal barriers commonly experienced by blind Americans who cannot afford the high cost of access technology. The bill in the House of Representatives (H.R.2086) is sponsored by Mike Thompson (D-CA-5). The Senate bill (S. 815) is sponsored by John Bozeman (R-AR). The bill is in the first stage of the legislative process.

Visually impaired Americans need access to affordable access technology if the playing field is to be leveled for blind individuals in this country. Please contact your congressman or congresswoman and make your voice heard if this is an important issue to you.

Note: Living Life with Vision Loss: Resources, Services, and Support in Central PA, a booklet produced by the Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA, is a compilation of information on local, regional, and national resources on sight loss and disability services. For a free copy call the Sight-Loss Support Group at 814-238-0132.

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind".” 
― William Shakespeare, 
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA, Inc.

P.O. Box 782

Lemont, PA 16851


June 13 Nutrition & Lifestyle and Eye Health

July 11 Activities & Events at the Senior Center

August 8 TBA


June 22 Jesus Christ Superstar

August 18 A Midsummer Night's Dream

September (TBA) Matilda

Remember to check our website (

for announcements, updates, and further information, and to follow

Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA Inc” on Facebook.


Spring/Summer 2019