Group help vision-impaired maintain independence

Published 2:06 am Friday, May 14, 2010

If anyone knows how quickly something can be taken away, it’s Andalusia’s Margret Gross.
Thirty years ago, June 1, Gross lost her sight suddenly after coming down with a form of meningitis.

“It was here one day and gone the next,” she said.

Still, Gross didn’t let it stop her from living her life.

“It’s like everything else you make up your mind you are going to go on,” she said. “Think about it. Veterans lose legs, and they continue to live.”

At the time, Gross and family were living in California and a doctor referred her to some rehabs, which helped her regain her independence.

“They sent me away for cane training, Braille and to teach me how to color code my clothing, as well as different methods of cooking,” she said. “Cooking meat isn’t that difficult you can hear the sound change.

They also helped me mark the cabinets and the spices.”

The things Gross was taught are just the things the Covington Blind & Low Vision Outreach group is working diligently to give people with limited sight or no sight the opportunity to do.

“Our goal is to help people achieve independence and know what types of assistance are available,” Gross, who has been a member of the group since its establishment in fall 2009, said.

Gross said there are rehabs available to help with learning to use canes, library services available, training available for those who want to work; and people are available to help organize the home.

Gross said there are specialized mechanisms for the ovens and microwaves have special overlays for them.
“There are a lot of things you can learn from other blind people. There is a lot of fellowship.”

Gross said that a lot of people who are blind choose not to leave their homes; however, she said there is much available to them.

“If you’re blind use what’s available, but a lot of people feel there is shame,” she said. “We encourage people to take advantage of the programs available.”

Gross hasn’t been much for shame, she does pretty much anything she wants to do.

“I go shopping and one of the employees usually helps me,” she said. “I travel to Michigan and California by myself.”

Gross said she first began traveling by herself when she was in training.

“I had to learn to go on the bus by myself,” she said.

One of the most important things, Gross said has helped her is learning Braille.

“It’s a shame that more don’t learn to use Braille,” she said. “Braille is very relevant. If they have to learn it they will. They need to learn it if for nothing else, but themselves.”

The organization meets the first and third Thursday of each month at the Adult Activities Center from 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information, call Wanda Scroggins at 428-3335.