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Center Opens Easton Seniors' Eyes

Terri Kelso of Easton said she doesn’t know what her husband, Don, would have done without the Optelec Reader that he borrowed from the senior center . “It changed his life,” Terri said.

To use an Optelec, an object such as a book is placed underneath a light, which transfers the image to a screen. From there, it can be enlarged and colors can be altered to make it easier to read. Don Kelso was diagnosed with macular degeneration, an age-related blindness. Ten years ago, he borrowed an Optelec from the senior center and was able to read during the last years of his life.

On May 1, the senior center, with support from the Easton Lions, will open its new nonprofit Vision Assistance Program. The goal is to help people with low vision improve their ability to perform the activities of everyday living. In addition to the Optelec Readers, the senior center is building a collection of large print books and magazines, large jigsaw puzzles, large dominos and other games. Low vision is defined as corrected visual acuity between 20/40 and 20/200.

“People with low vision are lonely because of the lack of ability to stay in touch with the world,” said Val Buckley, Easton’s senior center director. She said the senior center will eventually buy adaptors to put in front of televisions.

The Low Vision Center will be available to residents of Easton and surrounding communities at no cost to taxpayers. Town Clerk Derek Buckley assisted with securing a $9,000 grant from the IEEE Life Members Fund of the IEEE Foundation for the project in both offices. United Illuminating has awarded $3,000 to the Easton Senior Citizen’s Center Inc. toward the combined low vision project and installation of “green” low energy computers.

The senior center is working with the town clerk’s office to provide large, high-definition computer screens in both offices. Seniors will be able to use the Internet as well as access public records at the senior center.

Buckley said this program is for people “who fall between the cracks” — people who don’t have the means to buy the equipment and who can’t file for a reimbursement through insurance.

How will the Low Vision Center help you? Leave your comments below.

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