Second Sense

Beyond vision loss

Chicago, IL   |  second-sense.org

Mission

Second Sense inspires individuals to move beyond vision loss and believe in their abilities. Through client-centered support and training, they learn new skills, build confidence and realize their value in our community. Together, we are changing society's perception of human potential.

Ruling year info

1950

Executive Director

Mr. Steven Zelner

Main address

65 E. Wacker Place Ste 1010

Chicago, IL 60601 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Guild for the Blind

EIN

36-2229565

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Vision loss is about more than just loss of sight. It is about loss of identity, loss of independence, loss of mobility and loss of confidence. Second Sense works with our clients to provide the emotional support and practical training that allow them to move beyond vision loss and live active, productive lives. Vision loss compromises a person's quality of life by limiting their ability to complete daily tasks, participate in favorite activities, and socialize with family and friends: Without intervention, vision loss brings social isolation, anxiety, depression, compromised health and early cognitive decline. Vision rehabilitation training can significantly improve the quality of life for adults with vision loss, cutting in half the rate of depression and increasing independence.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Assistive Technology Training

Technology training teaches our clients how to use both mainstream technology (like smart phones, tablets and speakers) and technology adapted for people with vision loss (screen magnification and screen reading). We work individually with each client allowing the instructor to focus on the client's specific training goals. Some clients need to start with the basics, other need to transition to assistive technology, and some want to learn a specific tool, like their iPhone.

We offer training both at our downtown office and at clients' homes.

Clients can use our open lab for one-on-one tutoring, to learn to use the keyboard or for personal projects. We have volunteer technology tutors at site to provide training and assistance.

We also offer group workshops, including our monthly Apple Exchange. This group training focuses on using the iPhone and iPad as tools of independence. These devices offer great accessibility and a variety of tools for people with vision loss.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Seniors
Older adults

When someone loses their vision, they need to relearn how to do old tasks--from eating to organizing to walking safely.

Clients receive individual training on skills like dining with confidence (learning to eat comfortably in public when you can't see the food on your plate), personal appearance (applying makeup or shaving), kitchen skills (safely using knives and kitchen appliances), communications (braille, magnification, writing, iPhones and iPads), home management and leisure activities.

Group training and educational workshops offer opportunities for learning new skills and support groups help build confidence.

We also offer professional training to low-vision support group leaders. We have educational information on our website, offer ongoing education opportunities and provide direct support through email discussion groups and one-on-one remote assistance.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Seniors
Older adults

Orientation and Mobility teaches clients how to use their remaining senses to to safely move about:
• Using a white cane
• Traveling outdoors: Finding sidewalks, identifying driveways, finding curbs
• Crossing streets: Identifying the type of intersection — stop sign vs. stop light — and analyzing traffic patterns to determine when it is safe to cross
• Planning routes: Number of street crossings, landmarks, cardinal directions
• Developing mental maps: envisioning the route in your head
• Using public transit
• Incorporating GPS apps

Our Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists provide this training individually in the client’s home, community and place of work.

The instructor works with clients to develop routes to specific destinations. This can include traveling on public transit or simply walking to the grocery store. They travel these routes together, developing ways to overcome barriers (railroad tracks, sidewalk cafes) and using this to practice the skills.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Seniors
Older adults
Young adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of community events or trainings held and attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Independent Living Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Community workshops and training are held at low-vision support group meetings throughout Cook, Lake and DuPage counties in Illinois.

Number of members from priority population attending training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Total number of clients who received vision rehabilitation training. These numbers have declined as we switched from group to individual training. Numbers in 2020-2021 were impacted by the pandemic.

Number of training workshops

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Most of our training is now offered individually. We increased remote workshops during the pandemic March 2020-June 2021.

Number of individuals attending community events or trainings

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Independent Living Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

We added individual training in client's homes and decreased the number of workshops. No community workshops were offered during the pandemic.

Number of individuals applying skills learned through the organization's training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Adults

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Individuals who received direct training are assessed for their ability to perform the skill and then asked if they have used the skill in the six-weeks following training.

Number of clients passing job skill competency exams or assessments after completing course

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Veterans, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Assistive Technology Training

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Second Sense provides adaptive technology training to adults seeking employment. After training, clients are tested individually to assess competency.

Average number of dollars received per donor

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Average giving per individual donor to our annual fund. This does not include foundation/corporation grants, major gifts or bequests.

Number of adults with disabilities receiving sufficient social and emotional support

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, Caregivers, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Independent Living Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Second Sense provides resources and training to community-based low vision support group leaders to enable them to facilitate impactful support groups that focus on vision rehabilitation.

Number of grants and research funding awarded to the institution

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Adults

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

We made a major change in our services in 2016/2017. We added more individual training and training off-site. This shift allows us to seek funding from new sources and increased grants received.

Number of computer literacy/skills/technology courses conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Assistive Technology Training

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Second Sense transitioned to individual training in 2018 to enable our clients and instructors to focus on individual client goals. We do still offer half-day training classes.

Number of clients with vision loss receiving orientation and mobility training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, People with vision impairments

Related Program

Independent Living Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Orientation and Mobility training teaches people with vision loss to use their remaining senses to determine their place in the environment and safely and independently navigate to their destination.

Number of clients living independently

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Adults

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

All of our training options teach clients how to live more independently.

Number of older adults being supported to live at home through home care, assistive technology, and/or personal support plans

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, People with vision impairments

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is a new service launched in 2016 that provides in-home vision rehabilitation training to seniors to enable them to live independent at home.

Number of people aged 65+ receiving home care

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments, Seniors

Related Program

Independent Living Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

We add in-home training to seniors with vision loss in 2017. These seniors learn to perform daily tasks independently. Much lower numbers in 2020 and 2921 due to pandemic.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Second Sense focuses on the individual. We work to help each person accept their vision loss, realize their true potential, set goals to achieve that potential, and gain the skills to reach those goals. Our clients range in age from 21 to 95. Some have been blind all their lives and some just lost their vision. Some have had long careers and others have never held a job. Some have a strong support system, with family and friends who are supportive of their independence and encourage them to learn and grow. Others have family and friends who are so afraid for their safety they encourage dependence.

Each client needs to work at their own pace, determine their own path and set their own goals in consultation with professionals trained in the field of vision rehabilitation.

Working within this framework, our goal for each client is to help they move beyond vision loss and learn the skills they need to live fulfilling lives -- however they define them.

Our programs are all delivered by professional specifically trained to provide services to adults with vision loss. This ensures our clients are receiving the best training and are performing the skills safely and efficiently. Not only does this serve them well, they become ambassadors of proper vision rehabilitation training.

We concentrate on each client, tailoring our services to meet their needs. All services are provided either individually or in small groups. We believe this is the most effective and efficient way to offer training -- everything is hands-on with lots of repetition. Our clients need to feel comfortable doing the task and confident enough to tell others they do not need help. They need to be able to advocate for themselves on a daily basis, at home, at work and when out in the community.

We have been increasing our individual training since 2017, as we find this results in the strongest outcomes and satisfaction for our clients.

Our staff are our core strength. They are all professionals, most with advanced degrees in their field. They are passionate about their work and their clients. We have strong, committed board that believes in our mission, our work and our service philosophy.

Our staff have built strong partnerships with other community organizations, outside professionals, peers in their fields. We have a strong volunteer base, made up mostly of former clients. Because our services are all delivered directly by staff on an individual basis, our staff determine the impact and outcome of our services.

In 2017, we add two staff positions to provide individual orientation and mobility training and daily living skills training. Both are important skills, but are often neglected, provided by unskilled staff or offered on a very limited basis. Our training has quickly gained a high reputation and is much sought after.

We have learned that offering a variety of options is the best way to reach our audience. We have become known for our creative programs and our staff is requested to present at national conferences, provide webinars and offer training at other community organizations.

We transitioned to individual training for all our program areas in 2018. After a test period, we found this service model outperformed small group training for complex skills in terms of client outcomes and satisfaction.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Second Sense serves adults with vision loss.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    During the pandemic, some clients expressed an interest in more remote workshops to ease their feelings of isolation. In response, we expanded our workshops to include more than just training workshops. We offered virtual tours of the Lincoln Park Zoo, workshops on meditation, a creative writing workshop and others that focused on ways to expand social opportunities and ease stress.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Our clients feel much more comfortable sharing their opinions. In the past, when we did surveys we rarely received any constructive criticism. Today, our clients will provide opinions, critiques, suggestions and overall reviews of the training they receive and the opportunities we provide.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Second Sense
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Second Sense

Board of directors
as of 06/07/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Brett Christenson

Marquette Associates

Term: 2013 - 2023

Laura Rounce

Illinois College of Optometry

Michael Wagner

LSV Asset Management

John Woodcock

TTX

John Heuberger

DLA Piper LLP

Jerry White

Suzanne Miller

Private Practice

Keith Giemzik

BMO Global Asset Management

Jeff Smith

Consultant

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/4/2019

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/02/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.