Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.

Home of the White Cane

Peoria, IL   |  cicbvi.org

Mission

The Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides programs meeting the emotional, educational, training, social and cultural needs of people who are blind or visually impaired living in Central Illinois. We envision a future where people who are blind or visually impaired have equal opportunities to engage independently in our great Central Illinois community.

Ruling year info

1964

President

Prasad Parupalli

Vice-President

Ken Gray

Main address

2905 W Garden St

Peoria, IL 61605 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Peoriarea Blind People's Center, Inc.

EIN

37-0771361

NTEE code info

Eye Diseases, Blindness and Vision Impairments (G41)

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our vision is our problem statement. We envision a future where people who are blind and visually impaired have equal opportunities to engage independently in our great Central Illinois community. As progressive and supportive as our community is, people who are blind and visually impaired often lack the courage, financial means, tools and/or training they need to lead truly independent lives.

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?

FREE Intensive Basic White Cane Clinic

This FREE clinic was developed and led by Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists for people and families of people who are blind or visually impaired and need a long white cane and/or beginning cane training. While there is no minimum age requirement, participants cannot be eligible for services through the state of Illinois. This is an intensive, active-learning clinic with a minimum and, based on past, optimal class size of five. Family members are strongly encouraged to join so they can help support at home and in the community.

The clinic covers basic and advanced human guide, which is proper technique for guiding a blind or visually impaired person, how to manipulate the long white cane in a variety of situations, and basic cane technique to navigate your environment (e.g., up and down stairs, around the block, etc.).

The clinic is scheduled six times annually for five participants and their families. The cost / budget for each clinic is $500, which included $300 for a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist plus cost of a white cane and two tips for each participant.

Population(s) Served

It's so easy for people who are blind and visually impaired, especially those who have lost sight later in life, to be reclusive. In fact, over 80% of people who are blind and visually impaired in this country are over age 55. So an important aspect of our mission is social and cultural. The Center hosts a weekly open house that helps our team engage in our patrons' lives, gets them out of their homes and together, and includes an affordable meal ($6), optional bingo ($1), and transportation ($3) provided for those who need it. The Center covers these costs once a month for our patrons, and they are responsible for the other open houses they choose to attend. The open house is a noon lunch on the first, third, and fifth Wednesdays of the month and a 5:30 pm dinner on the second and fourth Wednesdays. Many regard this simple open house as the Center's signature event.

We budget for 50 open houses annually with an average attendance of 25 participants at a cost of $10 each.

Population(s) Served

Music is an important part of everyone's life but it seems to be especially important for people who are blind and visually impaired. So, we host a free jam session on the third Saturday of every month at the Center. It's an open mic afternoon when anyone can bring a favorite instrument and their voice and share music and a meal at the Center.

The cost / budget for a Jam Session, one of our patrons' favorite monthly cultural events, is $500 per month, which includes paying union musicians ($300) and meals and transportation for 25 participants. This is a very popular event for our patrons, a music experience for them, an opportunity to socialize, and a healthy meal. It's well-attended, but the ongoing challenge is funding the music. To have a successful, ongoing event, it's important to pay musicians to lead instead of depending on musically oriented volunteers and/or patrons to headline the show.

Population(s) Served

In 1931, George Bonham, President of the Peoria Lion’s Club, noticed the difficulty of his friend who was blind, Elmer Thomason, crossing a busy intersection. These innovators decided to try two of Mr. Thomason’s canes in an experiment. One was a heavy, hand-carved cane, painted white. The other, a hickory smooth cane, was painted white with a red tip. The white and red cane was an instant success.

Elmer Thomason, then President of the Association of the Blind in Peoria, a predecessor of the Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, started the tradition the CICBVI carries on today of offering similar canes to our patrons. By 1932, the Peoria Lions Club was furnishing canes to individuals who were blind. The Peoria City Council adopted an ordinance giving bearers of the white, red-tipped cane the right-of-way to cross streets. Thus the currently recognized international symbol of a person with a visual impairment was born.

In honor of these innovative friends, Mr. Thomason’s historic canes remain on display yet today at the Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Each year, the CICBVI fits and provides a new white cane to each of our patrons who wants one at no cost to them. While not everyone needs a new cane every year, we budget to provide 100 new canes annually at a cost of $25 each.

The white cane is the most fundamental navigation and self-identification tool for people who are blind and visually impaired. It is an important element of delivering our vision of a future where people who are blind and visually impaired have equal opportunities to engage independently in our great Central Illinois community.

Population(s) Served

New for 2019, this FREE clinic is for people unable to obtain services through the Department of Rehabilitation Services who need long white cane training. There is no minimum age requirement; however, participants must have completed the CICBVI-hosted Intensive Basic Cane Clinic.

This three-hour clinic is hosted at the CICBVI by two Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists. During this time, we review information covered during the Intensive Basic White Cane Clinic and extend participants' knowledge into more advanced techniques.

Family members are encouraged the join and, to help minimize cost, are asked to transport their family's participant(s) to and from the clinic. For participants living within a 15-mile radius of the Center who are attending solo, the CICBVI provides transportation.

Population(s) Served

Do you remember struggling through your first reading book and how Mom or Dad patiently helped you with those hard words? Do you remember laboring together over math problems and maybe feeling a little superior because you were catching on faster to this "new math" than Mom or Dad? To someone who has suffered vision loss, the experience of learning to read braille is similar!

This FREE worship, offered quarterly and new for 2018, is designed for beginners who have little or no working knowledge of braille. The training is for people who are sighted or blind to help them learn to read braille. In this beginning workshop, participants learn the alphabet, punctuation and numbers, as well as formatting styles, like bold and italics.

The four-hour program includes the braille workshop, braille games, snacks and beverages at the Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The workshop is FREE to patrons of the Center, and there is no cost to become a patron.

By the end of the session, participants should have acquired the basic skills necessary to read braille, lasting connections with other braille readers and a new book to practice using new skills.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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.

Our mission articulates what we are trying to accomplish. We provide programs meeting the emotional, educational, training, social and cultural needs of people who are blind and visually impaired living in Central Illinois. Emotional support helps individuals and families cope with vision loss or the discovery that a loved one has a serious vision impairment. Our educational and training programs teach people who are blind and visually impaired and their families about managing with vision loss and the assistive technologies available to help. Our cultural and social programs help people who are blind and visually impaired engage with one another and the community through the arts, music, sports, field trips and other opportunities that many people who are sighted take for granted.

Our strategy focuses on three areas: Networking, Social and Cultural Programming, and Training and Education.

Networking: Losing vision or learning a child has a serious vision impairment can be terrifying. It helps to know you're not alone and people who are visually impaired or blind graduate from high school, earn university degrees, raise families, contribute to their communities and enjoy amazing, productive, happy lives. We maintain an extensive network of resources from our monthly newsletter, accessible cicbvi.org website, referrals to resources for low vision assessments, where to purchase accessible technology, etc. We launched a social media campaign on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in 2017 to help our community find us.

Social and Cultural: It's easy for people who are blind and visually impaired, especially those who have lost sight later in life, to be reclusive. So an important aspect of our mission is social and cultural. We host a weekly open house that helps our team engage in our patrons' lives, gets them out of their homes and together, and includes a meal, interactive games, and transportation for those who need it. We cover these costs once a month for our patrons, and they are responsible for the other open houses they choose to attend.

Music is an important part of everyone's life but it seems to be especially important for people who are blind and visually impaired. So, we host a free jam session on the third Saturday of every month. It's an open mic afternoon when anyone can bring a favorite instrument and their voice to share music and a meal at the Center.

In addition to open houses and jam sessions, we also take our patrons to a variety of cultural and social events including sports, particularly baseball, concerts, museums, restaurants, shopping and others throughout the year.

Education and Training: An important and purposefully growing aspect of our mission is education and training. "Now that I've lost my sight, how do I get around?" In response to that question, which is the question we hear more than any other, we launched a FREE intensive long white cane clinic in 2018. The quarterly clinic is available to anyone who is not eligible for support from the State of Illinois and was developed and is led by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist.

Another aspect of our training and education programs is to inform people about technologies that may help solve problems they face in their daily lives. We maintain a collection of assistive technologies in our Uftring Technology Center available for anyone to try or to use if they cannot afford an expensive piece of equipment, like a CCTV, at home. On April 5, 2018, we hosted Toronto-based eSight for an open meeting for the public followed by ten private one-on-one sessions with CICBVI patrons to evaluate their augmented reality glasses that can help the legally blind see. We are constantly introducing our patrons to tools that can help.

We have owned our facility on Garden Street on Peoria's Southside for over half a century, but it is important to emphasize we serve Central Illinois, as opposed to Peoria or the Southside. This is a 7,000 square foot facility with a large multi-purpose room for open houses, jam sessions, board meetings, training, etc. and has even been rented for wedding receptions. The room has a modern public address system, and we have a new (2018) projection system and screen. The facility has its own industrial kitchen from where our staff prepares and serves meals for our events. The building also hosts the Uftring Technology Center, which houses computers adapted for and devices available for use by people who are blind or visually impaired. The Executive Director and Secretary have offices in the building, and there is ample storage space. The basement level is not included in the estimate square footage is largely unused but is roughed in as a training facility.

We offer transportation to our patrons within 15-mile radius and maintain vehicles and staff dedicated to providing them access to the community and Center.

We have a growing media presence, which begins with our monthly newsletter, distributed to patrons and supporters, to communicate vital support services, events and news of interest to people who are blind and visually impaired. Our cicbvi.org website was upgraded to improve its accessibility in the fall of 2017, which is the same time we established our social media presences on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

We have a long history in Central Illinois and a diverse board dedicated to the CICBVI's mission and vision. More importantly, we have a great group of volunteers who make everything possible. We are fiscally conservative, operate exclusively on private donations and are privileged to be the stewards of grants and donations from a wide variety of sources.

Since 1955, the Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has provided programs meeting the emotional, educational, training, social and cultural needs of people who are blind and visually impaired living in Central Illinois. But there is much work to be done to ensure people who are blind and visually impaired have equal opportunities to engage independently in our great Central Illinois community.

We have been a fixture in Central Illinois for so long that our network of resources is very strong for helping people who are blind or visually impaired and their families. The challenge is to build awareness in the community about this strength that is available to everyone, about our mission and vision, and to encourage more community support. Building awareness is the impetus for the social media campaign launched late in 2017.

Our social and cultural content is strong. Open houses and jam sessions are well-attended and we provide many opportunities for our patrons to engage with one another and the community. That said, the demographics of our patrons must more closely align with the demographics of people who are blind or visually impaired living in Central Illinois. We need to encourage a younger demographic serving a wider range of ethnicities. Our new Board members reflect this broader target demographic and well-represent the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. You are already seeing our social media effort aimed here, and you'll soon see more programming for this broader demographic.

Without training and education, our vision of independence in the community for our patrons will remain a dream. Our Uftring Technology Center is a strength, but we will be expanding the technologies available for our patrons to learn about through partnerships with local and global technology providers. We have restarted the CICBVI's education and training programming with a FREE Basic White Cane Training Clinic, a FREE Intermediate White Cane Training Clinic, a FREE Basic Braille Seminar, and technology events with vendors like eSight and Jordy, but we need to expand our offering. We will be offering more classes in the near future by developing or own content and by leveraging relationships with others doing similar work in other parts of the state and country.

There is a lot to do and much of our success depends upon our ability to fund and staff our initiatives.

Financials

Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
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Operations

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

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Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 07/20/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Prasad Parupalli

Caterpillar Inc.

Term: 2017 - 2019


Board co-chair

Ken Gray

Caterpillar Inc. (Retired)

Term: 2017 - 2019

Xin Lu

Astellas Pharma

Molly Pasley

Self-Employed, Service Provider for People with Vision Impairments

Gyla Grigsby

Self-Employed

Jennifer Hehner

Self-Employed, Service Provider for People with Vision Impairments

Rob Johannsen

Caterpillar Inc. and Bradley University (Retired)

Kurt Norris

Caterpillar Inc.

Cora Quinn

Self-Employed

Leia Stewart

Self-Employed

Prasad Parupalli

Caterpillar Inc.

Kenneth Gray

Caterpillar Inc. (Retired)

Lanna Scannell

OSF HealthCare Foundation

Lance Barke

Caterpillar Inc.

Pete A. Lagouros

Illinois Eye Center

Debrah D. Conklin

Caterpillar Inc.

Darlene Violet

Shared Blessings of Peoria