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Free resources for those who are blind or have limited sight in the Midlands

The Federation Center for the Blind offers resources like braille, computer and phone classes.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Blind people who live in Columbia have access to several resources through the Federation Center of the Blind.

The center is located on South Kilbourne Road near the Rosewood neighborhood.

Not only does the center have monthly meetings, they offer retreats, computer and phone classes, braille classes, conventions and a brand new program called Transitions that helps younger folks move from high school to college or college to adult life. 

"Even though I had the diagnosis of glaucoma and I wore the thicker glasses like I do now, I did not need a lot of adaptation. By the time I got to middle school I needed large print. As I got into high school, I used a magnifier to read print. When I was in college and graduate school, I used the magnifier to write," said Shannon Cook, treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind.

Cook is a member of the South Carolina Federal of the Blind chapter in Columbia and now she uses braille and a voice over system on her phone. 

David Houck is the executive director of the center. He says they've been making improvements to the facility with a new entrance ramp installed in January, new flooring and new doors.  There are even more changes to come. 

"We want to get blind people involved in all aspects of life and everything they do. We want them to maximize their potential. We want high expectations. Nobody ever told me I couldn't travel, so I traveled," Houck said.

Isaiah Nelson is very involved nationally, regionally and in changing laws for people who are blind. He's cooking food for the chapter meeting tonight. 

"Whenever I spoke at a chapter meeting one night, one of my things was to step up and to step out. Even though we are blind or partially blind, that doesn't mean that we have to wait for someone to come get us by the hand and to walk us where we want to go," Nelson said.

The Federation Center of the Blind is meeting tonight at 6:15 p.m. ET on 119 South Kilbourne Road.

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