iluna@valleytowncrier.com

EDINBURG - Having low vision can be frustrating but with the help of Sight Savers America (SSA), 31 students were donated life-changing equipment to reach their full potential in the classrooms and at home.

Sight Savers America is a non-profit organization headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, whose mission is to provide visual aid equipment and treatment for individuals visually impaired.

The organization and Edinburg’s Region One Education Service Center (ESC) hosted a clinic for 31 RGV students receiving at-home equipment to enhance their vision.

“They are known as CCTV’s, (closed-circuit televisions) but also electronic video magnifiers (EVM),” said Veronica Tafoya, Sight Savers senior case specialist. “The type of equipment they’re receiving today is a 22-inch HD desktop video magnifier. It can zoom up to 218 times than the normal size and can change the color contrast,” Tafoya adds.

Other equipment donated to the students included portable devices and hand-held aids like telescopes and dome magnifiers to help with their vision.

The students are enrolled in the public school system across different grade levels applying for a visual aid. The process begins with an application from the parents identifying their child has unmet vision needs.

“We at Region One send out a notice to the teachers asking if they have any students that have been recommended for low vision devices through a low vision evaluation,” said Twinkle Morgan, Region One education specialist for visual impairment. “We have several doctors that provide and with that, the parents sign a consent form for the teachers so they can get the child’s name and contact information to send to SSA and from there they review the low vision evaluation,” said Morgan.

SSA receives a grant from its partnered funders: Reading Resource Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Brownsville Foundation for Health and Education, The George and Fay Young Foundation, and Vispero. The total fund determines how many students are served and how much equipment is donated.

The donated desktop EVMs came with a vision aid user’s guide made by the organization to make training for the 22-inch monitor easier to use.

“We created a user’s guide that’s more simplified instead of using the manufacturer’s user guide to avoid taking a long time getting [users] trained and we added some activity sheets for them go over,” said Tafoya.

The users' guide is filled with pages of activities with pictures and words in different sizes of print.

The non-profit organization currently serves 15 states including Texas and mainly serves children. Adults with low vision can be treated in select areas who qualify.

For more information on Sight Savers America, visit the following link at: https://sightsaversamerica.org/.

For more photos of the story visit: https://www.yourvalleyvoice.com/ or https://www.edinburgreview.com/.