Progressive low vision, blindness, and low sightedness are diagnoses that petrify many as people do not fear the loss of vision but rather their independence.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Braille Institute has worked to empower people who live with vision loss and help them become independent while maximizing their remaining vision. It offers a well-equipped center with smartphones, computers, and voice-activated devices to allow individuals to practice and receive hands-on training.
Under the astounding leadership of its President, Peter Mindnich, the institute has expanded its ability to serve individuals well beyond the four walls of its various centers and reach those in need across the U.S. and the world.
In an interview with Insights Care, Peter elaborates upon the journey that signifies the presence of Braille Institute in the healthcare sector.
Peter, please brief our audience about Braille Institute, its USPs, and how it is positioned as a reliable name in the healthcare sector?
Braille Institute provides educational and rehabilitative services for those who are blind or visually impaired. All of our programs and services are free of charge, are offered year-round, and serve people of all ages (children, youth, adults) at all stages of vision loss. We strive to serve the whole person by meeting a range of physical, social, intellectual, and emotional needs.
Please shed some light on your offerings and how they impact the healthcare industry and your clients.
Braille Institute offers a full array of direct services: low vision consultations, technology training, daily living skill classes, arts and healthy living classes, orientation and mobility training, and library services. Clients are provided with an individualized range of services designed to meet their specific visual challenges and personal goals. Instruction is offered in one-on-one and group settings.
Formats range from standalone workshops to multi-week classes, depending on subject, purpose, and audience. We do not set limits on age or length of service; students can return as often as needed to achieve their goals.
Many of our students receive multiple services. The majority of those we serve have some degree of vision (not completely blind). We realize that age-related vision loss is significant, and with the youngest of the baby boomers hitting 65 by 2029, the number of people with visual impairment or blindness in the United States is expected to double to more than eight million by 2050, according to projections based on the most recent census data and from studies funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
What are the core values upon which your organization is built? What is the vision and mission of the Braille Institute?
Our mission is to positively transform the lives of those with vision loss. Our goal is to provide the training and skills necessary for individuals to lead productive, fulfilling, and independent lives. Our core values focus on our passion to serve, teamwork, and a commitment to excellence and integrity. All our programs and services are free of charge. We never turn anyone away due to a financial inability to pay.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how modern technologies have impacted the healthcare sector. How has Braille Institute incorporated such technologies into its daily operations?
Technology has been a real game-changer for the population of blind and visually impaired individuals we serve. There is assistive technology and accessible apps that have helped those with vision loss manage day-to-day activities.
Voice-enabled technology, smart home devices, and a full range of apps that can read food or medicine labels or recognize faces are now part of everyday living. Braille Institute offers technology training with instructors in group and one-on-one settings.
We equipped our centers with smartphones, computers, and voice-activated devices to allow individuals to practice and receive hands-on training. Our goal is to help harness the power of modern technology to make the lives of those living with vision loss easier and more convenient.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the healthcare space?
Observe and listen to clients and patients; they often can share frustration and needs they have that are not being met. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to make a difference in someone’s life every day. Technology can be someone’s eyes or ears. Accessibility is such a growing field and there is more than can be done.
How do you envision scaling your organization’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
We will continue to expand our remote programs and services to help more people who are blind or visually impaired. Presently, all our services are delivered by a live consultant or instructor. To be able to fully offer our services nationally or globally, we may look to provide asynchronous content that can be accessed through our website or a dedicated learning portal.
Please give us a few testimonials of your clients/customers and a list of awards/recognitions that accurately highlight your organization’s position in the market.
SCOTT is in his mid-60s and living with total blindness. He needed help in his home to learn kitchen safety and how to prepare meals for himself. He thought he could only use a microwave to fix a meal. He recently lost his wife, who was his primary caregiver and the one who prepared all his meals. Braille Institute provided hands-on training on how to prepare his favorite foods and showed him different methods for marking/labeling items (e.g., braille or large print labels, rubber bands, Velcro). Because good eating habits are vital to staying healthy and maintaining independence, meal preparation and safe kitchen use continue to be core training areas among our students.
The Generous Leader
Peter Mindnich joined Braille Institute in October 2011 and has been President since March 2014. During his tenure, the company has expanded its ability to serve more individuals by delivering its programs and services remotely using the Microsoft Teams platform, with individuals receiving needed services and support online. This has enabled Braille Institute to expand its ability to serve individuals well beyond the four walls of our various centers and reach those in need across the U.S. and the world.