Central Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired Get Acquainted Workshop
Displays of visual aids, catalogs and technology to assist people who have low vision. Meet members of the CKAVI support group. Open to all.
1-4 p.m. Sunday.
The meeting room at Cedar Park Place, 3910 Cedar Park Place, Great Bend.
If you need a ride: Call Catch-A-Ride today to make arrangements for public transportation on Sunday. The telephone number is 620-792-7797.
For more information on CKAVI call Paul Berscheidt, 793-5645
Sometimes, Paul Berscheidt considers himself lucky.
Dealing with visual impairment his entire life, the Great Bend man didn’t have to be told that poor eyesight isn’t an obstacle to a full life. Not everyone realizes that.
Young people — and some adults — used to react when he worked in customer service and reached for his magnifying machine. He’d let them know it was no big deal — just a tool he used to do his job. "It's fun to show kids your magnifier," he said. He lets them know low vision isn’t a disease, and they won’t catch it from someone.
Sometimes he also meets adults who are struggling with their own loss of vision. Those are the ones who really need to know what Berscheit can say with authority: "It’s not the end of the world."
As president of the Central Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired, Berscheidt wants to spread that message. A dozen or so people come to the CKAVI support group’s meetings, usually held at 2 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of each month at the Dominican Sisters convent, 3600 Broadway.
This month, however, the support group’s meeting will come one week early, at a different location. CKAVI will hold a get acquainted workshop from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Cedar Park Place meeting room, 3910 Cedar Park Place. Vendors will be bringing some technology that can assist people with low vision, including magnifiers, and items from the Talking Book Department and Low Vision Lending Center, located on the lower level of the Great Bend Public Library.
Berscheidt said he hopes this program will help more people learn about CKAVI, because he knows others are out there who could benefit from the support group. "We would like to get some people with low vision. We also want families to come. ... We need sighted people in our group, too," he added. CKAVI can put people in touch with resources. Doctors and social workers are among the regular speakers who provide information. Sometimes, the meetings are mostly times of fellowship, with food.
Learning from shared experiences
Learning from shared experiences
"I’ve been visually impaired all my life," said Berscheidt, who was born with dislocated lenses on his eyes. "Until I was 7 I didn’t know trees had leaves on them."
Still, he found ways to adapt. He learned to type when he was 16 and later went to Fort Hays Vocational Rehabilitation. He could see well enough to drive until the age of 50. Today he is retired and legally blind.
Sometimes Berscheidt meets someone coming to grips with his or her own loss of vision. Often that person is angry. CKAVI not only helps people find resources; it also provides people who understand.
"Angry doesn’t help you," Berscheidt tells them. "Nothing can stop you because you have low vision." Even people who are totally blind can marry, lead productive lives, go to dances and have fun.
"Don’t be afraid to interact," he said.