National News

Braille Institute Opens Two New Neighborhood Centers

Riverside Neighborhood Center now open and announcing new Coachella Valley Neighborhood Center to open in 2020

In its continuing mission to reach and serve as many visually impaired individuals as possible, and with the number of people who are blind or visually impaired expected to double to eight million by 2050, Braille Institute (BIA) has recently opened a Neighborhood Center in Riverside and announced its plans to open a new Neighborhood Center in Coachella Valley. BIA also currently operates a Neighborhood Center in Laguna Hills.

Celebrating its Centennial milestone this year, Braille Institute is renewing its commitment to provide free programs and services in areas with a high concentration of need by utilizing the “Neighborhood Center” delivery model. By locating centers in geographic areas with a high population of vision-impaired individuals, BIA can provide more convenient access to its services. The Laguna Hills Neighborhood Center which opened in 2016, has demonstrated strong results in student growth, student impact and operational efficiencies. Over the past 3 years, more than 3,300 clients have received services in Laguna Hills.

“Our goal is to expand our reach and impact and ensure that we are well-positioned for long-term success in our second century of service,” said Peter Mindnich, President of Braille Institute. “We have seen great results with our Neighborhood Center model in Laguna Hills, and we have every expectation that the new centers in Riverside and the Coachella Valley will continue that success.”

With the opening of the two new Neighborhood Centers (Riverside and Coachella Valley), the current Rancho Mirage center will be closing in mid-December. Classes and services will continue to be offered to its approximate 800 students until that time. Approximately one third of the current students who attend the Rancho Mirage center live within a 25-mile radius to the new Riverside Neighborhood Center and may begin their transition to that center.
BIA is currently working to identify the exact location for the new Coachella Valley Neighborhood Center. BIA is committed to a location that will have easy access to the main public bus route along Route 111 and one that will give the center the ability to focus on BIA’s core service programs: Low Vision, Digital Literacy (library services), Orientation and Mobility, and Daily Living Skills. BIA will also provide in-home services for those unable to make it into the center. BIA is strongly considering a location in Palm Desert, as maps indicate an impactful population of visually impaired citizens in the area. It is expected that the new Neighborhood Center, once a location is identified, will open in early 2020.

The two new Neighborhood Centers will continue to provide services to visually impaired citizens in Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties. “We have been a part of the Coachella Valley community that we have known and loved since 1973 and are committed to support both current and new students in the community,” said Lisa Jimenez, Associate Vice President, Programs and Services.

About Braille Institute
Braille Institute is a non-profit organization that has been positively transforming the lives of those with sight loss for 100 years. Hundreds of programs and services are provided, all free of charge, at seven centers and 300 community outreach locations in Southern California, thanks to the support of donors, volunteers and staff members. Each year, Braille Institute serves over 37,000 people of all ages and demonstrates that vision rehabilitation is a beginning, not an end.

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