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Dialogue Interviews Carl R. Augusto of AFB
Recently we asked Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind, to tell us about his organization, its mission and his plans for the future. Here is what we learned.
The American Foundation for the Blind is a national nonprofit organization that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. Priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Although AFB's headquarters is in New York, a strong presence is maintained in Washington, DC, ensuring the rights and interests of people with vision loss are represented in our nation's public policies. AFB also has offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Huntington, West Virginia and San Francisco.
Most cherished at AFB is the Helen Keller Archives--a tribute to the more than 40 years Helen Keller worked with AFB. The archives house her photos, letters, speeches and other significant artifacts from her life.
AFB is unique in that the organization can identify issues and needs critical to people who are blind and visually impaired. The organization works with partners in the blindness field and mobilizes at the national level to craft the best solutions to those issues. Over the past couple of years, AFB has fine-tuned programs to ensure a greater impact on individuals, their families and the larger society. This has meant expanding work in program areas such as age-related vision loss, technology, employment and public policy.
One of the greatest needs AFB currently faces is the rapidly growing population of older Americans who are losing their vision due to eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Right now one in six people aged 65 and over have some degree of vision loss, and that number is expected to multiply in the coming decades as boomers age. In October 2006, AFB celebrated the weeklong official opening of the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas--the first national center of its kind. Through the Center, people with vision loss and their families are connected to everything they need to navigate a new phase in their lives, from local support groups and public and private rehabilitation services, to information on technology and home adaptations.
In 2007, AFB is expanding the reach of the Center by introducing a fully accessible Web site that will offer comprehensive information on all aspects of vision loss. Millions of Americans who are losing their vision will have help and hope at their fingertips with this one-stop resource. This is part of an ongoing and increasing effort to deliver important information via the Web directly to those who need it most: parents, seniors, educators, vision loss professionals and others.
AFB is funded through the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations. To learn more about work being done by the American Foundation for the Blind, visit www.afb.org, or contact the AFB Information Center at 800-AFB-LINE (800-232-5463), or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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