News Examiner, Connersville Indiana.
Monday, February 27, 2006.
The goal of a local blind man to help other blind people get back into touch with society is nearing reality with the formation of the In the Blind Foundation Inc.
Bob Lone said he first noticed he was losing his eyesight in 1987; by 2000, he had lost his job due to genetic retinitis pigmentosa. In 2004, Lone received his German shepherd Leader Dog Jack.
"If I didn't have my computer or my dog, I would be homebound, I wouldn't want to be around anybody," he said. "I'd be illiterate again."
The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every blind or visually impaired individual has access to adaptive technology that will allow them to independently read and write, according to the foundation brochure.
Lone said he could not use the Braille alphabet to read because he cannot feel the bumps. He said many people are in similar situations, in addition to the fact it is difficult to learn and cumbersome.
With the computer, there is little that a blind person cannot do, he said.
On his computer, Lone is able to read books, send and receive e-mails and do research on the Internet through the Kurzweil book-reading library and Window-Eyes programs that read back what is typed.
A computer with screen-reading and scanning capabilities can cost $4,500. However, for people who already have computer systems, the cost is about $2,000 for the software or about $900 without Kurzweil programs, Lone said.
The foundation has applied for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and is ready to send out letters seeking donations. Support in the effort has come from Harrisburg Union Church, attorney Jon Baker, Containerkraft, Connersville Lions Club and Kemper CPA Group. The Rev. John Stewart of Harrisburg Union Church, Lone and Lone's wife Melissa serve as the board of directors.
The foundation operates out of Lone's office on Harrisburg Road but he said he would like to find a corner in some building in Connersville for use as an office.
He said he is trying to help two boys in Cambridge City secure computers through vocational rehabilitation in Richmond. People who can go to school can receive that funding. On the other hand, the elderly who go blind are not eligible, he added.
Two out-of-state clients are being helped, he said.
Lone said as soon as 501(c)(3) status is obtained, he can apply for grants with the aid of Jolissa Bates, grant writer and administrator at the Economic Development Group.
As money becomes available, a blind person can receive a computer at no cost, he said. Reader's Digest and Bill Gates of Microsoft fund grants for the blind as well as many other organizations, he said.
"So many blind people are out there that don't even know about the computer," Bob Lone said. "I would love to open up their eyes that there's a lot they can do and would enjoy. I'm not getting paid for this, I just want to give back a little of what I've been given."
For more information about the foundation, write In the Blind Foundation, P.O. Box 783, Connersville, IN 47331; or call 827-5188 or 1-866-566-0520. A Web site is planned when funding comes through, Lone said.
End of article.
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