Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

CVI's SightSeeing Blog

Welcome to CVI's SightSeeing Blog! Here we discuss topics of interest and importance to the community.

Some of the information posted here includes personal stories from CVI clients, perspectives from CVI's expert staff, hot topic issues in government, the latest trends in technology for the visually impaired, and much more. Our desire is that this blog is a useful tool to enlighten, educate and provide needed information in a meaningful dialogue for both the blind and sighted communities. Join us as we invite you to share and discuss the topics with us.

Please note: Blog comments are not to be interpreted as a direct endorsement by the Center for the Visually Impaired. If you have any questions or comments regarding the blog posts, please send them to Angie Clawson at

Parents Learn Value of Braille Literacy

Parents Learn the Value of Braille Literacy
by Jazmine Wilson, Children & Youth Services Support Coordinator

Mother reading Braille with daughter

During the month of April, CVI hosted a two-part series called Braille & Dual Media Workshop. Led by Jackie Anderson, a Teacher for the Blind and Visually Impaired, this program was hosted by the Children and Youth Services Department at CVI as a part of the regular parent group activities.

Ms. Anderson is a member of the National Federation of the Blind and works with the Georgia Organization of Parents of Blind Children. For years Ms. Anderson has served as an educator in the school system working with parents and children with vision impairments and is committed to working with families to understand the value of pre-braille literacy.

“Braille is a vital literacy tool for blind or visually impaired individuals,” said Anderson. “Parents are the first and primary teachers for their young children. A parent who knows Braille will be able to introduce and reinforce in the home Braille skills learned at school. Based on research, we know the positive impact that early exposure to print plays in life long literacy skill development of children and it is the same for children who are blind or visually impaired.”

Ms. Anderson’s passion for her work shines through her ability to present information in a way that is practical but also engaging. Her presentation stresses the fact that not only is Braille important for children to learn so they can live an independent life, but also for parents to learn so they can support their children in their independence.

One of the parents who attend the workshop said “Everything Ms. Anderson covered during the workshop was so valuable. I have been working to learn Braille and trying to teach my daughter and I now feel more confident and have the skills to do so.”

Parent classes are provided to parents of children who are blind or visually impaired and are enrolled in the Thursday class. The parent group meets every Thursday at CVI from 10: 30 am to 1:00 pm. Topics for parents include information on their child’s visual diagnosis and possible effects on access to the environment, IEP information, early childhood development, technology, advocacy, and resources for parenting a child who is blind or visually impaired.

To learn more about the BEGIN program and the Parent Support Group, click here.

Q&A with USABA/Anthem Fitness Challenge Participant Shlisha Gillins

A photograph of Shlisha Gillins walking on a treadmill

Now that we are more than half way through the USABA/Anthem Fitness Challenge, we thought it would be great to get an update from one of the participants.

What motivated you to commit to a fitness challenge?

I have an 11-year-old daughter, who is very active. So in order to keep up with her, I needed to increase my energy level and lose weight, and so far I’ve lost 21 pounds!

How have your exercise and food habits changed since joining the USABA Fitness Challenge?

Every day I try to move as much as I can. The challenges with my friends definitely helps to keep me motivated. When the weather is good, I walk and other times I get on the treadmill. While exercising is great, I am also learning how to make better food choices. For example, I do meal prep, I make sure that I have a snack in my bag when I go out and I drink plenty of water.

What has been your favorite part about participating in the fitness challenge?

My favorite is the sports activities CVI has offered, because it has allowed me to explore different kinds of sports that I can do while being visually impaired.

Upcoming Fitness Challenge Event:

Don’t miss our last big fitness related event on April 27! CVI will host a Field Day at Coan Park for anyone who is interested in learning more about and trying their hand at adaptive sports. We’ll even have two medal-winning Paralympians there to share their stories and host a demo of Goalball.

Register here by April 19.

Tips for Gardening with a Visual Impairment

A photograph of fresh produce including carrots, raspberries, spinach, tomatoes and rosemary

Spring is officially here, which means it’s time to plant your garden! If you are living with vision loss, you might think gardening is something you won’t be able to do, but as with most things, you can do it with a few adjustments. The below tips come from an experienced gardener who is visually impaired.

Use Containers
Containers are a great way to store and grow herbs and vegetables without planting a traditional garden. This will make it easier for those with visual impairments, because of the inherent advantages that come with containers. For example:

  • They make identifying plants and seed locations easy.
  • They let you garden anywhere without digging garden beds.
  • They allow you to have the best soil, moisture, and growing conditions for a particular plant.
  • They make changing a plant's location easier.

Your container size will depend on what you want to grow. Large containers (five-gallon buckets, recycled trash cans, etc.) are great for things like tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, carrot and potatoes. Smaller containers (recycled cottage cheese containers, plastic take-out containers, etc.) are great for things like spinach and lettuce as well as herbs like basil, mint, oregano, parsley and chives.

Label Your Containers

  • If you use a notetaking system to help you remember what you planted and when, you can include the location as well.
  • Use labels in large print or braille to mark containers. The labels can be placed on the containers themselves or on markers made of wood or metal which can be bought from garden stores or made from popsicle sticks. Waterproof tape and markers can be used to create your own large print labels.
  • Marker plants can help you identify the contents of each container. Plants with a distinctive shape (like broccoli), scent (like basil), or supporting trellis (like tomatoes) can make good marker plants.

Choosing Plants

  • Explore new plant varieties and focus on each plant's sensory qualities.
  • For example, in addition to planting geraniums, also consider mint, lemon, lavender, a variety of roses, and plants with different textures and scents.

Sources: For more gardening tips, visit these two links below.

How to Set Goals with a Nutrition App

Photograph of a scale, apple and measuring tape.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay.

In March, Emory medical students continued their nutrition course series at CVI with a class on individual nutrition goals and plans. Emory students sat down with clients to register and begin working with MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a great (FREE) app that will help keep a record of the food you eat and the activity you do in order to keep you on track with your weight goals. Follow their steps below to get started:

  1. First, input your height, weight, sex, and age into MyFitnessPal to understand your individual calorie needs (this varies based on sex, age, weight, and general activity level). For example, a 50-year-old male weighing 150 lbs at 5’7” needs about 1800 calories to maintain a constant weight with a sedentary lifestyle. A 50-year-old female weighing 120 lbs at 5’3” needs only 1350 calories.
  2. Next, establish your weight goals. If you’re trying to gain or lose weight, experts recommend a goal of /- 1 pound per week. 1 pound is equivalent to about 3500 calories, or about 500 calories per day. In other words, if you’re trying to lose a pound per week, eat 500 fewer calories than you burn per day.
  3. Next, enter in the foods you eat. MyFitnessPal will calculate how many calories (and major nutrients) you get from these foods. Remember to be as specific as possible! 1 bowl of dry cereal is not the same as 1 bowl of dry cereal with a cup of whole milk and strawberries.
  4. If you exercise that day, MyFitnessPal will keep track of that too! It will estimate and subtract the calories you burn from activity from your daily goal.

Emory Medical Students Kick Off Wellness Project at CVI

In February, CVI kicked off a partnership with Emory Medical Students Tim Arleo, Priya Brito, Mia Callahan and Anjali Om to teach CVI’s adult clients about healthy living. They will be hosting a class once a month and teach class participants about general nutrition, how to grown their own vegetables and understand the importance of eating local, host a “Walk with a Future Doc” for clients to learn ways to stay active with visual impairment and lastly, they will end with a class on how to cook balanced meals and host a potluck for clients to showcase what they’ve learned!

The initial class in February focused on teaching the participants about general nutrition, including how to read food labels, calculate daily nutrient goals and navigate fast food. The first thing the Emory team recommended class participants do is figure out what their caloric needs are based on their height, weight, sex and activity level. Then, they suggested that the participants find a nutrition lifestyle that they can sustain. One helpful tip the Emory students provided is to follow the guidelines of According to, a “healthy plate” should be filled with half fruits and vegetables, a quarter grains and a quarter protein and include lean meats, whole grains and leafy vegetables with high fiber. They also recommend opting for unsaturated fats like olive oil instead of saturated fats like butter and to limit portions to match calorie needs.

Finally, the students offered some tips on navigating eating out. They suggested making some healthy food swaps such as ordering grilled chicken instead of fried, asking for a whole wheat bun and cutting back on the amount of dressing used on a salad. These are examples of things we can all do to make healthier choices while eating out.

Next month, the Emory team will host a “Walk with a Future Doc” Event to help clients to meet their 10,000-step goal and talk about exercises available to the visually impaired.

St. Patrick’s Day Activity

March is here, which means spring is around the corner! Everything is turning green, especially for St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrate the luck of the Irish this year with a fun accessible activity for your little ones! Here we have instructions on how to make a shamrock scrapbook, courtesy of Paths to Literacy. For the scrapbook, you will need the following:

  • green card stock/scrapbook paper (enough for the cover and a few pages on the inside)
  • brailler
  • braille labels
  • St. Patrick's Day images
  • St. Patrick's Day stickers
  • system to bind (or a hole puncher and some string)

Cut the green paper into the shape of a shamrock. Using a glue stick, add some green glitter to the shamrock for some textile diversity. Allow the glue to dry. Cut the rest of your paper into the shamrock shape as well.

Make a list of words related to the day in braille (e.g. shamrock, green, March). Have them do the braille or provide support, as necessary.

Support the student to add braille labels to the pictures that relate to the day.

Create a collage using stickers or tactile materials, depending on the needs of your child.

Bind the book with a comb binding.

For more ideas, visit our friends at Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Client Spotlight: Aracely Finds Her Confidence and Independence

Aracely speaking at CVI's Henderson Society Dinner 2019

At the age of three, retinal cancer claimed Aracely Rosillo’s eyesight. Her parents, who did not speak English, learned about the Center for the Visually Impaired’s BEGIN early intervention program and enrolled their shy toddler. Through the support and training from CVI’s highly trained staff, Aracely learned to walk, read and play and her parents learned to how to help her thrive in a sighted world.

Aracely continued with CVI’s programs through her teen years. She was active in STARS, a program for students in K-12 grades, where she learned independent living and social skills along with assistive technology, music and art. The once timid toddler grew into a self-assured teenager who loved swimming, talking on the phone and hanging out with her friends. Aracely credits STARS with helping her come out of her shell.

Aracely instructing a CVI client on how to operate an iron

“STARS has taught me to be active,” says Aracely. “I never wanted to sit in my room every day after school. Being social and having friends is much more fun than being the blind girl.”

Aracely has, literally, grown up with technology. Lessons in the STARS Technology Training Lab gave her the skills to efficiently and effectively use an array of technology tools at school and at work. She reads textbooks and takes notes using a refreshable braille display wirelessly connected to her smartphone. That same smartphone connects her to friends and family via social media, email and telephone and has apps that enable her to navigate and travel, shop, manage money and accomplish a wide range of other daily tasks independently.

Sadly, high schools students who are blind are twice as likely as their sighted peers to drop out of school. Even more troubling, only 9% of high school students with disabilities attend college. Because of CVI, Aracely’s story is different. Today, she is a sophomore at Georgia State University and works part-time in the STARS program and as an instructor of Activities of Daily Living for both the STARS students and adult clients. Her positive, outgoing attitude is contagious as she guides her students to live active and independent lives.

Fitness Challenge Participants Tackled Adaptive Rock Wall Climb

It’s been just over four months since CVI kicked off the Anthem/USABA Fitness Challenge and CVI’s participants are definitely becoming more active and challenging themselves to try new things. A great example of this was the recent “Try It” event we hosted in partnership with Catalyst Sports. Participants came out for an adaptive rock wall climb at Stone Summit Climbing & Fitness. None of them had ever done anything like it before. For a few, it seemed to come easily while others had to overcome some fear of heights, but they tried and that was the most important part. Everyone had such a good time that they’ve asked when we can do it again! Below are some of the photos from participants going to new heights for their health.

A group of CVI participants holding the USABA National Fitness Challenge banner

Lee climbing a rock wall

Anna, about to climb the rock wall, standing with an instructor

Miguel climbing a rock wall

Shelby climbing a rock wall