Blind and visually impaired children and adolescents may face many challenges in their
young lives due to their visual challenges. Getting all the special training they need in learning
to become independent is not always available at home or through the schools they attend.
Fortunately Blind Service Association (BSA) places enormous importance on providing training
and also financial assistance to children and young people who need it. The sooner they acquire
the necessary skills to help them become self-sufficient, the greater opportunity they'll have to
succeed in school and later life.
BSA offers programs in mentoring; computer training, scholarships for college, universities
or technical schools; financial aid to help pay for low vision eye glasses. BSA also sponsors
the Pathways Summer Youth Program which provides recreational, cultural, and educational
activities for children aged 10 to 18, a summer READ TO THE TOP competition and publishes a quarterly
newsletter called "The Youth Connection".
A blind or visually impaired young person can benefit from the guidance of a blind or
visually impaired adult who has gone on to lead a successful fulfilling life. Youth aged 10 to 18
are paired with mentors who have agreed to help their mentee reach specific goals such as cane
travel, cooking or improvement in social skills. All mentors commit to one year's service. An
extensive interview process is required for mentors and parents or guardians of mentees. All
participants must live in the immediate Chicago area.
Every year Blind Service Association awards 20 to 30 scholarships, ranging in amounts from
$750 to $3,000, to young people planning to attend a professional school, college, or university.
Applications are judged according to academic merit, evidence of community service and need.
Interested individuals must reside in Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, McHenry or Kane counties in
the state of Illinois. For an application please click here.
Blind Service Association provides financial assistance to students with low vision in need of
glasses. All students in need of assistance in purchasing eye glasses must ask their school nurse
to contact BSA's office for further instructions. Students must live in the Chicago area.
Knowing how to use a computer is an essential skill for visually impaired people today.
Computer technology makes it possible for people with visual disabilities to perform
many of the tasks that sighted people take for granted. In terms of career opportunities and
advancement, computer literacy has become a necessity for many jobs. Blind Service
Association (BSA) provides computer training to blind and visually impaired students after
school or on Saturday. Classes are held at BSA's downtown office. To see if you qualify for
training please contact us.
In June and July, Blind Service Association sponsors a six-week program open to blind and
visually impaired students aged 10 to 18. Pathways includes training in daily living skills, such
as cooking, house cleaning, shopping, cane travel and money management. Kids also enjoy
sports, recreation, performing arts, and field trips to various cultural sites. Activities may include sailing, yoga,
bowling, beep baseball, and swimming. Headed by a vision teacher or rehabilitation teacher, the
program runs from 9:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon, five days a week. For more
information contact Dustin Cather(email) or at the office at 312-236-0808.
Read to the Top rewards students for their summer reading. When a student finishes a large print, audio or braille book, he or she can fill out a postcard with the book title and contact information, drop the postcard in the mail to BSA (free matter for the blind postage is provided) and be entered to win a grand prize drawing at the end of the summer. To receive your postcards, please contact Dustin Cather(email) or call 312-236-0808.
The Youth Connection is a quarterly newsletter designed to connect blind and visually
impaired youth with each other. The newsletter also provides information to help with the many
challenges of living with a visual impairment. To receive a large print copy or e-mail copy,
contact Dustin Cather (email) or call 312-236-0808.