How VisionConnect Is Blazing a Trail in the World of Apps

Woman using devices
using iDevices. tetra images/brand x pictures/ Getty images

The great thing about iDevices in our modern world is that they are accessible for people with vision loss, coming right out of the box with both speech and magnification options.

In this very special interview, Priscilla Rogers, VisionAware’s Program Manager, a branch of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) explains their most recent and innovative IOS app called VisionConnect™.

As a comprehensive directory, here is a peek inside how it is designed to help people find services and resources for living with vision loss they won’t find in any other single app!

Q: What makes VisionConnect such an innovative app?

VisionConnect pulls together in one place a directory of services available for living with vision loss in the U.S. and Canada. It provides links to information to help people of all ages who are coping with vision loss. It is especially helpful for family members as well as health and social service providers.

Q:  Why did AFB believe it important to develop VisionConnect™

For years AFB and professionals who serve people with vision loss have been concerned that it may take years for a person with vision problems to find services. Often medical and social service personnel do not refer people for help.  When doctors say, “there’s nothing else that can be done,” they mean medically and people do not realize there is hope and help available.

They don’t understand they can do anything with their lives once they lose vision.  Doctors are often unaware of what is available to help their patients.

 Patients have a hard time finding services on their own as the names differ from area to area.

In the long run, it is the individuals with vision loss and their families who will benefit from the app, but providers will benefit from having a holistic resource they can use.

Q: What are its special functions and features?

 The app has two major sections:

The resources section includes links such as:

  • Information for doctors working with people new to visual impairment
  • Resources for adults and seniors, including modifying your home, maintaining employment, managing medications, a guide for family members, low vision and legal blindness terms.
  • Resources for children
  • Products for people who are blind or visually impaired
  • Guide to  eye conditions

The directory section is searchable for services by age, by category (e.g. computer assistive technology, daily living, support groups, low vision services, etc.), by state or province, by zip, by distance, or by the name of the organization.

All the directory searches can be saved and emailed to anyone.

Q: That sounds amazing. What was your role in developing the VisionConnect app?

 I was the project manager for the development of the app.

For years I had been racking my brain on how we could provide an easy interface for doctors and patients and family members to find the information they need.  The app has provided an accessible and comprehensive solution.

Q: How was the APP tested before its launch and how well is it being received?

We tested it with eye and health care professionals, consumers and family members. It has been really well received.  We have had over 1000 downloads since launch and the American Academy of Ophthalmology plans to include it on their Get Eye Smart site for patients.

Q: I believe AFB has 3 other free Apps to assist the blind. Can you briefly mention them?

Yes, AFB develops our own apps with our tech team.  The three additional apps are:

AccessNote™, a specialized notetaker for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. AccessNote allows users to combine note taking with the other features and functions of the iOS devices. 

  •  CareerConnect App™, a tool for professionals, job seekers, parents, and youth who are blind or visually impaired.
  • AccessWorld®, a tool that enables people to read articles this online magazine that provides reviews and info about all things tech and vision loss.

Priscilla, thank you so much for clarifying such a wealth of information.

For those who would like to get your free download to any of AFB’s free apps, go to:

And finally, AFB has developed free, mock prescription pads for doctors to use to “prescribe” the app to patients. They can be ordered through the link provided.

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