RCIL will be hosting two low vision fairs in March.  The fairs will be on March 6th in Baxter Springs and March 7th in Garnett.  Both fairs will be located at the town’s library and will be from 1:00-3:00pm.

During that time Mandy Smith, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, will present on iKan-RCIL’s program and services and will introduce representatives from other agencies that serve the low vision/blind population.  In Baxter Springs, the agencies will include: Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK), Audio Reader, and Kansas Talking Books.  Garnett’s line up will be NanoPac, Audio Reader, and Kansas Talking Books.  Along with presenting on available resources, agencies will also have demonstrations of equipment for hands-on opportunities.

If you have questions feel free to call Mandy Smith (785) 528-3105 or email her at Amanda.smith@rcilinc.org

Fliers are located below with the address of both locations.

Baxter Springs LV Fair 2018Baxter Springs LV Fair 2018

marked seasoningsSo many things we do on a day to day basis we do using our sight.  So what do you do when your sight no longer helps with those daily activities?

Recently, I was working with a 90 year old woman who has been married to a farmer for 70 years.  She loved cooking and that was how she remembered spending most of those 70 years; cooking for her husband and hired hands after their long days on the farm.  As she has gotten older her eye sight has faded due to Age-Related Macular Degeneration (just like 1 out of every 3 people who are 65 years and older).  Cooking is more difficult for her but not impossible.

A person with vision loss will need added time to get tasks such as cooking done, more lighting (most likely), possibly aids such as magnifiers or talking device, and patients to accomplish daily living activities.  I tell the people I work with (55 years and older who are blind or have low vision) there is only one thing you can’t do because of your vision loss, and that is driving! {Which they are working on!}  Everything else you can do but it might take more time and it more than likely will take a new way of doing it.  That’s where my job comes in, to teach those new ways.

The photo I’ve added to this blog is one of many examples of how a small adaption can help in a big way to accomplish daily living tasks.  The lady I spoke of earlier wants to still cook her favorite dishes for her husband and by marking her seasonings with puff paint and marker she can still flavor dishes as before.  Adaptions can be low tech and cheap such as puff paint or can be high tech and more costly like a digital recording system.  Adaptions can be bump dots on appliance buttons, rubber bands around shampoo bottles, and much more.  If you have questions regarding how to make an item in your house easier to find/use please contact me at (785) 528-3105 or Amanda.smith@rcilinc.org .


RCIL will host two independent living classes for people with vision loss in Pittsburg next month.  The first class with be November 1st and will cover self-care, transportation, cooking and shopping.  November 8th is the second class and reading, writing and over all assistive technology will be covered.  Both classes will run 1:00pm-3:00pm and will be held at the Via Christi Village (1502 E. Centennial Dr.).

For anyone who registers ahead of time and/or attends both days will be entered into a drawing for a prize.  To register or if you have questions contact Amanda Smith at (785) 528-3105 or amanda.smith@rcilinc.org.

Look for more information in the upcoming weeks for other locations that classes will be held.

Pittsburg November 2017

Disclaimer: I am not speaking on behalf of anyone I am just paraphrasing a few conversations I have had with some consumers and friends with vision loss.

Blindness and low vision are not that common (thank goodness).  But there are still many people who have vision loss.  I’ve said in a blog before unless you’ve known someone with vision loss the only thing people know about blindness or vision loss is what they have seen portrayed in the movies and or in media.  I would like to clear up some myths and shed some light on some issues.

1. Not all people who use a white cane are totally blind. – First off, totally blind means a person has no usable sight.  So some people who use a white cane may still be able to see some.  They may be able to see: colors, the sun and/or light sources, shapes, etc.  They may not be able to see: holes in the ground, cracks in the sidewalks, curbs, steps, faces/people, street signs, etc.  They are using a cane to identify the information they are unable to see and protect their body from injury.  A white cane also allows drivers to identify persons with vision loss. Kansas does have the “White Cane Law” (Statute 8-1542) which states: blind pedestrian’s right-of-way – the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any blind pedestrian carrying a clearly visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog.  http://acb.org/whitecane

2. It is called a White Cane – It is not called a stick! When I hear people calling a white cane a stick its like hearing nails on a chalk board.  A cane is a mobility tool and that is what a white cane is.  It is a tool that enables a person with a vision loss to maneuver their environment safely and efficiently.  Do not touch a person’s white cane unless you ask them or they ask for you to.

3. Just because a person can not see does NOT mean they can’t hear or speak – When you are out or possibly at work and you encounter a person who is blind that person make sure you speak to them in a normal voice.  Do not ask/talk to the person beside the person with vision loss about the person with vision loss’s needs!

4. Just say hello! –  When you see someone using a white cane and they are walking towards you on the sidewalk or coming close to where you are standing…  Just say “Hello”!  Don’t jump out of the way.  Don’t get off in the grass (unless very narrow sidewalk).  Just say hello.  That’s all you have to do.

5. Use your words – Here in the Midwest we are nice people (most of the time).  We open doors, say hello, and help people when we can.  So if you do these things for a person who has a vision loss make sure you say what you are doing, can do, would like to do.  For example: “Hi there! I’m holding the door open for you, go ahead.”  “Would you like help finding the front door?”  “Be careful down the hall you are walking in.  There is a wet floor sign by the fourth door and a large puddle that takes up most of the hallway.”  Remember saying things such as “Its right there”, “Look out”, “over there” and so on are not helpful for people who can not see.

6. Being Independent means different things to different people –   I work with individuals who have vision loss.  This vision loss can range from hard to read prescription bottles to totally blind with no light perception.  When I work with these individuals I teach them skills so they are able to live their life “as independently as possible”.  For some people “as independently as possible” may mean they are able to do everything on their own: cook, clean, find transportation, etc.  For others “as independently as possible” may mean they have assistance with a task such as vacuuming, laundry, etc.  Neither of these is better than the other, it’s what works best for each individual.



Though January is almost over there is still time to learn about Glaucoma.

  • Currently over 3 million people in the United States have Glaucoma
  • It is estimated that half of those people don’t know they have it
  • There is no symptoms and once vision is lost it is permanent
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of PREVENTABLE blindness
  • It is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans
  • There are multiple types of glaucoma most affect middle age but it can occur at any age
  • Best way to protect yourself is yearly eye exams

There are many resources available for more information.






It’s October and the Royals are still playing baseball!  I think a lot of us are happy about that!  How old were you when the Royals were playing in their last Post Season game (1985)?  I was 1 year old 🙂

Well, I thought since many of us are excited about baseball and football (Go Chiefs!) I’d share some fun facts on sports and important information on eye injuries.


Sports/Eye Related Injury Facts


Mandy Smith, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, will be presenting at the Chase County Health Department on May 1st.  The presentation will begin at 1:00pm and last approximately an hour.  Mandy will be explaining what the iKan-RCIL program does and the services it provides along with showing pieces of assistive technology.  Anyone who has a vision loss or anyone who works with people who have a vision loss is welcome to attend.

iKan-RCIL serves individuals who are 55 years and older and who are blind or have low vision, so this program will be focused on that age group.

Chase County Health Department
301 S. Walnut
Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845

If you have questions please call (785) 267-1717.

iKan-RCIL is funded by Kansas Rehabilitation and Services and covers 23 counties in Kansas.

iKan-RCIL will be hosting a low vision fair in Fort Scott on April 2nd.  The fair will consist of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Foulk speaking about eye health, diseases and conditions along with Audio Reader, Talking Books, Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK), and iKan-RCIL speaking about their program and services.  Assistive technology equipment will be available for hands-on demonstrations.

The fair will be held at the Fort Scott Housing Authority/Scott View Apartments (315 Scott Ave. Fort Scott, KS 66701) from 1:00-3:00pm.  If you have questions please call Mandy Smith at (877) 719-1717.

iKan-RCIL is a program for individuals who are 55 years and older who are blind or have low vision.  iKan-RCIL is funded by Kansas Rehabiliation and Services and covers 23 counties in Kansas.


Low vision support group –  a group of people who have some type of vision loss that gather and talk about strategies, stories, equipment, etc.  A support group can be very beneficial especially if a person has a new vision loss or is having a hard time handling their new way of life.

iKan-RCIL will be hosting low vision support groups in Wamego and Council Grove every month.  For January, Wamego’s meeting will be held at the Wamego Senior Center on January 30th at 12:30pm.  This month’s meeting will be focused on recreational assistive technology.  Council Grove’s meeting has been canceled for January.

Council Grove Senior Center Wamego Senior Center
Canceled January 30 12:30pm
February 26 1:00pm February 27 12:30pm
March 26 1:00pm March 27 12:30pm
April 30 1:00pm April 24 12:30pm
May 28 1:00pm May 29 12:30pm
June 25 1:00pm June 26 12:30pm

The group of people who attend the meetings will have the say so on what topics are covered.  The meetings will happen on the last Wednesday of the month in Council Grove and the last Thursday of the month in Wamego.  If you have questions please call (785) 267-1717.