New programs replace lost services for Auburn’s visually impaired

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Programs for the blind are making a strong comeback in Auburn. The prospects for the Auburn area’s blind population have improved markedly since the Placer School for Adults shut down its 34-year-old classroom for the visually impaired last month. With the help of volunteers, two new programs are working to help replace what was lost when the Placer Visual Service Center closed its doors. Earlier this month, the Activity Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired opened for the first time at Downtown Auburn’s Livingston Block. The emphasis there is on crafts and socializing. And on Oct. 7, the Center for Visually Impaired Adults in Placer County starts programs in a room at the Unity of Auburn church on High Street. Programs there center around socializing, exercise, and entertainment as well as education. Lynne Sutter and Lynne Laney, two of the prime movers behind the Center for Visually Impaired Adults, said the goal is for both programs to complement each other. “There is no turf,” Sutter said. “We don’t want a turf war. We all just want to help out.” Budget cuts that filtered down from the state to the Placer School for Adults resulted in the long-time school for the blind closing this past summer. That program paid for teachers and classroom space at a Placer County-owned building in North Auburn. Both retired, Sutter and Laney are encouraged by the initial support they’re getting from visually impaired residents. About 25 are expected at the initial session Oct. 7, which will be a potluck celebration marking the start of the new group. Dave Brown, a blind Meadow Vista resident, said that what he has witnessed the new Center for Visually Impaired Adults getting off the ground and feels it’s going to be a boon to the area’s visually impaired population. Programs, which will include speakers and field trips, are being geared toward the demands of blind and visually impaired members. That will likely mean less life-skills instruction with a group that has already learned many of the skills already. Laney is a former teacher who specialized in instructing the blind in skills like Braille. She has a master’s degree in independent living skills. Brown said that both groups will, most importantly, bring the blind together in a mutually supportive atmosphere. “Most are like me,” Brown said. “This gets us out of the house for socializing and sharing of resources. We find that nothing has happened that someone else hasn’t already dealt with.” For more information call (530) 637-5100 or (530) 888-6744. Gus Thomson can be reached at