Houston Ophthalmological Society

Resources for Low Vision Patients

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Bank Services

Some banks offer large print checks. These checks also have raised lines for “payable to” and for the signature. Inquire with the local bank customer service representative.

Department of Assistive Rehabilitation Service (DARS)  
Division for the Blind (DBS)

(800) 628-5115

Previously known as the Texas Commission for the Blind, the DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) assists blind or visually impaired individuals and their families. Depending upon their goals and needs, DBS offers services to help regain independence or find a job. Some of the services available include computers, software, education, and education related items.

In some cases, should the patient not have insurance or funds to cover the necessary medical or surgical treatment for certain eye conditions, DARS can help provide financial assistance. There are certain guidelines that must be met before the patient can qualify for this service.

The patient can call the Austin office, or check with directory assistance for local chapters.

Directory Assistance Services

Most telephone companies, local and long distance carriers, offer free directory assistance service to persons who are unable to read the print in telephone books. They also have a service in which the number can be dialed automatically. Contact the local telephone company to see what services they offer. Some carriers have a form that must be completed by the patient and the physician, while others may just require a letter from the physician to determine eligibility.

Disability Homestead Exemption
Harris County Appraisal District (713) 957-7800

A person may qualify for this property tax exemption if they are/were under a disability for the purposes of payment of disability benefits under the federal Old Age, Survivor’s and Disability Insurance Act or the patient met the definition of disabled in that Act. Call or go online to your local county appraisal district to submit the proper form.

Guide Dog Foundation
(800) 548-4337

The Foundation can provide guide dogs free of charge to blind people who seek enhanced mobility and independence.

Hadley School for the Blind
(800) 323-4238

Hadley School offers distance education, allowing a person to study individually and at home, or any other location. Their courses include the following programs:

Adult Continuing Education Program: To qualify, the person must be 14 years or older, blind (or have a prognosis of becoming legally blind), and be able to read and understand courses written in English at the High School level.

High School Program: To qualify, a person must meet the criteria for the Adult Continuing Education Program and be a U.S. Resident.

Family Education Program: A parent or grandparent of the blind or severely visually impaired child; spouse, parent, adult daughter or son, or adult sibling of a blind or severely visually impaired adult; and able to read and understand courses written in English at the high school level.

Handicap Parking Tags and Plates
(713) 368-2000 for Harris County

Although the patient may not be able to drive, the patient might qualify for a handicap parking sticker or tag for those persons who do provide the patient’s transportation. Applications for handicap parking stickers or tags are obtained through the local County Tax Assessor’s office or online thru Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website. These applications have sections that must be completed by the owner of the vehicle, the disabled patient, and the physician.


Houston Low Vision Club
(713) 743-0799 

The Houston Low Vision Club is an organization of men and women with visual impairment.  Members meet regularly to share their experiences and to help assisst those with significant visual loss to discover ways to continue their daily activities and maintain their independence.  The website shows relevant upcoming calendar of events and links to many low vision resources.

Lighthouse of Houston
(713) 527-9561

The Lighthouse of Houston is a private, nonprofit rehabilitation center that serves the community by offering a wide variety of educational programs, community services, and outpatient rehabilitation for the blind and visually impaired. They also have a unique specialty store that offers adaptive aids such as talking clocks, Braille watches, mobility canes, computer hardware and software and hundreds of other items.

METRO Transportation Services
(713) 225-0119

Metro offers a variety of services, including free or reduced fares, on Metro Lift, Metro bus, or Metro cabs.  Metro has an application form that must be completed by the patient and by the physician.

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Texas
(512) 323-5444

The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. The NFB can send an introductory packet with information regarding many services available for sight-impaired persons.

Newsline®
National Federation of the Blind
(866) 504-7300 toll free

This free service provides sight impaired persons to access several national, as well as many local newspapers on a daily basis. Newsline® is available to persons who are unable to read conventional newsprint. The person does not necessarily have to be legally blind to qualify.

Learning Ally 
(800) 221-4792

Making reading accessible for all, this non profit organization with its collection of more than 75,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – downloadable and accessible on mainstream as well as specialized assistive technology devices – is the largest of its kind in the world.   Learning Ally has audio textbooks on a wide range of subjects at all academic levels, from Kindergarten to beyond graduate school.  An annual membership fee is required to access services.

Sight Into Sound
(713) 622-2767

Sight into Sound is a Houston-based, non-profit organization that serves print-impaired individuals. Adults and children have access to in-depth information and print materials through our custom reading service and 24-hour radio programming. This award-winning organization also offers a unique service, Description for the Blind, that provides audio descriptions of events, including plays at the Alley Theatre or Theater Under the Stars and performances at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. This service allows patrons to enjoy the visual aspects of live performances, including details of set and costume design, onstage movement and other visual elements.

Texas Education Agency Special Education Unit
(512) 463-9734

Parents of blind children may contact this agency for helpful resources for schooling a visually impaired child.

Texas State Library Division of the Blind and Physically Handicapped
(512) 463-5455

The Texas State Library offers books on tape and in Braille for qualifying persons.

Texas Talking Books
(800) 252-9605

The Talking Book Program is available to Texans with visual impairments, physical or reading (learning) disabilities that prevent them from using standard print. In order to receive the free services, print out the application form from their website and have it certified by your eye doctor or other professional.

Veteran’s Administration Visual Impairment Service (VIST)
(713) 794-7532 or contact your local VA Medical Facility or VA Eye Clinic

This is a comprehensive rehabilitation program for eligible veterans with serious visual restrictions. This program is offered at little to no cost to the veterans and includes training, education, and services, as well as equipment and supplies to help restore a level of independence. Patients may be eligible if they were honorably discharged after serving as few as five days during war or peace time. Members of the National Guard and Reserves may also qualify if their status was ever upgraded to “Active” for at least ten days.


Houston Ophthalmological Society