Mt. Vernon Register-News

November 19, 2013

Vision impaired program expands

Coleman Tri-County Services Inc. now in Jefferson County



MT. VERNON — Coleman Tri-County Services Inc. has expanded its senior visual impairment program to five Southern Illinois counties, including Jefferson.

"We see people in their home who are over 55 who have a visual impairment. We assist them in hopes of leaving them in the home and functioning as well as they can," explained Program Director Karen Fields. "We have adaptive equipment, such as magnifiers and special lighting, and we teach them how to use this equipment."

In addition to Jefferson County, Tri-County Coleman Services, Inc., based in Harrisburg, has expanded its services to Lawrence, Marion, Clay and Richland counties.

Coleman Tri-County Services, Inc. provides developmental training, social habilitation and rehabilitation services to persons with a disability in order that they may function in the least restrictive environment.

Sandy Edson serves as the case manager for Jefferson County clients.

"Everything is free. We don't ask the residents for reported income or their Social Security number. It really is free," said Fields. "A lot of people in this age group grew up thinking nothing is free, but it is."

The agency provides aides to help the visually-impaired, including large calendars, talking watches and clocks, and other communication devices.

"We individualize the aides to fit their needs," Fields said. "Maybe they can't see the bills they get or read the newspaper. We provide them with the guides to assist them in maintaining their lifestyle."

The program is funded through the Department of Aging/Blind Services. Coleman Tri-County Services Inc. serves as an administrator of the program.

"We're really excited about expanding our services," Fields said. "This program has been ongoing for several years. Some 28 counties were available for the existing programs to be covered by the state. Because these newest counties were not serviced by this program, we are now able to offer it."

Coleman Tri-County receives referrals from nutrition sites, former clients or family members and optometrists.

"We have to have a doctor's diagnosis," Fields explained. "Because our funds are limited somewhat, anybody who wants to have a magnifier can't just have it. They have to have a diagnosed visual impairment."

For information about the visually impaired program for seniors, individuals may contact Fields at (618) 926-1437 or Edson at (618) 214-6020. You may also contact the agency through its Facebook page at