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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES
The most up-to-date and accurate information can be found at the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC) website: www.cdc.gov/COVID19 or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
The latest MABVI Coronavirus updates and resources can be found HERE.
For media inquiries about MABVI’s programs or events, or subjects related to disabilities and the field of human services, including developmental disabilities, brain injury, vocational services, visual impairment, and blindness, please contact:
Paul Twitchell, Director of Communications and Marketing
Explore our Annual Reports and other publications. We are an effective organization with a focus on building innovation and partnerships in Massachusetts.
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The Dangerous Vision Podcast
Dangerous Vision explores what it would be like to be blind in a sighted world. Host Randy Cohen, a blind Harvard Business School professor and board member of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired, learns how other blind people “do blind”, navigating their way over and around obstacles with white canes, guide dogs and technology that will blow your mind.
New episodes are released every Monday and can be found online and where you find all podcasts.
Recent press coverage and news releases of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
With a walking cane in one hand, Kyle Robidoux does his best to navigate the sidewalk in front of a vaccination clinic in Revere, Massachusetts, the 45-year-old first started losing his vision when he was a teenager.
For Robidoux, who is legally blind, arriving at any new location always offers its set of challenges. The first time an Uber dropped him off, he was a few blocks down the street. It took nearly 30 minutes to finally get back to where he needed to be.
“The lack of familiarity definitely increases anxiety,” explained Robidoux, who serves as the director of volunteer service and community planning for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
In an effort to make sure vaccination sites are accessible to others who are visually impaired, he has been working with public health officials to eliminate any obstacles that may exist for those who can’t see. MORE…
The City of Boston recently partnered with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, Visually Impaired (MABVI) to arrange for older adults with vision loss to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. Fourteen individuals were vaccinated this afternoon through the coordinated effort by MABVI, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission and the Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
Boston is working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vaccinate residents against COVID-19. Following the State’s lead, the City is working to create equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine across all populations and neighborhoods in the city.
“We need to break down barriers that may prevent some individuals from getting vaccinated. I’m grateful for the partnership with MABVI to make today’s appointments happen as we work to ensure that all Bostonians have access to the vaccine when they’re eligible,” said Chief of Health and Human Services, Marty Martinez. MORE…
City of Boston, Massachusetts Association For The Blind And Visually Impaired Hold COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments Designated For Seniors With Vision Loss
BOSTON – Saturday, February 20, 2021 – Today the City of Boston partnered with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, Visually Impaired (MABVI) to arrange for older adults with vision loss to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. Fourteen individuals were vaccinated this afternoon through the coordinated effort by MABVI, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission and the Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
Boston is working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vaccinate residents against COVID-19. Following the State’s lead, the City is working to create equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine across all populations and neighborhoods in the city.
“We need to break down barriers that may prevent some individuals from getting vaccinated. I’m grateful for the partnership with MABVI to make today’s appointments happen as we work to ensure that all Bostonians have access to the vaccine when they’re eligible,” said Chief of Health and Human Services, Marty Martinez.
After targeted outreach to schedule appointments, individuals were greeted at the door of the Reggie Lewis Center and guided by a trained volunteer who provided language and accessibility support through the entire vaccination process. In advance of today’s vaccination session, MABVI provided training for clinic staff to create a safe, welcoming space for everyone.
“We are very grateful to the City for their commitment to ensuring access to the site. Breaking down the transportation barrier for our participants who have faced challenges finding rides and guides to assist them is critical, especially during this time of social isolation and distancing,” said Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Services & Community Planning for MABVI.
“Mayor Walsh’s priority is to ensure that all eligible residents with disabilities have access to the vaccine,” said Boston Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh. “Partnering with trusted disability agencies such as MABVI is crucial to this effort.”
Under state guidance, vaccines are now available to adults 65+ and individuals with two or more certain medical conditions. For more information on when and where you will be eligible to receive the vaccine, visit Mass.gov/COVIDvaccine. To find a vaccination site in the City of Boston, visit boston.gov/COVID19vaccine. Individuals aged 65 and older who do not have internet access, or who are having trouble navigating the site, are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to get connected to the City’s Age Strong Commission. They can help answer questions and navigate the options available. Residents outside of Boston can call 2-1-1, the Mass Vaccine Scheduling Resource line. Translators are available to assist.
Innovate@BU announces community transit design winner, plan to increase transportation accessibility
February 2, 2021 by Yiran Yu – Public transportation may be the engine of the city of Boston, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Boston University student innovators are brainstorming how to expand the accessibility of public transportation, so the resource can truly be one for all.
Bus stop on Park Drive. Boston University student Sarah Hillesheim won the Innovate@BU Community Transit Design Challenge for her proposal to improve accessibility at bus and above-ground T stops.
Innovate@BU recently co-hosted a venture competition with Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Titled “Community Transit Design Challenge,” the competition invited students and alumni to design a trusted transportation system to tackle city traveling problems inhibiting rider accessibility. MORE…
Brookline, MA, (January 25, 2021) – In October 2019, The Massachusetts Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (MABVI) and Boston University Innovate@BU announced a partnership to develop a $10,000 challenge open to BU students and alumni to solve community transit problems that will benefit society at large–and particularly for seniors and the blind and low vision community. For the last year, students and alumni have been creating meaningful solutions with impact, learning to think like an entrepreneur, win funding, connect with experts, and mentors.
On Thursday, January 28, from 4:00-5:00 pm, the winning team will be announced in an event via Zoom. The event will be emceed by Bryan Gould, Director of Accessible Learning and Assessment Technologies for WGBH. The guest speaker will be Dr. Mona Minkara, an advocate for accessibility and representation for people with visual impairments in science. Dr. Minkara is a winner of the prestigious Holman Prize for her documentary series Planes, Trains, and Canes, about navigating and access to public transportation systems from around the world. More information on the event can be found at https://bit.ly/MABVIChallenge.
Gibney Family Foundation Thank You Video
We would like to send our heartfelt thanks to the Gibney Family Foundation (TGFF) for their ongoing support of MABVI. Check out the ways their support has made a difference for the individuals we serve at MABVI. By partnering with organizations such as MABVI, the Gibney Family Foundation creates an environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, and high impact.
Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired Honor Local Volunteers
BROOKLINE, MA – (October 1, 2020) The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) honored its many volunteers at its annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration on Thursday, October 1, 2020, Friday, with a virtual celebration via Zoom. In addition to honoring its volunteer force of nearly 400 individuals, MABVI presented several special awards to recognize exceptional volunteers and community partners in three categories.
“Our volunteers’ commitment to our community demonstrates an exceptional amount of love, hard work, and ingenuity,” said Sassy Outwater-Wright, Executive Director of MABVI. “As the world changes rapidly, blind and visually impaired residents of Massachusetts face unprecedented challenges to access the things we need. The volunteer’s availability to help support us as we negotiate these challenges is critical and profoundly powerful. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all they have done to support MABVI and the people we serve.” MORE…
Chaz Davis is out to prove anything’s possible for runners with visual impairments
By Globe Correspondent, September 11, 2020
Michael Wardian knows a thing or two about marathons. Since 1996, he’s run in hundreds. He even broke a world record for running one while pushing a stroller. But nothing, he says, compares to guiding four-time blind national champion Chaz Davis on a marathon course.
“It’s narrating for four or five hours before, during, and after the race,” said Wardian, an ultra-marathon runner. “You’re telling him, ‘Okay, we’re in the first corral. Now we’re 50 feet away from the start. There are 70 people around you and there’s a hill coming up.’”
All while trying to keep a 2-hour, 30-minute pace.
All while trying to keep a 2-hour, 30-minute pace. MORE…
By Mikayla Heiss
BU News Service
BOSTON (September 5, 2020) — Passing co-workers offered condolences as Haley Leishman walked through the Ivy Street School on March 13. As she strode through the facility devoted to helping young people with learning and behavioral health challenges, Leishman was confused. “I hadn’t even checked the news at that point,” she said. A surreal feeling settled over the charity and sighted guide runner as the reality sunk in – the 2020 Boston Marathon was postponed.
“It felt really strange,” Leishman said. “I was like, ‘Wait, why is it postponed? Nothing’s really happening yet.’”
When case numbers rose and social distancing took hold of the state of Massachusetts, Leishman began to understand. The announcement of a virtual marathon soon seemed inevitable, but Leishman wasn’t ready to give up. MORE…
BROOKLINE, MA (September 5, 2020) – The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) has announced that Marla Runyan will receive the 2020 Kara MacDonald Aspire Award. The presentation will be presented at MABVI’s annual pre-marathon dinner for Team With A Vision, MABVI’s international team of blind, visually impaired, and sighted runners. The event is being held virtually this year on Sunday, September 6, at 6:00 PM. via Livestream…MORE
Team With A Vision Takes on First-Ever Virtual Boston Marathon
BROOKLINE, MA – For over 25 years, Team With A Vision (TWAV) has run the Boston Marathon with a common cause: to raise funds and awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI). Undeterred by the 124th Boston Marathon’s transformation into a virtual experience due to Covid-19, Team With A Vision kept training and raising funds and now will participate in the Boston Marathon Virtual Event September 7-14.
Along with a team of poetry lovers that include her husband, volunteer Tricia Thomson, and Rachel Castle from the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, Zrihen produces the monthly poetry/song discussion group, which is accessible to both visually impaired and sighted individuals.
“The enthusiasts’ shared appreciation of literature has provided a fun antidote to the isolation of social distancing,” she said. “We have a blast examining the works of famed songwriters and poets.” MORE…
BROOKLINE, MA – August 5, 2020 – The Town of Brookline, Massachusetts has just released a new instructional video showing individuals how to guide a person with vision loss in a variety of everyday situations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining social distance when guiding a visually impaired person can be challenging. Modifications to the standard guiding techniques are recommended as we work together to mitigate the transmission of the virus. When guiding a visually impaired person, both the individual and the guide should be wearing masks and be facing in the same direction, so their breath is not directed towards one another. Using a glove can protect from skin-to-skin contact…The video was produced by the Brookline Commission on Disability, along with Brookline Age-Friendly Cities TV and Brookline Interactive Group. Appearing in the demonstration video are Paul Saner, Brookline Town Meeting member, Co-Chair of Brookline’s Economic Development Advisory Board, and former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and Michael Allen, LCSW, Social Worker at the Brookline Senior Center. The video is narrated by Sassy Outwater-Wright, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
July 10, 2020 – Watertown’s Marshall Home Fund recently awarded $65,000 to a variety of local organizations that serve older adults. Grant recipients were selected for their ability to connect with vulnerable, isolated older adults and finding creative ways to deliver their programs and services while following the state’s distancing guidelines.
Ensure potentially isolated older adults are integrated into the community: Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired technology training for seniors with sight loss; Perkins School for the Blind’s Thriving with Vision Loss Program; and Project Literacy’s English language instruction for ages 55-plus. MORE…
BOSTON (— The cancellation of the Boston Marathon has charities bracing for a financial hit. But many runners have pledged to still raise money for their charities despite the race going virtual.
“It’s just an unfortunate but necessary decision I believe the BAA, the city and the state of Massachusetts had to make,” Chaz Davis said.
Chaz Davis is a para-athlete running the Boston Marathon as part of the charity team called “Team with a Vision.” They’re running for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He and his teammates have worked for months training and raising money for the charity and are devastated by Thursday’s announcement. MORE…
May 22, 2020 – “…On April 20, the Boston marathon’s original date, Scott was nearly 800 miles from Massachusetts when she and Robidoux connected via cellphone. The two did a “virtual” run of 26.2 miles, with Robidoux circling a familiar track in Boston without a sighted guide, and Scott simultaneously running a track in Ann Arbor, Mich., where she soon will begin her emergency medicine residency at the University of Michigan Hospitals.
“We finished within five minutes of each other, celebrating by connecting in a FaceTime call,” said Scott.
To commemorate their achievement, Scott established an online fundraising page for Team With A Vision, which had brought Scott and Robidoux together in the first place. The group supports the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a statewide network of services for low-vision individuals…” MORE…
By Serena Howlett, Contributing Writer
April 30, 2020 – Amy Ruell was born in western Massachusetts about three months ahead of her due date. Ruell’s survival was a near-miracle, but the oxygen that saved her life destroyed the optic nerve.
“My parents treated me as they would have treated any other child of theirs,” she recalled.
As a result, “being blind was not a big deal.”
Ruell’s brain learned how to navigate the physical world she could not see.
“I walked to the school bus stop,” she reminisced.
Using her fingers she learned to read words written in raised dots (“Braille”). Using her intelligence and indomitable spirit, she graduated from high school and went on to earn degrees at Smith College and Simmons School of Social Work. She married, had two children and pursued a career as a social worker and advocate for blind people. MORE…
Vital Coronavirus Information Is Failing the Blind and Visually Impaired
When it comes to communicating crucial updates around the pandemic, blind readers are an afterthought.
By Melanie Ehrenkranz
April 9, 2020 – Several times a day, I search for coronavirus updates online, an increasingly grim and unconscious habit I’ve adopted over the last few weeks from the confines of my New York City apartment. I’m met with a barrage of charts, infographics, and transcripts of news conferences. I’m able to grasp the harrowing reality we’re in with just a few clicks. But for the blind and visually impaired communities, information from the government and news sources remains largely inaccessible, and in the midst of a global pandemic, this isn’t merely an inconvenience, it’s a fatal negligence. “The moment that I heard everything was going drive-thru I kind of had a cringe moment because, other than in the hospital, there’s really no other way to access that testing, and for many in our community, including myself, who are immunocompromised, that puts us at a much higher risk,” Sassy Outwater-Wright, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said. “We don’t get the benefit of staying in our car, we don’t get the benefit of trying to continue to social distance. We have to go in.”
Coping with disease and disability in the time of coronavirus
By Ryan Prior, CNN
April 8, 2020 – (CNN) Sassy Outwater-Wright has fought off cancer three times in the last 33 years, losing most of her eyesight to a rare form of the disease at the age of three.
Chaz Davis finished first at the United States Association for Blind Athletes Championship at the California International Marathon.
GRAFTON, MA (December 19, 2019)— A Grafton runner represented the Bay State at the finish line of a California marathon earlier this month. Chaz Davis finished first in the United States Association for Blind Athletes Championship at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, CA. Davis had a time of 2:43:11…In 2018, Davis ran the 122nd Boston Marathon where he finished 5th among 15 notable 2018 Boston Marathon finishers with a time of 2:56:22. Chaz ran as a member of Team With A Vision.
The group raises funds and awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) to promote greater involvement of visually impaired runners in the Boston Marathon.
Davis works for MABVI as an adjustment to vision loss counselor as well as the coordinator for Team With A Vision and United in Stride, a website that matches runners who are blind or visually impaired with sighted guides across North America. READ MORE
Sacramento, CA – (December 08, 2019) Chaz Davis, from Grafton, Massachusetts finished first at the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA) at the California International Marathon (CIM) with a finish time of 2:43:11. Chaz participated as part of the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) Championships.
The USABA Marathon National Championships are held at the California International Marathon. Since the CIM adopted the Visually Impaired Division in 2007, participation of visually impaired and blind runners has grown from 2 to nearly 70 participants. This year, the group of 70 blind runners and 40 guides included military veterans, local runners, international runners, and Paralympic athletes. …READ MORE
Brookline, MA, (October 1, 2019) – The Massachusetts Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (MABVI) and Boston University Innovate@BU have announced a partnership to develop a challenge open to BU students and alumni to solve community transit problems that will benefit society at large–and particularly for seniors and the blind and low vision community.
The goal of the Community Transit Design Challenge is for Boston University students and alumni to develop and design new human-centered tools to improve transportation accessibility solutions for the aging and visually impaired communities, which will ultimately improve transportation for everyone while competing for a $10,000 grand prize. Ultimately, the challenge hopes to find solutions to help older adults who are losing their vision better connect to their communities.
“We each have a role in creating a more inclusive space for everyone to live and work and thrive, said Sassy Outwater-Wright, Executive Director of MABVI. “We have the duty to ask tomorrow’s designers, engineers, and social scientists to start thinking about that today and to start building smarter solutions. MABVI is proud to partner with BU to solve some of the most common problems facing older adults who are blind or have low vision. Accessibility in design today creates a more inclusive future.”
“Our students and alumni are no strangers to Boston’s public transportation challenges. We are thrilled that this collaboration will give our community the opportunity to view transportation challenges from another perspective and to use their expertise to build better, more accessible solutions for all,” said Gerry Fine, Executive Director of Innovate@BU. More info
Team of blind runners joins Hood To Coast relay this year – For the first time, a team of blind and visually impaired runners will tackle the Hood To Coast relay this year, with the help of running guides.
This Eye Surgeon is Guiding Blind Runners Through the Oregon Mountains
Vivienne Hau fixes retinas by day; now, she’s co-captain of the first-ever visually impaired Hood to Coast Relay team.
August 20, 2019 – On Friday, Hau—with Hunter—is leading the first team of visually impaired runners and guides at the Hood to Coast Relay, an overnight event in Oregon that starts at the base of Mt. Hood and finishes at Seaside. Twenty blind and sighted athletes will cram into two 15-passenger vans, taking turns running three to four legs each of the 199-mile course. Along the way, they’ll raise funds and awareness for United in Stride, the website Hunter developed that matches sighted runners and those in need of guides nationwide.
Boston, MA – At their annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration, held at Community Boating in Brighton on June 14, the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) recognized the Lions of Massachusetts as a Volunteer Community Partner for the Lions’ work in developing the Low Vision Rehabilitation Network (LOVRNET) in Massachusetts.
WCVB TV –
NEWTON, Mass. (June 20, 2019) —A desire to help others resulted in a special relationship between a Belmont woman and a Newton family. It started nearly nine years ago, when Allie Dagg, who was in seventh grade at the time, found an opportunity to volunteer with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or MABVI.
Watertown’s Marshall Home Fund held its annual grant award ceremony on May 22, providing $75,000 to 16 local organizations that serve older adults. Through its grant making, MHF helps Watertown be an age-friendly community. The 2019 grantees of the Marshall Home Fund will provide programs and services that address many of these goals. Provide direct health, mental health, and social services for vulnerable individuals: Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Technology Training for Seniors with Sight Loss…
The Boston Globe – May 1, 2019
Blind since childhood, Sassy Outwater-Wright commutes every day on the MBTA, navigating a maze of turns, street crossings, tunnels, and train cars between her home in Salem and office in Brookline…“I need all of that information, and I need it in a few seconds. . . . This technology is able to help someone see with me,” said Outwater-Wright, director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired…
Brookline, MA, (April 22, 2019) – The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) is pleased to announce it has received a $119,000 grant from The Gibney Family Foundation (TGFF). TGFF partners with organizations to develop sustainable resources that foster independence, primarily for those who are blind. The funds will support MABVI’s statewide volunteer program.
The grant, which will be distributed over the next three years, will enhance MABVI’s statewide volunteer program through which individuals who are blind or visually impaired are matched 1:1 with community volunteers who provide in-home support. Trained volunteers help older adults accomplish daily activities of their own choosing including wellness activities, technology support, reading print information, shopping for groceries, or serving as sighted guides at the gym―all of which foster autonomy and enable older adults to remain active in their communities.
CBS Boston-Apr 15, 2019
… Flaherty, a visually impaired runner, will run her first Boston Marathon Monday to raise awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and …
BU News Service-Apr 15, 2019
BOSTON — …Last year, Hasting’s was contacted by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) to run with Team With a Vision in the Boston Marathon. Team With a Vision is a program within MABVI that connects blind and sighted runners to support individuals throughout Massachusetts living with vision loss…
BROOKLINE, MA – The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) has announced that Joe Walsh, MS, MEd of Adaptive Sports New England will receive the 2019 Kara Macdonald Aspire Award. The award was created to celebrate the life and work of the late Kara MacDonald, and her dedication to athletes with disabilities.
BROOKLINE, MA – Every runner who takes on the legendary Boston Marathon course faces a challenge, but few more than the members of Team With A Vision (TWAV), a group of blind and visually impaired runners (and their sighted guides) with a common cause: to raise funds and awareness for the visually impaired. The team, fielded by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), draws runners from around the world, the nation, and the region to show that with the right support, people who are visually impaired can do anything they set their minds to. This year’s team includes a number of notable competitors.
MetroWest Daily News Sept 6, 2018
A Natick resident is thankful he has access to a new program in town. It’s helping him, and others, improve their quality of life.
Wicked Local-May 29, 2018
Tools to help potentially isolated older adults integrate into the community: Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s …
Worcester Telegram-Apr 14, 2018
… for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The MABVI delivers professionals, peer and volunteer support to more …
Daily Item-Apr 9, 2018
… that Ellen Goldberg’s then-sister-in-law asked her if she’d run the Boston Marathon to benefit the Massachusetts Association for the Blind.
Kokomo Tribune-Apr 12, 2018
He will run as a charity runner for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The organization is taking a couple of buses …
The Huntington News-Apr 4, 2018
… a sighted guide in the marathon with the Team with a Vision organization, which raises money for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind …
American Inno-Mar 5, 2018
Sassy Outwater is serving as director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired since September 2017.
Forbes-Jun 28, 2018
For my podcast, I recently interviewed Director Sassy Outwater of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI).
WBUR-Aug 2, 2017
Retelling his story for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind (MAB), Bobby described his 38 institutionalized years. “Somebody suggested …