Capitalizing on our deep experience working with older adults, MABVI launched an initiative in 2020 to help improve and build systems that support healthy aging, thanks to 3-year seed funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation. MABVI aims to integrate low vision awareness and accessibility into city and statewide Age-Friendly efforts. We also aim to ensure equitable information access and inclusion of older adults with vision loss. MABVI is proud to be part of a network of project partners working to make Massachusetts an exemplar of an Age-Friendly and accessible state.
MABVI works in dozens of cities and towns throughout the state and brings decades of experience working with older adults who are blind or have low vision. We have developed a robust integrated healthy aging, rehabilitation, and access/assistive technology model that addresses the whole person, not just their vision impairment. We believe our model has relevance for all seniors.
Through this project, we aim to share our expertise with and learn from the larger age-friendly community by working collaboratively to meet the needs identified by all seniors and increase access to healthy aging resources. MABVI has relationships with many of the key connectors within the Age-Friendly community, including MA AARP, MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs, MA Councils on Aging, and MA Healthy Aging Collaborative (we serve on the Executive Committee of the latter).
This year, the team began working with Age-Friendly efforts in Boston, Framingham, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester to strengthen city office and provider capacity to serve older adults with vision loss. Examples include:
- Addressing accessibility barriers by offering cultural and accessibility staff training
- Improving print and digital accessibility including technical assistance on digital accessibility
- Expanding awareness of and embedding vision rehabilitation, accessibility resources, and other disability access issues into the fabric of Age-Friendly planning
We are assessing the needs and barriers of each city that MABVI can assist with and, together, identifying effective strategies that have applicability across age-friendly communities. MABVI is also learning from their respective efforts, thus enhancing our work across the state, building our internal capacity to provide technical assistance in the age-friendly sector, and expanding our newly launched access/assistive technology program, not only as a service to individuals but as a resource to communities and planners.
The aspirational long-term goal of this project envisions that Massachusetts will embrace equitable information access and inclusion of older adults with blindness/low vision into all programs and services.
MABVI’s age-friendly work was guided, in part, by the outcomes of MABVI’s 2016 Solutions in Sight Summit. We brought together over 200 leaders, innovators, and bold thinkers to tackle these issues and propose forward-thinking solutions as we face the reality of an aging baby boomer population and an increase in age-related vision loss. Read more about the summit and our findings here.
MABVI’s Executive Director, Sassy Outwater-Wright speaks about age-friendly sites with the Brookline Interactive Group
We would like to thank our FY20 funding partners who have made the launch of this project possible:
- Tufts Health Plan Foundation
- Liberty Mutual Foundation*
- CTA Foundation*
- The Boston Foundation*
- Foundation for MetroWest*
- Brookline Community Foundation*
* Grant award supports both the general MABVI program and this project’s expenses
Many key agencies and organizations are now dedicated to Age-Friendly Massachusetts. Some of these entities are:
- MA Healthy Aging Collaborative
- Initial Blueprint Reccomentations Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts
- Executive Office of Elder Affairs
- MA Department of Public Health
- WHO Towards An Age-Friendly World
- AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities
- AARP of MA
- Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)
- Health Resources in Action
- The Healthy Living Center of Excellence (HLCE)
- Massachusetts Councils on Aging & Senior Centers