Prepare Children for School with an Eye Exam

Backpacks, clothes, shoes and school supplies are at the top of the list for parents as they send their children back to school. These items are essential to prepare children for a successful year. With the busy pace of a new school year, eye exams are often missed. However, a child’s vision changes frequently during the early school years, adding importance to getting a functional eye exam. For income-eligible children living in Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties, North Central Sight Services, Inc. (NCSS) is here to help.

 

NCSS’s Functional Vision Clinic provides income-eligible children with a complete eye examination with a pediatric optometrist who specializes in testing for visual-related learning problems. The clinic is held monthly at NCSS’s facility in Williamsport and the cost of an exam is $10.

 

According to the American Optometric Association, at least 5% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. These problems create complications when the eyes try to send accurate and clear messages to the brain.

 

It is not uncommon for young children to have difficulty identifying and communicating vision problems. Parents and caregivers can help by looking for the following common signs of vision issues in their children:

 

  • Poor eye-hand coordination
  • Alternate uses of the right and left hands
  • Difficulty when studying visual information
  • Trouble concentrating and learning
  • Closing one eye during activities like reading or watching TV
  • Avoiding activities that require near vision (reading, homework, computer use) or distance vision (sports, other recreational activities)
  • Poor school performance
  • Headaches and/or complaints of tired eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eyes tear up for no apparent reason

 

A comprehensive exam at NCSS’s Functional Vision Clinic can identify potential vision issues and offer solutions if any problems are identified.

 

As a new school year is now underway, parents are encouraged to consider the eye health of their children and reach out to NCSS to schedule an exam. In addition to clothes and school supplies, a functional eye exam is a critical part of preparing your child to have a successful school year.

 

For more than 65 years, NCSS has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. NCSS offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.

 

For more information on vision screenings and related services, contact NCSS at (570) 323-9401.

Natural Waterscapes and NCSS Create Winning Partnership

Jon Klotz, president of Natural Waterscapes in South Williamsport, believes in the importance of community partnerships and looks for opportunities to engage with mission-focused organizations like North Central Sight Services, Inc. (NCSS). When his company dramatically expanded its line and method of business, Jon turned to NCSS for fulfillment services.

Natural Waterscapes was founded in 2007 to provide water resource management services throughout the country. As the business grew, a clear demand for high-quality pond and lake treatment resources emerged. Natural Waterscapes shifted its focus from a full-service business to one focused on providing superior products for pond and lake managers. When COVID-19 hit and consumers began focusing on improving their properties, the demand for pond and lake products skyrocketed. Natural Waterscapes revamped its business to a virtual platform and looked to NCSS for help packaging and sending its products to consumers.

“We needed warehouse space and help fulfilling orders,” Jon says. “NCSS was the perfect partner for us.”

NCSS provides storage space for large quantities of bulk products. When orders are placed through online sites like Amazon, NCSS employees repackage and ship the orders to customers. Currently, NCSS employs four people to package and four people to label and ship the orders. Last year, the organization distributed 2,778 units of products for Natural Waterscapes.

By serving as a packaging and distribution center, NCSS provides high-quality assistance for local businesses while generating employment for people who are blind or visually impaired.

“Our business services efforts align with our mission of helping people who are blind or visually impaired maintain their independence,”, says Amy Alexander, Development Director for NCSS. “Our employees provide excellent customer service and take great pride in their work.”

For Jon and his team at Natural Waterscapes, working with NCSS has been a winning partnership.

“It has been a rewarding experience, every step of the way,” Jon says. “We are proud to partner with NCSS and grateful for the excellent service they provide.”

For more than 65 years, NCSS has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. NCSS offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.

For more information on business partnerships and related services, contact NCSS at (570) 323-9401.

Spotlight on the Low Vision Store

Gaining Independence Through Assistive Technology

Reading a favorite book or checking email messages from friends is a common part of a typical day but, for people with visual impairments, these activities may require a little assistance. Thanks to the Low Vision Store at North Central Sight Services, Inc. (NCSS), transformational changes happen daily in the lives of its clients through the use of Assistive Technology. From hand-held magnifiers to wearable devices, the Low Vision Store helps visually impaired people of all ages increase their independence and quality of life.

For Brandon DeArment, technology specialist at NCSS, spending time with clients to connect them with appropriate technology makes his job very rewarding. Brandon started with NCSS three years ago. Brandon previously worked in the IT field for over 30 years. His professional knowledge and his compassion for helping others makes him uniquely qualified to lead the Low Vision Store and its Assistive Technology Lab.

“I love helping people regain their ability to read,” Brandon says. “Their lives are changed through the basic and advanced devices we provide.”

Three years ago, NCSS launched its Assistive Technology Lab to provide advanced devices. Through the support of grant funding, the organization built the lab as part of the Low Vision Store and purchased the necessary devices to make the lab one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in the region. Through the lab, Brandon keeps up with the latest advancements in devices like the Amazon Echo to best serve clients.

“Technology changes rapidly with impressive advancements,” Brandon adds. “I encourage people to visit our store to learn what latest changes might suit their needs.”

In addition to its location at the NCSS office in Williamsport, the Low Vision Store is mobile, traveling to places like elementary schools and nursing homes for evaluations. With its vast geographic footprint, the mobile lab provides life-changing services to clients who lack transportation or awareness of the resources available in the community.

For many clients, the potential cost of Assistive Technology deters them from exploring their options. Through grant support, NCSS works with clients to secure personal grants and low-cost loans.

For Brandon, the trends in technology are exciting as they will provide more opportunities for people with visual impairments. Brandon has seen the transformation of portable E-reader devices, which are used to magnify documents, advance to offer audio commands, liking reading a menu or bus schedule. For individuals with visual impairments, growth in technology will widen the choice and scope of devices.

“We can help people live life to the fullest,” Brandon says. “I can’t imagine a more rewarding career.”

For more than 65 years, NCSS has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. NCSS offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.

For more information on services for people with low vision, contact NCSS at (570) 323-9401.

2022 Employee Awards

At a recent employee appreciation picnic, several staff members were awarded for their hard work and dedication to North Central Sight Services. Read more about our amazing staff below!

Milton J. Samuelson Award: Suellen Porter

The NIB Board of Directors established the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award in 1996. The award is presented to a person who is blind who demonstrates career advancement at an NIB associated agency or in the private sector. Milton J. Samuelson, former NIB board member and past executive director of The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, was a leader in the blindness field and an advocate for upward mobility and placement programs benefiting people who are blind.

Peter J. Salmon Employee of the Year Award: Paul Diehl 

In 1968, on the 30th anniversary of the Wagner-O’Day Act, the NIB Board of Directors created the Peter J. Salmon Employee of the Year Award to honor those employees who excel in their positions at NIB associated agencies. Dr. Salmon was instrumental in advocating passage of the Wagner-O’Day Act of 1938 and the subsequent formation of NIB. This award recognizes the outstanding work and achievements of people who are blind working at NIB associated agencies across the country.

UniqueSource Employee of the Year Award: Tonya Manley

The UniqueSource Achievement Award is presented annually to recognize outstanding performance. This year, UniqueSource recognized 31 Member employees by showcasing their skills and talents they bring to the workplace every day.

 

Several employees also celebrated milestone length of service awards, including: 

Julia Barger, 35 Years of Service

Tim Clark, 20 Years of Service

Terri Kio, 20 Years of Service

Nathan Shaffer, 20 Years of Service

Sean Diggan, 15 Years of Service

Katie Coffey, 10 Years of Service

 

A Career of Conquering Challenges with Optimism

Every year in the middle of July, the Lycoming County Fair Grounds in Hughesville comes to life with its annual fair. Friends and family reconnect over food, concerts and carnival rides. This summertime tradition is John Denmark’s favorite time of year. He takes a week of vacation to enjoy every minute of the festivities as well as his birthday, which falls during the week of the fair. Each birthday marks another year John has pushed himself to try new experiences and overcome challenges as well as enjoy the life he has worked very hard to create. It is a life John loves.

John was born with Nystagmus, which is sometimes called dancing eyes. It is a condition in which one or both eyes move uncontrollably quickly. Because of this condition, John is legally blind, wears glasses and uses Assistive Technology, like magnifiers, to see. At age 10, John was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism spectrum disorder. His elementary, middle and high school years were challenging for John, as large print textbooks were not obtainable, nor did he have access to the Assistive Technology which is currently available.

Two days before his 18th birthday, John’s beloved mother passed away. Before she died, John promised his mother he would make her proud. John has kept his word. He has triumphed over challenges, embraced new experiences, worked diligently and developed a social and professional network that feeds his soul and career.

“I have kept the promise I made to my mother,” John says. “I think she would be very proud of me and what I have accomplished.”

In 2009, John began his career at North Central Sight Services, Inc. (NCSS) as a general assembler. John loves challenges and expanded his career experiences to work in customer service, vending services for local businesses and organizations, as well as support at the receptionist desk. John currently works in the industry program where he helps customize flash drives and provide labeling services.

“I have loved all my positions at NCSS,” John adds. “I enjoy trying new things and pushing myself forward.”

Several years ago, at NCSS’s Golf for Sight fundraising golf outing, John helped demonstrate a new form of technology called eSight, which is commonly called electronic eyewear. The device is worn over the user’s glasses and uses a cutting-edge camera to compensate for gaps in the user’s field of vision. This was the first time John had ever used eSight.

“The minute I put on the device, it was like I had 20/20 vision,” John says. “I burst into tears because I had never seen the world so clearly.”

John’s coworkers have acknowledged his inspirational spirit and professional drive on several occasions. John has been nominated twice by his peers for the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award, which honors individuals who are blind and demonstrate career advancement at a National Industries for the Blind-associated nonprofit agency or in the private sector. The award is named after the late Samuelson, who was a strong advocate for upward mobility and placement programs benefitting people who are blind or visually impaired.

John has also been nominated for the UniqueSource Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of blind individuals throughout Pennsylvania.

“I am humbled my peers would nominate me for these honors,” John says. “I am so proud of the accomplishments of all of my coworkers.”

For more than 65 years, NCSS has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. NCSS offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.

For more information on vision screenings and related services, contact NCSS at (570) 323-9401.

Vision Screenings Are Essential for a Healthy Life

Many of us remember visiting the school nurse for an annual vision screening as children. As we grow into adulthood, this important appointment is often overlooked. Far too often, adults wait until they experience vision problems before they schedule a screening. By missing annual vision screenings, vision problems cannot be detected early and treated.

With the use a special camera, vision screenings are intended to assess vision issues and help identify problems that can lead to poor vision. Vision screenings are not as comprehensive as eye exams. Eye exams are more comprehensive and include tests for conditions such as color blindness, glaucoma and depth perception.

As the population in the United States ages, the number people who are blind or visually impaired is estimated to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. Vision screenings are a critical part of one’s overall health and can significantly improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.

For children, vision screenings are essential to help ensure their development. Young children cannot identify and communicate challenges with their vision. If left untreated, vision disorders can interfere with a child’s academic and social progression. In some cases, untreated vision disorders can lead to permanent vision loss.

For individuals and families living in Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga counties, North Central Sight Services, Inc., provides quick, easy and effective preventive vision screenings to detect vision loss and potential eye diseases. The organization uses the Spot™ Vision Screener, a handheld device that scans both eyes at the same time from a comfortable three feet away. It can detect potential vision issues across all age groups, starting at six-months old. Individuals who do not pass the screenings are referred to local eye care professionals.

For income-eligible children, North Central Site Services, Inc., provides opportunities for eye exams through its Functional Vision Clinic, which is held monthly at the organization’s facility in Williamsport. A pediatric optometrist specializing in visual-related learning problems conducts the exams. Common signs of a functional vision issue include poor eye-hand coordination, alternate uses of the right and left hands, and difficulty when studying visual information.

For more than 65 years, North Central Sight Services, Inc. has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. North Central Sight Services, Inc., offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.

For more information on vision screenings and related services, contact North Central Sight Services at (570) 323-9401.

Financial Assistance Available for Assistive Technology for Centre County Residents with Low Vision

For people who have low vision, everyday tasks become more complicated and living independently can become difficult. Assistive Technology, however, can change that.

North Central Sight Services is offering financial assistance to Centre County residents to provide Assistive Technology devices. The funding is made possible through a grant presented to North Central Sight Services by an anonymous donor.

“Assistive Technology helps people with low vision to live independently,” said North Central Sight Services President and CEO Brian Patchett. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to get these life-changing devices in the hands of Centre County residents who can benefit from them.”

Assistive Technology ranges from low-tech items like bump dots and magnifiers to high-tech devices such as CCTVs, digital magnifiers and wearable devices, many of which include text-to-speech features.

North Central Sight Services employs an Assistive Technology Specialist to educate blind and visually impaired clients on the latest technology, including Apple products, to enhance independence. At the organization’s Assistive Technology Lab in Williamsport, the specialist helps evaluate individual client needs and helps find devices that best suits those needs. The specialist is there to support clients every step of the way, including obtaining the appropriate devices and providing technical assistance to clients, family members and employers.

In addition to the availability of individual financial assistance, North Central Sight Services recently donated Assistive Technology devices to Bellefonte Library, the main branch of the Centre County Library System, to assist library patrons who have low vision. The donation to the library includes two desktop video magnifiers, five handheld devices, two high-contrast/large-print keyboards and one large monitor, as well as a Zoom text magnifying software license. While the desktop devices are available for patrons to use on-site at the Bellefonte Library, the handheld devices are available to patrons to borrow for a seven-day loan.

If you’d like to learn more about Assistive Technology or the financial assistance available to Centre County residents, please contact us at (570) 323-9401.

Conquering Goals While Helping Others: Meet Steven Floyd

Steven Floyd, II of Williamsport takes great pride and satisfaction in helping others. In his role as an Assistive Technology Specialist with North Central Sight Services, Steven works directly with clients to educate them on the many forms of assistive technology available to improve their quality of life and increase their independence. For 65 years, North Central Sight Services has provided programs and services for people who are blind or visually impaired in Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties.

Assistive Technology ranges from low-tech items like bump dots and magnifiers to high-tech devices such as CCTV’s, digital magnifiers and wearable devices, many of which include OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which is a text-to-speech feature. Learning how to best utilize a device can take time and patience, but the perfect form of technology is essential to meeting a client’s educational, employment, and day-to-day needs.

Steven has first-hand experience with his clients’ sight-related challenges. He was born with Septo-optic Dysplasia and Nystagmus, disorders that left him visually impaired. With the help of several surgeries, contact lenses and Assistive Technology, Steven conquers any challenge that comes before him.

During Steven’s time with North Central Sight Services, he has worked in several departments including distribution, shipping, and document imaging.

With Steven’s working knowledge of the organization, a degree in computer science, and his love of helping people, he is the perfect fit for his current role as AT Specialist which he began more than a year ago.

“I enjoy being around people and helping them succeed,” Steven says. “I want to find the perfect device to meet their needs. I want to help all my clients become more independent.”

Like many people, Steven can get nervous when speaking in front of a large crowd. Over the past year, Steven set a goal to become a better public speaker. With practice at work and in his role as Vice President of the Williamsport Sight Services Lion’s Club, Steven has found many opportunities to hone his public speaking skills. He speaks at club meetings, he conducted an AT training session at a work retreat, and he shared his story at a district-wide Lions Club event.

In his free time Steven is a part-time DJ, he enjoys composing music using digital software and is passionate about photography.

“I love what I do,” Steven adds. “My career is very rewarding.”

North Central Sight Services is a not-for-profit agency based in Williamsport. The organization provides blindness prevention education, vision screenings, services and employment to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Additionally, North Central Sight Services provides business services such as shredding, vending, bottleless water coolers, fulfillment, and packaging services.

For more information, call (570) 323-9401.

2022 Golf for Sight

Friday, May 27, 2022

White Deer Golf Course
352 Allenwood Camp Lane, Montgomery, PA

Book your sponsorship or register your team today!

At North Central Sight Services, our mission is threefold: prevent vision loss, help people adapt to low vision, and provide employment services to people who are blind or visually impaired to empower them to live independently and fully enjoy life.

By supporting Golf for Sight, you will make a difference in lives right here in your community. Proceeds will provide essential services for people who are blind or visually impaired as well as prevention of blindness education, occupational therapy, assistive technology and early intervention programs.


This is our non-profit organization’s largest fundraiser. We are grateful for every dollar raised that we can invest in our mission!

This year’s outing is taking on a Hawaiian theme!

To register your foursome, contact Amy Alexander at amya@ncsight.org.

NCSS Donates Technology to Centre County Library System

North Central Sight Services has donated $10,000 worth of technology devices to Bellefonte Library, the main branch of the Centre County Library System, to assist library patrons who have low vision. The devices include desktop and handheld video magnifiers that enable people with low vision to read printed materials.

The first-of-its-kind donation by North Central Sight Services is made possible through a grant presented to the non-profit organization by an anonymous donor. The video magnifiers are now available for any library patron to use at Bellefonte Library.

“We’re thrilled to make these assistive technology devices available to the public at the Bellefonte Library,” said North Central Sight Services President and CEO Brian Patchett. “We hope this donation helps bring awareness to the life-changing benefits of such devices. Assistive technology like these devices helps people who are visually impaired live independently and fully enjoy life.”

Nicholas Struble, branch manager at Bellefonte Library, said, “As a public library, we aim to make our collections and resources accessible to everyone in our community. Prior to this generous donation, our offerings for individuals who have low vision were limited to audiobooks and large-print books. Now a world of additional books and other library materials are accessible to them.”

The North Central Sight Services donation includes two desktop video magnifiers, five handheld devices, two high contrast/large print keyboards and one large monitor, as well as a Zoom text magnifying software license. While the desktop devices are available for patrons to use on-site at the Bellefonte Library, the handheld devices are available to patrons to borrow for a seven-day loan.

North Central Sight Services also has funding available to provide free or low-cost assistive technology devices directly to individuals in Centre County who have low vision. Individuals should contact North Central Sight Services at (570) 323-9401 to learn if they are eligible.

The Assistive Technology Lab at North Central Sight Services’ facility in Williamsport, and the organization’s Mobile Assistive Technology Lab, educates people who are blind or visually impaired on the latest technology to enhance independence. Services include evaluating a client’s needs and abilities, providing training on the best assistive technology for them, and providing technical assistance to clients, family members and employers to effectively put assistive technology to work.

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