Topeka – Kansans who are blind
or visually impaired will have greater access to services to support independent
living and employment as a result of three major contracts recently awarded by
the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS).
Contracts totaling $1.3 million over two years have been awarded for
the provision of independent living services for persons who are age 55 and
older who experience blindness or visual impairments. The
contracts also provide for development of increased capacity in specialized
areas such as orientation and mobility, rehabilitation teaching (independent
living skills training), Braille instruction, and assistive
Contracts were awarded to a consortium of independent living centers
headed by Prairie Independent Resource Center (PILR), Hutchinson; the Envision
Vision Rehabilitation Center, Wichita; and Alphapointe Association for the
Blind, Kansas City.
“We’re very pleased with the level of experience and expertise of these
contractors,” Michael Donnelly, Director of Kansas Rehabilitation Services
(KRS), said. “Kansans who are blind or visually impaired statewide
will have access to high quality, individualized services to help them meet
their independent living and employment goals.”
The PILR consortium includes several subcontractors: the
Southeast Kansas Independent Living Center, Parsons; the Resource Center for
Independent Living, Osage City; and the Independent Living Center of Southwest
Kansas, Garden City. This consortium will serve 76 counties,
covering the West, Southcentral and Southeast SRS Regions, along with Shawnee
and Osage counties.
The counties served by the PILR consortium are: Barber,
Barton, Cheyenne, Clark, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove,
Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kiowa, Lane,
Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins,
Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford,
Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua,
Coffey, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Harper, Harvey, Kingman, Lyon, Marion,
McPherson, Morris, Reno, Rice, Sumner, Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Cherokee,
Crawford, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, Woodson, Shawnee and
Envision will serve 25 counties, covering the Wichita and Northeast SRS
The counties served by Envision area: Sedgwick, Atchison,
Brown, Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Doniphan, Jackson, Jefferson, Ellsworth, Geary,
Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Nemaha, Osage, Ottawa, Pottawatomie,
Republic, Riley, Saline, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, and
Alphapointe will provide services in the six counties comprising the
Kansas City Metro SRS Region.
The counties served by Alphapointe are: Douglas,
Franklin, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte.
“Each and every county of the State will be covered by a qualified
service provider,” Donnelly said. “As a result, persons needing
services will be able to access them in the same communities and regions where
they choose to live, work and raise their families.”
This initiative addresses two important issues – immediate access to
services coupled with significant plans to expand and improve expertise
“These organizations are ready to begin providing services immediately,
and we encourage referrals and applications,” he said. “At the
same time, significant capacity-building will occur through training of
additional staff in the specialized skills needed to serve this
population. This dual approach addresses current needs and builds
a strong statewide service network for the future.”
For example, Donnelly said the State would realize a substantial gain
in the number of Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS).
Orientation and mobility training empowers an individual who is blind or
visually impaired to travel independently and safely within a variety of
environments, including at home, in the work place or throughout the
community. The contracts will also result in an increase in the
number of qualified Braille/communications instructors, and independent living
specialists with the knowledge and skills related to serving persons who are
blind or visually impaired.
Each contractor will immediately begin outreach activities to inform
individuals, communities, advocacy groups, and other interested entities about
the availability of services. Individuals who are age 55 or older
who experience blindness or visual impairment may also contact the contractors
directly to learn more about how to access customized services.
Interested individuals may also contact KRS at 785-368-7471 or
toll-free 1-866-213-9079 for referral.
In addition to the services available through these contracts, people
who are blind or visually impaired and interested in employment may receive
services through the state’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) program.
To learn more about VR services or to apply, interested persons
should contact their local SRS Service Center. A county-by-county
listing of VR contact persons may also be found at the following SRS