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Braille Institute Provides Renewed Hope To People Losing Their Sight

"You fight for sight unseen. Through the dark, you search for the spark --that makes blurred vision clean." Those are some of the lyrics written in a song about the San Diego Braille Institute. Where people experiencing sight loss or blindness have found new hope.

Chi Gong is one of the many classes the Braille Institute in La Jolla offers to fuel the mind, body and spirit. Even therapy dogs like Jewel are into it.

The center's mission is to eliminate barriers and help people adapt to a new life caused by blindness or severe sight loss.

Joy Durbin is Manager of the Education Programs. "A lot of the people who are coming to Braille have an age related vision loss. And so maybe their impairment has worsened over time. But they still have perhaps the memory of color or scope and things like that, Durbin said.

For the first time, the Braille Institute has put on a Spring Boutique for students to sell their artwork. "I have no peripheral vision," said Laurie Jahns. She's an artist, jewelry maker and also volunteers to teach an employment class. "Before I didn't know how to get around without hurting myself, ran into things all the time and people," she said.

"This is one of the official Christmas cards for the Braille Institute. They chose my painting for it," said Jan Randle. She's almost completely blind. Randle said she had given up on painting until her husband told her the center offered a watercolors class. "Do you know I have done some of my best work since being blind," Randle said.

Generous donors, dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers provide training, programs and services without charge and the students at the Braille Institute, range in age from 19 to 102.

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