Q: When is SAAVI open?

SAAVI is open for services 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday. Check out our calendar page for additional activities that may be happening evenings and weekends each month.

Q: How can I qualify for services at SAAVI?

SAAVI is a community rehabilitation provider for the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). SAAVI Offers services under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living programs.

Vocational Rehabilitation: If you are high school aged, or an adult interested in going to work, contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office, or visit https://www.azdes.gov/rehabilitation_service

The Vocational Rehabilitation program will provide you with individualized services through a rehabilitation counselor. Once you are eligible for services, you and your rehabilitation counselor will develop an individualized plan of employment which will help you obtain your career goal, and all the skills and services you need to be a confident and competent employee in your career field. When writing this IPE, You may choose SAAVI to provide many of the services on your plan. Be sure to give us a call to ask specific questions on how we can meet your individual needs.

Independent Living: If you are over 55 years of age, and/or not interested in going to work at this time, you will qualify for the Independent Living Program if you have a visual impairment that impacts your daily life in some way. SAAVI is able to provide many of the services you need if you live in Tucson, Yuma, and throughout the state of Arizona, with the exception of Maricopa County. Please give us a call and speak to our staff. SAAVI can establish your eligibility in minutes and get you well on your way to reclaiming your independence, safety and confidence.

Q: What is a list of classes offered by SAAVI?

Orientation & Adjustment services include:

  1. One-on-one counseling adjustment to blindness with a rehabilitation counselor/specialist
  2. Community Information & Referral (e.g. independent living centers, Sun Sounds, talking books)
  3. Adjustment to Blindness support-group counseling (see Support Group)
  4. Support-group counseling focusing on the transition process for rehabilitating from vision loss (see Discussion of Support Group)
  5. Support-group counseling for transitioning young adults
  6. Support groups targeting those returning to the workforce newly blind.
  7. Instruction on local and national blind advocacy groups
  8. Support classes targeting the switch from visual learner to tactile and audio methods
  9. Current events and community involvement classes
  10. Community based support groups (e.g. baseball games, hiking trips, shopping)
  11. Travel to state and national blindness advocacy conventions
  12. Potlucks and other social recreation opportunities

The service of rehabilitation teaching includes the areas of activities of daily living, alternative literacy and communication, and personal management. Generally, students receive instruction in a one-to-one setting, although some training may occur in small groups when skills are similar, or concepts are over-arching, and can be reinforced by one-on-one instruction.

As defined by the contract, Orientation and Mobility Training services include provision of skills training to assist a client in safely navigating an identified environment. This service will be provided by ACVREP certified Master-level Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS), with instruction provided in the O&M curriculum, which follows. 

As SAAVI continues to strive to offer the best possible individual O&M instruction, there will be variations to the O&M curriculum to ensure the client can reach their optimal safety and independence level. As clients have different individual lifestyles, skill levels, and goal requirements, they may not go through the full O&M curriculum accordingly. For example, a person who utilizes Para transit instead of the public bus will have variations in some elements of planning, scheduling, and time management. Blindfold training will be offered, but not required; based on client’s required travel environment, vision prognosis, work objectives, etc.

Throughout the training the clients will be placed in monitored stressful situations tailored to the individual skill level. The client will be responsible for problem solving and the instructor will be responsible for introducing unique and complex challenges that will enhance the client’s independence. It is the SAAVI O&M department’s mission to graduate clients who have the ability and confidence to problem solve and utilize transferable skills in order to successfully navigate a diverse group of environments. Clients will be challenged in this way from the start of the curriculum until they have demonstrated the skills needed to be independent and successful.

NOTE: Due to the rapidly evolving nature of this service area, SAAVI is providing an example of the many courses available to students to allow them to perform typical activities to allow access to the computer and printed information. SAAVI reserves the right to change and update its curriculum at any time to accommodate for new technologies. Additionally, SAAVI offers a wide variety of training options that include many brands of software and hardware that accomplish the same types of tasks. This curriculum example does not encompass all of those options, but is available upon request.

SAAVI’s comprehensive approach to access technology incorporates a standardized approach predominantly utilizing the TrainingWare® For Assistive Technology developed by De Witt & Associates, Inc. De Witt & Associates’ TrainingWare® is divided into a series of logically progressive lessons. Each lesson contains six sections:

  1. Concepts Covered
  2. Coaching Tips
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Important Keystrokes
  5. Game Plan
  6. Assessment Tools

Access Technology Equipment Purchase
SAAVI offers a wide variety of adaptive devices and access technology equipment options within our catalog published on www.saavi.us, and reserves the right to update the catalog as newly developed items become available. The purpose of this catalog is to allow comprehensive program students access to any and all equipment that will assist them in meeting their IPE goal.

Follow along services can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Orientation to the equipment
  2. One-on-one customization of the equipment with the student present to learn about the process, or to provide input
  3. Equipment registration

Equipment Customization
Equipment customization can mean any adaptation to equipment or adaptive aids that make it more appropriate for the student, i.e. marking the buttons on an item, recording information, etc.

Setup, Installation, Compatible Configuration of Equipment and/or Software
This service includes but is not limited to:

  1. Installing software on turnkey systems
  2. Configuring software to insure accessibility
  3. Customizing software to meet student needs and preferences
  4. Writing scripts to allow accessibility
  5. Installing peripherals
  6. Making reasonable system and/or software configuration changes to maximize compatibility between equipment items and approved software
  7. Registering products to students

SAAVI will recommend three-year warranties for all available product lines, and the maximum for all other equipment/adaptive aids. SAAVI will utilize all maintenance agreements, and warranties. In the event that warranties are not available, SAAVI will assess any equipment malfunctions, and make repairs pending vocational counselor approval.

In order to support students in determining the right vocational goal that meets their skills, abilities, interests, and environmental needs – SAAVI provides a comprehensive approach to career exploration. It is strongly recommended that the student participate in SAAVI’s vocational evaluation process offered in its comprehensive services line prior to receiving career exploration services so that the student, the vocational rehabilitation counselor, and SAAVI brings as much information as possible to bare when incorporating all pieces of data gathered in the vocational goal identification process.

SAAVI’s career exploration services may include, and is not limited to:

  1. One-on-one career coaching
  2. Basic skill exploration through the SAAVI Snack Shack
  3. Targeted skill exploration and development through SAAVI site internships
  4. Community work-site observations
  5. One-on-one rehabilitation counseling

Depending upon the specific needs of the client and the client’s Individual Plan for Employment, these services may include but are not limited to providing training and direct assistance in developing employment searching and seeking skills (e.g. resume writing, job interviewing, completion of job application, etc.) to ensure the VR client:

  1. Finds potential jobs by recognizing and effectively using the minimum job requirements and/or needs of the employer and matching them with client’s work skills (necessary to do the job) and other personal factors such as the client’s personality, motivation, availability, and ability to interact with other employees in the workplace
  2. Makes contacts with employers, locates appropriate employment and secures employment that is suitable to the client’s abilities and skills
  3. Negotiates with an employer to “carve out” a modified position in order to accommodate the client’s needs.

SAAVI offers a small group class focusing on identification and use of natural supports, which is augmented by individualized rehabilitation counselling to assist students in developing and obtaining their specific natural support directories. The format for this class includes lecture/guest speakers; interactive discussion and role play; interactive research; and applied learning through homework assignments and field trips. This class includes but is not limited to the following course topics:

Business Etiquette
This service is provided through a 16 week series of classes facilitated by SAAVI’s job developer. It is recommended that all students requiring job readiness training (under core services) also take part in this service to insure that the applicant for the job is well rounded.

SAAVI Smooth
SAAVI Smooth is a course which specifically targets the more personal aspects of etiquette. The course focuses on the various soft skills necessary to secure employment and function in the work place.

Through utilizing SAAVI’s partnership with the Hadley School for the Blind, community partners, and our existing resources, students diagnosed with Diabetes have the opportunity to participate in two courses targeting Diabetes management as well as in a comprehensive array of services to support the prevention and management of existing or potential diagnosis of Diabetes.

Individual, family, and couples counseling for behavioral health problems, including substance abuse and diagnosis will be provided one on one by a certified Rehabilitation Counselor.  The number of counseling sessions will be based on the needs of the clients. If intensive therapy is warranted, clients will be referred to a psychologist, and appropriate community service providers.

Through one-on-one support, students work with their Rehabilitation Counsellors/Specialists to develop a plan, and acquire the direct support to support any outstanding barriers to his/her health, safety, and general welfare.

Areas of concern include, but are not limited to:

Q: I seem to always burn myself when I cook, how can I learn to cook safely without vision?

Burning oneself when cooking could either mean you may not be regulating the heat appropriately when using the stove top, or do not have a good pair of Ove Gloves or similar products to protect your forearms when using the oven. Cooking without sight requires a self-paced style, only focusing on the task at hand – without any distractions. Because you are utilizing your other senses to their fullest extent, cooking requires the individual to prepare and cook foods at a pace which ensures safety concerns for the cook, and others in the kitchen. Usually, after the Consumer’s appliances are marked, the point of reference, and the ability to navigate the stove top and oven knobs becomes easier and safer.

Q: I love coffee but I feel embarrassed when I have to have people pour my coffee; what do I do?

If you are pouring hot liquids there are a few adaptive aids which can assist with this safely including a “say when” or a liquid level indicator as it is referred as, or one can use a Hot Shot, which is a hot water dispenser, allowing the user to heat up the water in the top of the vessel, and releasing the end product with the lowering of a lever into the mug itself.

Q: I want to make a difference in my community, what consumer organizations are available?

There are numerous organizations available – locally, statewide and national that makes a difference.

Q: What are tips and tricks to style hair or apply make-up?

Start with a good haircut, it is much easier if you have a hair style that is easy to maintain. There are lots of products on the market that are easy to use including a mousse with is easy to apply because you can feel the amount you are applying.

When applying makeup it is a good idea to talk to a makeup consultant, they would help you to find the correct colors for your skin tone, finding a good cream foundation sometimes works better because it doesn’t run and you have better control when applying it.

Q: Is there a cost to attend and if so, how much?

Some of the SAAVI programs ask for a small fee to cover the cost of some of the materials provided in the classes. It is best to check with the Instructor who is teaching the particular class about their fee schedule. Many of the services SAAVI offers are free of charge.

Q: I am homeless, can I still get services?

Yes, an individual who is homeless can receive services from saavi. If they want to go to work, they would go through the Vocational Rehabilitation program which would assist them with equipment, housing, independent living skills, Orientation and Mobility, and many other services.

Q: I don’t have the $5.00 class fee, can I still come?

Yes the $5.00 class fee covers the whole eight sessions and can be paid at any time.

Q: I don’t have a way to get there so I can’t come.

A. If you don’t have any available transportation (friends, family, volunteer organizations, etc.), SAAVI can provide transportation to our classes.  During the course of our classes you will learn about available transportation options and fill out paperwork to qualify for Sun Van, Coyote Run, or Handi-car.  Independence is the goal and SAAVI will help you get there.

Q: Why do I have to wait so long for some classes?

Waiting for some classes at SAAVI is a reflection of how many Consumers are needing services as well as the versatility of the program – offering a wide variety of blindness-related rehabilitation services. Many of the services offered are in a group setting, which may allow for greater momentum as far as a waiting list is concerned.

Q: I am totally blind. How would SAAVI be able to help me?

Whether a student is totally blind or has low vision, SAAVI can assist the individual in many ways—focusing on overall independence with daily living skills in the home, vocational skills focused on employment, and adjustment issues related to blindness. SAAVI can provide training and instruction for a variety of skills including assistive technology, Braille training and Orientation and Mobility. Additionally, SAAVI can assist the individual in promoting their own health and wellness through exercise, and by promoting self-expression in a variety of settings: Group and individual Counseling, and group and/or individual skills training, including food preparation, sewing, shopping, and learning about Community resources that are blindness-related. The diverse services SAAVI offers would encompass all individuals – regardless of their vision loss.

Q: How can teachers that are blind/Visually impaired possibly teach?

A blind or visually impaired instructor is probably the best to learn from because we are actually blind or visually impaired ourselves. Clients are able to learn techniques and stratagies that instructors who are blind use on a daily basis within their home or within their vocation. Hand-over-hand techniques and much verbal direction is needed to be a successful teacher who is blind or visually impaired.

Q: What does SAAVI stand for?

SAAVI stands for The Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired.

Q: How long has SAAVI been in existence?
SAAVI has been working with blind and visually impaired Southern Arizonans since 1964 and serves over 2,000 blind and visually impaired clients per year. SAAVI was formed by two sisters as a social club for visually impaired individuals and has made innovative changes in the past 45 years with a goal to provide dynamic and progressive programs and services to meet the needs of people with a vision loss.

Q: What kind of services do SAAVI offer?

SAAVI believes in taking a holistic approach to blindness and visual impairment by offering the following programs:

  1. Confidence building adjustment to blindness training through both group and individualized counseling sessions.
  2. Training to build on existing daily living skills. Each student sets goals while in the training and is encouraged to accomplish these goals within a certain time frame.
  3. Access technology training using various adaptive computer programs to include speech output, text enlargement and enlarged screens.
  4. Orientation and Mobility training developed for each student encouraging independent travel with confidence.
  5. Individualized employment support from our employment resource team focusing on all aspects of readiness for work and gaining stable employment. The team also provides job seeking and placement, as well as on the job coaching and support within our communities.
  6. One-on-one academic support services for blind students with the goals that range from GED completion to preparing for the U.S. Citizenship test to Master’s or Doctorate level university classes.
  7. Personalized fitness and recreational programs designed for each student to encourage ‘healthy body equals a healthy mind’
  8. On site day programs for blind students with development disabilities to encourage social interaction and basic skill strengthening.
  9. Yearly ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ youth summer camp where blind students from throughout Arizona complete a six week camp to build confidence, gain respect for others and for self, and to challenge students to realize their potential as individuals within society.
  10. ‘Steppin’ Out’ Transition Program supports blind youth through the transition from high school into college/university or employment. Each student is provided with a fully equipped apartment, a life coach who lives onsite, academic tutoring or job coaching, for a period of one year. After this year, the students are provided with the support that they need to live independently.
Q: Is there an age limit of the people you serve?

SAAVI serves individuals that are High-School aged up to their late 80’s in general. One RT on staff is currently providing services to one individual who turned 100 years of age this past April, 2011!

Q: What does "AT" exactly mean?
AT stands for Access Technology. Our AT program involves a wide variety of technology designed specifically for visually impaired/blind people. Some of the classes that we offer include learning speech output computer programs, enlarged screen magnification programs for low vision individuals, navigation of the internet, and even typing classes.

Q: I lost my sight later in life. Am I too old to learn Braille?

Not at all! Braille is a form of reading that can be learned at any age.

Q: I’ve been feeling down in the dumps since I began to lose my sight. Is this normal? How do I best deal with this?

While not everyone who experiences vision loss necessarily struggles with it, some grieving and frustration are normal during one’s adjustment to the onset of a visual impairment. Many factors contribute to how well and how long one needs to successfully make this transition (i.e., family support, social and work backgrounds, individual perspective), but SAAVI offers services and a welcoming environment where an individual can address and further explore their feelings associated with his or own vision loss within the greater scope of one’s social, vocational, spiritual, and familial relationships.

Q: My family and friends don’t seem to understand what I’ve been going through since losing my vision. How can I help them understand what I’m experiencing?

SAAVI welcomes all its students to invite their family members and loved ones (should they choose)to several of its teaching and social functions to foster understanding and awareness of the critical role of natural supports in helping our students adjust to their vision loss while broadening community and cultural awareness regarding the skills and abilities of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Q: A lot of my friends think I should stop working or using the stove since I’ve lost my vision. Are they correct or are there other options for me?

The key to keeping your job is to stay proactive. If you know you are losing your sight, then inform your supervisor and let him/her know you are completely able to provide quality service because of information received and assistive technology obtained through support agencies.

Q: Is SAAVI a fun place to be? Can I make friends there?

SAAVI can be a lot of fun, because learning can be fun, and sharing of information can also be fun! With a positive attitude, and a willingness to improve your own natural abilities and skills, SAAVI can make the training process not only fun, valuable and necessary; but the benefits are a life-long journey of learning for all visually impaired/blind individuals, and the general public as well.

Q: Why should I come to SAAVI for training if my family already drives me Everywhere and cook all my meals?

SAAVI’s philosophy is one of independence in all facets of life. Why would you want someone to drive you around when you can learn about alternate methods of transportation, such as a folding cane, or Para-transit services? Learning these new transportation techniques and resources allows the individual the ability to make choices in their lives, their daily schedules, and improved self-confidence and spontaneity. As far as cooking is concerned, it is always great when someone cooks for us, but it is even more enjoyable to prepare the foods you like, and especially foods that are healthy for us.

Q: I used to drive my own car before losing my sight. Now I’m stuck at home. What can I do? I have a bus line near my home but can’t see well enough to use it.

SAAVI can provide Orientation and Mobility training to help you with your travel needs. Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists teach people who are blind or visually impaired the skills and concepts they need to travel independently and safely at home, in the classroom, in their communities, and wherever they may want to go.

Q: What type of social activities does SAAVI have and when are they held?

SAAVI offers many social opportunities involving all students. The SAAVI staff encourages all students to become active in many of the Consumer blindness-related groups which meet at SAAVI. Additionally, SAAVI encourages athletic competitive activities such as beep baseball, and goal ball adaptive sports. A weekly newsletter, called Emvia, informs the visually impaired and sighted community of upcoming events in Arizona about blindness-related recreational and educational events. Some of the social activities include bowling, described movies, and annual fund-raising events to promote blindness-related services such as Sun Sounds Radio. SAAVI offers many social activities throughout the year, and especially during Holiday time.

Q: Yeah, I know SAAVI helps people who are blind or visually impaired.

I also use a wheelchair and have diabetes. Will SAAVI still help me?

SAAVI offers the same services to blind/visually individuals who have additional disabilities, such as physical challenges and that are diabetic. SAAVI promotes overall fitness through their Health and Wellness department and also offers a diabetic education class for individuals who are also diabetic.