Since 1954, Society for the Blind has provided services and programs for people who are blind or have low vision. As with many agencies serving individuals who are blind, Society for the Blind grew from a dedicated group of volunteers and the support of Lions Clubs of America. On December 29, 1954, we established ourselves as a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit community benefit organization and have continued to expand our programs and services to meet the needs of the community we serve.
Today Society for the Blind is located in a 20,000 square foot building located at 13th and S Streets in Midtown Sacramento. From humble grass roots efforts, we have transformed Society for the Blind into a nationally recognized agency and the only rehabilitative teaching center for a 27 county region of northern California for people who are blind or low vision.
While the original intent of the founders of Society for the Blind was to provide a congregating space for people in the Sacramento area who were blind, today’s vision includes providing life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for thousands of youth, adults and seniors in Sacramento and the surrounding areas experiencing vision loss. Each year over 5,000 individuals participate in our programs and services through classes at our teaching center, in-home training sessions and community workshops.
For over 60 years, our mission has endured: to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential.
To be the provider of choice for people living with low vision or blindness.
We look forward to continuing to provide expert, state-of-the-art education and vision healthcare that enables those in our community affected by vision loss to live life to its fullest.
1953 – Society for the Blind began as a grass roots effort by a group of Sacramento County individuals who were blind and low vision. Their purpose was to develop a private, non-profit where visually impaired people from all age groups, backgrounds and interests could meet to interact with one another, plan and enjoy social functions and benefit from rehabilitation services
1954 – On December 29, 1954 the Sacramento Valley Center for the Blind was incorporated.
1956 – The Center opened its doors in a permanent location on 30th Street in 1956, with donations from the Sacramento Host Lions Club.
1963 – Society for the Blind relocated with help from the Lions Club to 27th Street
1967 – Society for the Blind moved to a 5,000 square foot facility on 24th Street, which was also generously provided by the area’s Lions Clubs. Society for the Blind provided services from that location for forty-three years, from 1967 to 2010.
1970 – While the original intent of the Center was to provide a congregating space for blind and low vision people in the Sacramento area, by the early ’70’s the name had changed from “Center for the Blind” to “Society for the Blind” and a new vision had been established. The new vision included providing life and job skills training, counseling, and access to help and tools for the thousands of blind and visually impaired people in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.
In 1970, Society launched the Self-Reliance Institute, an eight-week summer program designed to meet the unique needs of blind and visually impaired teenagers. This program helped over 200 teenagers make an easier transition to school, work, and independent living.
1975 – Our Low Vision Clinic (LVC) was established and today is one of the most comprehensive providers of low vision services in Northern California.
1978 – The Senior Self-Reliance Program was launched. Now called the Senior IMPACT Project, this program has thousands of blind seniors the chance to learn daily living skills through a committed, supportive program.
1982 – Funded by a grant from the Delta Gamma Alumnae, the Aids to Independence Store was formed. This store has hundreds of tools — from white canes to cooking tools to talking watches — to help blind and low vision people with everyday living.
1990’s – In the late 1990’s, Society for the Blind received a government grant which enabled the development of California Access News. This Telephone Reader Program provides individuals with vision impairment with information such as newspaper and magazine articles, local news, and movie and television listings. Access News is available to people throughout the United States.
2000’s – A government grant early in the new century helped the Society to establish the Career Development Program. This program gives working-age blind people access to training, counseling and job-seeking assistance, allowing them to enter and maintain their positions in the working world.
2010 – Society moved to 1238 S Street, a state-of-the-art training center located in Midtown Sacramento.
2013 – Society acquires the El Dorado Center for the Visually Impaired (EDCVI), preserving services for nearly 200 people with vision loss in El Dorado County. EDCVI staff becomes part of Society staff.
2015 – Society named the 2015 Outstanding Rehabilitation Center by the Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
2016 – Society acquired Reading Services of the Redwoods, an expansion of our Access News Telephone Reader Program to the Humboldt-Mendocino area.
2017 – VSP Global donates mobile low vision clinic. Society’s Low Vision Clinic is now able to bring eye care to the rural remote areas of Northern California.
2017 – Society launches CareersPLUS Program, offering youth and adults focused academic and employment readiness services and training.
2018 – After-School Academy launched as part of CareersPLUS to reach the growing demand for academic tutoring and Braille skills development.