New York City Chapter Resources

New York Chapter Networking Groups

The NYC Chapter offers five unique Networking Groups in support of the visually impaired community. Networking groups are a great way to connect with others in your area who may be facing similar issues. They are a valuable source of support for those who participate.

Manhattan Networking Group
Typically meets 4th Saturday of Each Month

Andrew Heiskell Library: 40 West 20th Street, NYC
For more information contact: Kathy Sypert - or Sherry Rogers - or 718-265-7638

Queens Networking Group
Typically meets 3rd Saturday of Each Month

Forest Hills Library: 108-19 71st Avenue, Forest Hills, NY
For more information contact: Sherry Rogers - or 718-263-7638

Bronx Networking Group
Typically meets 4th Saturday of Each Month (December will be skipped)
For more information contact: María Sosa - or 718-340-9725

Young Professionals Networking Group
Next Meeting Winter/Spring 2018
For more information contact: Josh Steinberg -

Stargardt Networking Group
Next Meeting Winter 2018

Andrew Heiskell Library: 40 West 20th Street, NYC
For more information contact: Paul Boskind - or Fiona Gibbons -

Questions about any networking group can also be directed to Katie Van Benschoten, Events Director, at 212-244-1470 or

National Organizations

American Council of the Blind (ACB)
ACB of New York, Inc.
195-05B 67th Avenue, Apt. #2B
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 1102
New York, NY 10121

E.A.R.S. for Eyes
232 East 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028

Lighthouse Guild
250 West 64th Street
New York, NY 10023

National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI)
P.O. Box 317
Watertown, MA 02471
Telephone: 1-800-562-6265

National Federation of the Blind of New York State, Inc.
P.O. Box 205666 Sunset Station
Brooklyn, NY 1120
(718) 567-7821

Local New York Resouces

American Museum of Natural History’s Science Sense Tours
Visitors who are blind or partially sighted are invited to attend this program, held monthly in the Museum galleries. Specially trained Museum tour guides highlight specific themes and exhibition halls, engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects. Science Sense is free with Museum admission.

Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library
40 W. 20th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 206-5400

The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library has been the location for a few of our chapters’ networking group meetings and Speaker Series. It provides free technology seminars for the visually impaired, as well as recoded books.

Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library's annual Fall Fair is coming Saturday October 15th, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 4:00PM!
The theme for this year’s Community, Culture, and Technology Fair for people who are blind, visually impaired or physically disabled is “Hands On! Exploration, Creation, and Education.” We’re taking over both floors this time, and are proud to be offering a round of creative workshops as well as speakers, and tablers are bringing hands-on elements and activities.
We’re expecting around 15 new community organizations, accessible recreation groups, and cultural institutions to be here for the first time this year, in addition we usually have around 25 fabulous repeat tablers sharing their newest events, activities, services, and tech. Major local museums will talk about their accessible tours, programs, and exhibits, and IDNYC will show you how to get free memberships to many of NYC’s premier cultural institutions.
Come to the workshop and speaker sessions to try out basic electronics building on an Arduino and see if you’d like to learn to code. Draw with our 3D plastic creation pen to build touchable objects, or check out some relaxing, accessible origami.
Hear celebrated local author Lloyd Burlingame speak about his newly recorded third book “A Blessing Well Disguised” or try out brand new, accessible, high and low technology, home living aides, and apps from equipment vendors. Meet the Hadley Institute and learn about their suite of online audio courses and webinars, including their entrepreneurship and small business center, family education, and low-vision focus webinars.  
We’ll have free library totebags, snacks, and new surprises while they last. No registration is necessary for this free fair open to the public.

Computer Center for Visually Impaired People at Baruch College
151 E. 25th Street, Room 648
New York, NY 10010
(646) 312-1420

For over 30 years, CCVIP has used computers equipped with the latest assistive technology -- speech synthesizers, print enlargement, and Braille printers -- to help visually impaired people achieve their educational, professional, and personal goals.

Fodor’s Travel Intelligence
Another great website that helps plan your trips. From destinations, hotels and restaurants, this website can give you access to plan your trip down to the very last detail!

Frommer’s Travel Guides
A great website that helps provide tips and hot spots for travelers. Click here for a great article on travel tips for those with disabilities.

244 Fifth Avenue, Suite G201
New York, NY 10001
(646) 202-1049

Gatewave is a closed-circuit radio reading service that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteer broadcasters read the content from over 100 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Cat Fancy, Dog Fancy and People. Gatewave distributes its programming to listeners who cannot read standard printed materials because of a visual, learning or physical disability.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an organization that’s goal is to enrich the lives of blind and visually impaired men and woman by providing them with the freedom to travel safely. It is an internationally accredited, nonprofit guide dog school.

New York Pass
New York City has so much to offer and why not take advantage? From The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Top of Rockefeller Center, this website can provide you with information and admission to major tourist attractions in the city.


The State of New York offers an ACCESS PASS through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Access Pass permits residents of New York State with permanent disabilities (as defined in the application) free use of parks, historic sites and recreational facilities operated by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The pass holder may have free use of facilities operated by these offices, for which there is normally a charge -- for example, parking, camping, greens fees, and swimming.

The pass, however, is not valid: at any facility within a park operated by a private concern under contract to the State, for a waiver of fees such as those for seasonal marina dockage, for a group camp, for reservations of a picnic shelter, for performing arts programs, for consumables (i.e., firewood, electric or gas), for campsite/cabin amenities, or for fees related to campsite/cabin reservations, and registrations.

To qualify for an Access Pass, an applicant must be a resident of New York State, must provide proof of disability in the form of certification from the appropriate agency or by a physician, as described on the application, and must provide a recent photograph that will be affixed to the Access Pass. Call (518) 474-2324 for additional information or to get an application. You can also visit their website at

The mailing address is:
Access Pass
State Parks
Albany, NY 12238

MTA – Reduced Fare Program
A fare is $2. Reduced fare is half fare ($1) or less with Reduced-Fare MetroCard discounts. If you are 65 years of age or older or have a disability that qualifies, you are eligible.

The New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
80 Maiden Lane, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10601
(212) 825-5710
All district office locations can be found by clicking here.

Social Security Administration
237 W. 48th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10036

This website answers many questions about disability information.

Visions Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired
135 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
(646) 486-4444

Travel, Leisure & Fun

Accessibility News International
Accessibility News International is a weekly newsletter, providing news and information from around the globe as a resource to the international disability community.
Easy downloads of audio books to your iPod or MP3 player.

Burkeville Lodge for the Blind
A lodge in Virginia that provides swimming, fishing, hiking, paddle boating and many other activities for people with visual impairments.

Dialog in the Dark NYC
Dialog in the Dark is a concept and design by Andreas Heinecke of Germany, where visitors are lead through a series of New York City environments, highlighted by city-centric scents, sounds, textures, and even temperatures in complete darkness. Visit the official website (link above), and click here to read a review from the New York Times.

New York Times
Now in its 20th year, "Insights" is the country's pre-eminent selected exhibition of paintings, photographs and mixed-media pieces by legally blind artists.

Official accessibility guide to New York’s public transportation system, top attractions, museum, dining and nightlife.

Healing Arts Initiative
Healing Arts Initiative is a New York City non-profit committed to making art and culture accessible to blind and visually impaired residents and visitors. They provide live professional description services to blind theater-goers. Trained describers speak live through a small ear-piece and offer blow-by-blow description of stage settings, live action, costumes and scenery.
ReadHowYouWant is a new book publisher that offers books in EastReadTM large print formats in 16 to 24 point font sizes, Braille, and DAISY (an audio format suitable for the blind, visually impaired and individuals who are unable to hold a physical book).

Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum offers verbal description and touch tours, which are one hour in length and takes visitors on a journey that weaves together the culture, history, religion and art of the Himalayas. These types of tours are free with museum admission.

Simply Audio Books
For the reader that prefers to order a book on CD, Simply Audio Books offers monthly and annual memberships.

Ski for Light, Inc.
Their mission is to enhance the quality of life and independence of visually or mobility-impaired adults through a program of cross-country skiing.
1455 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408
(612) 827-3232

Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students
A program for the visually impaired at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers
Theater Breaking Through Barriers (formerly Theater By The Blind) has been working for 29 years to develop blind and low vision talent for the theater, television and film. With great pride, the company has just changed its name to reflect its commitment to include all artists with disabilities in its work, onstage, backstage, in the office and in the audience.

306 West 18th Street, #3A
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (212) 243-4337

Provides vacations for both blind/visually impaired and sighted travelers, journeying together in a spirit of mutual independence to some of the most fascinating of world destinations. Sighted travelers travel for up to 50% off the price in return for being the eyes for blind travelers. If you are looking to travel with a fun and friendly group, either as a single/solo traveler or with friends and family, then Traveleyes is for you! A great unique opportunity to do something different and make new international friends from Europe, Africa and Asia.

P.O. Box 511
LS5 3JT, United Kingdom
US Telephone: (646) 867-3937

Technology and Websites for Coping with Vision Loss

Apple (Mac) Product Help
Apple Support has a great support line for those with vision or hearing impairments. Apple representatives at the following number are trained in providing support using acessibility services: 1-877-204-3930.

Art and Low-Vision: A Multi-Sensory Museum Experience
Dana Simon, chapter member, wrote this great blog about getting back to her artistic roots, and visiting museums.
From surfing the internet, to tracking your daily tasks, this website offers software to help you based on what you are interested in.

BridgingApps is a volunteer community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information on how they are using new technologies (such as the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices) with people who have special needs.

Ellie’s Low Vision Guide
Ellie, a member of the Manhattan Networking Group, has developed a great website providing resources for those with low vision. Not only does the guide list aids to assist with reading, but it also includes great tips about what to do when you begin losing your vision.

HumanWare products are designed to last and to grow (and in many cases, to go) with the user, giving them the independence to compete effectively with peers, to feel connected, and to be a vital part of the global information age in which we live.
ShopLowVision’s goal is to improve quality of life for those who are visually impaired through awareness, resources, and solutions. They provide 4,000+ low vision solutions with daily living products, video magnifiers, optical products, and professional tools.

Vision Dynamics
Vision Dynamics’ mission is to EMPOWER and INSPIRE people with low vision, blindness, and learning difficulties with the hope, desire and ability to lead happy and independent lives.

Vision Dynamics has added a new video magnifier! Click here to check out the new Optelec ClearView+ Speech 24” HD.

WebAnywhereWebAnywhere enables blind and visually impaired people to surf the Web on the go. The tool, developed at the University of Washington, turns screen reading into an Internet service that reads aloud Web text on any computer with speaker or headphone connections.

Audio Description

Thank you to our New York City Chapter members Phyllis and Carl Gruber for compiling this information.

Are you tired of someone having to tell you what’s happening on tv or having a friend whisper in your ear during a movie or at a Broadway show? Gain greater independence by using Audio Description. Audio Description, also referred to as Video Description, is a narration track intended for blind and visually impaired individuals. It consists of a narrator talking through a presentation, describing what is happening on the screen or on stage during the natural pauses in audio. Below, you can find information on how to access this service for tv, movies and the performing arts.

Go to and select: ‘TELEVISION’ from the top menu to find information on accessing audio description on the TV. You can find a list of programs and the stations they appear on as well as how to access a program depending on your cable or satellite service. You may need to contact your service provider and speak to several advisors before you find someone who is familiar with Audio Description. (Personally, we find Audio Description on DirecTV very easy to use. All we need to do is press one button on the remote control.)

Go to, enter your zip code and select ‘DESCRIPTIVE VIDEO’ from the filter drop down menu to find a listing of theaters and all movies titles with Audio Description. At the ticket window, ask for an AUDIO DESCRIPTION head set, but make sure it is for Audio Description, not an Assisted Listening Device for people who are hearing-impaired. Theater staff are slowly becoming more familiar with these devices.

Go to to find out which Broadway shows currently have Audio Description at performances. On the top menu, select ‘SERVICES’, then on the left side of the screen select ‘BROADWAY LISTINGS’ for a list of all productions. You can purchase tickets as you normally would, however Sound Associates request that you call them 48 hours in advance to reserve a headset. You can pick up the head set in the theater lobby at the time of the performance.

HAI Productions also provides live Audio Description at Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Please call Ulli Fenninger at 212.575.7665 for a listing of performances and to purchase tickets.