Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: How many people are blind or visually impaired IN the U.S.?

    A: It’s estimated that 4.2 million adult Americans ages 40+ are blind or visually impaired.1 There are approximately 63,657 youth ages 0-21 who are legally blind.2 Resource: 1 2

  2. Q: What is visual acuity?

    A: Visual acuity is the clarity or sharpness of vision. A person with 20/70 visual acuity must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with 20/20 vision can see at 70 feet. Resource:

  3. Q: What is low vision?

    A: Low vision is a term used to describe loss of eyesight that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contacts or medical treatment/surgery. Low vision makes it difficult to accomplish daily tasks. Resource:

  4. Q: What does it mean to be blind?

    A: When someone is completely blind, he or she is unable to see anything with either eye. Resource:

  5. Q: What does it mean to be legally blind?

    A: A person is classified as legally blind in the United States when he or she has medically diagnosed central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, and/or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Resource:

  6. Q: What causes blindness or visual impairment?

    A: The leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in the United States are: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Other eye disorders, eye injuries, premature birth and birth defects can also cause vision loss. Resource:

  7. Q: How does visual impairment affect child development?

    A: At Envision, we encourage an early and comprehensive plan for children who are blind or visually impaired, so they can reach their full potential. We have a state-of-the-art facility, the Cathy G. Hudson Envision Child Development Center, that nurtures these children who are blind, visually impaired or typically-sighted in a highly engaging and supportive educational environment. Our center prides itself on the results our children receive from our guidance.

    In this environment, a child will experience the following:

    • Intellectual growth
    • Increased self-esteem and positive self-image
    • Improved social interaction skills
    • More creative expression
    • Improved large and small muscle skills
  8. Q: What do people who are blind or visually impaired see?

    A: There’s no single answer, because there are different degrees of blindness.

    Blind from birth

    A person who has never had sight has no perception of light or color.

    Went totally blind

    Some individuals who have gone completely blind report that they experience complete darkness.

    Functional blindness

    In the United States, functional blindness refers to visual impairment where vision in the better eye with the best correction with glasses is worse than 20/200.


    What people who are functionally blind see depends on the severity of blindness and the form of impairment:

    Legally blind

    A person may be able to see large objects and people, but they are out of focus. A person who is legally blind may see colors or see in focus at a certain distance (e.g., be able to count fingers in front of the face). In other cases, color acuity may be lost, or all vision is hazy.

    Light perception

    A person who still has light perception can't form clear images but can tell when the lights are on or off.

    Tunnel vision

    Vision may or may not be relatively normal, but only within a certain radius. A person with tunnel vision can't see objects except within a cone of less than 10 degrees. Resource:

  9. Q: What are common eye diseases that may cause visual impairment or blindness?


    Stroke: The effects of a stroke depend on which parts of the brain are affected, and can affect body movement, speech, sensory function and even vision.

    Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease resulting from diabetes and is the leading cause of new diagnoses of blindness in Americans ages 20 to 74.

    Macular degeneration: This eye disease is age-related, caused by the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina that is essential for sharp, central vision.

    Retinitis pigmentosa: Retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, is a group of inherited eye diseases that cause degeneration of the retina and progressive vision loss.

    Cataracts: A cataract clouds the lens of the eye, steadily causing loss of vision as a result of age, traumatic injury, certain diseases, particular medications or long-term exposure to sunlight.

    Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss through damage to the optic nerve. Most people are unaware that they have the disease.

  10. Q: How can I help someone who’s blind or visually impaired?

    A: There are many ways to assist, and Envision can help guide the way.

    Basic Etiquette

    If you think someone who is blind may need help navigating, ask first. It’s jarring for anyone to be unexpectedly grabbed or pulled, but especially so for someone who can’t see who’s doing the grabbing. By asking, you give the person a chance to say “yes please” or “no thank you.” If your help is accepted, allow him or her to grasp your arm just above the elbow. That makes it easier for the person to feel your movements and follow on their own terms.

    If you see someone who is blind or visually impaired about to encounter danger, be calm and clear when you warn the person. Use specific language such as “there’s a curb right in front of you,” or “the door in front of you is closed,” instead of “watch out!” Also, use directional language such as “to your left” or “directly behind you” rather than “it’s over here.” Think about what information you would want to know if you couldn’t see.

    Identify yourself when approaching someone who is blind, or when entering a room with them. Even if the person has met you before, he or she may not recognize you by your voice. In a group setting, address the person by name so they know when you’re talking to them. And inform the person when you depart, so they don’t continue the conversation to an empty room.

    Don’t pet or distract a working guide dog. These dogs are busy directing their owners and keeping them safe. Distracting them makes them less effective and can put their owners in danger.

    Use “people first” language. No one wants to be labeled by how they are different. It’s kinder, and more accurate, to say "a person who is blind" rather than "a blind person." We are all people first.



    Giving directions to a person who is blind or visually impaired

    When giving directions for how to get from one place to another, people who are not visually impaired tend to use gestures — pointing, looking in the direction referred to, etc. — at least as much as they use verbal cues. That isn't helpful to a person who is blind or has a visual impairment.

    Here are basic points to remember when giving directions to anyone who is visually impaired:

    Always refer to a specific direction — right or left as it applies to the person you're advising. What is on your right is on the left of the person facing you.

    Indicate the approximate distance as well as the direction to a requested location.

    Give the approximate number of streets to be crossed to reach the destination. Even if your estimate is off by a block or two, it will give the person a sense of when to stop and ask someone else for further directions in case she or he has overshot the mark.

    If possible, provide information about landmarks along the way. Keep in mind that both sounds and scents can be "landmarks."



    If you feel led to volunteer, we have some incredible opportunities at Envision. We would love to have your support in any of these tasks and programs:

    • General Office Help
    • Level Up Program
    • Special Events
    • Homework Club
    • Envision Golf Program
    • Youth and Adult Art Classes
    • Support Groups
    • Envision Everyday retail store

    If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at or at 316-440-1529. Apply to be a volunteer online


    Every voice can make a difference by advocating for job creation opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Envision, with the support of our partnership with LCI, has created a Workforce Innovation Center to tackle the staggering unemployment rate of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. If your workplace is interested in creating these opportunities, please visit to get started.


    You can also help by attending a fundraising event. Envision has two signature events — all about gathering support for the blind and visually impaired community! Golf Fore Vision is our annual golf tournament that encourages competition for a good cause. We also have an annual Evening With Envision gala that benefits Envision’s programs and services. Check out more details about our signature events here.


    Another way to help this community is by making a charitable donation. Our programs help so many individuals who are blind or visually impaired find fulfillment, healing and jobs. Help fuel our mission with your contribution.

    If you’re interested in making a donation, visit our Donations page.