A mobility trainer believes Florida’s Friendliest Hometown is not a welcoming place for the visually impaired.
Bebe Chudeusz of New Vision for Independence of Leesburg, spoke Thursday to the Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) Club at the Churchill Street Recreation Center.
“The Villages is not a pedestrian friendly community,” she said. “In defense of The Villages, it promotes itself as a ‘golf cart community.’ This presents many challenges to pedestrians.”
She explained that Florida has the nation’s second-highest number of pedestrian fatalities, many of whom are seniors.
“The average age of Sumter County residents is 67 which makes Sumter the oldest county in not only Florida, but the entire country,” Chudeusz said.
Chudeusz also told the 80 VIP Club members in attendance that about 7 percent of seniors over age 67 develop vision loss which cannot be corrected with glasses. She estimated that as many as 7,000 Villagers have impaired vision which can impact their mobility.
She gave the audience some tips on mobility in the home as well as outside. She urged the wearing of orange safety vests imprinted with the phrase “Visually Impaired” on the front and back when walking in The Villages.
She also pointed out that there are no vision tests required to operate a golf cart which could endanger not only the driver, but other users of the paths and roads. Several audience members described giving up their driving of both cars and carts as their eyesight deteriorated.
New Vision for Independence can be reached at 352-435-5040 for information on services available from the organization.
The VIP Club has an active social schedule in addition to the monthly meetings. The club sponsors bowling on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Spanish Springs Lanes with pizza at Flippers after bowling. A game day is held every second Thursday of the month at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center and the games are specifically designed for the visually impaired. The Lions Club of Sumter County offers support for visually impaired golfers.
For more information on meetings or other activities, call Donna Evans at (352) 391-4586.