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Verizon Awards $1.5 Million Grant to Expand American Foundation for the Blind's Web Site for Seniors With Age-Related Vision Loss

Legendary Actor James Earl Jones Joins Local Seniors for 'AFB Senior Site'

Demonstration at the University of South Florida

TAMPA BAY, Fla., Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Verizon Foundation today announced a $1.5 million grant to the American Foundation for the Blind to fund and expand an AFB Web site designed to help aging adults with low vision continue to lead more independent and comfortable lives.

The AFB Senior Site,, gives families, caregivers and people directly affected by vision loss tips and support needed to cope with age-related eye disease.

Among the valuable tools available for free on the AFB Senior Site are:

-- Tips on simple changes for the home that make it easier for someone

with low vision to navigate, such as using contrasting colors on light

switch plates, or using different textures on different surfaces.

-- A nationwide database of services for seniors with low vision, such as

where to find large print or audio books, where to receive computer

training, and comprehensive listings of counseling centers.

-- A glossary of terms for age-related vision loss and descriptions of

various conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma.

The Verizon Foundation grant was announced at a Senior Site demonstration at the University of South Florida for approximately 100 senior citizens from the Tampa area.

In addition to learning about the site, those in attendance also participated in a question-and-answer session with legendary actor and Verizon Brand Ambassador James Earl Jones, who shared stories of his career, such as playing the role of a blind former baseball player in the movie "The Sandlot."

"At Verizon, using technology to increase accessibility and educational opportunities for all is a priority," said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. "We're proud to partner with the AFB on this innovative project to continue to help seniors with low vision live independent, active lives."

The AFB launched its Senior Site earlier this year to assist the nation's growing senior population with low vision. According to a Prevent Blindness America study, diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are expected to double as the nation's 78 million baby boomers reach retirement age.

"There was a real need for more information on how to live well with conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration, and we are thrilled to be providing it with Verizon's help," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of AFB. "This extraordinarily generous grant enables AFB to help seniors with vision loss to live independently and productively, without sacrificing their quality of life."

In addition to informative written material, the AFB Senior Site contains a library of videos. There are demonstrations on everything from meal preparation, to instruction on using adaptive devices, to tips on shaving and applying makeup. The site also includes inspiring video testimonials from seniors who refuse to allow their vision loss to slow them down.

Visitors can also participate in message boards designed to foster a sense of community among seniors and family members dealing with vision loss. Topics include exercise, travel and recreational opportunities.

Like all of AFB's Web sites, the Senior Site is designed with adjustable text, color and contrast to make it accessible to those with low vision. The site meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to allow blind or low-vision users to navigate content using voice-browser technology.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. One of AFB's top priorities is promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 62 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit

VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon's News Center on the World Wide Web at To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.

SOURCE Verizon
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