In 1983, JBI established Israel's first Low Vision Clinic at Ichilov Hospital—now the Sourasky Medical Center—in Tel Aviv and has supported it ever since. Severely visually impaired children and adults, including veterans of the Israel Defense Forces, are treated by a unique staff of highly trained specialists in the field of Low Vision, i.e, the maximization of an individual's residual sight. Led by Sourasky's renowned Chief of Ophthalmology, Dr. Anat Loewenstein, the collaborative team of ophthalmologists, optometrists and social workers at JBI's Low Vision Clinic is the best in Israel. The Clinic is also a training site for graduate students in optometry from all of Israel. The JBI Low Vision Clinic serves close to 6,000 individuals each year, including several hundred very young children. All of us at JBI may say with pride that the JBI Low Vision Clinic at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center remains the premier facility in the Middle East and the one best equipped to help those struggling with low vision, whether the condition is the result of congenital disease, aging or injury.
To assure quality eye care to the many Israelis who are restricted by age, location or other circumstance from accessing the Clinic on their own, we have established the JBI Mobile Diagnostic, Treatment and Referral Clinic. JBI's Mobile Clinic brings our exceptional team directly to the elderly, particularly to the homebound and those in old age homes and senior centers. Many of the people the JBI Mobile Clinic treats are elderly Russian immigrants who have suffered a lifetime of poor medical care. Some clients may simply be fitted for new glasses; others may need more complicated interventions. A visit by the JBI Mobile Clinic makes all the difference between an independent, enriched life and one of isolation and loneliness.
JBI recently established a dedicated Children's Clinic that offers a friendlier waiting room, as well as examination stations outfitted with special equipment for the treatment of severely visually impaired young children. In addition, we have added an additional part-time pediatric ophthalmologist to the team to enable the Clinic to increase the number of children treated each year.
In addition, the recording facility at Israel's Central Library for the Blind in Netanya was equipped and designed under JBI's leadership. The Suzanne K. and Nathan L. Wolfson Recording Studios at the Tel Aviv branch of the Central Library records books and magazines in many of the languages today's Israelis speak, including Russian, Yiddish, Romanian, Hungarian and Polish. The studios were named for the generous JBI Board members who made them possible.
There are also JBI sponsored sound studios at Hebrew University, where textbooks and scholarly articles for blind university students throughout Israel are recorded. The Jane Evans Talking Book Library for Children provides audio books for Israel's visually impaired youth at the Central Library for the Blind.
In over thirty countries the cornerstone of our work is The JBI Library. JBI's vast and growing collection includes over 13,000 Talking Books, as well as thousands of Braille titles and Large Print publications. JBI Talking Books are available in English, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish and, most recently, Spanish. The depth and breadth of our collection notwithstanding, we always honor special requests.
The JBI Library serves thousands of blind and visually impaired people in Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. JBI offers an extensive and growing collection of Talking Books in Russian, Hungarian and Romanian. A catalog in Cyrillic is easily accessed on the web. JBI also distributes books to Russian speakers in the United States, Israel and Germany. In addition to Talking Books, JBI offers a special audio magazine in Russian (The Russian Voice), a Large Print Hebrew/Russian Haggadah and the only Russian children's audio library of Jewish interest for the blind and visually impaired. JBI also sponsors summer recreational retreats for blind and visually impaired Jews in Russia.
Responding to requests from Jewish organizations in Southeast Florida and Latin America, JBI is now building a library of Jewish interest materials in Spanish. This program is serving the needs of visually impaired and reading disabled Spanish-speaking Jews in the US, Israel, Latin America and around the world. JBI offers a Large Print Hebrew-Spanish Haggadah, a growing number of Spanish language Talking Books, as well as an Audio version of the magazine Raices, "Roots," a Jewish literary magazine produced in Spain, and La Voz, a quarterly anthology of Jewish interest in Spanish.