this is the youth programs page of the blind service association website.

youth programs


Blind and visually impaired children and adolescents may face many challenges in their young lives due to their visual challenges. Getting all the special training they need in learning to become independent is not always available at home or through the schools they attend. Fortunately Blind Service Association (BSA) places enormous importance on providing training and also financial assistance to children and young people who need it. The sooner they acquire the necessary skills to help them become self-sufficient, the greater opportunity they'll have to succeed in school and later life.

BSA offers programs in mentoring; computer training, scholarships for college, universities or technical schools; financial aid to help pay for low vision eye glasses. BSA also sponsors the Pathways Summer Youth Program which provides recreational, cultural, and educational activities for children aged 10 to 18, a summer READ TO THE TOP competition and publishes a quarterly newsletter called "The Youth Connection".


A blind or visually impaired young person can benefit from the guidance of a blind or visually impaired adult who has gone on to lead a successful fulfilling life. Youth aged 10 to 18 are paired with mentors who have agreed to help their mentee reach specific goals such as cane travel, cooking or improvement in social skills. All mentors commit to one year's service. An extensive interview process is required for mentors and parents or guardians of mentees. All participants must live in the immediate Chicago area.

scholarships and financial aid

Every year Blind Service Association awards 20 to 30 scholarships, ranging in amounts from $750 to $3,000, to young people planning to attend a professional school, college, or university. Applications are judged according to academic merit, evidence of community service and need. Interested individuals must reside in Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, McHenry or Kane counties in the state of Illinois. To download a pdf version of the application please click here.

A version of the application in word is available by clicking here.

Blind Service Association provides financial assistance to students with low vision in need of glasses. All students in need of assistance in purchasing eye glasses must ask their school nurse to contact BSA's office for further instructions. Students must live in the Chicago area.

computer training

Knowing how to use a computer is an essential skill for visually impaired people today. Computer technology makes it possible for people with visual disabilities to perform many of the tasks that sighted people take for granted. In terms of career opportunities and advancement, computer literacy has become a necessity for many jobs. Blind Service Association (BSA) provides computer training to blind and visually impaired students after school or on Saturday. Classes are held at BSA's downtown office. To see if you qualify for training please contact us.

pathways summer youth program

Blind Service Association sponsors a six-week summer program open to blind and visually impaired students aged 10 to 18. Pathways includes training in daily living skills, such as cooking, house cleaning, shopping, cane travel and money management. Kids also enjoy sports, recreation, performing arts, and field trips to various cultural sites. Activities may include sailing, yoga, bowling, beep baseball, and swimming. Headed by a vision teacher or rehabilitation teacher, the program runs from 9:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon, five days a week. To register for the 2022 Pathways Summer Youth Program, you can download a pdf version of the application please click here.

A version of the application in word is available by clicking here. For more information contact Dustin Cather (email) or at the office at 312-236-0808.

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The Youth Connection is a quarterly newsletter designed to connect blind and visually impaired youth with each other. The newsletter also provides information to help with the many challenges of living with a visual impairment. To receive a large print copy or e-mail copy, contact Dustin Cather (email) or call 312-236-0808.