Correctional Officer S. Dovichi with the 13 inmate workers of the CMF Blind Project at the 57th Anniversary Award Ceremony.

Story and photos by Lt. Megan Cherinka, AA/PIO
California Medical Facility

The California Medical Facility (CMF) and the Volunteers of Vacaville (VOV), a fully funded non-profit organization, recently celebrated the 57th Anniversary of the Blind Project within CMF. The partnership between the VOV and CMF started in 1960 as a way to bridge the community with inmate workers.

“The Blind Project is something we are very proud of here at CMF,”  said Chief Deputy Warden Daniel Cueva. “We are able to give back to the local community, nation and around the world, providing a highly specialized service. The inmates who are assigned to the Blind Project create a sense of personal worth, and pride in their work, which can be seen in the quality of the workmanship.”

Over the last 57 years the project has provided services including Perkins Braille Machine repairs, Braille transcription, and electronic book cleaning to customers around the world.  In 2017, the VOV and CMF have expanded with 65 new clients – including private citizens, schools and organizations from around the country.

Optical Lensmeter used for gauging prescription glasses.

In California, a few new clients are Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind, Stagg High School, Ditmar Elementary School’s Program for the Visually Impaired, Alameda County Social Services, Carlton Oak School, Peterson Elementary Vision Services, and the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

This past year the Blind Project’s Transcription Department has completed two college-level algebra textbooks, totaling 9,308 pages in Nemeth Braille with 2,053 math tactile graphic pages created utilizing Corel Draw. Over 863 pages transcribed this year from The Omnivore’s Dilemma to The Midwife’s Apprentice.

Transcribers worked on such unusual projects as general assembly minutes from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency and 1,163 pages for the quarterly Faith Pathways bible studies.

Transcribers are not the only part of the Blind Project. The repair department fixed 557 Perkins Braille writers, donating five to the Perkins School for the Blind, one machine to a 7-year-old boy in Los Sauces, Argentina and one to the Nico Hauser Secondary School for the Visually Impaired in Kenya.

Perkins Braille Machine.

Other services continue to be purely donations to the community such as cleaning of electronic books. Over 1,099 machines were cleaned free of charge. The Blind Project also gauged and repaired through the Lions In Sight (Lions International) 60,000 pairs of glasses.

The VOV has also donated over $1,600 to charities and special events such as the Special Olympics, Toys for Tots, Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, CMF Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and the yearly CMF Staff Appreciation.

CMF is proud to be home to the VOV and the Blind Project and together as a team we will continue to serve those who are in need within the surrounding community, nation and world as well.