ECVI Connect

Let's take this journey together.

Personalized Skill Development and​ Social Connections ​for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Central Illinois

What's today's ECVI Connection?

Friendship Fridays

Birds of a feather flock together and we're hoping you'll join our flock on Fridays! Join us virtually (for now) on the 2nd Friday of each month for fellowship, laughter, sharing and maybe a little singing! Email or call us for more information or to RSVP.

Book Club Fridays

Next Book

June 19: Salt to the Sea

Participants read the book in advance of the meeting, so RSVP below or call Peggy at 217-303-9062 and we'll give you the details. Students suggest and agree on which books to read, so join us and add your voice to the mix. Books are provided by Talking Books and sent directly to your home.

Here are the Book Club titles for the rest of 2020. We hope you find at least one that sounds interesting and join us!

2020 Book Titles

July 24: Walk in the Woods

Aug 21: Widow of the South

Sept 18: Walking Across Egypt

October 23: Blackfoot Messiah

November 20: Hidden Kennedy

December 11: Redbird Christmas

Postponed: Finley's Tap House Fundraiser

As we know this is a tough time for all of us. Please support Finley's Tap House and use their takeout service. We love their flatbread! We will keep you posted when our fundraiser has been rescheduled.

Campus Update

ECVI is looking forward to re-open our campus doors as soon as possible. At this time, the state of Illinois is scheduled to reopen on June 1st. We are eagerly looking forward to getting everyone back on track as soon as possible. If we are given the green light to re-open on June 1st we will leave it up to each individual student and teacher to gauge their comfort level to return.

We'll keep you in the loop on potential class offerings, schedules, and re-opening procedures as we get closer to June 1st.

3rd Annual Dining in the Dark

You're invited!

Purchase Tickets, Volunteer or Sponsor the Event


Friday, July 17th, 6pm

6pm: Conversation and Cocktails

7pm: Dinner

8pm: Live Auction and Music


Colombian Hall (Formerly KC Hall)

2200 Meadowbrook Road

Springfield, IL

RSVP by July 3, 2020

ECVI Heroes

ECVI Heroes Among us

“Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” No, it is really ECVI Heroes. Can I introduce you to some real heroes?

We all have experienced social isolation, but can you imagine not having your eyesight during this pandemic shutdown? What do you do to keep yourself active both physically and mentally? What do you do to ignite that spark within to feel like you belong? Well, let me tell you what our Board of Directors, Teachers, Volunteers and Students have been doing since we have been quarantined. This is just a snap shot of the reason why I can fight through every obstacle to provide learning and social connection opportunities for our students at the Educational Center.

We have been in the virtual room classroom. We are learning how to use more features on our mobile devices. We are learning how to download apps that enable us to order takeout meals, groceries, medicines, and connect with family, friends and each other using a popular cloud platform. This has been quite a challenge for me and for our students. I couldn’t see what they were doing on their device and they could not see what was on their screen either. Through it all, they were patient, eager to learn and persistent. It might have taken us a little longer than usual, but they did learn how to get done what they needed to on their mobile devices.

We had our first Book Club meeting on line at the end of April using technology. Even though we could not all get together at the Educational Center, it was still meaningful to be able to see and talk to each other through our cloud platform. We laughed, we discussed the book we talked about our next book and the only thing missing were the hugs. However, at the end of the discussion, the problem of how to get the next book became evident. Another thing that became clear was that we needed to upgrade our cloud platform. That is when more heroes showed up! A family that has volunteered their time, wisdom and resources stepped up and offered to pay for one year’s subscription for the cloud platform we were using. A gift at just the right time.

Then our computer guru, Dan Thompson, came to the rescue and produced a podcast for us so that we could learn how to use the NLS Bard service app to download books. We put his podcast on our website under Resources at if you would like to learn for yourself. This became necessary because we usually get our audio books through the Talking Book program through the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Unfortunately, they are closed until the quarantine is lifted. We will be working to get everyone an account set up with NLS Bard so that they can download music or books whenever they need them.

However, there are still those who are visually impaired and do not know how to use technology and mobile devices. This became more real for me when I was contacted by a staff member of a local assisted living facility. Their residents with visual impairment could not get audio books and were desperate to listen to new books. That is when my heroes stepped up! I contacted those students in the book club to see if they had any books they had not yet sent back to Talking Books. I was able to round up 10 audio books and delivered them to the residents at the assisted living facility.

With a greater understanding of how the Educational Center can help others, you can bet that we will be working even harder to reach them. Helen Keller said it best – “Alone we can do a little, but together we can do so much”.

I am so grateful for our ECVI Heroes – Look - they are everywhere!



Celebrating Dan Thompson

I am often asked what I feel are the strengths of the Educational Center. I always respond by saying that our Board of Directors and our educators are our strength. I would like for you to meet Dan Thompson, one of our educators, who has been teaching computer skills to our students tirelessly since June, 2016.

Dan Thompson received his Special Ed Degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1984 specializing in learning and behavior disability. Dan earned the Abraham Lincoln Achievement Award and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Award for Scholastic Achievement before graduating. He taught junior high and high school students until 1989. He was the first blind Disability Adjudicator for the State of Illinois until 1991. From 1991 until 2011, he was teaching at the Jacksonville Illinois School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He is the recipient of many awards and received several state and local recognition for his work as an educator.

Dan is such a huge asset to the Educational Center. His quick wit and smile are contagious. He is the most patient and compassionate man I know. He consistently puts the needs of the Educational Center and his students above his own needs. He works at ECVI one day a week, but works from his home in Jacksonville area the rest of his week. He truly wears me out with all that he accomplishes.

Dan is a husband, father, retired educator, consultant, and a friend to many. During the COVID 19 pandemic, he becomes a DJ and plays music in his driveway for his neighbors; he has been a DJ at other weddings and events; he produces podcasts for his church; he works with foreign exchange students in other countries; and he recently started a not-for-profit organization known as Fresh Start. “Fresh Start is a charitable corporation that serves God’s children by assisting with obtaining post-high school vocational training, higher education, and gainful employment through the ministry of empowerment, enhancing self-esteem, and a new beginning.”

On our website, Dan has produced a new podcast to help individuals who are blind to download books, music and magazines using the Bard mobile device app. You will enjoy his easy to understand instructions and his friendly approach to learning this new skill. Dan not only produces podcasts, he wrote a book for the students at the Educational Center and others who would like to learn how to use a computer efficiently. You can contact Dan through our Website if you are interested in his book, “Making Computers Fun”. Anyone wanting to schedule an appointment to attend a computer training session with Dan can email me at All sessions are free and you work with Dan one-on-one in a safe environment.

Did I mention that Dan lost his eyesight when he was 5 years old? There was no one to encourage him as a young man, so Dan adopted the attitude - if it’s going to be, it’s up to me. I love to hear his stories of how he has overcome adversities and is always thinking and doing what he can for others. The Educational Center is so very fortunate to have him on our Team!

Helen Keller said it best – “Alone we can do a little, but together we can do so much”. Thank you Dan for pouring your life into others.


With the closing of our campus and suspension of our regular program schedule, we ask you to join us in keeping our wonderful instructors and students connected. Our expenses continue and in some places increase as we migrate classes and enrichment gatherings to an online presence. Please help us continue our programs, especially in this critical time.

Covid-19 Information: Visiting us at the center is not possible at the moment, but we're still providing personalized individual programs! Call us at 217-303-9062 to connect, check us out on Facebook and Twitter, or drop us an email. Keep healthy and safe until we meet again.

Educational Center for the Visually Impaired

Personalized Skill Development and​ Social Connections
for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Central Illinois
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