Types of Speakers to Invite

Tips on Using Speakers

  • Invite different types of speakers to your group: Just remember to be sensitive to your group’s interest areas and physical limitations. As the overall age of your group increases, you may find that more social, rather than educational, opportunities are what your group members are looking for to feel a sense of support.
  • Provide direction: Professionals are often pleased to share their knowledge with your group but appreciate some direction from the group leader on what information to prepare for the presentation. Suggestions for the speaker are given below.
  • Respect your speaker’s time: Keep group business to a bare minimum or wait until after the presentation.
  • Do a sound check: Make sure everyone can hear the speaker. Encourage the use of a microphone for large groups.
  • Introduce and thank the speaker: it’s the right thing to do and it also cues the group when they should stop talking with their neighbor and when the presentation is finished.
  • Keep records of whom you invite and when: Most groups will want to hear the information again in a year or two. You can save yourself a lot of planning by simply creating a rotating schedule of topics to have handy when looking for inspiration.

20 Speakers to Invite to Senior Support Group and Suggested Topics

Vision Loss Related:

1. Optometrist

  • General anatomy of the eye (parts and function as relates to vision)
  • Which parts of the eye are affected by different eye diseases and how this relates to how the patient sees the world
  • Difference between an ophthalmologist and optometrist
  • Meaning of 20/20, 20/200 (legally blind), and other lines on the Snellen eye chart
  • Parts of an eye exam and purpose of common diagnostic tests
  • Tips to maintain eye health

2. Ophthalmologist

  • Discussion of a particular eye disease (Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Cataracts)
  • Which parts of the eye are affected and how disease of these parts affects what and how a person sees
  • Progression of a specific eye disease and the common treatments
  • Tips to maintain eye health
  • Information on current research seeking a cure (group members may be interested in how they can get involved as a test subject or receive information on the latest studies)

3. Representative from National Library Service Talking Book Program

  • Demonstration of how to work a talking book machine
  • Explanation of how the program works and what is provided
  • Explanation of descriptive video library (request demonstration)
  • Explanation of how sign-up for the service

4. Representative from Local Public Library

  • Description and demonstration of library materials and services of interest to patrons with vision loss: books on CD/tape, Playaways, large print books, outreach services/bookmobile etc. (many public libraries also have video magnifiers and computers with screen magnification for on-site public use)
  • Information about library events (book clubs, speakers, etc.) that are accessible for people with vision loss

5. Representative from State Services for People with Vision Loss – Connecting your group members with their local rehabilitation services for people with vision loss is essential! Your group provides the emotional support and much helpful information but only vision rehabilitation service providers can give each individual the training needed to live safely and independently!

  • Explain eligibility criteria for services and process for entering into services.
  • Describe scope and length of services and the professionals involved

6. Orientation and Mobility Specialist

  • What is Orientation and Mobility training
  • Who benefits from receiving the training
  • Scope and duration of the training
  • Tips for traveling safely when out in the community
  • General FAQs concerning use of the white cane
  • General FAQs on guide dogs
  • Human guide training
  • How to receive individual training from an Orientation and Mobility Specialist

7. Vision Rehabilitation Therapist

  • What is Vision Rehabilitation Therapy
  • Who benefits from receiving it
  • Scope and duration of training
  • Information/instruction on how to live independently with vision loss in all areas of life
  • Accessible technology (cell phones, computers) to increase independence

8. Representative Who Sells Product for People with Vision Loss

  • Hands-on demonstration of magnifiers, talking products, large print items, and many other helpful gadgets to make living independently easier with vision loss

9. Representative Who Sells Video Magnification Equipment

  • Hands-on demonstration of desktop and portable video magnifiers for reading, writing, and many other activities

10. Representative from a Guide Dog School – Many guide dog schools have local ambassadors or representative who can come talk to your group about guide dogs

  • FAQs about guide dogs
  • What it is like to live and travel with a guide dog
  • Why a guide dog and not a white cane

11. Representative from Hadley School for the Blind (if possible) – Hadley School has teachers all across the U.S. There may be one living in your area or attending a conference near you who can make time to speak at your group. Hadley is international and not a resource you will want to neglect bringing to your group!

  • Hadley’s Low Vision Focus
  • How to enroll and program information
  • Courses for family members and caregivers

12. Representative from Para-Transit Services

  • Description of services, eligibility criteria, and application process

13. Representative from Local Chapter of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and/or National Federation of the Blind (NFB

  • Description of consumer group purpose and activities (benefits of membership)
  • Advocacy for people with vision loss in your community

Non-Vision Related

14. Police Officer

  • Recommendations for personal safety “street smarts”
  • Identity theft
  • Community Services provided by local police station
  • Emergency preparedness

15. Firefighter

  • Home fire prevention
  • Emergency prepared ness

16. Representative from Community Senior Services Agency

  • Description of services and eligibility
  • Transportation options for seniors
  • Social activity programs for seniors
  • Description of services in the home (housekeeping assistance, meals on wheels, etc.)

17. Representative from Local Public Transit Authority, as well as the local Township services for seniors, para-transit etc.

  • Description of accessibility features of local transit system for people with vision loss
  • Information on local door-to-door options for seniors (dial-a-ride, taxi vouchers, etc.)

18. Representatives from Other Organizations and Services of Interest to Older Adults

  • American Diabetic Association (Diabetes being a leading cause of vision loss)
  • AARP
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • An audiologist (can locate through American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) (vision loss is frequently accompanied by hearing loss as adults age).
  • Registered Dietician
  • Local Mental Health provider (great for winter months as they can touch on seasonal affect, depression, anxiety and provide resources for feeling better and where to get help)

19. Representatives from local theatres, museums, art galleries, and tourist attractions

  • Description of accessibility features that make a visit more enjoyable for people with vision loss
  • Description of programs and/or events
  • Or plan a trip with your group, taking advantage of the accessibility features

20. Representative from the Local Assessor’s Office to Speak about Taxes

  • Information about property taxes
  • How to understand the tax bill
  • Various taxing bodies and the services they are providing to the property owner
  • Senior exemptions, disability exemptions
  • When and how to file an appeal