Our Mission and History

Georgia’s largest service provider for the blind and visually impaired

Our Mission

The mission of the Center for the Visually Impaired is to empower people impacted by vision loss to live with independence and dignity.

Every person with vision loss should be able to live with independence and dignity. This single goal guides the activities of the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI), and we work in a variety of ways to achieve it.

Each year, more than 1,100 people from Atlanta and all over Georgia turn to CVI to help them adjust to – or improve – a life with limited or no sight. CVI is Georgia’s largest comprehensive, fully accredited nonprofit facility providing rehabilitation services for the blind and visually impaired.

CVI was a pioneering organization when founded 60 years ago. At the time, rehabilitation services for people with vision loss were just beginning to be developed in a systematic way. The growth of CVI over the years represents more than an expansion of services – it also reflects the organization’s leadership in finding new ways to help people live more independently.

CVI’s funding reflects the generosity of individuals and organizations who make a gift as well as the confidence of foundations who award grants. The Center is committed to using donor dollars wisely in order to provide comprehensive services to our clients. All money donated to CVI is used right here in Georgia to provide vision rehabilitation services to individuals of all ages and stages of vision loss. To view our latest annual report click here.

Our History

In the 1950s in Atlanta, a group of parents faced a mutual challenge: how to help their visually impaired children reach their full potential in life. The children were well-served by an organization called the Foundation for Visually Handicapped Children, but as the children grew, so did their needs.

Interested in enhancing opportunities for their children, the devoted parents sought specialized training for their children in orientation and mobility, advanced communication, and daily living skills. Led by George and Jean Henderson, in 1962 they established a new agency, Community Services for the Blind. George

Henderson served as the agency’s first chairman.

The new organization was housed at 50 Whitehall Street in the Atlanta National Building in space donated by Ben and Sam Massell. In 1965, as a result of a bequest, the agency decided to purchase a large home on the southeast corner of South Ponce de Leon and Springdale and the agency moved to that location.

Also in 1965, the Atlanta Community Chest (now United Way) began investigating the possibility of merging Community Services for the Blind with the Metropolitan Atlanta Association for the Blind, which had been in existence since its founding in 1944 by Dr. P. J. Woods. In 1973, the two agencies were combined under the name of Atlanta Area Services for the Blind (AASB). In 1974, AASB leased office space in a building at 763 Peachtree Street. The owner, Florence H. Maxwell, for whom the Low Vision Clinic is named, eventually gave the building to the organization in 1980.

In 1987, the agency changed its name to the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) in order to reflect more accurately the wide range of services offered to visually impaired and blind individuals throughout Georgia. On January 6, 2003, after spending almost 30 years in the Peachtree Street facility, CVI opened the doors to its new and current five-story, 47,000-square-foot building at 739 West Peachtree Street.

Since 1962, CVI has grown to become the largest comprehensive, fully accredited, private organization in Georgia, providing a wide range of services in rehabilitation and education for individuals of all ages who are visually impaired or blind. CVI’s mission to empower people impacted by vision loss to live with independence and dignity is reflected through our service to more than 4,000 people annually.