Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dream of late Foundation patron Mildred Frank becomes her legacy

Larry Frank stood before more than 120 Daytona State College nursing students on a recent fall afternoon and said his mother would be proud. 

Larry Frank
Though the late Mildred Frank, a longtime Daytona State Foundation patron, was unable to see for much of her life, she never lost her vision of what could be. Keenly aware of how the legally blind must endure misconceptions about their disability, she made it her life’s mission to be an advocate for the visually impaired.

Among her many accomplishments was a training manual she authored for health care workers and caregivers of visually impaired people entitled “The Vision Aide Manual.” Mrs. Frank continued to revise and update the manual with new ideas until the day before she passed away last year at age 92. But on this autumn day in Bergengren Hall on the Daytona Beach Campus, her presence was felt by her son and many of the students who were using the manual as part of a new seminar called Assisting Persons with Limited Vision offered by Daytona State’s College of Nursing and Institute for Health Services.

“Today is a big deal for my mom,” Larry Frank told the students. “I believe her presence is here today to see 120 upcoming professionals have access to the information in her manual. It is also a big deal to the thousands of people whose paths you will cross during your professional careers and have the opportunity to make their lives a little better, and for their lives to have a little more dignity, and for them to have an opportunity to be a little less dependent on others and to do more for themselves.”

Born with low vision which progressed to the point where she was totally blind by adulthood, Mrs. Frank devoted her life to being an advocate for the visually impaired. She testified before state, national and international governmental and health organizations on how to better serve the visually impaired. She also started the first Low Vision Support Group in Daytona Beach, and spearheaded the Vision Aide Program through Home Instead of Senior Care of Volusia County. She wrote a monthly column for an international publication devoted to caring for the visually impaired and authored two books in addition to her vision aide manual – “Seeing with the Brain” and “Blindness Defeated, Nutrition and Coping Skills.”

The seminar conducted this semester was organized by Dr. Jane Rosati, assistant chair of Daytona State’s Associate Degree Nursing program, and Paula Morton, coordinator for the college’s Institute for Health Services. It is offered as a continuing education for health professionals seminar and also is incorporated into the nursing program curriculum.

“The class focuses not only on teaching students the behavioral sensitivities they should practice when working with the visually impaired, it also takes a comprehensive look at how to help people cope with all stages of vision loss,” Morton said. “Mildred’s book offers practical guides for living with limited or no vision and is intended to make everyday tasks less stressful and more productive.”  

Twelve years ago, the Frank family started the Mildred Frank Low Vision Fund through the Daytona State Foundation. Donations are used to support classes for caregivers of visually impaired people who use Mrs. Frank’s book as an instructional guide. For information on how to donate to the fund, please contact the Foundation at 386-506-4506, email Foundation@daytonastate.edu.

The book is available online at Amazon.com.