For at least the last 30 years of his life, 65-year-old Hahnville resident and military veteran Larry Franklin has been blind. Franklin wasn’t born visually impaired, he lost his sight because of an illness called sarcoidosis that can cause permanent nerve damage in various parts of the body.
Because of Franklin’s loss of sight, he had to make changes to his home and insurance doesn’t cover that cost.
“I am writing a letter to Senator Mary Landrieu to ask her to do something about getting Medicaid to pay for the equipment that blind and visually impaired people need,” Franklin said. “There are so many of my blind and visually impaired friends who are not as blessed as I am because the electronic devices such as computers, scanners, printers reading devices and other technologies are financially out of their reach.”
Franklin says he hopes to get Landrieu to encourage insurance providers like Medicaid to pay for this expensive equipment for other residents who don’t have access to medical benefits like he does.
“A closed-circuit television that can magnify printed materials and allows a visually impaired person to read books and other printed information can cost at least $5,000,” he said. “The basic computer with special screen reading software can increase to a cost of more than $2,000 when you add all of the accessories a blind person needs to use it properly.”
Franklin is very active in the St. Charles Parish community and doesn’t look out for himself alone, but he’s concerned about many other blind residents.
“I serve actively in my community and in two veterans organizations – the Blinded Veterans Association and the American Legion,” he said. “I also recently participated in White Cane Day, which is a day set aside to remember and acknowledge the blind and visually impaired citizens in the community.”
Franklin invited as many people as he could to get involved because his concern is not only for blind and visually impaired adults in the parish, but also for blind children.
“I believe that the blind mother or father should be able to assist his or her child with their homework with the aid of the existing technologies.” he said. “The child that is blind or visually impaired should also have these technologies available in the home and classroom.”
Franklin’s loss of sight is due to his military service, but he is grateful for the opportunity to have served in the military and does not regret his sacrifice for his country.
“I am very fortunate that I served because our government provides well for the rehabilitation of its disabled veterans and provides needed prosthetics for them,” he said. “I would like to see our government do the same for our citizens who don’t have the benefits that I am so privileged to enjoy.”
For more information on how to help, call 985-783-6103.