In July of 1921, the Southwestern Tier Association for the Blind (STAB) was established. Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties pooled their volunteers, governmental support, donations and time to educate and enhance the lives of those struggling with vision impairments and loss. “Providing preventative, educational and industrial work for the blind” was foremost in the New York State Commission for the Blind’s plans at that time. Over the past 100 years the three counties that made up the Association have changed a number of times. Currently the Association serves Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties. The name changed to the Chautauqua Blind Association, Inc. in the 1950s, and in 1982 to CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services to better reflect the agency’s work.
Local Lions Clubs and their Auxiliaries, along with many other volunteers throughout the tri-county area have been the backbone of the organization’s volunteer work force. The organization has always had an Executive Secretary to do the administrative work and a teacher to instruct the clients. The first Executive Director came on board in 1975 with the professional staff replacing volunteers in 1979.
The New York State Commission for the Blind has been a partner with CBA from the start. Currently, as a contract agency, the Commission supports most of the therapy and training provided by the agency staff.
The Association has provided assistance and training to the visually impaired since it’s conception, youth and child vision screening was started in 1970 to answer the need to diagnose and treat eye conditions in young children. This program is not financially supported by the Commission, but by local donations and funders such as the Juliet Rosch Foundation and the United Ways of both north and south Chautauqua County. Currently, the organization’s signature fundraiser, Dining in the Dark, supports this program.