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CONSUMERS POWER METRO REGION PILOT PROGRAM HELPS VISUALLY IMPAIRED

 CONSUMERS POWER METRO REGION PILOT PROGRAM HELPS VISUALLY IMPAIRED
 ROYAL OAK, Mich., Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Power Company's Metro Region has introduced a pilot program to help visually impaired customers more easily control their natural gas furnace thermostat and range dials through modifications that allow them to use their sense of touch to set the desired temperature.
 The dial-modification process is simple to perform, according to Jim Back, Metro Region technical coordinator. It involves installing small self-tapping pins or a raised epoxy material at specific settings on the thermostat or range dial. These raised areas can then be easily felt by the visually impaired person and the correct temperature lined up with them. For example, Consumers Power will place three pins or epoxy marks on thermostats, one at 60 degrees, one at 70, and one at 80 degrees. The same is done for low, medium and high settings on gas ranges.
 There is no charge for the dial-modification program, although customers must schedule appointments to have the procedure done, Back said. The work will be provided on a non-emergency basis, which means that emergency calls will take precedence over these appointments.
 "What this program will do is help our visually impaired customers be sure they're using the right setting for their thermostat or range. This will help eliminate potential problems such as accidental burning during cooking, and will provide a more steady, comfortable heating temperature from the furnace," Back said.
 Consumers Power initiated the new program following a customer request. "We also determined from area social service agencies that there is a need for this service within the communities we serve, and so the program was created," Back said. At the present time, the program is only offered to Consumers customers within the Metro Region, but it may be expanded to other customers across the state.
 While researching the program, Back learned that there are approximately 40,000 visually impaired people in the metropolitan Detroit area. One of these is Aleta Lohrey, who is visually impaired due to a condition which results in deterioration of the retina.
 Lohrey was the first Consumers Power customer to take advantage of the dial-modification program, and is very pleased with the results. "It's wonderful! Now it's so much easier for me to set the dials on my furnace and gas range," she said.
 For more information about the new dial-modification program, contact the Metro Region Consumers Power office listed on your energy bill or in a local telephone book.
 Consumers Power Company, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), is Michigan's largest utility serving almost 6 million of the state's 9 million residents in 67 of the 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 -0- 12/23/91
 /CONTACT: Debra McIntyre-Dodd of Consumers Power, 313-433-5781/
 (CMS) CO: Consumers Power Company; CMS Energy Corporation ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU: PDT


SB-DD -- DE009 -- 4883 12/23/91 14:04 EST
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Date:Dec 23, 1991
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