Reading With a Vision Loss

Vision Rehab Podcast for Reading With a Vision Loss

Hello, and thank you for joining me today on the Vision Rehab Podcast. My name is Steve Kelley and I’m a certified vision rehabilitation therapist based in Maine.

Today, I’m reaching out to those of you experiencing a change in your vision that’s not correctable with glasses or contacts. You know who you are—maybe the doctor said, “There’s nothing more I can do,” meaning of course, that there’s no change in your glasses prescription that will fix the vision loss.

You’re not alone. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, there are over 32 million of you in the US—nearly 10% of the population. Only 1.6 million of you are legally blind, however. So that leaves about 30 million of you with some kind of a vision loss—maybe from glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and nearly all of you don’t consider yourselves blind—legally or otherwise.

Just one more statistic, and I promise to put the numbers away. A recent press release from VisionServe Alliance reported that only 3% of you are receiving the vision rehabilitation services that will help you maintain your independence and quality of life with a vision loss. So, to recap, there are nearly 30 million of you out there with an irreversible vision loss and only 3% of you will find your way to rehab services with a low vision doctor, vision rehabilitation therapist, or orientation and mobility specialist.

Here’s my questio, Why is it that only 3 out of 100 with an irreversible vision loss, will seek out vision rehab services? There are several reasons, I think:

One, and perhaps the biggest reason, your eye doctor probably didn’t mention these services. And I’m not sure why. So how would you know about them?

Second, many of these rehabilitation services are located in state and community agencies with the words “blind” or “visually impaired” in their title. And you 30 million out there with a vision loss are not blind and may want nothing to do with services that have the word blindness in them. so for you, this is a non-starter.

And lastly, some of the adaptations for a vision loss, like audio books, handheld magnifiers, screen magnification or speech on a computer are all different from the way you’ve been doing things for years—and really, how many of us naturally embrace change? Right.

OK, so for the 97% of you who aren’t ready to check out vision rehab services or haven’t heard of them yet, Here’s a baby step to consider.

Most of the folks I’ve worked with over the years told me that one of the things that was most difficult for them was reading print. There are many alternatives to getting back to reading, but one of the simplest ways is to sign up for the National Library Service (or NLS) Talking Books Program. You’ll receive a digital talking book player and your choice of books and magazines, in the mail, right to your home. And the best part is, there’s no charge for any of it. This is a state and federal program that dates back to 1931! There’s no catch, no out of pocket cost, and the only requirement is that standard print is difficult for you to read, period. Get started today by calling toll free 800-424-8567. The number again for the NLS Talking Books Program is 800-424-8567.

And, if you’d like to be one of the 3% who gets vision rehab services, check out the Vision Aware Directory of Services on the computer. The web address is or just put Vision Aware Directory of Services into a search engine like Google or DuckDuckGo. If you’re not a computer user, try calling the APH Connect Center at 800-232-5463. And let me repeat that for you 800-232-5463. They’re available during business hours and will return your call if you leave a message.

And by the way, in most cases you don’t need a doctor’s referral for vision rehab services, and they’re available at no out-of-pocket cost, or on a sliding scale!

 Thanks for joining me today on this episode of the Vision Rehab Podcast. Again, my name is Steve Kelley and you can find me at I look forward to seeing you again on the next episode of low vision tech topics. Have a wonderful day!


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