The Vision Rehab Podcast is a short monthly podcast about topics and issues related to vision rehabilitation therapists and vision rehab. You can also listen on your smart speaker, just ask for, “Vision Rehab Podcast.”
Here’s something to think about. Vision Serve Alliance reported this past Spring that only 3% of people with a vision loss were actually receiving the services that might help them maintain an independent lifestyle with their reduced vision. It’s certainly not the cost, because these services are often at no out-of-pocket cost. You’ll find them in state and local vocational rehab agencies or your state’s department on aging. Chances are you didn’t know this. In fact, there’s really a good chance you saw an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and maybe an occupational therapist, and no one mentioned the services available through your state’s rehab agency.
I spoke to a woman on the phone recently, who is 85 years old, with a vision loss from macular degeneration. She reported that she;s been saying a well known ophthalmologist, optometrist and nurse practitioners to treat her eye disease, and none of them mentioned the Oregon Commission for the Blind and Visually impaired. Someone in the waiting room mentioned the Commission. She called, and a case manager came to her home to conduct an assessment, got her started working with an iPhone with text-to-speech on the phone, and got her signed up with both the National Library Service Talking Books Program, and training through Hadley, on the iPhone. All at no out of pocket cost.
This week, the third week of September is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, and it is a great time to point out the resources often overlooked or underutilized for learning new skills to compensate for reduced vision.
You won’t need your doctor’s referral to learn more about vision rehabilitation services. You can call the APH Connect Center to get the phone number for services in your state, or use the online directory at visionaware.org/directory. Just select your state and you’ll find all the major resources for vision rehab your state offers. The phone number for the APH Connect Center is 800-232-5463.
If you’re still working or want to work, you’ll find vocational rehabilitation counselors to work with. You’ll also find other vision rehab professionals, like vision rehab therapists to support daily living and employment tasks, orientation and mobility specialists for training with transportation or a white cane if needed, and certified low vision therapists to work with you on low vision aids and appliance. If you’re still working, or think you’d like to continue working, the vocational rehabilitation counselor is the person that can coordinat all of this for you and guide you through the process. If you’re not working or don’t plan to work, you still have options—each state has an Older Blind program to provide training to adults with an acquired vision loss.
And the best part of this is that nearly all of these services are available at no out-of-pocket cost. You’ve supported them through your tax dollars over the years and can now take advantage of it.
So, are you one of the 97% with a vision loss that is not getting services to help you maintain your independent life or continue your favorite daily living tasks? Now that you know about the vision rehab services available to you, what are you waiting for?