Vision Rehab Therapist Appreciation Week

Transcript for the Vision Rehab Podcast: Vision Rehab Therapist Appreciation Week

Hello, and thank you for joining me today on the Vision Rehab Podcast.

Next week is Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week. The week of April 14 is chosen each year because that’s the birthday of Anne Sullivan, on April 14, 1866, one of the pioneers of vision rehabilitation, and who we know as Helen Keller’s home teacher.

Like Anne Sullivan’s work over 130 years ago VRTs and Rehab Teachers today work with clients who have a vision loss, whether it’s blindness from birth or a vision loss they got later in life from something like diabetes or macular degeneration.

When Sullivan first `began teaching, in the late 1800s Vision Rehab Therapists were called Home Teachers. Later, they were called Rehab Teachers and more recently Vision Rehab Therapists, or VRTs for short. VRTs are not part of the medical profession—that is to say you’ll find them instead in the social services field, usually working for state or community agencies. VRTs are highly trained, usually with a Masters Degree in rehabilitation and a national certification for Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.

Because they often work for state or local nonprofit agencies, you’ll find that their services are often in pretty high demand and that there’s often no out of pocket cost to you, or services are available on a sliding scale.

It is also entirely possible that your eye doctor will not mention these services because they are usually outside the doctor’s practice. You don’t need a referral from your doctor for a vision rehabilitation therapist, you can simply get connected yourself. The best way to find a VRT locally is through your State’s Department of Education or Department of Labor. If you’re a computer user, just check out the Directory of Services at VisionAware.org/Directory, That’s where you can look up services by state.

Like Anne Sullivan, many vision rehabilitation therapists  have a vision impairment themselves , so you’ll find that in addition to their extensive training, they’re personally familiar with the impact a vision loss can have on your life.

It might be difficult for someone with a vision loss acquired later in life to reach out for the skills training that can really help them maintain the independent lifestyle they’re accustomed to. In fact, It might be even more difficult if the service is provided by an agency that also works with folks who are blind or visually impaired. There is a lot of fear around blindness that might prevent us from taking that next important step. Unless we have a friend or family member with a vision loss there’s a really good chance we’re not really  aware of the many adaptive skills or technologies we can use to keep doing the things we’ve always  enjoyed doing at home or at work.

What can you expect to learn when you work with a vision rehab therapist? VRTs work with clients most often in the client’s home or workplaces on skills like reading, using the computer and phone with a vision loss, everyday tasks like home maintenance, cooking, crafts, leisure activities, and adjusting to a vision loss. They can help you get some extra training, connect you to a local support group and provide you with resources you didn’t even know existed.

If you’re experiencing a vision loss, take the first step this week, during vision rehabilitation therapist appreciation week. If you’re having trouble finding a VRT near you, you can always call the APH ConnectCenter at 800-232-5463 to get help locating a vision rehab therapist or other resources for a recent vision loss.

Here’s to you Anne Sullivan and all the other VRTs this week as we celebrate Vision rehabilitation therapist appreciation week.

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 lowvisiontech.com. I look forward to seeing you again on the next episode of the Vision Rehab Podcast. Have a wonderful day!

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