The following is the transcript and links for the April, 2021 episode of the Vision Rehab Podcast.
Hello, and thanks for joining me today on the Vision Rehab Podcast.
This year Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week is the week of Aprill 11-17 in honor of Anne Sullivan’s birthday which was April 14, 1866. We remember Anne Sullivan as the teacher who worked with Helen Keller, training her in the skills she would need in her career as a world renown writer, lecturer, and human rights advocate.
The profession of today’s vision rehabilitation therapist grew out of the work of pioneering blindness professionals like Anne Sullivan. In Sullivan’s time, the vision rehab professional was called a Home Teacher, and these teachers worked with clients who were often blind, on skills related to daily living tasks and learning braille. While today’s vision rehabilitation therapist may still teach braille, their clients are more likely adults with reduced vision impacted by diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetes. Vision rehabilitation is now considered an integral part of the care provided for individuals with low vision. Dr. David W. Parke, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology said in the Academy’s recent educational video Low Vision:
Vision rehabilitation is now the standard of care for patients who are losing their vision. This is something that all of us as ophthalmologists should keep in mind every day in our offices.”
You can find the video on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website at www.aao.org.
The vision rehabilitation therapist (VRT) is unique among professionals providing vision rehab services. Unlike an occupational therapist, for example, the VRT is a specialist who often has a masters degree in vision rehabilitation, and a national certification—certified vision rehabilitation therapist, or CVRT. You’ll most likely find the vision rehab therapist working for a local or state agency for the visually impaired, since they are rehabilitation specialists. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to see one, and one of the easiest ways to find a VRT near you is to use the VisionAware directory of services at www.visionaware.org, or call the APH Connect Center at 800-232-5463.
Does a specialist in vision rehabilitation really make a difference? Consider the research that’s been done for over 30 years at the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University. Their research repeatedly documents more successful outcomes when blindness specialists are used in vocational rehabilitation for employment. You can check out all their research at www.blind.msstate.edu.
As Dr. Parke indicated, vision rehabilitation is now the standard of care for individuals with a vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses or contacts. Vision rehabilitation is not just for a severe vision loss—it can help even if you’re just having difficulty reading the paper or seeing the computer screen. And the best part is, that the specialist, the vision rehabilitation therapist, is often available at no out of pocket cost, or on a sliding scale based on income.
Here’s to you Anne Sullivan, and the Vision Rehabilitation Therapists that have followed in your footsteps! Happy Birthday!