VisionAware Provides Wealth of Resources
by Anne Yeadon and Maureen Duffy
Are You “AWARE”?
Today, loss of sight doesn’t mean losing sight of life’s pleasures and ambitions. If you’re a veteran who is blind or has low vision, there is a wealth of vision rehabilitation resources you can access (at no or very low cost). Please check out www.VisionAWARE.org
VisionAware is a “Self-Help for Vision Loss” website that includes regular newsletters, interviews, and questions/answers on a wide range of vision rehabilitation topics, including eye diseases and disorders, home management, home modification, reading and writing, personal care and grooming, recreational activities, crafts, Braille, computers and technology, and a range of services and resources.
The site demonstrates how the totally blind and partially sighted can surf the web, communicate via email, read electronic books, and access daily newspapers independently through the use of computers equipped with specialized hardware and software that provide speech capability and screen magnification.
If you want to learn about more vision rehabilitation skills independently, as many people do, there is a wealth of additional vision rehabilitation self-help and self-study options for you.
CIL Publications and Audiobooks (http://visionsvcb.org/cil_publications.html)
offers self-study audiotapes and audiobooks. Subjects include indoor mobility, personal management, and sensory development. The E.A.R.S. for EYES Program(http://www.earsforeyes.org)
provides free self-study audiotapes that teach adaptive daily living skills, including kitchen techniques, eating skills, indoor mobility, and personal grooming. The Hadley School for the Blind(http://www.hadley.edu)
offers distance education courses at the high school level, GED preparation, Braille and communication skills, independent living, recreation and leisure, and assistive technology.
The VisionAWARE Bookstore (http://www.visionaware.org/books-low-vision-blind-vision-loss-vision-impairment)
contains descriptions of, and links to, publications on blindness and low vision, including biographies and autobiographies of people who have successfully coped with vision loss. The VisionAWARE "My Story" (http://www.visionaware.org/my-storyinterviews) series
provides real-life interviews with men and women who are blind or have low vision.
Vision Rehabilitation Services
The field of “Vision Rehabilitation” includes a wide range of professional services that can restore everyday functioning after vision loss. Services of specially trained personnel include Low Vision Therapists (LVTs) who teach the use of low-vision optical devices, non-optical devices, and assistive technology, and can help determine the need for environmental modifications
) in your home or workplace.
They also include Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) who teach adaptive independent living skills
) such as home management, home mechanics, financial management, reading and writing, assistive technology, and personal grooming.
Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&Ms) teach the skills and concepts needed in order to travel independently and safely in your home and community
) such as the use of human guides, mobility canes, and electronic travel aids and devices.
Another prime resource for veterans is, of course, VA Blind Rehabilitation Service (http://www.visionaware.org/US-vets
). The mission of BRS is to coordinate a health care service delivery system that provides a continuum of care for blinded veterans extending from their home environment to the local VA facility and to the appropriate rehabilitation setting. These services include adjustment to blindness counseling, patient and family education, benefits analysis, comprehensive inpatient training, outpatient rehabilitation services, the provision of assistive technology, and research.
BRS programs are of particular importance when considering the numbers of blinded and low-vision veterans throughout the country that remain unaware of the services available to them. VA estimates 165,000 blinded veterans and more than a million with low vision. Fewer than 45,000 of these men and women have enrolled for VA care.
Employment with Blindness or Low Vision
You can learn more about employment resources and information, legal rights, workplace assistive technology, and employment support groups at a page on the VisionAware site entitled Employment and Workplace Adaptations for Adults Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
For more information on self-help options, locating vision rehabilitation specialists, vision rehabilitation services
), adaptive devices and products for independent living
), and a wide range of other activities, click on www.VisionAWARE.org
Anne Yeadon is the Executive Director and Maureen Duffy is the Editorial Director of VisionAware. For actual web-based links to the aforementioned bolded resources, refer to the online version of this article at www.bva.org/