Of Note

Pittsburgh Study Shows Improved Access

MyVA Access, a VA program implemented in 2015 to improve veterans’ access to care, has received high marks from a recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU).

The study, performed with VA’s cooperation, concluded that MyVA Access had established sustainable solutions within VA facilities to improve veterans’ access to care.

““VA has done a remarkable job of improving veteran care access across the system, especially for urgent care, in a relatively short period of time,” said Dr. Janice Pringle, co-principal investigator at the School of Pharmacy.

The project evaluated the outcomes associated with the first year of VA’s MyVA Access program as compared with those of the prior year. Two fundamental questions were examined: 1) Has veterans’ access to urgent care improved as intended? 2) Is the strategy of prioritizing urgent care appointments the better course of action? The study determined that the answer to both questions was a definite yes.

Data for the study was collected from 140 VA health facilities across the country. Researchers made several recommendations for how VA can better institutionalize the MyVA Access program.

Justice Department Revises Audio Description Rules

The Justice Department announced late last year an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III regulation to further clarify a public accommodation’s obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities.

The final rule provides that public accommodations which own, operate, or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features. It requires theaters to have available and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description so that it is delivered to a movie patron’s seat and available only to that patron.

Although the Justice Department has long held the position that captioning and audio description are auxiliary aids required by the ADA, the announcement said, numerous reports from the disability community have indicated that neither closed movie captioning nor audio description has been universally available at movie theaters across the United States.

For more information about the rule or the ADA, please visit the Department’s ADA website or call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301. Once the final rules are published in the Federal Register, a copy will be available on the Federal Register’s website.

Steve Baskis To Address Military Vision Symposium

Blinded veteran Steve Baskis, a member of the Illinois Regional Group and BVA’s Operation Peer Support Committee, will be a guest speaker at the 6th Military Vision Symposium on Ocular and Vision Injury March 30-31. Steve will be among the speakers who open the symposium during the first of the two days at the Starr Center at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston.

Steve was among the youngest Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans to be severely wounded. He was blinded in 2008 at age 21 when, only eight months into his deployment, his squad was attacked while on combat patrol and a sophisticated roadside bomb sent a projectile through his thickly armored vehicle, killing his friend and leaving him with multiple orthopedic injuries, facial fractures, Traumatic Brain Injury, and penetrating eye injuries.

Since his recovery Steve has, among many other things, attended the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines, climbed five of the world’s highest mountains on five continents, assisted in two international humanitarian projects, and progressed with a college education. He is currently training to one day become a part of the U.S. National Paralympic Biathlon Ski and Rifle Shooting Team.

The symposium will feature lectures, interactive panel discussions, poster sessions, and keynote speakers that present original research on the unique challenges of treating eye injuries from explosive devices. It will discuss the public health aspects of eye injuries and the physics, consequences, rehabilitation, and restoration of blast injuries, including the medical response at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Discussions will also emphasize the need for thorough data collection and the development and use of appropriate analysis programs as preparedness for various types of incidents such as bombings and natural disasters. Other meetings will facilitate collaboration between military experts, vision researchers, and ophthalmologists.

Business Owners Sought

BVA National Headquarters is searching for blinded veterans who are owners of small businesses to connect them with one another and to highlight their stories and accomplishments through a variety of media.

“We hope to find examples of successful businesses so that other veterans become interested in starting their own enterprises,” said Project Manager Christina Hitchcock. “Additionally, we would also like to maintain a list of businesses so that we can facilitate a connection when we are contacted by individuals or companies seeking service from veteran-owned and veteran-operated companies.”

No business is too big or too small to be included on the list, according to Christina. Please call her at 202-371-8880, Ext. 303, or send a message to chitchcock@bva.org.

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