Over the years, I’ve heard clients say, “You people are the best kept secret.” When I’ve mentioned this to others in the profession, they inevitably smile, and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve had clients say that too.” Too me, it is rewarding and sad to hear clients say vision rehabilitation therapists (VRT’s) are the best kept secret because they provide the “road” to independence!
It’s rewarding to know the assessments and training conducted with a client makes a difference for them. Unfortunately, in many cases, individuals are not immediately referred to a VRT by their doctor. Often, people hear, “There’s nothing more we can do for you,” which means there is nothing more the medical professional can do. Individuals usually hear about VRTs through word of mouth, a support group, or their state agency serving people who are blind or low vision.
Although the vision rehabilitation therapist is the only rehabilitation professional to specialize in vision with a master’s degree and national certification, VRT’s usually work in rehabilitation rather than medical services. As a result, services provided by vision rehabilitation therapists are paid for through state and federal programs or grants rather than insurance or Medicare. In some instances, doctors may refer patients to an occupational therapist (OT), who can bill Medicare or insurance. It is worth noting that not all OT’s have a background in working with patients who are blind or low vision.
Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week
Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week honors Anne Sullivan’s work and helps spread the word about the “best kept secret.” Born April 14, 1866, and known for her work with Helen Keller, Sullivan was one of the pioneers in the vision rehabilitation profession. This year, VRT Appreciation Week is April 10-16, 2022.
VRTs work at a state or community agencies providing services for individuals who are blind or low vision. VRTs work with a team of professionals including orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists who provide travel training, vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRC’s) who provide employment skills training, low vision therapists, and more. Working with many professionals, VRT’s can refer you to other great resources in your community for adjusting to vision changes.
To find a vision rehabilitation therapist or other vision professional near you, call the APH ConnectCenter at 800-232-5463 or email [email protected]. You can also look up your state services in the VisionAware Directory of Services.
If you are adjusting to vision changes or want to learn more about blindness or low vision, check out the hundreds of free workshops available from Hadley. At Hadley, you can also connect by phone or email with a Learning Expert, who can answer questions about the workshops or direct you to other resources. Hadley’s Learning Experts include vision rehabilitation therapists and other vision rehabilitation professionals. Call Hadley at 800-323-4238 or email [email protected] for more information.
So, here’s to you, Anne Sullivan, and the vision rehabilitation therapists that have follow you. Spread the word about Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week (#VRTWeek), so VRTs are no longer the best secret when adjusting to a vision change!
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