Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) Awareness Week will be observed this year April 9-15, 2017 the week of Anne Sullivan’s birthday, on April 14th. Anne Sullivan was an early vision rehabilitation pioneer who worked closely with Helen Keller, to develop the skills she later used as an international advocate for those with vision and hearing loss.
Vision Rehab Therapists are often the professionals teaching the skills needed to read again following a vision loss, so it is a fitting coincidence that VRT Awareness Week and National Library Week share the same dates this year! A professional VRT may work with clients using large print, optical hand magnifiers, electronic magnifiers, lighting, digital text on a computer or smart device, screen reading technology, and braille to read again. In addition, it is very often the local VRT who works with clients using the free Talking Books Program provided by the National Library Service.
The profession of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy most often requires a Master’s level education, and additional certification (CVRT) to meet professional standards. For well over a century VRTs have provided the primary rehabilitation skills training to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to reading skills, VRTs work with clients on a variety of adaptive daily living skills including: using low vision devices, reading, assistive technology (AT) in the home or workplace, leisure activities, and much more.
Clients are often older adults with an acquired vision loss from diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, or from an accident. Consumers may refer themselves through local state or nonprofit agencies. Often there is no out-of-pocket cost for VRT services. Interested persons can call The Iris Network at (207) 774-6273 or visit their website theiris.org