Last week’s blog post was titled Doctors and Denial, because the first years of vision loss often contain a lot of both for anyone who is losing sight. But eye doctors often join in the denial! Medical professionals in eye department frequently know little about and do not inform patients about practical training using sound and touch as well as sight. A study conducted in Canada found professionals in eye departments and clinics often presented a significant barrier to patients getting information about such training.
Eye doctors may suggest an appointment in the Low Vision or Vision Rehab Department of the hospital or eye center, and this is a good idea. You will find out about specialized lenses, video magnifiers and telescopes. These can be excellent tools, but some hospitals and low vision centers permit the professional to benefit from the sales that he or she makes, and you will want to find the best price,, who might assist in paying for it and for how long the equipment will work for you before you take a decision. For instance if you now qualify as legally blind your state will offer you services which may include purchase of low vision equipment.
In fact, vision rehab is a wide field and is staffed by therapist and teachers in three major areas:
Getting around independently and safely. This is called orientation and mobility and includes
ensuring that your home is free from hazards, such as steps without railings
training in using stairs and steps efficiently
walking on streets and using transportation
using public assistance, going to appointments, stores and restaurants
and much more
Activities of daily living. This is sometimes called personal management and the training includes
handling cash, phone and timepieces
clothes care and grooming
grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning
spoken communication to retain full adult status
and much more
Computer skills. This is called communication skills, and the training includes:
making appointments and notes
use of smart phones with speech and magnification
use of apps
learning braille and other ways of reading
lap tops and desk top computers with screen reading software
using social media including email, Facebook, and twitter
and much more
This full training may be offered in a residential program from a private agency, such as the Carroll Center for the Blind where I teach, or parts of it may be offered at home, or in a day program by teachers from the Commission for the Blind in your state. Services vary widely from state to state. Here is a list of agencies for people with vision loss
As with eye doctors (check last week’s post) it is vital to investigate all vision rehab training that you are offered. Speak to people who have done training with the various organizations, ask how much training your commission for the blind will pay for, etc. You and your family have to become advocates; well informed, polite and persistent to ensure you get the most and best training available.
Last and most important during and after your training, you have to take it back home, and gradually alter and finally transform the way you manage your life and your home. It is to help with this purpose that I began Vision Loss and Personal Recovery .