Vision Rehabilitation Services
The ideal center offers comprehensive programs with teams of occupational therapists trained in visual rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation counselors, vision rehabilitation therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, psychologists, assistive technology computer specialists, and other professionals as needs dictate.
Such teams can be found in some university centers and large private clinics. Rehabilitation services may also be provided by local charitable organizations. All state governments in the United States fund an agency to coordinate the visual rehabilitation of its visually impaired citizens. They take care of most of the rehabilitative efforts, either directly or through subcontractors. Called either “Rehabilitation Services for the Blind” or “Commissions for the Blind,” these organizations can be found listed by state in the Resources section of this website.
In cases where a person might not meet the eligibility requirements of the state blindness agency, but the person’s employment is being adversely affected, they can go for help to the state’s vocational rehabilitation agency.
Paying for Low Vision Rehabilitation
How does one get help, and how is it paid for? The referral mechanism differs slightly with each state, but generally, a referral can be requested by any individual, family, friend, eye care professional, rehabilitation specialist, or social worker.
State statutes specify the minimum levels of vision loss for entry into the program, but there is also some flexibility in the acceptance standards. A doctor must provide documentation of the best-corrected visual acuity and/or the visual field in each of the patient’s eyes.
State agencies will usually cover the costs of rehabilitation for people who are registered. Those who are not qualified for government assistance might expect to pay their own expenses.
Government agencies do the best they can with the limited funds available, and private or non-profit organizations help to fill the gap. The task, however, is much larger than current budgets and resources allow.