Help Us Strengthen Specialized Services for People with Vision Loss
Vision loss is a growing health concern in the United States. There are currently over 21 million Americans living with vision loss, and that number is on the rise. Because of medical advancements, children born prematurely or with multiple disabilities are surviving in greater numbers, and many are blind or visually impaired. People are also living longer than ever before, and developing conditions such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. In your lifetime, it is very likely that you or someone you love will become blind or severely visually impaired.
Even with a population this large, we remain a "seeing" society, with few allowances made for the unique needs of people who cannot see well or at all. Myths and stereotypes abound when people think about blindness. It is one of the most feared and misunderstood disabilities.
What does it mean to be blind or to experience vision loss? If you're like most people, you can't imagine how you would function in daily life if you lost your sight. You would learn very quickly that most information is perceived visually. Imagine all the things you are used to doing every day—preparing for work in the morning, reading the newspaper, riding the train or bus—then imagine doing them without being able to see. Or imagine being a parent of a child who is blind—how would you teach your child the skills he or she would need to grow to be a productive adult?
Coping with vision loss can feel overwhelming at first, but when armed with the right knowledge and skills, people with vision problems can face the future with confidence. People with vision loss learn necessary and life-changing skills thanks to specialized services that teach them the ways to maximize their fullest potential. These are designed to help people who are blind or visually impaired seek employment, attain a proper education, and assist older adults with the adjustment to life with vision loss. Such services include teaching individuals:
- How to use both assistive as well as mainstream technology at home, at school, or in the workplace
- How to use non-visual techniques and assistive devices to maintain independence, read and write braille, and move about safely with a white cane or dog guide
- How to secure employment
These skills are best taught by vision professionals who are trained to teach people to adapt to the challenges posed by blindness or visual impairment. With the assistance of trained vision professionals, people who are blind or visually impaired learn effective solutions to the challenges brought about by vision loss. Specific skills must be taught and practiced frequently—whether it's using a long white cane correctly or reading and writing braille.
Be an advocate! For people who lose their vision, specialized services are the key to regaining independence. Remember, blindness can affect every one of us. If you are the parent of a blind child, or the family member of an older person who is losing their sight, you want your loved one to lead a life of independence, productivity, and dignity. Specialized services are an important step toward that life.
- Learn more about:
- Use AFB's Directory of Services to find local providers of services for people who are blind or visually impaired
- Sign up for AFB's DirectConnect newsletter to stay informed about public policy issues relating to blindness