Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

March is Social Work Month: The Importance of Social Work to Vision Rehabilitation

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

During March, Social Work Month 2023, we salute and thank social workers for their services and stress their importance to the rehabilitation of people with vision loss. The 2023 theme, “social work breaks barriers,” is a perfect summation of this. An article from the American Optometric Association (AOA) summarizes core social work services as they relate to rehabilitation. Their sample list includes food assistance, resources for those who no longer have a driver’s license, medication management and assistance programs, help with disability advocacy, mental health resources, resolving transportation to medical appointments, and more. Social workers have also been recognized for their role in addressing mental health issues that can emerge among older adults and others experiencing vision loss, according to many sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recognizing this potential issue, AOA recommends doctors use screening questions to assess whether to involve a social worker, including asking the patient about this step directly. An article on blindness and visual impairment from the Encyclopedia of Social Work describes the services social workers can offer people with vision loss from the perspective of that profession and gives potential clients a notion of what to expect from them. Reinforcing the theme that “social work breaks barriers,” the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recently recognized their importance to people with vision loss by bestowing their National Lifetime Achievement Award to Nancy D. Miller, LMSW, Executive Director and CEO of VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New York. NASW CEO Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, reflecting on the impact of social work on the lives with those of vision loss, stated that “‘Ms. Miller has devoted her career to helping a community that is often marginalized and underserved in creative and resourceful ways. She has shown how the social work profession can help individuals and families surmount challenges and reach their full potential and help our society be a better place for all, including people who are blind or visually impaired.’” Let us, once again, thank all social workers for the assistance they provide to individuals with vision loss.