Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners Bulletin, September 18, 2023

September is CVI Awareness Month

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern One reason why it is important to mark September as CVI Awareness Month is to call attention to the fact that Cortical or Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) is the leading cause of visual impairment in children in the United States. CVI results from damage to the pathways of the brain that process visual information from the eyes. It is most common in babies and young children, but can also continue into adulthood. A child with CVI has difficulties seeing that cannot be explained by an eye problem. In some cases, vision improves over time, although everyone is different. Children may have trouble with tasks like responding to what they see, recognizing faces or moving objects, or reaching for something as they look at it. “There are critical differences between ocular visual impairment and brain based visual impairment,” says Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D., Director of the Pediatric VIEW (Vision Information and Evaluation at West Penn Hospital) Program in Pittsburgh, and a CVI project leader for the American Printing House for the Blind. She adds that although visual acuity and other measures may appear normal, children with CVI may see the world as a place where things blend into a backdrop of white noise. If a child exhibits signs of vision difficulties, the first step is to get a comprehensive eye exam to determine whether the problem is with their eyes. If the exam does not find eye problems explaining the symptoms, the problem might be in the brain. For diagnosis, the child will need to visit an eye doctor who is familiar with CVI. Although there is no cure, vision rehabilitation can help people with CVI to make best use of their vision. A number of resources are available to raise awareness by recognizing and participating in CVI Awareness Month. The CVI Now webpage from The Perkins School for the Blind includes videos, informative articles, tangible steps to take after diagnosis, and much more. Paths to Literacy provides strategies for literacy activities and modifications that can benefit children with CVI on their webpage announcing that September is CVI Awareness Month! For additional resources and information, visit the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) webpage on CVI. And check out a video with Dr. Roman-Lantzy, providing a CVI Overview on the West Virginia Department of Education website. Read Full Bulletin Here [...]

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Falls Prevention Week: Protecting Vision to Prevent Accidents

Today marks the beginning of this year’s commemoration of Falls Prevention Week, which goes from September 18 to 22, 2023. This nationwide observance brings together state coalitions and partners to increase awareness on “preventing falls, reducing the risk of falls, and helping older adults live without the fear of falling.” The 16th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week focuses on the theme “From Awareness to Action.” One in four Americans ages 65 and older experience a fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls are the leading cause of injury for people ages 65 and older, threatening safety and independence and generating enormous economic and personal costs. Older adults with vision loss have been reported to be twice as likely to report falls than those without vision loss. Risk factors include loss of visual acuity, visual field, contrast sensitivity (the ability to differentiate between light and dark) glare, balance issues, lack of mobility skills, and co-morbidities, to name a few. Through “practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among older adults can be substantially reduced.” For people with vision loss, Audrey Demmitt, RN and VisionAware peer advisor, suggests developing a “fall prevention plan,” which can include: – Making modifications in your home to reduce and minimize fall hazards. Reduce clutter, maximize lighting and contrast, and reorganize; – Increasing lighting in hallways, stairways, and outdoor walkways. Place nightlights in hallways, bedroom, and bathroom; and – Considering orientation and mobility instruction and using a mobility cane. The CDC offers additional recommendations to prevent falls, such as: – Doing exercises to improve strength and balance; – Wearing sturdy, nonslip footwear to help with balance and mobility and to reduce ankle injuries; – Removing throw rugs or using double-sided tape to prevent them from slipping; and – Installing handrails on stairs and grab bars in the bathroom and shower. For additional information about this week’s commemoration, check out the National Council on Aging (NCOA) Falls Prevention Awareness Week Toolkit. Learn more here from the CDC on Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls. And read the APH Connect Center piece here on Low Vision and Fall Prevention. The article includes a recording of a webinar on low vision and falls. Read Full Bulletin Here [...]

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Hispanic Heritage Month

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern During National Hispanic Heritage Month each year from September 15th to October 15th, Americans celebrate the history and culture of those whose forebears came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. September 15th is a date that is significant because it marks the anniversary of independence for several Latin American nations, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, September 16th and September 18th mark the independence days of Mexico and Chile, respectively. The observance of Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted into law in 1988. Hispanic Heritage Month “reminds us that the American identity is a fabric of diverse traditions and stories woven together.” In marking the observance, the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is reaching out to Hispanic people, especially individuals who are at higher risk for eye diseases. NEI affirms that it is time to “celebrar tus bellos ojos” (celebrate your beautiful eyes). People of Hispanic origin are at higher risk for some eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. NEI also highlights the “diverse experiences of Hispanic eye professionals.” Through the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) materials and resources are available to connect to ensure that “Hispanic communities have the information they need to protect their eye health.” NEHEP offers a variety of resources in English and Spanish, including handout articles, fact sheets, infographics, videos, and more. Find out more by visiting the NEI webpage on Hispanic Heritage Month. Read more from and from the United States Census Bureau webpage on National Hispanic Heritage Month: September 15 to October 15, 2023. For additional details from the NEI, read their webpage on Hispanic Heritage Month. [...]

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Virtual Events of Note

As we approach the fall season and full back-to-school and work schedules, a number of webinars are being held on various topics related to vision, disability awareness, and the blind and visually impaired community. Following are listings for a few coming up soon.

Webinar on Children’s Vision and Eye Health in Community Health Centers, September 20, 2023

“Vision disorders are the fourth most common disability in children in the U.S.,” according to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH) of Prevent Blindness. If not identified and treated early, uncorrected vision problems can impact developmental milestones, behavior, and performance in school. For almost nine million children in the nation, Community Health Centers are the source of primary medical care. On September 20, 2023 from 2 to 3:15 pm Eastern Time, the first webinar in a two-part series will be held on “Children’s Vision and Eye Health in Community Centers.” Prevent Blindness, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and the School-Based Health Alliance are convening this program to discuss common vision disorders in young children, best practices for vision screening and assessment by primary care providers (PCPs), and strategies for making referrals for eye care. Presenters include: Stacy Lyons, OD, FAAO, pediatric optometrist and chair of the NCCVEH Advisory Committee; Phoebe Lenhart, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist and Advisory Committee member: Hannah Wakefield, MD, MPH, FAAP, pediatrician in a Community Health Center; and Kay Nottingham Chaplin, EdD, education and outreach coordinator for Prevent Blindness. Read more here about Eyes on Access: Children’s Vision and Eye Health in Community Health Centers. And register here for Part One of the webinar series. [...]

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“Tools to Help Advance DEIA in Your Agency:” A Webinar on September 21, 2023

The IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Leadership) committee of VisionServe Alliance strives to help to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in “meaningful and sustainable ways.” Toward this goal, on September 21, 2023 at 3 pm ET, six leaders in the blind and visually impaired (BVI) field will share how they have implemented DEIA efforts to foster the values and practice of inclusion in the daily work of their organizations. This event is open to the public. VSA welcomes participation by those who have been involved in inclusion for a long time as well as individuals who are newer to the work or even not sure how to begin. For more information about the webinar and to register for the zoom event, visit the webpage on Tools to Help Advance DEIA in Your Agency. [...]

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Upcoming Online Events on Disability Awareness

On September 19, 2023, from 8 to 9:30 pm ET, a “Disability Awareness in STEM Virtual Panel Discussion” will cover the experiences, research, and advocacy as well as accomplishments and obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The program is sponsored by WiSER (Women in Science, Engineering, and Research). For additional information and to register, visit the eventbrite webpage  here about the Disability Awareness in STEM Virtual Panel Discussion. On September 26, 2023, from 10 to 11:30 ET, “Expanding Disability Awareness in Your Workplace” will be addressed during a training conducted through the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (AAWDC) together with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) in the Anne Arundel County Career Centers. The session is part of a series of training on expanding a workforce “untapped talent.” Learn more and register on the eventbrite website here for Expanding Disability Awareness in Your Workplace.   [...]

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New Resource Highlights the Positive Impacts of Disability Inclusion on Business

“Smart employers everywhere–including state and local governments–are learning that organizations that are inclusive of people with disabilities benefit from a wider pool of talent, skills, and creative business solutions.” Affirming this message, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), collaborating with the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), has released a new resource on the positive impacts of disability inclusion on business. This resource, a fact sheet, provides practical guidance and research-based insights that demonstrate to employers the many ways that recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing workers with disabilities is good for the nation and for business. The factsheet covers important impacts on business. These include such advantages as bottom line benefits, the growing market segment represented by people with disabilities, financial incentives, reduced turnover, a solution for bridging the talent gap, and improved morale. It cites specific studies documenting the benefits of disability inclusion. For example, a report entitled, “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage” showed that companies that “excelled in disability inclusion experienced, on average: 28 percent higher revenue and 30 percent better performance on economic profit margins. To learn more, read the fact sheet about disability employment resources, data, and practical strategies that can benefit employers and employees with disabilities. Read or download the fact sheet here on the EARN webpage describing Business Benefits: The Positive Impact of Disability Inclusion. [...]

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