October 8th, 2009 - Congressional Briefing on Gender Equity in Eye Care and Blindness Prevention

In commemoration of World Sight Day, Lighthouse International co-sponsored a Congressional Briefing on Gender Equity in Eye Care and Blindness Prevention. Lighthouse International partnered with Vision 2020/USA, Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, American Optometric Association, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, The Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, Eye Bank Association of America, Helen Keller International, International Eye Foundation, Optometry Giving Sight, Prevent Blindness America, Seva Foundation, VisionSpring, and Women’s Eye Health.  

September 22, 2009 - Congressional Briefing on Age-related Macular Degeneration Research

Lighthouse International co-sponsored a congressional briefing along with The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, the Congressional Vision Caucus, AMD Alliance International, the Association for Research in Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) and Prevent Blindness on new developments in Age-related Macular Degeneration research. The briefing was designed to educate members of Congress and staff on the importance of research funding and the progress being made in treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

July 2, 2009

Lighthouse International, Vision Serve Alliance and Envision, along with 180 member agencies from across the country sent letters to the Senate and House Committees that are working on healthcare reform, urging vision rehabilitation professionals to be included in healthcare reform.

Read a copy of the House letter, please click here.
Read a copy of the Senate letter, please click here.

May 2009

Lighthouse International, along with Vision Serve Alliance and Envision are spearheading a drive to include vision rehabilitation professionals as covered providers under healthcare reform. The coalition, which includes over 180 vision rehabilitation agencies throughout the country, has been actively pushing for the inclusion of Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists and Certified Low Vision Therapists in the new legislation.

Vision rehabilitation professionals teach people with visual impairments the best way to utilize remaining sight and senses. They help a person who is visually impaired travel safely in their neighborhood, live independently and avoid accidents caused by low or declining vision. Currently, Medicare coverage for vision rehabilitation professionals is limited to six sites nationwide under a five year Medicare Low Vision Demonstration Project, and private insurer coverage for vision rehabilitation services is just as sparse.

April 7, 2009

Lighthouse International joins the protest to keep the text-to-speech function for the Amazon Kindle 2. When Kindle, a popular e-book reader, introduced the text-to-speech feature on the Kindle 2, the new function promised for the first time to facilitate easy, mainstream access to more than 255,000 books for millions of people who are visually impaired in this country and abroad. However, Amazon, under pressure from the Author's Guild, announced that it would give authors and publishers a choice of disabling the text-to-speech function on their e-books available on the Kindle 2. According to Dr. Cynthia Stuen, PhD/ DSW, Senior Vice President, Policy and Evaluation at Lighthouse International, "Text-to-speech is a very important function for people who are visually impaired. It helps level the playing field. Removing this feature, even if selectively, would be a huge step backward. Our goal at Lighthouse International is to increase accessibility for people who are blind or partially sighted, not decrease it."

March 3rd, 2009

Lighthouse International joined Prevent Blindness America (PBA) for their Annual Eyes on Capitol Hill event in Washington D.C. The successful two-day event brought vision advocates from across the country together to lobby members of Congress on issues of importance to people with visual impairments, including increased funding for prevention efforts.

January 6, 2009

Lighthouse International submitted a document to President Obama’s transition team that outlined several important issues to people with visual impairments. The document will help to inform the new administration as they prepare their agenda for the next four years.

To read the letter and transition document please click here.

December 19th, 2008

Lighthouse International co-singed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee requesting that eye and vision care be fully recognized and included in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization legislation both committees will undertake next year.

To read the full House SCHIP letter please click here.
To read the full Senate SCHIP letter please click here.

December 12, 2008

Dr. Tara Cortes, CEO and President of Lighthouse International, voiced her opposition to the MTA's proposed fare hike for Access-A-Ride users. Access-A-Ride provides transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use public bus or subway service for some or all of their trips. It offers shared ride, door-to-door paratransit service.

In a letter to MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot Sander, Dr. Cortes writes, "While I understand the current economic crisis has created the need to raise revenue, the plan to increase Access-A-Ride fares by 100 percent is unjust and disproportionately impacts people who can least afford it." The letter "urges" the MTA to find alternative ways to close the budget gap and forego the Access-A-Ride fare increase. The Access-A-Ride letter in its entirety is here.

November 4th, 2008

The United States elected its 44th President: Barack Obama. Sworn in on January 20th, 2009, President Obama and his administration are now getting down to the business of running the country. But what could this change in our government mean for people with disabilities, and particularly people with visual impairments? Here is a compilation of a few important issues that President Obama discussed over the course of his campaign.

September 25, 2008

A representative from Lighthouse International testified at a New York City Council meeting that included a joint hearing of the Fire and Criminal Justice, Aging and Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse & Disability Services Committees. The hearing addressed the FDNY building evacuation protocols and procedures for people with special needs. Read the full testimony.

September 26, 2008

Lighthouse International testified at a New York City Council Government Operations Committee regarding the need to increase outreach efforts to inform voters with visual impairments about the availability of ballot marking devices in the 2008 General Election. Read the testimony to the Government Operations Committee

September 9, 2008

On September 9th, Lighthouse International sponsored a Congressional Briefing titled, "Diabetes and Vision Loss: A Crisis". Representatives from the Lighthouse, with co-sponsors,American Diabetes Association, Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, Prevent Blindness America, and the American Foundation for the Blind presented on vision loss being one of the often overlooked consequences of diabetes. Click here to read a full recap of the briefing.

May 19, 2008

Assembly member Jonathan Bing held a roundtable discussion on the New York State Assembly bill, A 8471, a bill that provides for the licensing of orientation and mobility specialists and vision rehabilitation therapists. The meeting was attended by Lighthouse International and other key stakeholders and organizations. Read Lighthouse International's position on licensure.

January 22, 2008

On January 22, 2008 NYC Councilmember Jimmy Vacca visited the Lighthouse headquarters in Manhattan. As Chairman of the Senior Centers Subcommittee, Vacca has been an enthusiastic supporter of fighting for seniors with vision loss and raising awareness for the Medicare Low-Vision Demonstration Project. Through the help of Vacca's advocacy, Lighthouse has been able to demonstrate the gravity of vision loss, along with the benefits of the visual rehabilitation programs covered by Medicare through the Demonstration Project, to residents of Senior Centers who are most at risk for developing vision impairments.

September 20, 2007

The United States Government released the design for the new $5 bill. The bill, which will be released into circulation in early 2008, includes a feature meant to make the bill more distinguishable to individuals with visual impairments: on the back of the bill, in the lower right corner, the numeral "5" will be enlarged and printed in a high-contrast purple ink.

September 2007

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced expansions of coverage for the Medicare Low-Vision Rehabilitation Demonstration Project.

The Demonstration Project is extending service area in the New York City and Atlanta Metropolitan areas. Residents of 8 more New York counties (Westchester, Nassau, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange Sullivan, Ulster, and Suffolk) will now be eligible for services, in addition to New York City residents who were currently entitled to participate. Additionally, CMS revised a rule to increase the number of hours of services a patient may receive from a maximum of 9 hours to 12 hours per calendar year.

For the past year and a half, Lighthouse International has been advocating for these programmatic changes to improve the services provided to older individuals through the Low-Vision Rehabilitation Demonstration Project.

September 25, 2007

Dr. Tara Cortes, CEO and President of Lighthouse International, testified before a joint New York State Assembly committee hearing on Governor Spitzer's proposed Office for the Blind. The hearing was convened by the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, Assembly Committee on Health, Assembly Committee on Children and Families, Assembly Committee on Education.

July 31, 2007

New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum visited the Lighthouse today to take a tour of the facilities and to view firsthand the exceptional services provided by our staff. Public Advocate Gotbaum has offered the support of her office to help promote the Medicare Low-Vision Rehabilitation Demonstration Project to eligible New York seniors.

July 18, 2007

Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Dr. Tara Cortes, CEO and President of Lighthouse International, as a Member of the Executive Board of the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. Dr. Cortes will serve on the Executive Board for a three year term. It is the responsibility of the Executive Board to review the state-provided services and programs for blind and visually impaired individuals, identify any problems and recommend improvements to Director in order to improve the quality of the services.



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