For more information contact either Roxann Mayros, CEO, VisionServe Alliance, 314-961-8235 rmayros@agenciesfortheblind.org; Cynthia Stuen, SVP, Lighthouse International, 212-821-9484  cstuen@lighthouse.org

July 2, 2009

The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
Chairman
Committee on Health, Education
Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
428 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Michael B. Enzi
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Health, Education
Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
835 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi:

We the undersigned are writing to urge you to expand the covered healthcare workforce under healthcare reform to include the certified vision rehabilitation specialists:  Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Certified Low Vision Therapists, along with Occupational Therapists.   We can ensure people with visual impairments have adequate access to rehabilitation services by including Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Certified Low Vision Therapists and  Occupational Therapists as part of the defined health professionals, under Title IV (p421), Health Care Workforce in the Affordable Health Choices Act or in any final health-care reform bill. 

People with severe vision loss caused by macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts must learn new skills to remain independent in their homes, workplace and community.  One quarter of all falls have been attributed to some form of visual impairment.  Vision rehabilitation professionals and Occupational Therapists provide highly specialized vision rehabilitation services that help people, particularly aging adults, learn to live safely and independently despite their vision loss.  Such services prevent accidents, reduce falls and fractures, and help people learn new techniques for independent travel, food preparation, health management, and information access that improve overall health and prevent injuries that would require more costly and intensive rehabilitation services.  Vision professionals and Occupational Therapists contribute significantly to the well being of people with visual impairments while reducing long term healthcare costs.

On behalf of people with severe visual impairments, we urge you to include Occupational Therapists, Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Certified Low Vision Therapists in your health reform covered workforce. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,   (Alpha listing)                                                      Page 2/4, 12/28/2009

American Academy of Ophthalmology, Washington D.C.
American Occupational Therapy Association, Washington, DC
American Society on Aging
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill, Rochester, NY
American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY
Associated Industries for the Blind, Milwaukee, WI
Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Grand Rapids, MI
Association for the Blind, Charleston, SC
Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, PA
Center for the Visually Impaired, Atlanta, GA
Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, IL
Community Service for the Blind and Partially Sighted, Seattle, WA
Delaware Association for the Blind, Wilmington, DE
Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind, Duluth, MN
Ensight Skills Center, Fort Collins, CO
Envision, Wichita, KS
Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind, National Headquarters
Center for the Visually Impaired, Daytona Beach, FL
Florida Center for the Blind, Ocala, FL
Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind, Daytona Beach, FL
Independence for the Blind,  Pensacola, FL
Independent Living for Adult Blind, Jacksonville, FL
Lighthouse Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Port Richey, FL
Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Brooksville, FL
Lighthouse of Broward, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Lighthouse of Manasota, Sarasota, FL
Lighthouse of Pinellas, Largo, FL
Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Tallahassee, FL
Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Miami, FL
Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, Tampa, FL
Visually Impaired Persons Center, North Fort Myers, FL
Visually Impaired Persons of Charlotte County, Port Charlotte, FL
Friedman Place, Chicago, IL
Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Detroit, MI
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Smithtown, NY
Industries of the Blind, Greensboro, NC
In-Sight, Warwick, RI
Lighthouse for the Blind, St. Louis, MO
Lighthouse International, New York, NY
Lions Blind Center of Oakland, CA
Lions World Services for the Blind, Little Rock, AR
Metrolina Association for the Blind, Charlotte, NC
Page 3/4, 12/28/2009
Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, MD
New Hampshire for the Blind, Concord, NH                                   
Overbrook School for the Blind, Philadelphia, PA
Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, Mechanicsburg, PA
Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired of Lehigh County. PA
Berks County Association for the Blind, PA
Blair County Association for the Blind & Visually Handicapped, PA
Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh (BVRS), PA
Bucks County Association for the Blind, PA
Butler County Association for the Blind, PA
Cambria County Association for the Blind & Handicapped, PA
Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI), PA
Central Susquehanna Sight Services, PA
Chester County Association for the Blind, PA
Fayette County Association for the Blind, PA
Forsight Vision, PA
Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind, PA
Hazleton Blind Association, PA
Indiana County Blind Association, PA
Juniata Association for the Blind, PA
Keystone Blind Association, PA
Lackawanna Branch, Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, PA
Lawrence County Association for the Blind, PA
Montgomery County Association for the Blind, PA
North Central Sight Services, PA
South Central Blind Association, PA
Susquehanna Association for the Blind & Vision Impaired, PA
Tri-County Association for the Blind, PA
Venango County Association for the Blind, PA
VIABL Services of Northampton County, PA
Vision and Blindness Resources (VBR) - Erie Center, PA
Washington-Greene Association for the Blind, PA
Westmoreland County Blind Association, PA
Prevent Blindness America, National Headquarters, Chicago, IL
San Diego Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired, San Diego, CA
Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, San Jose, CA
Sensory Access Foundation, Sunnyvale, CA
Sight Center of Northwest Ohio, Toledo, OH
Spectrios Institute for Low Vision, Wheaton, IL
St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, St. Louis, MO
United States Association for Blind Athletes, Colorado Springs, CO
Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Burlington, VT
VisionServe Alliance, National Headquarters, St. Louis, MO
Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY
Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Winston-Salem, NC

                                                                                                Page 4/4, 12/28/2009

cc: The Honorable Christopher J. Dod - The Honorable Judd Gregg
The Honorable Tom Harkin - The Honorable Lamar Alexander 
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski - The Honorable Richard Burr
The Honorable Jeff Bingaman - The Honorable Johnny Isakson
The Honorable Patty Murray - The Honorable John McCain
The Honorable Jack Reed - The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
The Honorable Bernard Sanders - The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
The Honorable Sherrod Brown - The Honorable Tom Coburn
The Honorable Robert P. Casey - The Honorable Pat Roberts
The Honorable Kay R. Hagan
The Honorable Jeff Merkley                            

 

 

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