By Edgar Facemyer, Chair
To start off, the membership of The Low-Vision Committee has changed. As of the beginning of 2015 we have lost three members and gained one. Currently, there are five of us, down from seven. We are fortunate to have John Horst as our monitor, and frequent visits from President Tony Swartz as well. If there is any PCB member out there who would like to serve with us, contact me, the chair of the Low Vision Committee at 610-647-3365 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
During our first two meetings of the year, we have been choosing goals for us to achieve. One initiative we have decided to undertake is to plan and hold a statewide telephone conference for members and guests, which will be a platform for discussion on the uniqueness of what is referred to as “low vision.”
We have all heard about the wonderful work of low-vision specialists and the progress being made in the area of low-vision aids and devices that allow persons to maximize their remaining vision. We have all heard about the medical breakthroughs that have helped many persons gain lost vision. We all know about the fantastic vision rehabilitation services that enable persons with low vision to function more independently and with greater self-confidence.
We have come to the conclusion, however, that there is an elephant in the room. Even those of us who belong to PCB and have been living with low vision for a long time have sometimes struggled. But what about the large number of persons with low vision, who may not have had the opportunity to talk about sight loss with anyone and who have no idea where to turn? We think one effective way to reach out to this segment of the public is to develop a presentation covering some of these topics, which many of us may be reluctant to talk about.
In brief, here are some of the concepts that we think will promote honest and productive discussion.
- Awkwardness in social situations, because family and friends don’t know how much you can or cannot see.
- Trying to pass yourself off as having no or little sight loss, when in reality there is a significant decrease in vision.
- Trying to use remaining vision to perform tasks, when that level of vision is no longer sufficient.
- Dealing with confusion and the uncertainty caused by fluctuating vision.
- Feelings of reluctance to learn to use alternative techniques and devices such as magnifiers and mobility aids.
Although these topics may seem negative in nature, we believe that frankly talking about them will bring positive results when a group of persons with low vision get together with the elephant in the room. That is why we want to develop a presentation in the form of a telephone conference call, publicize it, and see what interest level will be generated among our members and any guests who wish to participate.
Along with The American Council of the Blind, we commend the House of Representatives for the reintroduction of H.R.729, The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, which was reintroduced on February 5, 2015.
Last year, this committee created a document to assist chapters in planning and conducting a low-vision seminar to reach individuals with vision loss in the surrounding communities. “Guidelines for Conducting a Low-Vision Seminar” is printed in its entirety earlier in this publication.