Agency’s VRT Services Gain Support from Alburtis Lions, NEPA Lions Service Foundation

February 21, 2020

Alburtis Lions Check Presentation
The Alburtis Lions secured a $15,000 grant recently from the Northeast PA Lions Service Foundation to support the Center for Vision Loss’ vision rehabilitation therapies – effective hands-on approaches that empower people with visual impairments to seize their independence.

Vision rehabilitation therapies, known commonly as VRT, is the agency’s fastest growing service category. The number of agency clients who received VRT services from July through December 2019 doubled the number served over same part of the previous year.

Vision rehabilitation therapies activate a client’s ability to use their existing visual capabilities most effectively, overcome barriers that threaten their quality of life, evolve their acceptance of vision loss, and improve their outlooks on life. In both individualized and group settings, participants learn adaptive skills related to kitchen safety, the preparation and cooking of meals, the completion of checks and forms, the use of smartphones, adjustments to in-home lighting, and the use of assistive technologies.

The agency’s VRT services are led by Dianne Michels, an educator and advocate for people with vision loss for more than 30 years. Michels is both a licensed professional counselor and certified nationally as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP).

The Northeast PA Lions Service Foundation funded the Center for Vision Loss’s original expansion of its VRT service in 2017 through a pilot initiative called the Kaleidoscope project. VRT services are now provided routinely to clients at any stage of their journey with diminished sight.

Michael Wambaugh, Vice President of the Center for Vision Loss Board of Directors, is Secretary of the Alburtis Lions Club. Linwood Gehris, President of the agency’s board, is an Alburtis Lions Club member and a former Governor of Pennsylvania Lions District 14-K.

“This collaborative investment from the Alburtis Lions Club and the Northeast PA Lions Service Foundation underscores the increased impact or our VRT services, services that many agencies of our size cannot provide,” said Douglas Yingling, Executive Director of the Center for Vision Loss. “It also demonstrates the commitment of our board leaders to use their fiscal resources and influence to advance personal triumphs over visual impairments.”

The Center for Vision Loss empowers people with visual impairments to seize their independence and promotes healthy eyesight. With campuses in the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County, it combines its service tradition inspired directly by Helen Keller with contemporary practices and state-of-the-art technologies. The Center for Vision Loss brings hope in focus with personal coaching and support, skills training, rehabilitation therapies, adaptation instruction, access to medical care and food supplies through escorted transportation, and assistive devices. It prepares successful learners with preschool vision screenings, and it encourages eyesight preservation through community education. It provides services at little or no cost, and more than 80% of its clients with vision loss are from low-income households.

The Center for Vision Loss is the only service agency in the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County approved by the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB). It also is accredited by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and is a member of the VisionServe Alliance, a network of nearly 120 North American agencies that provide services to people with impaired sight.

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