U.S. Goalball Teams Announced For Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

USABA logo

U.S. Goalball Teams Announced For Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA (June 9, 2021) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes has revealed the 12 athletes selected to represent Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the sport of goalball. The announcement was made Wednesday at Turnstone Center, an official U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and home to the Goalball Center of Excellence and the USA Goalball Resident Athlete Training Program.

Named to the men’s team were Zach Buhler (Huntington, Ind.), John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.), Tyler Merren (Coral Springs, Fla.), Matt Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.), Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Calahan Young (Irwin, Pa.).

The women’s team members are Mindy Cook (Columbus, Ohio), Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.), Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.), Marybai Huking (Salt Lake City, Utah), Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.) and Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.).

At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the U.S. was the only country to have both its men’s and women’s teams reach the podium as the U.S. men’s squad captured the silver medal and the women’s team claimed the bronze. Nine of the 12 athletes named on Wednesday are returning Paralympians from the Rio Games and they boast a combined 21 Paralympic Games appearances and 14 Paralympic Games medals.

Kusku, Merren, Simpson and Walker all return from the silver-medal winning men’s squad in Rio. For Merren, Tokyo will mark his fourth Paralympic Games. He also won a bronze medal at the Athens 2004 Games and was a member of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Team along with Walker, who will be participating in his third Games. Buhler and Young will be making their Paralympic Games’ debuts in Tokyo.

The U.S. men’s team is fresh off a victory over defending Paralympic champion Lithuania in the finals of the Trakai Tournament last month.

“After the USA Men’s Goalball Team’s performance and victory at the Trakai Games, I’m fully confident that the six athletes selected for the Tokyo Paralympic Games will represent our nation well,” U.S. Men’s Goalball Head Coach Keith Young said. “We have veterans who have prior Paralympic Games experience as well as strong newcomers. Our program has moved through having a relatively new coaching staff brought on and a renewed focus on high performance programming, in addition to dealing with the COVID pandemic. I fully believe that we have a team where all six athletes can contribute on the court and face the best teams in the world.”

On the women’s side, the team is awash with experience with five of the six members returning from the bronze-medal winning Rio squad. Czechowski and Miller have been side-by-side for the last five Paralympic Games and Tokyo will mark their sixth straight Games together. As goalball teammates, they won silver in 2004, gold in 2008, and bronze in 2016. Prior to that they both competed in discus at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games where Czechowski was the silver medalist and Miller took the bronze. Dennis will be participating in her third straight Paralympics, while Huking and Mason will make their second straight appearance. For Cook, Tokyo will be her Paralympic debut.

The women’s team captured the silver medal in last month’s Trakai Tournament in Lithuania.

“Choosing the final roster for an event as prestigious as the Paralympic Games is never easy,” said U.S. Women’s Goalball Head Coach Jake Czechowski. “The depth of our player pool made this year’s selection especially difficult. We have great veteran leadership and experience with a combined 14 Paralympic teams. I expect our team to be ready for all the challenges and excitement that the Paralympics provides. This year, with all the changes and new protocols due to COVID, experience will be that much more valuable. The competition has never been stronger in women’s goalball, and we look forward to taking the court and competing against the best teams in the world.”

Alternates for the men’s team are Cody Carmicle (Lafayette, Ind.) and Sean Walker (Winchester, Va.), while Shavon Lockhardt (White Plains, N.Y.) will serve as alternate for the women’s team.

All selections to the Tokyo 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games goalball competition begins on Aug. 25 with the medal matches taking place on Sept. 3.

USA Men’s Goalball Team
Zach Buhler (Huntington, Ind.)
John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.)
Tyler Merren (Coral Springs, Fla.)
Matt Simpson (Smyrna, Ga.)
Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Calahan Young (Irwin, Pa.) 
Head Coach: Keith Young
Assistant Coach: James Wallace
Athletic Trainer: Adam McDowell
Athlete Alternates: Cody Carmicle (Lafayette, Ind.) and Sean Walker (Winchester, Va.)

USA Women’s Goalball Team
Mindy Cook (Columbus, Ohio)
Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.)
Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.)
Marybai Huking (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.)
Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.)
Head Coach: Jake Czechowski
Assistant Coach and Team Leader: John Potts
Athletic Trainer: Jennifer Brown
Athlete Alternate: Shavon Lockhardt (White Plains, N.Y.)

USA Goalball Team Support Staff
Goalball Coordinator: Linda Welborn
Strength & Conditioning Coaches: EJ Whitney and Emilee Stemler
Resident Team Athletic Trainer: Joe Baer (Parkview Athletic Trainer)
Team Dieticians: Kate Davis and Liz Broad
Sports Psychology: Taylor Gabler (women’s team) and Ciaran Connery (men’s team)


CONTACT: Bill Kellick (USABA Communications Manager)


Q3 AVLNC Full Coalition Meeting

quarterly meeting of the avlnc

The Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition (AVLNC) is gathering for the quarterly meeting in April to discuss goals for Q3. Join the AVLNC on July 12th at 3 pm ET to be part of the one-year plan and get involved with the aging and vision loss efforts. Register to attend the AVLNC meeting


  • Q2 Accomplishments
  • Q3 Objectives w/ discussion
  • Ways to be involved in the growing initiatives

NFB National Convention

Ever Lee Hairston hugs President Riccobono at the 2019 banquet, both are smiling

The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is the largest gathering of blind people in the world. It is the premier event for training, support, and information for the blind community. It also serves as a governing body, democratically electing our leadership and establishing each year’s organizational priorities. 

Although the convention is open to all, our constitution states that only members of the NFB have the right to participate in decision making when it comes to organizational policy. If you are not already a member, join the NFB today

Date and Location

July 6 through July 10, 2021
Anywhere and Everywhere, virtual
More details coming soon.

Please note: the original 2021 national convention announcement in July 2020 indicated that the event would be held in New Orleans, LA. On February 8, 2021, President Riccobono announced that the 2021 national convention would be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


New CEO Affinity Group


July 26 at 2 pm Central

 This affinity group is for leaders of member organizations who have been in their position for 3 years or less. Open to VSA members only. See your latest eNew or contact to sign up.


Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit

Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit – Register Today!

VisionServe Alliance is a proud sponsor of the 10th annual Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit, on July 14-15, 2021. This year’s Summit will include a variety of presentations related to this year’s theme, “Our Changing Vision.”

The agenda will allow reflection on key vision advancements from the last 10 years and a look ahead at leading advancements, policies, and social issues that will shape how we approach eye health for the coming decade. And, we will recognize the importance of research expansion, shifting political leadership, and the elevation of the patient at the center of care decisions.

Presentations at the 10th Annual Focus on Eye Health National Summit will include:

  • Michael F. Chiang, MD- director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland- will serve as the keynote speaker, on July 14, addressing the key advancements in research, policies and social issues along with NEI’s role in vision and eye health.
  • Amy Dixon- Paralympic Athlete & President, Glaucoma Eyes International- will serve as a keynote speaker on July 15, sharing her personal story of triumph over obstacles and the importance of engaging the patient to reach the goal of a better health outcome.
  • On July 15, Ross C. Brownson, PhD- Lipstein Distinguished Professor of Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis- will serve as the closing keynote speaker, presenting on how public health is evolving to meet the current needs of our society focusing on the topics of health equity, the importance of prevention practices, early detection and care coordination, evolving surveillance needs, and effective public health interventions for vision and overall health. 

VisionServe Alliance’s virtual exhibit hall booth will be open from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET on July 14, and 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET on July 15.


2021 ACB Virtual Conference

Plans are coming together for a great virtual conference and convention to be held July 16 through July 23, 2021.  We learned much from our 2020 virtual conference and convention and we are working hard to apply that knowledge to 2021!

ACB conference logo- Better Together Wherever We Are

Registration will remain open to June 28, 2021, but before you register, there is an important task each of you must undertake if you plan on registering:

  • ACB is moving ever closer to a singular login and password that will apply to all ACB websites and web-based functions.
  • If you intend on registering for the convention this year, please go to to create your ACB account.  Select “CREATE AN ACCOUNT” and complete the profile information requested.  You will need to create a new username and password (if you wish, you can use the same username and password you used for past conventions when creating this new account).
  • There is one exception: If you registered for the ACB Holiday Auction in December 2020, you have already created an account and you do not have to do so again.
  • If you have problems or questions regarding this process, please call the Minnesota Finance Office at 612-332-3242.
  • You will use this new username and password when you register on or after May 20, 2021.

To make sure you receive the most up to date information, subscribe to our convention announce list by sending a blank email to or contact Janet Dickelman, convention coordinator at or by phone at (651) 428-5059.


New CEO Affinity Group – June 28

Claudia Virga headshot

Are your messages getting lost, overlooked, or even misunderstood? Claudia Virga is our guest presenter for this meeting. She will walk us through her CHAT System methodology that will help solve your communication problems. To really connect, you have to speak to others in their language and their style. And the key to that puzzle is the CHAT Communication System where you’ll learn how to maximize your communication with your team, colleagues, and clients, your marketing, and your presentations by leveraging all four distinct communication styles.

If you haven’t already, register for the next New CEO Affinity Group meeting on Monday June 28th at 3:00pm EDT.

Open to members only. See the last eNews for the registration link.


National Registry for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Launches

Success Beyond Sight logo

Success Beyond Sight, (SBS), a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, has created a FREE National Registry (NRTSVI) for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs/TVIs) to empower a national voice for TSVIs/TVIs and to provide a means to reach, on a national level, TSVIs/TVIs with free resources and important professional information.


Success Beyond Sight recognizes the crucial role that TSVIs/TVIs play in the long-term success of their students. Strong instruction and mentorship by TSVIs/TVIs are common denominators for many highly accomplished adults who were born without vision or who lost their vision as children.

Because TSVIs/TVIs are licensed / credentialed / certified / endorsed in their state of practice, there has not been a Registry recognizing them as a nationally important profession demonstrating the power of their numbers. SBS formed an Advisory Board to help guide the development of the NRTSVI. Advisory Board members are Dr. Laura Bozeman, Dr. Rona Pogrund, Dr. Amy Parker, Dr. Cheryl Kamei-Hannan, Jill Brown and Dr. Nicole Johnson.

SBS is providing FREE access to the Journal of Vision Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) for all Registrants. JVIB is the resource for peer-reviewed research and articles for professionals serving individuals who are blind or have low vision.

TSVIs/TVIs will be able to be directly engaged with, and have a voice in, national discussions regarding:

  • the funding needed to train current and future professionals and to secure the survival of this very important profession
  • efforts to ensure sufficient funding for all students who require specialized services from a TSVI/TVI
  • the sharing of important information and opportunities to be included in relevant surveys and research to benefit the profession
  • appropriate caseloads
  • legislative advocacy

SBS recognizes that there are important professional membership organizations that provide TSVIs/TVIs a voice among other professional voices, but the Registry will provide the forum for TSVIs/TVIs to be highly visible and have their own unique voice on the national stage.

Participating in the Registry is voluntary. For questions or additional information email:


Vision Impairment and Eye Diseases among Nursing Home Residents Data Webinar

AVLNC Data and Research Committee logo

The Prevalence of Vision Impairment and Eye Diseases among Nursing Home Residents: The Delaware Study. 
This webinar, being held on Wednesday, June 16th from 4-5 pm EDT, will present the findings of comprehensive eye examinations of 2019 residents of nursing homes in the state of Delaware. The findings show an exceedingly high prevalence of eye diseases, and nearly 50% of the residents had vision impairment and 15% were blind.  This presentation will compare findings with other nursing home studies, and policy and practice implications of the findings will be discussed. Learn more and register for the data webinar.


AVLNC Awareness Campaign Resources

If you cant see something, say something flyer image

Aging and Vision Loss Three Year Plan


To ensure all older people with vision loss receive high quality comprehensive specialized vision rehabilitation including low vision services by focusing the healthcare, aging and vision rehabilitation communities on:

  • the unique challenges of the combined experience of vision loss and aging;
  • the impact of that combined event on the socio-economic life of our nation; and
  • the need to work together to advance research, policy & funding that maximizes the positive contributions of older people living with vision loss.


The combined aging and vision rehabilitation expertise in collaboration with consumers and advocacy partners uniquely positions AVLNC to engage the aging, healthcare and vision rehabilitation networks in essential program and policy changes.

Three-Year Target

by December 31, 2023

  • AVLNC will have strategic alliances with national partners and policy champions who agree to include aging & vision loss in federal legislation and other policy documents
  • The Surgeon General will issue a report on the Impact of Aging and Vision Loss based upon the recommendations that came out of the NASEM workshops
  • Vision-related research recommended by NASEM will be underway; some completed and in report status for Surgeon General consideration
  • A national interagency committee on Aging & Vision Loss will be established and meeting in a meaningful way (in accordance with the 2016 NASEM recommendations)
  • Older people with vision loss are included as a targeted population in aging policy, public health initiatives (i.e. Healthy People 2030) and health coverage
  • Eyecare professionals recognize that vision rehabilitation is a part of the continuum of care and appropriate referrals are made routinely
  • Older people with vision loss are trained & mobilized to advocate for policy change
  • Federal funding for older people with blindness and low vision will be increased; at a minimum OIB Funding will be increased tenfold and regular cost of living increases thereafter will have been enacted
  • Other funding at state and local levels will be available and utilized by community-based vision rehabilitation providers
  • The field of Vision Rehabilitation will have adopted practice and program standards
  • Outcome measures will be collected routinely by vision rehabilitation providers and shared with research partners for the purposes of establishing evidence-                                                   based programs
  • Federal grants will be available again for the establishment of new community-based vision rehabilitation programs in severely underserved parts of the nation
  • University programs for eyecare, occupational therapy, geriatrician & gerontology professionals will include aging and vision loss curricula and facilitate practicum opportunities in community-based vision rehabilitation programs; and those for vision rehabilitation will include specific aging curricula
  • Best practices for the combination of Aging & Vision Rehabilitation Services will have been established, rolled out and accepted by both professional networks
  • Clinical data on eye disease/condition and acuity/specific vision loss will be routinely collected nationally and reported (including counting all older people with vision loss)
  • National Awareness Campaign on Aging & Vision Loss (based upon the Frameworks Institute recommendations) is funded, executed and adopted by national partners
  • The National Policy Collaborative will have a joint legislative agenda on Aging & Vision Loss

Targeted Sector/Market Segments:

  • Eyecare professionals: ophthalmologists and optometrists
  • Other Medical professionals: geriatricians and gerontologists and OT’s
  • Aging Policy Makers: Administration on Community Living (including CIL’s), National council on Aging, National Area Agencies on Aging, Gerontological Society of America, AARP, Area Agencies on Aging, Long-term Care Providers, Assisted Living
  • Healthcare Policy Makers: CDC, NEI, NIH, CMS, Surgeon General, Home Healthcare Agencies and staff
  • Older People (including those with vision loss) and Their Families
  • Elected Officials at the federal and state levels
  • ACB, NFB, BVA, FFB, NOAH (Consumer Associations)
  • Research Partners including NASEM and CDC
  • Universities with Relevant Personnel Preparation Programs
  • Vision Rehabilitation Community: Community-based service providers, national organizations, RSA, DOE, state agencies, TAC’s

Two-Year Picture

by December 31, 2022

  • AER Higher Education Accreditation Commission (HEAC) will have mandated a comprehensive aging curricula
  • The Coalition will have developed the framework and hired the firm for the National Awareness Campaign
  • Substantive communication with the AD Council will have occurred and application submitted
  • Will be presenting at all relevant major Aging Conferences
  • National vision rehabilitation service/outcome data will have started being collected
  • The Coalition will have established a collaborative relationship with at least 6 National Organizational Partners
  • The Congressional Vision Caucus will have established an Aging Focus
  • Vision-related research recommended by NASEM will be underway
  • A Surgeon General’s Report on Aging & Vision Loss will be in discussion
  • The Coalition will be conducting/coordinating Consumer Advocacy Training
  • Will have established a relationship with the Congressional Physicians Caucus
  • Funding mechanism in place to support the AVLNC Initiatives
  • Will have developed the OIB Cost of Living strategy and language and supported by the blindness community

One Year Plan

December 31, 2021

One-Year Plan: January 1 – December 31, 2021


AVLNC Steering Committee and VSA AVLNC Staff,Co-Chaired by Lauren Branch, NewView Oklahoma and Lee Nasehi, VSA; Mark Richert, Ben Leigh and New Specialist Position –

Public Awareness Committee, Co-Chaired by Sylvia Perez, MSU OIB-TAC, and Nancy Miller, VISIONS

Policy & Funding Committee, Co-Chaired by Mark Richert, VSA/AERBVI, and Pris Rogers, AFB/Advocate

  • Develop supporting materials and tools for use with the Coalition and related stakeholders, e.g. one-pagers to comprise a take action toolkit; start development of advocacy training program for older people with vision loss.

Data & Research Committee, Co-Chaired by John Crews, retired CDC, and Jaclyn Borchardt, Vision Forward

Access to Quality Vision Rehabilitation Services Committee, Co-Chaired by Neva Fairchild, AFB and AERBVI, and Elly duPre, FASB and AERBVI

  • repare a tool kit, and recruit people locally to present at Aging Network Conferences, on the screening tool developed by New View Oklahoma. Spreading the word about the screening tool and what the ROI of using it is.

2021 Committee Q1 Rocks

Awareness Committee Objectives

  1. MSU select ad agency for the campaign by Jan. 1, 2021
  2. Reach out to the Reframing Institute to get feedback for the campaign. Include AVLC info as well. (Jan. 30, 2021)
  3. Enlist 50 agencies to disseminate the awareness flyer to their aging and social service networks and track results of referrals-start with VSA members (Feb. 1, 2021, for dissemination and report back results on 8/1/2021)
  4. Develop awareness campaign and toolkit (MSU) and disseminate (7/1/2021)
  5. Ensure that at least 50 agencies in 10 states have the awareness toolkit and training on how to promote awareness and use the tools. (Nov. 1, 2021)      

Funding and Policy Committee Objectives

  1. To complete an aging and vision loss “message bill” that includes components that provide comprehensive services and supports to promote independence and quality of life for older people with vision loss (and find sponsor or support)—including determining ask for OIB funding and needed language changes in the ACT and get buy-in from blindness advocacy groups – (03/15/21)
  2. Building relationships with key stakeholder partners (build connections with other coalitions, such as Prevent Blindness as relates to Vision Caucus about specific asks
  3. Development of supporting materials and tools for us and related stakeholders—one-pagers as part of take action toolkit and start development of an advocacy training program for older people with vision loss – (06/01/21)

Data & Research Committee

  • Schedule first seminar on data driven science.
  • Establish Subcommittee to start research article search and compilation of list of suggested articles for bibliography, group to compile at least 10 articles.
  • Hold Initial meetings with key people currently working on outcomes.

Access to Quality Services

  • Create a screening tool to share and help train the aging network
    • Used in tandem with Awareness Committee to build relationships with partners in the aging network
  • Creating a standardized course through MSU to teach an approved curriculum
  • Create a relationship with partners about standardized
  • Conversation with local partners on who on their staff could benefit from a free online course on improved standardized services from MSU
    • TVI, CVRT, certified professionals
    • Test with early adopters
  • No wrong door
    • Expanding the ways in which resources can be accessed through aging, medical, vision “doors”
  • Federal qualified health centers looking to expand eye care – Community Health Centers
    • Getting them connects with resources to refer to LV/Blindness
    • Many do not know what resources are available for eyecare beyond basics (glasses/refractory)
  • Identify care centers with ophthalmologists/optometrists on staff
    • Gather how many hours/services they offer
    • Share quality (benefits/$$$) of expanding eyecare to LV/blindness and referral services to LV rehab local services
    • Demonstrate ROI to LV/blindness involvement

VisionServe Alliance Releases Official Code of Ethics Policies

St. Louis, Missouri—May 18, 2021 – VisionServe Alliance (VSA) announces the release of its official Code of Ethics policy which outlines expectations regarding the behavior of VSA towards its members, clients, stakeholders, and society.

Developed by the Board of Directors with assistance from the Employers Association Forum, VSA’s Code of Ethics policy is a statement of the values and standards for its staff, members and corporate partners and is tied to VSA’s Core Values of Commitment, Exceptional Leadership, Diversity, Inclusion, Innovation, and Collaboration. 

“The last few years we have all witnessed many public figures whose actions have called into question what the common standards of ethical behavior are,” notes Lee Nasehi, President/CEO of VisionServe Alliance. “Based on these events, VisionServe Alliance felt compelled to clarify where we stand and to demonstrate to its members our commitment to upholding strong ethical behavior in all its activities, from internal staff to external relations from member to member.”

The Board of Directors worked in partnership with EAF Consultant Chuck Simikian through a series of brainstorming sessions, to determine eight pillars of its official code of ethics policy. “This was a team effort which started with the Membership Committee which includes board members and other VSA members,” notes Bernadette Kappen who chairs the Membership Committee. “Together with help from professional consultant, Chuck Simikian, we worked to develop the pillars of our policy which we all agreed represented what VisionServe Alliance should stand for.” After the Membership Committee’s initial work, the draft was then taken to the full Board of Directors for further revision and final approval.

The new policy was unveiled to attendees of the virtual Executive Leadership Conference April 27 – 29, 2021. The official rollout of the Code of Ethics continues with an emailed announcement to all members, corporate partners and the public.

“We feel strongly that VisionServe’s Code of Ethics will support high standards not just among our employees and board, but also our members and all conference participants,” noted Nasehi. “It emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior standards throughout all of VisionServe’s programs and will become an integral part of our annual conferences and awards process for attendees and award nominators.”

Here are some of the ways the Code of Ethics will become part of VSA’s processes:

  • Renewing and joining members will review and agree to abide by the Code of Ethics policies in order to join VSA.
  • Attendees at VSA’s annual conferences will review and agree to abide by the Code of Ethics policies along with a basic code of conduct to participate in the conference.
  • Annual Awards descriptions will reference our Code of Ethics policies as a standard. For nominations to move forward for consideration, nominators should be able to certify to the best of their knowledge, that their nominees meet the criteria and embrace the ideals for each of the 8 pillars of VSA’s Code of Ethics.

Originally founded in 1987 as the National Council of Private Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCPABVI) and renamed in 2008, VisionServe Alliance is a consortium of 118 nonprofits located throughout the United States and Canada that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or with severe vision loss. Members include organizations focusing on national advocacy and/or service issues, employment and manufacturing, adult vision rehabilitation, K-12 residential and on-line schools, early intervention and pre-school, dog guides, low vision clinics, and braille production. Members engage regional and national leaders in building a better world through services to people with vision loss by promoting leadership development, ethical management, quality services, and professional growth.

Blog News

How the American Rescue Plan Act Affects Your Nonprofit

VSA will continue to research and share updates on the ARPA as more info becomes available. Several items to note as of now, 1) The deadline to apply for the PPP loan has NOT been extended beyond March 31st, 2) Be aware of the new extension of COBRA coverage (see below), 3) the new Charitable Incentive bill.

Public policy banner

Paycheck Protection Program

Adds $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection ProgramExpands PPP eligibility to charitable nonprofits that operate at multiple locations and employ not more than 500 employees per physical locationExpands PPP eligibility to other types of nonprofits, but with a 300-emplyee limit per locationNo changes to Second Draw PPP loans eligibility. PPP application deadline is Mar. 31, 2021 unless extended by Congress(Section 5001)

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Includes $15 billion for the Targeted EIDL Advance program instructs SBA to spend $10 billion in payments to covered entities that did not receive full amounts to which they were entitledAllocates remaining $5 billion to covered entities that have suffered an economic loss of at least 50% and have 10 or fewer employees(Section 5002)

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through Dec. 31, 2021(Section 9651)Paid Leave Tax Credits for EmployersExtends through Sept. 30, 2021 the refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave originally established in theFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act and voluntarily provided by employersIncreases the amount of wages for which an employer may claim the paid family credit in a year from $10,000 to $12,000 per employeeExpands leave to cover obtaining vaccinations and any resulting injury or illness related to vaccination(Section 9641)

Charitable Giving Incentives

The new law does not expand incentives for charitable giving, but on Tuesday, March 9, Senators and Representatives introduced the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act618 and H.R 1704. If enacted, the legislation would allow taxpayers who claim the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, on their tax returns to take a deduction for charitable giving valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction (around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers). This added giving incentive would be available for tax years 2021 and 2022. Read the full article from Candid


VisionServe Alliance Announces Two Spring Academic Scholarship Recipients

St. Louis, Missouri—March 22, 2021 – VisionServe Alliance announces two new recipients of its annual academic scholarship: Alison Clougherty, Co-Founder of BEST in Nashville, TN, and Melisa Matthews, a Blind Low Vision Specialist with VIPS in Louisville, KY.

VSA’s annual academic scholarship is available to employees of its member organizations whose annual budget is $1.5 million or less to support continuing education, ACVREP certification, or a degree in vision related specialties or nonprofit management.

“We are thrilled to be able to help these two women pursue the education they need to serve young children with impaired sight,” notes VisionServe Alliance President, Lee Nasehi. “VSA is able to do this thanks to the generous donations of its members who pay it forward!”

Melisa Matthews with VIPS

“After completing the certification, I intend to continue to serve children ages birth to three who have blindness or low vision,” says Melisa Matthews. “I will use the knowledge gained from this program to better support the children and their families. The knowledge will help me support families to better understand and prepare them for the transition from our program to the school districts that will continue their services. The classes completed will help me gain and understand more how to help serve the children. These classes will help me to set appropriate goals and supportive strategies to the children I serve.”

For Alison Clougherty, her mission is personal. “I have recently cofounded a nonprofit in Tennessee that will provide parent support, direct early intervention and advocacy for families of blind and visually impaired children in our state, ages birth to 5. My son was born blind, so I learned first-hand where the gaps are in our state early intervention system. I want to help other families like mine through in-person home visits, advocacy and the creation of comprehensive and robust services.”

VisionServe welcomes additional donations to the VSA Scholarship fund to support applicants for the next application window which will open this summer.


Q2 AVLNC Quarterly Coalition Meeting

quarterly meeting of the avlnc

The Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition (AVLNC) is gathering for the quarterly meeting in April to set goals for Q2. Join the AVLNC on April 7th at 4 pm ET to be part of the one-year plan and get involved with the aging and vision loss efforts. Register to attend the AVLNC Quarterly Meeting


  • Brief overview of AVLNC: How new members can get additional info; AVLNC structure
  • Q1 Accomplishments
  • Q2 Objectives w/ discussion

To take a deeper dive into data-driven science, the latest updates, and the great need for data in our field, join the Data & Research committee one hour before the full coalition meeting for the first in a series on data.


Data-Driven Science Webinar Series

Please join Dean VanNasdale, OD, PhD from Ohio State University for a webinar on data from the US Census, Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS), and the American Communities Survey on April 7th at 3 pm ET.  Analysis of this data allows us to obtain county-level prevalence data for vision loss, by age, ethnicity, and sex.  Understanding this data can assist with grant writing and creating a strong case for support when there are disparities in the need and the available vision rehabilitation services.  The presentation will last about 40 minutes, with an opportunity for questions and answers at the end. Register to attend the Data-driven Science webinar.

Dean VanNasdale headshot

Dean VanNasdale, OD, PhD Bio

Dean VanNasdale, OD, PhD, received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University in 2003 and completed a cornea and contact lens residency at Indiana University in 2004. He received a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research and a PhD degree in Vision Science from Indiana University in 2011.

Dean VanNasdale headshot
A.J Zanyk Photography 2014

Dr. VanNasdale has a research focus in population health data analysis.  Using multiple, complementary datasets, he studies associations between health determinants and vision impairment on a local, county, state, and national scale.  The goal of this research is to improve insight into the underlying cause of vision impairment, identify common co-morbid conditions, and educate stakeholders on the magnitude of vision impairment.  This analysis helps quantify the impact of vision impairment, identify areas where resources are needed to reduce vision impairment, and inform policy development. 

Dr. VanNasdale also has a research focus in advanced retinal imaging and visual function, with an emphasis on normal aging changes and pathological changes associated with diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and traumatic brain injury.  Using specific light/tissue interactions, he studies novel biomarkers for sight threatening disease and identifies changes to the normally well-ordered retinal structure. The goal of this research is to distinguish normal aging changes from those related to sight-threatening pathology and to detect retinal damage earlier in the disease process, using both commercially available and laboratory-based instruments.

Dr. VanNasdale teaches Public Health and Environmental Vision to third year optometry students and is an instructor in the Contact Lens Services at Ohio State’s College of Optometry, where he also studies visual performance and complications associated with contact lens wear.  He holds leadership roles in academic and health advocacy organizations at the local, state, and national level.  In 2019, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Project Award by the Vision Care Section of the American Public Health Association Vision Care Section and in 2020 was the Distinguished Service Award recipient. 


Cleanlogic’s Inspiration Foundation Supports 13 VSA Members Through Assistive Technology Grants

The Inspiration Foundation awarded 13 VisionServe Alliance members Assistive Technology Grants of up to $1,500 to help them keep their technology class rooms and remote training sessions up to date. The recipients used this funding to purchase a variety of equipment including braille displays, braille printers, a new laptop, phones for training, air pods, ear pods, headsets, Fusion software, tablets, handheld electronic magnifiers and more.

The Inspiration Foundation (a philanthropic division of Cleanlogic, a company offering quality bath and body accessories) created these grants to help nonprofit organizations purchase assistive technology equipment. The founder of Cleanlogic was inspired by his mom, who lost her sight when she was 7, but never let it stop her. Through her hard work, she became a passionate advocate, helping other blind and visually impaired individuals gain employment. The Inspiration Foundation’s Board believes that successful job placement and retention depends on strong technology skills and that independent living skills are augmented by technology.

VisionServe Alliance heartily thanks the Inspiration Foundation and Cleanlogic for their support!

2020 Assistive Technology Grant Recipients: 

Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Balance for Blind Adults – Toronto, Canada 

Community Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Stockton, CA 

Community Services for Sight – Sugarloaf, PA 

Computers for the Blind – Richardson, TX 

Earle Baum Center – Santa Rosa, CA 

In-Sight – Warwick, RI 

Lighthouse of Pinellas – Largo, FL 

Nu-Visions Center – Lewiston, PA 

San Diego Center for the Blind – San Diego, CA 

Savannah Association for the Blind – Savannah, GA 

The Vision Institute of South Carolina – Irmo, SC 

Valley Center for the Blind – Fresno, CA 

A volunteer with ABVI receiving training on Fusion JAWS and ZOOM Tech software
CCBVI patron uses an Orbit Writer Smartphone Companion braille keypad, which works with all smartphones and computers.
Community Services for Sight patron uses a tablet during a one-on-one training for applications to improve quality of life and promote independence. 
“Receiving this grant and purchasing this equipment has greatly improved the quality of our virtual programs. Prior to COVID all of our training was done in-person and so we had very little equipment for use when we had to transition to virtual programming. This equipment has enhanced the comfort of our staff, improved audio quality, and demonstrates to the training participants how their investment in similar equipment can also improve their experience.” – Chris Butler, Executive Director, In-Sight

Retirement Reality Check: Making Sure You’re On Track to Get Where You Want to Be

Executive Pathways Series- February

EP series in partnership with Mutual of America

Title: Executive Pathways Series presents “Retirement Reality Check: Making Sure You’re On Track to Get Where You Want to Be” Date/ Time: February 24, 2:30 pm CST


OIB TAC Weekly Brief

OIB TAC and NRTC of Mississippi state logos

OIB TAC Resources

The Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center is a part of the National Research & Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) at Mississippi State University.