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.


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.


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.


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.