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The Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition (AVLNC) is a consortium of leaders comprised from 15 national, state, local, private and public agencies with the goal of advocating for equal access and quality of life for older Americans with vision loss.
Over the last 25 years there have been two major initiatives in the aging and vision loss field: a National Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss (1998-2005) and the 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss (initiated in 2016).
National Agenda 1998-2005: Led by a national steering committee and facilitated by AFB, the first agenda encompassed several major goals: 1) establishing a national service delivery system for older people with vision loss by obtaining threshold funding for vision-related services nationwide; 2) developing a self-advocacy training kit; 3) developing a curriculum for VR counselors on employment of older workers with vision loss; 4) and developing online training on aging and vision loss for service providers. However, the funding for services remained stagnant over the past 10 years at $33 million, and minimum allotment states are still getting only $225,000 per year due to the formula that was put in place.
21st Century Agenda 2016-2018: Facilitated by AFB, members aimed to raise awareness, facilitate increased and improved services, and protect and promote the rights of seniors with vision loss to lives of enjoyment, inclusion, and independence, AFB joined with other advocates in a renewed 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss.
With the handing off of the 21st Century Agenda by AFB in late 2018, VisionServe Alliance has assumed the role of coordinating the Aging and Vision Loss Coalition to continue the work in the aging and vision loss area. However, we need to rethink what is possible to accomplish and to come up with new ways to address the issues that still remain twenty-five years later, exacerbated by major increases in the numbers of older persons with vision loss with no increase in the amount of funding by congress since the state-administered Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) programs were established.
Informed by nationwide structured conversations with older people with vision loss and the expertise of the Coalition members, many with over 40 years of experience in the field, the Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition has begun their work by focusing on the following three key priorities:
- Awareness: Increasing awareness among the general public, professionals and especially seniors themselves and their families of the issues faced by older people with vision loss and the significant impact of professional vision rehabilitation services on sustaining their independence and dignity.
- Funding: Enhancing funding for vision rehabilitation services including education, training, assistive devices, and technologies for older people with vision loss.
- Expanding Personnel : Expanding the pool of qualified professional vision impairment specialists, through support for university programs and incentives for healthcare students to consider this specialty; and providing broad training for allied health personnel.
Each of our key priorities has a sub committee to oversee its progress and development. Below are the chairs of those sub committees:
Awareness: Nancy Miller, VISIONS & Sylvia Perez, Mississippi State University OIB-TAC
Funding: Pris Rogers & Mark Richert, Independent Advocates
Expanding Personnel: Elly du Pre, Florida Agencies Serving the Blind & Marlene Snow, NewView Oklahoma
AVLNC Represented Organizations:
- Bill Robinson, National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
- Bonnielin Swenor, Wilmer Eye Institute
- Cynthia Speight, National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
- Clark Rachfal, American Council of the Blind
- Elly du Pre, Florida Agencies Serving the Blind
- Janie Blome, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Kathie Zeider, Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals
- Kathleen Zuke, National Council on Aging
- Kira Baldonado, Prevent Blindness
- Nancy Miller, VISIONS
- Lauren Branch, New View Oklahoma
- Lee Nasehi, VisionServe Alliance
- Matthew Haynes, AER Division on Aging
- Mark Richert, Independent Advocate
- Mark Armstrong, Hellen Keller National Center
- Marlene Snow, NewView Oklahoma
- Mary Worstell, Independand Advocate
- Neva Fairchild, American Foundation for the Blind
- Pris Rogers, Independant Advocate
- Sylvia Perez, Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center – Mississippi State University