November 3 – 6, 2019 at the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, GA 

St. Louis, Missouri – September 3, 2019 – Over 220 national leaders will convene in Atlanta, Georgia this fall for discussions on the future of providing services to people who are blind or have low vision. With more than 26.9 million[1] American adults in the US and 226 million[2] more around the world living with blindness and low vision, and  thousands more projected to join these ranks, this is an important national issue.

Event organizer VisionServe Alliance, an association for leaders of nonprofit agencies across the country and Canada, holds its conferences in various U.S. cities twice a year. This year’s Executive Leadership Conference in Atlanta will use some pretty amazing technological adaptions as part of its meeting to ensure the content is accessible to ALL attendees, regardless of their level of sight.

With an average of 15% of its meeting attendees themselves being blind or having low vision, VisionServe Alliance is used to employing standard accommodations to make its meetings accessible, like offering its materials digitally or in Braille, and offering tips and training on-site hospitality staff and featured speakers. But this year’s conference presents additional accessibility challenges because the meeting will employ a format called Open Space Technology, which allows participants to set their own discussion topics and attend multiple break out sessions throughout the day. While it’s exciting for the attendees to have control over the agenda, a flexible format presents challenges for visually impaired attendees to fully participate in the activities.

VSA plans to provide conference attendees access to additional resources from companies on the forefront of vision technology: OrCam’s MyEye, a tiny camera device that fits on the of a pair of eyeglasses and can read aloud any printed material; Aira’s  Horizon Kit including their Smart Glasses that transmit the wearer’s images to a representative who then offers assistance in real time to navigate buildings, streets, airports, stores, etc.; and Vispero’s popular screen reading software called JAWS that allows blind and visually impaired users to navigate the world wide web using audible descriptions of menus and images. Many other companies will be on hand exhibiting and demonstrating the latest tools for accessibility to people who are blind and visually impaired. Volunteers from local vision rehabilitation agency, the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta will also be on-site to provide assistance.

“We want this year’s conference to provide learning exchanges to engage a wider array of current and emerging leaders across sectors, disciplines, demographics, and industry segments including education, rehabilitation, employment, medical, technology and social services for people of all ages,” says President and CEO of VisionServe Alliance, Lee Nasehi. “We are also proud to have the support of other national organizations in the field behind this year’s event.” Co-Hosts of the VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference include ACB (American Council of the Blind)ACVREP (Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals)COSB (Council of Schools and Services for the Blind) NAEPB (National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind) and NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation).

Kathleen Zeider, President/CEO of ACVREP notes that, “VisionServe Alliance is uniquely positioned to convene this important summit in our field. We are excited that it will refine the collective focus and strengthen the collaboration in our field resulting in a greater impact for those we serve.”

Mike McGowan, Executive Director of NOAH, said his organization, “enthusiastically supports the efforts of VisionServe Alliance to gather the field together to discover ways to build a better world for people who are blind or have low vision. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Participants at the VSA Executive Leadership Conference will ask, discuss, and suggest solutions to the biggest challenges in the field of blindness & low vision such as:

  • What can be done to assure access to all digital information including government websites, applications and voting processes?
  • Are public and private education resources meeting the needs of students?
  • What are the emerging challenges and solutions in employment?
  • How can we significantly enhance the resources for training and support for seniors?
  • How can we improve care for our veterans through partnerships with the private sector?

Co-facilitators include David Morgan, President & CEO of Future In Sight, Lee Nasehi, President & CEO of VisionServe Alliance, and John Mitchell, President/CEO of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Board Chair of VisionServe Alliance.

For more information and to register, go to www.visionserveallinace.org/conferences/

About VisionServe Alliance:

VisionServe Alliance is a consortium of Executive Directors/CEOs of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the United States that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or with severe vision loss. We bring together the full diversity of services for one conversation with the ultimate goal of unifying the many issues and organizations operating independently of one another in the field. 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. Collaborative projects, national trends, stronger management and leadership, and advocacy issues have been born from these conversations and activities including the formation of the Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition, a consortium of leaders comprised from 19 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.

###

[1] According to the American Foundation for the Blind. See https://www.afb.org/research-and-initiatives/statistics/adults

[2] According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. See https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/

St. Louis, Missouri – August 7, 2019 – VisionServe Alliance announces it is spearheading the new Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition to tackle critical issues related to older people experiencing impaired sight as the result of age-related eye diseases. The coalition is comprised of 15 national, state, local, private and public agencies representing broad constituencies who will advocate for equal access and quality of life for older Americans with vision loss.

Age-related vision loss is reaching epidemic proportions as baby boomers attain advanced age. Currently, there are 25.5 million adults experiencing age-related diseases impairing vision (National Health Interview Survey, 2016). From 2015 to 2050, the number of adults ages 40+ who are blind is expected to double (Varma, et al, 2016).

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 will begin their work by focusing on three key priorities:

  1. 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. 
  2. Funding: Enhancing funding for vision rehabilitation services including education, training, assistive devices, and technologies for older people with vision loss.
  3. Expanding Personnel: Expanding the pool of qualified professional vision impairment specialists, through support for university programs and incentives for healthcare students to consider this specialtyand providing broad training for allied health personnel.

The Coalition believes that improving public understanding of low vision and blindness is crucial, starting with older individuals themselves and including policy makers, family members, and service providers. Only through taking this fundamental step can we ensure equal access and promote the highest possible quality of life for older people with vision loss.

Among the Coalition members is the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), which is handing off the 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss to the Coalition. The Coalition will steward this important work initiated by AFB, created 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.

With appropriate vision rehabilitation services and specific supports, older people with vision loss can age in place in their communities rather than moving into an institution. Vision rehabilitation reduces the hours needed of in-home care; reduces or prevents falls, accidents, and burns; improves communication reducing social isolation; and teaches safe navigation, increasing physical movement and mobility. Yet, less than 3% of older people with vision loss are receiving the services that promote independent living in their home or living option, community and family engagement, and improved quality of life.

The Coalition is issuing a Call to Action and invites interested individuals and organizations to join the work. Make the year 2020 the turning point for access to services older Americans with vision loss require to live independently and be active members of their community and families.

VisionServe Alliance is an association of chief executives (and their leadership teams) of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the United States that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or have low vision. We bring together the full diversity of services for one conversation with the ultimate goal of unifying the many issues and organizations operating independently of one another in the field. 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. We focus on collaborative projects, national trends, stronger management and leadership, and advocacy issues important to the field. For information visit our website at: www.visionservealliance.org or email us at info@visionservealliance.org

AVLNC Represented Organizations:

  • Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP)
  • American Council of the Blind (ACB)
  • American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
  • Florida Agencies Serving the Blind
  • Helen Keller National Center
  • The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Mississippi State University OIB-TAC
  • National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
  • National Council on Aging (NCOA)
  • NewView Oklahoma
  • Prevent Blindness
  • VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • VisionServe Alliance
  • Independent Advocates

###

November 3 – 6, 2019 at the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, GA

St. Louis, Missouri – July 24, 2019 – Join us this fall at the VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference—a new kind of conference designed to foster participant involvement and spark creativity. All leaders involved in the provision of service to or with people who are blind or have low vision are invited to attend and participate.

This year’s conference will use the Open Space Technology meeting format, a format different from our typical conferences in that participants will be the ones to generate the program and structure the schedule for each day, encouraging conversation, planning, and action on a wide range of topics and initiatives that will impact the future of blindness and low vision.

All stakeholders and leaders in the blind and low vision field are invited. “We wanted this year’s conference to provide learning exchanges to engage a wider array of current and emerging leaders across sectors, disciplines, demographics, and industry segments including education, rehabilitation, employment, medical, technology and social services for people of all ages,” says President and CEO of VisionServe Alliance, Lee Nasehi. “We are also proud to have the support of other national organizations in the field behind this year’s event.” Co-Hosts of the VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference include ACB (American Council of the Blind), ACVREP (Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals), COSB (Council of Schools and Services for the Blind) NAEPB (National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind) and NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation).

Kathleen Zeider, President/CEO of ACVREP notes that, “VisionServe Alliance is uniquely positioned to convene this important summit in our field. We are excited that it will refine the collective focus and strengthen the collaboration in our field resulting in a greater impact for those we serve.”

Mike McGowan, Executive Director of NOAH, said his organization, “enthusiastically supports the efforts of VisionServe Alliance to gather the field together to discover ways to build a better world for people who are blind or have low vision.  There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.”

There are more than 26.9 million[1] American adults in the US and 226 million[2] more around the world living with blindness and low vision, with thousands more projected to join these ranks, all of whom have a vested interest in dramatically enhancing education, services, transportation, digital accessibility, employment and other opportunities.

Participants at the VSA Executive Leadership Conference will seek to ask, discuss, and suggest solutions to challenges in the field of blindness & low vision that might include essential questions such as:

  • Are public and private education resources meeting the needs of students?
  • What are the emerging challenges and solutions in employment?
  • How can we significantly enhance the resources for training and support for seniors?
  • How can we improve care for our veterans through care partnerships with the private sector?
  • What can be done to assure access to all digital information including government websites, applications and voting processes?

This event is convened by Lee Nasehi, President & CEO of VisionServe Alliance, and John Mitchell, President/CEO of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind, Board Chair of VisionServe Alliance. Co-facilitators include David Morgan, President & CEO of Future In Sight, Lee Nasehi, and VSA Board of Directors in a variety of small and large group conversations with participants.

For more information and to register, go to www.visionserveallinace.org/conferences/

###

[1] According to the American Foundation for the Blind. See https://www.afb.org/research-and-initiatives/statistics/adults

[2] According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. See https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/

St. Louis, Missouri—February 20, 2019 – VisionServe Alliance has launched a pilot program of its new web-based patient referral system known as “VisionRefer!” The web-based referral system will help make referrals of low vision patients by their doctors to vision rehabilitation centers nationwide easy, fast, and HIPAA compliant. The goal is to make VisionRefer! available to every ophthalmologist in the country by year end and to increase referrals to VisionServe members.

Developed with seed money from the Gibney Family Foundation and in partnership with the tech team at Lighthouse Works (a subsidiary of Lighthouse Central Florida in Orlando, Florida) the VisionRefer! pilot programs have begun in three states: Florida, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. Florida began its pilot in October, 2018, and Oklahoma and New Hampshire pilots will launch in March at NewView Oklahoma and Future In Sight in New Hampshire to test the efficacy and impact of state-wide single provider systems. It is projected that a nationwide roll out will begin in late summer.

The supervising agency of the twelve-month pilot program of VisionRefer! in Florida is the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind (Florida ASB), where they have begun introducing VisionRefer! to ophthalmologists statewide. Referrals are already successfully being received, beginning with an initial referral made by an ophthalmologist and sent to the Manasota Lighthouse on January 11, 2019.

“VisionRefer! is a 21st-century solution that will allow physicians to easily and quickly refer patients of all ages for vision rehabilitation services,” notes Roxann Mayros, the President of VisionServe Alliance who came up with the idea of VisionRefer!  “I am excited to see the pilot project already generating referrals, just like we knew it would.”

Florida ASB and 17 other Florida VisionServe member agencies received additional funding support for the pilot project from Florida Division of Blind Services to create marketing materials such as a tear- off flyer, a door hanger and print ads. Additional marketing support is being provided by the Florida Society of Ophthalmologists and their partner, Eschenbach Optik, who will begin traveling statewide introducing VisionRefer! to ophthalmologists.

“We hope that this pilot project will share the benefits of vision rehabilitation services to patients and their practices and dispel myths about our professions and fears that patients will be diverted from their care,” says Dr. Elly du Pre, Executive Director of Florida ASB. “Our goal is to make adoption of VisionRefer! easy by helping them put VisionRefer! on their desktops and provide handouts to give to their patients.”

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.

###

St. Louis, Missouri—November 13, 2018 – VisionServe Alliance’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Lee Nasehi as its new President and CEO.  VisionServe Alliance, headquartered in St. Louis, MO, is a national coalition of nonprofit organizations providing the full diversity of rehabilitative services to people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.

Lee Nasehi headshotLee has been with Lighthouse Central Florida, Inc. in Orlando, FL since 1998; serving as its chief executive since 2000 and founding its subsidiary social enterprise organization, Lighthouse Works! Inc. in 2010. During her tenure at Lighthouse she created and expanded innovative service delivery models and employment opportunities for people with vision loss and expanded effective business operations. Her appointment as VisionServe Alliance President/CEO will be effective March 1, 2019.

“I am honored to have been selected as the second President and CEO of VisionServe Alliance by the Board of Directors, many of whom have been my mentors and colleagues,” noted Lee.  “I have had the privilege of working with and learning from many VisionServe Alliance members over the last two decades as the chief executive of a member organization, a community-based rehabilitation and employment program.  I look forward to listening, considering the possibilities and then rolling up my sleeves in alliance with this exceptional field to pursue the kind of change that will afford the very best opportunities for living, learning and earning by people with blindness and low vision.”

The search committee received more than 200 resumes from highly qualified vision related and association executives, speaking with more than 100 of the applicants, holding three rounds of interviews, and narrowing the applicant pool to five finalists.

“The members of the search committee were fortunate to have such a large pool of highly qualified candidates,” said Chairman Mark Ackermann.  “While it made our process much more difficult, we were confident that we had some of the best and brightest talent in the vision and association spaces vying for this position.  The quality of the individuals who applied was extraordinary.  In the end, the Search Committee was certain that Lee Nasehi was absolutely the best person to replace VisionServe Alliance’s long-time CEO, Roxann Mayros.  Her knowledge of the field, and her multiple successes as President/CEO of Lighthouse Central Florida and Lighthouse Works convinced the Committee that she was the ideal individual to bring the Alliance to new heights.”

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 115 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.

###

St. Louis, Missouri – June 19, 2018  –  In partnership with the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB), VisionServe Alliance announces that the results of the 5th Biennial Compensation & Benefits Survey are now available to all participating members. This survey is the only comprehensive survey performed in the field for vision rehabilitation professionals, manufacturing positions, and executives.

The Compensation & Benefits Survey was created in response to numerous requests for comparative salary information specifically about organizations “of and for” the blind and visually impaired. Completed during even calendar years, this year’s survey collected data from a record 93 member agencies of NIB, NAEPB and VisionServe Alliance. Online responses were submitted and held in the survey database and reviewed only by the survey consultant.

Participation in the Compensation and Benefits Survey helps organizations to: set fair salaries and benefits to attract and retain the best employees; evaluate industry standards for compensation for a range of positions; analyze each agency’s own jobs and compensation; compare agency salaries and benefits with others in the blind and visual impairment industry; and document each agency organization’s rationale for setting executive salaries, as now required by the IRS form 990.

Results are currently being sent without cost to all participating agencies. These results are reported in the aggregate so that no survey information can be traced to any particular organization. Data published in each recipient’s copy of the final report will be customized to labor statistics in the recipient’s geographic location.

Members of VisionServe Alliance, NIB or NAEPB who did not answer the survey, may purchase a report specific to local labor statistics for $250 by contacting Lindsay Lutz at VisionServe Alliance, at (314) 961-8235 or by emailing llutz@visionservealliance.org. Nonmembers may purchase an individualized report for $500.

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 112 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.  Our members engage leaders in building a better world through services to people with vision loss by promoting leadership development, ethical management, quality services, and professional growth.

The Compensation and Benefits Survey is just one of many benefits of being a member of VisionServe Alliance.  To learn more about our member benefits and how to join VisionServe Alliance, visit www.visionservealliance.org/why-join-vsa/

###

St. Louis, Missouri – February 5, 2018 – Roxann Mayros, the first CEO and President of VisionServe Alliance, has announced that she will retire from her position effective December 31, 2018.

VisionServe Alliance’s Chairman of the Board, Mark Ackermann, remarked on Mayros’s strong leadership saying, “It is fair to say, without any hyperbole, that VisionServe Alliance would not be anywhere near the organization it is today, were it not for Roxann’s dedication, intellect, and professionalism.”

VisionServe Alliance was founded in 1987 as the National Council of Private Agencies for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCPABVI) and is a consortium of Executive Directors/CEOs of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the United States 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.

VisionServe Alliance was volunteer-driven until 2005, when Mayros was hired to become its first President and CEO. Prior to joining NCPABVI, Mayros was the Executive Director/CEO of three major vision rehabilitation agencies serving clients of all ages and served in leadership roles on several national boards of directors and advisory councils that focus on vision loss.

Mayros spearheaded important leadership in and advocacy for the field of vision impairment. Several highlights of her achievements at VisionServe Alliance include:
• In 2006, NCPABVI merged with the National Vision Rehabilitation Association and became the pre-eminent leader in promoting Medicare reimbursement for certified vision rehabilitation professionals, i.e., Low Vision Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists.
• In 2007, NCPABVI engaged in a re-branding process which resulted in NCPABVI changing its name to VisionServe Alliance to better represent the commonality amongst its diverse membership – an alliance of organizations providing vision rehabilitation related services.
• In 2012, VisionServe Alliance celebrated its 25th Anniversary, received the “Chairman’s Award” from First Nonprofit Insurance Company for 25 years of accomplishments, and received its first matching grant in the amount of $100,000 from the Gibney Family Foundation of South Burlington, Vermont and First Nonprofit Foundation of Chicago, Illinois to expand the vision rehabilitation workforce.

The Board of Directors has formed a search committee, chaired by Mr. Ackermann, to find a suitable successor and plans to name the new CEO of VisionServe by the late fall. If interested, please send your inquiry and resume/CV to mackermann@lighthouseguild.org

###