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Guest blog by Elly du Pré, DPA

Just as a diamond is generally cut as an inverted pyramid to create the greatest sparkle, management and workplace culture now is summoning that image when it comes to the organizational chart.  The inverted pyramid flips the broad base into the position of the apex.  Putting customers and employees at the top focuses light on quality of services.  The people living with vision loss, and the direct service providers with whom they come in contact most closely, are at the apex of the organizational chart.  In the business of Vision Rehabilitation, the diamonds among us are the certified professionals – CVRTs, COMS, CLVTs and CATIS – and other licensed highly skilled individuals essential to delivering comprehensive services.

White cane user receiving training
O & M at Center f/t Visually Impaired Atlanta

However, we must be cognizant of an important difference between certified and licensed professionals.  All States require licensure of certain occupations.  They all do not require certification of vision rehabilitation practitioners.   It is time to have a serious conversation about managing quality programs without the external stipulation.

Customers at the top:   VisionServe Alliance members are the unique, expert providers of the specialized and individualized solutions required by blind or visually impaired consumers and their families.  The message we need to convey to our customers is that they can safely take the leap of faith required to walk through our doors.  Our promise is not restored sight, it is restored lives, and that promise has to be convincing.

Employees at the top:   Riding on the shoulders of the people hired to provide services are the reputation of the organization, the success of its fundraising, the testimonials of excellent outcomes and even the relative cost-efficiency of service delivery.  The sustainability of our organizations rests on the effectiveness of the employees.

Certification of direct service practitioners safeguards both the promise we make to our customers and the confidence of management that best practices are ensuring program quality.  Certified Professionals = High Standards, Ethical Service, Commitment to Consumers, Stronger Program Outcomes.

With so much at stake, why are so many agencies not requiring certification as a condition of employment (within a certain time period after hiring), not supporting employees to pursue education to become certified, not requiring supervision by certified professionals?  Is it time for every VisionServe agency to commit to this goal: ACVREP certification agency-wide, nation-wide?

Guest blog by Elly du Pré, DPA.  Full disclosure:  I am the Executive Director of Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, a consortium of the 18 nonprofits providing direct education and rehabilitation services to people who are blind or visually impaired.  The State of Florida requires certification, and supervision by certified professionals in all contracts promulgated by the Division of Blind Services and in K – 12 schools.  I also am the Treasurer of the Board of the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

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One comment for “A Call to Conversation about Certifications

  • Nancy D Miller

    I totally agree with certification of all professionals and VISIONS requires certification within one year of hire and we pay for all the expenses for certification and re-certification. I also believe that state licensure, in addition to not instead of certification, is critical to attract more people into our specialized field of practice. In New York State we have been advocating for VRT and O&M licensure for more than 20 years. It is a tough battle with many “arguments” against licensure including that it will limit the number of professionals and increase the shortage (there is no evidence that this is true in any other professional field that is licensed); that it will be make it harder to meet WIOA requirements (this one makes no sense in New York State since it is the VRT and O&M staff at the private nonprofit rehab agencies that do the work that meets the requirements); that there is no need for licensure since OT’s can do it (yes with additional training they could but they aren’t doing it and they certainaly are not doing the work of O&M). I strongly believe we will not make a dent in the shortage of VRT and O&M professionals until they receive the same recognition as other professionals and that is state licensure.

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