DOI: 10.1177/0145482x231194634 ISSN:

The Perspectives of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists on the State of the Profession: A Time for Action?

Elyse M. Connors, Polly M. Abbott, Daniel E. Norris, Jennifer J. Ottowitz, Brigitte N. Morren
  • Rehabilitation
  • Ophthalmology

Introduction: The vision rehabilitation therapy (VRT) field is small in number and growing more slowly than needed to meet the expanding need for services for persons with vision loss. There has been little examination of how vision rehabilitation therapists (VRTs) understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the profession. Methods: Statements of potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were developed through a Delphi process. The final survey consisted of 11 demographic questions and asked participants to rate their level of agreement with 29 statements concerning the field. Participants were also asked to indicate which statements they believed were most important or impactful. Results: Overall, there was strong consensus among participants, with 19 of the 29 statements receiving 75% or greater agreement (strong agreement), with the highest consensus (87.2%) across the opportunity category. Discussion: Respondents perceive that the discipline's greatest strengths are that VRTs are the most highly trained professionals to provide education and rehabilitation for people with visual impairments across the lifespan, and they are a bridge between the medical, education, and rehabilitation systems. The lack of awareness of the job title and the roles of VRTs in the community, medical field, and in the field of vision was identified as the most impactful weakness of the field of VRT. Other related professionals being asked by employers to provide VRT services beyond their training, was identified as the most important threat. Implications for Practitioners: VRTs who responded to the survey indicate a fairly unified perspective on the state of the VRT discipline. Understanding the identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the field of VRT may serve as a foundation for unifying the voice of VRTs, to help coordinate a more uniform and strategic direction for growth. There are opportunities for all VRTs to contribute to the advancement and health of the VRT discipline, with the ultimate goal of providing high-quality services for persons with vision loss.

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