Low Vision and Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Certified Low Vision Therapist, Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist   More Names
Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, Global Mobility Specialist, Low Vision Therapist, Low Vision Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, Mobility Specialist, Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Orientation and Mobility Therapist for the Blind, Rehabilitation Teacher, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT), Vision Specialist, Vision Therapist
Description

Provide therapy and instruction on the use of technology and techniques to assist persons with low vision. Teach blind and visually-impaired persons how to establish and maintain orientation within an environment.

Instruct persons with vision impairments in the use of compensating skills and technologies to enable them to live safe, productive, and independent lives.

Low vision therapist, orientation and mobility specialist, and vision rehabilitation therapist are three separate, but closely related occupations. Each of these practitioners helps persons who have very limited or no eyesight due to disability, injury, or age.

Low vision therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, and vision rehabilitation therapists conduct training and provide treatment in a range of settings. These settings include hospitals (i.e., public, private, and Veterans Administration hospitals), rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities, public and private schools, early childhood centers, work sites, and private homes. Instruction and training often is conducted on a one-to-one basis in places where patients can travel and move about, including outdoors, at shopping malls, and on public transportation.

Thousands of children, youth, and adults each year experience a serious impairment of their eyesight. Some are born blind or with very limited vision. Others become blind or severely vision impaired as a result of disease, injury, or age. In some cases, individuals also have additional multiple disabilities.

Without their vision, those who are blind are unable to see space, shapes, or the boundaries of the space they occupy. They may have difficulty establishing and maintaining orientation, and moving safely from place to place. Others with severely impaired vision, but some degree of sight, often have many of the same difficulties as those who are totally blind.

Low vision therapists are healthcare medical practitioners who provide instruction on the use of technologies and techniques to children, youth, and adults with low vision. They work closely with each patient to determine their level of independence, limitations due to illnesses or other diseases, and available support systems. They provide training in the use of devices, such as high magnification glasses, telescopes, and closed circuit television. They also offer further enhanced support if the level of a patient's vision should decrease further, including devices for the blind, such as Braille or screen reader software.

Orientation and mobility specialists teach blind and visually-impaired persons, including those with multiple disabilities, how to establish and maintain orientation within an environment and how to move safely and efficiently through it. They offer instruction to blind and visually impaired children, youth, and adults to help them learn basic skills to live full, independent lives. They help these individuals learn, or relearn, to navigate through their physical environment.

This may be done through heightened use of their patients' unimpaired senses: hearing, touch, taste, and smell. They also will teach individuals how to use techniques and mobility devices such as a long canes or electronic travel aids. Furthermore, they also may work with those who have multiple disabilities in addition to vision loss as well as those who have suffered traumatic brain or nervous system injuries or diseases.

Vision rehabilitation therapists instruct persons with vision impairments in the use of compensating skills and technologies to enable them to live safe, productive, and independent lives. They focus on helping patients with vision loss or impairment establish or re-establish productive work lives, pursue new education and training opportunities, and live independent lives. In doing their work, they will conduct assessments that will be used to pinpoint client needs and help develop goals and strategies for meeting them.

In providing their therapy and instruction, vision rehabilitation therapists may work as part of a broader team with rehabilitation counselors and occupational therapists to plan, implement and administer broader, individual rehabilitation therapy programs - centered around the workplace - that are designed to restore, reinforce, and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional performance of patients.

Low vision therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, and vision rehabilitation therapists are highly trained specialists in helping people who have very limited sight due to disability, injury, or age. With experience, their career advancement opportunities may include supervisory responsibilities or management of a department that specializes in vision retention, restoration, and rehabilitation.

Credentials Needed: A number of states require low vision therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, and/or vision rehabilitation therapists to be state licensed or registered. These licensing requirements vary from state-to-state and are updated periodically. As a result, it is a good idea to check with your state when beginning your studies to see what current requirements they may have to work in these occupations. Often a state's department of health and mental hygiene is a good starting point to search for this kind of information.

The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) offers a separate voluntary industry-based certification for each of these three vision assistance occupations. More information about these low vision therapist, orientation and mobility specialist, and vision rehabilitation therapist certification programs is available on the ACVREP website.

The ACVREP describes itself as professional organization committed to quality certification programs that meet rigorous recognized standards. The Academy is a member of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) and bases its certification programs on standards established by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Some Key Things to Remember: Low vision therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, and vision rehabilitation therapists provide therapy and treatment to persons who have very limited sight due to disability, injury, or age. They offer assistance in the use of technology and techniques to assist persons with low vision; teach blind and visually-impaired persons how to establish and maintain orientation and move safely and efficiently within an environment; and instruct persons with vision impairments in the use of compensating skills and technologies to enable them to live safe, productive, and independent lives.

Low vision therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, and vision rehabilitation therapists usually require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and often a master's degree, to practice. A number of states require these therapists and specialists to be state licensed or registered. Voluntary industry-based certification is available for each of these three vision assistance occupations.

Reviewed for content and accuracy by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, May 17, 2012.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
27% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $67,140 - $99,300    Hourly: $32 - $48
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
Similar Careers

Occupational Therapist
Typical Education: Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
Salary (National): $67,140 - $99,300

(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
Find Programs

Percent Job Growth:

27% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $67,140 - $99,300

Hourly: $32 - $48