Vol. 24, No. 3, Winter 2007/2008
Visual Prosthetics: Hype or Promise?
By Gilsin Dagnelie, PhD, and Ronald A. Schuchard, PhD
The miracle of restoring sight to the blind, told in legends and myths throughout human cultures and
history, is moving from dream to possibility in the 21st century. Several dozen groups around the world
now claim that electronic or neurochemical prostheses may soon restore some measure of functional
vision. The retina extensively preprocesses and reduces image information, and the cortical map and
magnification add further complexity. Therefore, functional replacement of neural elements should be
done at the earliest available stage of visual processing to limit ―surrogate‖ processing that is a poor
substitute for the native system. For example, a retinal prosthesis should be used if the nerve fibers and
optic nerve are in tact, such that the prosthesis stimulates the most distal remaining cell population
available. Despite such considerations, the first attempts at vision restoration almost 40 years ago were
directed at the visual cortex. Early cortical implants used electrodes placed between the meninges,
avoiding the complications of glial cell encapsulation plaguing most penetrating electrodes. A mapping
procedure was used to determine the location of each electrode’s phosphene in the visual field, and real-
time image processing and stimulation software extracted and projected contours onto the best-matching
electrodes. These phosphenes do not convey real-form vision, yet they do allow the wearer crude
localization of outlines in the scene. In the early 1990s, intraoperative stimulation in patients with late-
stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP) showed that phosphenes could be elicited from blind retinal areas long
after photoreceptor degeneration. Researchers are working on various implants in which a matrix of
electrodes stimulates the surviving retinal cells with imagery collected by an external camera and reduced
to match the resolution of the electrode array. Two research groups have progressed to the stage of
prototype implants in patients with late-stage RP. A consortium formed by Second Sight Medical
Products LLC and by the Doheny Retina Institute has performed six implants of 4 x 4 electrode arrays
based on cochlear implant electronics; these patients can detect phosphenes at individual electrodes,
discriminate crude shapes upon multiple electrode stimulation, and recognize simple stimuli presented via
a head-mounted camera. A consortium formed by IIP Technologies GmbH and German universities has
performed several 50-electrode implants and is reporting that patients have similar discrimination abilities
with computer-generated stimuli. Other retinal prosthesis groups are exploring integrated concepts in
which the eye’s optics become part of a prosthetic imaging device, which in turn generates the signals to
drive the secondary neurons. The simplest implementation of such a device, an array of small photodiodes
under the retina, appears to have a neurotrophic beneficial effect in RP patients with some remaining
vision. The addition of signal amplification and pulse modulation in a multilayered subretinal chip, which
is a more complex approach, is being implemented by a German consortium. A very different approach to
such an integrated system is the conversion of secondary retinal neurons into photoreceptors by inserting
photosensitive molecules found in plants; however, bringing such techniques to the animal or human
retina is likely to take many years. Only one group thus far has pursued the concept of a prosthesis that
stimulates the optic nerve, presumably because of the difficulty of creating an orderly map of the visual
world in this high-density structure. One may be tempted to view visual prosthesis development as a
straightforward problem of bioengineering, in which the eventual success is contingent on development of
the right methods and materials coupled with investments of time and money. However, fundamental
restrictions severely limit the potential for functional visual prostheses at the present time, despite current
technology. The most vexing problem is that remaining neurons in the degenerated retina do not retain
their normal properties following photoreceptor degeneration. Recent microanatomical studies provide
evidence for extensive reorganization of the connections among surviving retinal neurons and for cell
migration outside their customary layers. Cells being stimulated by a retinal prosthesis may pass these
signals to multiple cell types and functional streams that would not be interconnected in the normal retina,
and signals may propagate over substantial distances. On the other hand, the adaptive response of retinal
tissue may allow innovative interfacing between implants and retinal cells. For example, experiments at
Stanford University have shown that certain retinal neurons tend to migrate into cavities between
stimulating electrodes. Similarly, tissue culture studies from several laboratories have demonstrated that
targeted neurotransmitter release by microfluidic assemblies will cause some cell types to form close
contacts with these devices. Another limiting factor in signal transmission from electrodes to neural tissue
is electrode geometry. Surface electrodes used in both cortical and retinal implants are located at distances
up to 100 μm from the target cells; this requires large stimulus amplitudes and large surface areas to stay
within safe current density limits to avoid electrochemical reactions at the electrode surface.
Consequently, spatial resolution of these electrodes is limited to spacing on the order of 1º in the visual
field, i.e., 20/1200 visual acuity. Penetrating electrode technologies are being developed for intracortical
applications, but a careful tradeoff between electrode size, current density, and mechanical tissue damage
will be required to find a compromise that allows higher resolution under safe long-term conditions. An
additional factor concerning adaptation to any prosthesis with a camera outside the eye is the role of eye
movements in visual tasks, and the potentially difficult adjustment to their anomalous effects. Eye
movements will not cause the expected image shift, and head-worn camera image movements will
provide an inappropriate compensatory eye movement because of the vestibule-ocular reflex. A possible
solution to this problem would be to equip visual prostheses with an eye tracker that can direct the image
processor to execute the appropriate image shift. Based on observations in simulated prosthetic vision
tests, however, prosthesis wearers likely will learn to reduce their eye movements and execute targeted
head/camera movements to achieve the desired image shifts. The unknown ability of patients with a long
history of blindness to use the visual information provided by implanted electrode arrays will limit the
success of most visual prostheses. Patients without early visual experience are known to have extreme
problems effectively using restored visual information. Even those who once had good vision may have
great difficulty learning to function with the low resolution and limited extent provided by retinal
implants, or the irregular phosphene configuration provided by cortical implants. Interestingly, early
indications from implant wearers suggest that the plasticity of the visual system will allow a considerable
degree of adaptation, so we may yet be surprised by implant wearers’ adaptive abilities with even every
early prosthetic devices. We in the field of vision rehabilitation should recognize the field of visual
prosthetics as a wide-open opportunity to contribute to our expertise. While the tools may be new, the
rehabilitation process itself is analogous to functional rehabilitation in every other field, and once we
familiarize ourselves with the technology and understand its potential and limitations, we are in the best
position to apply our professional training and skills to the rehabilitation of newly-restored vision. For the
best rehabilitation for visual prosthesis wearers, outcome measures need to be identified and possibly
developed to provide evidence-based rehabilitation practice. We believe that cautious optimism regarding
the future of visual prostheses is reasonable. While the engineering challenges are considerable and the
physiological and anatomical limitations real, crude levels of vision restoration through retinal and
cortical implants are certainly on the horizon. Early implant recipients certainly will experience
unforeseen difficulties in fully understanding the visual information provided by these implants and
learning to use them to their advantage. This area is where we as rehabilitation specialists have a crucial
role to play.
A New Look for A New Vision
January is named for the Roman god Janus; he had two faces, one which looked backward and one which
looked forward. This is why the first month of the calendar is named for him: we look back at where we
were, and look forward to where we are going. This issue of AER Report doesn’t just demonstrate that we
have a new look, but a new outlook, as it captures the excitement building in our organization. Inside
these beautifully redesigned pages, you will find features on the Medicare Demonstration Project, the
international impact of our CVI online course, ideas for recruiting new vision professionals, and a look at
how our field went from folk wisdom to respected profession. We have reports from our member
networks: chapters, divisions, and committees. This is where AER happens on a daily basis as members
see their organization act through individuals coming together with common goals. AER listservs
continue to be a source of information, inspiration, and at times consternation when an issue that affects
our profession (such as state licensure) is identified and discussed. A sampling of these vibrant and
valuable conversations is included in this issue. As we begin a new year, ripe with possibilities, I want to
thank our members for their contributions and participation during 2007. AER is changing, growing, and
seeking to provide increasing value to our membership, and I invite you to share your concerns,
questions, comments, and suggestions. With this in mind, please remember that our biennial elections will
be held this spring. We are seeking nominees for the positions of President-Elect, Treasurer, and
Secretary. Please consider nominating a colleague or running yourself for AER office. There are many
ways to be involved, and leadership at the Board level is just one of them. Find out how to become more
active in AER by contacting Bette Anne Preston or Ginger Croce at AER headquarters. We need your
participation. Without you, there is no us!
AER extends its appreciation to members for their very generous contributions in support
of our community
General Operating Fund: Donations to this fund are used to help in the expense of running the day-to-day
business of AER
• Mr. Tony Candela
• Dr. Jane Newton Erin
• Dr. Gregory Goodrich
• Miss Jane Mundschenk
• Mrs. Nancy Paskin
• Ms. Mary Beth Harrison
AER has a number of other funds to which members can make tax-deductible donations that help AER to
make a difference in the field. These include the Lowenfeld Publication Fund, where donations are used
as seed money for worthy publications with proceeds from the sale of such publications going back into
the fund, the MacFarland Stipend Fund, which are awards given to selected AER members to help defray
the cost of attending the AER International Conference, and the William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship
Fund, which is awarded to two selected applicants who are legally blind and are studying for a career in
the field of services to persons who are blind or visually impaired. If you wish to make a tax-deductible
donation to one of AER’s funds, please do so by sending your donation to AERBVI, 1703 N. Beauregard
Street, Suite 440, Alexandria, VA 22311, and indicate to which fund you wish to contribute. Thank you.
AER Committees— Members in Action
Much of what AER is able to accomplish is done so quietly by a large group of very dedicated volunteers
who serve on AER’s Committees and Task Forces. These individuals meet regularly to work towards
established goals that make your association and the field stronger. The following is an update on recent
activities of some of AER’s Committees:
Jim Allan, Chair
The Accessibility Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues pertinent to AER’s accessibility
needs and requirements. Most recently, the Committee has reviewed the accessibility of continuing
education program software, editorial submission software, survey software, and has been working on
defining a Committee charge.
M. Cay Holbrook, Chair
The Awards Committee has recently reviewed the award nomination forms and approved a timeline for
submission and review of the 2008 AER Awards Program. Award nomination forms will be posted online
and submissions are due February 15, 2008.
Bylaws and Structure Committee
Pat Leader, Chair
The Bylaws and Structure Committee has been meeting monthly. With the Bylaws revision behind us
(revision passed by vote of the membership at the 2006 Conference in Snowbird), we have tackled the
Policy Manual. The Policy Manual is a document that is used by boards to further define and add detail to
bylaws. The AER Bylaws is a lengthy document used by the Board to set policies for the organization.
The Policy Manual is revised by presentation of suggested changes to the Board, and their vote in favor of
the changes. Oftentimes, the Board will decide that new policies need to be added to this document, and
takes a vote at a Board meeting to accomplish this. Currently, we are reviewing past motions of the
Board, over the past several Board terms, and incorporating those additions and changes into the Policy
Manual. During our monthly meetings, the committee is pouring over the Policy Manual, page by page
and article by article, reviewing the language, and striving to simplify the wording. When we feel changes
need to be made, we make a motion to the Board for their consideration. We are v currently working on
Membership, Chapters and Divisions. The Committee also has responsibility for consulting the Bylaws
for the Board, when questions come up from other committees. We are called upon to review the Bylaws
on an as-needed basis. Monthly meetings will continue throughout the term of this Board.
Continuing Education Committee
Lisa-Anne Mowerson, Chair
The Continuing Education Committee continues to work on and build an AER Speakers Bureau. This
listing will allow chapter and division conference planners to view some speakers and subjects that they
might be able to use in their future meetings. The committee is also working on lists to determine future
continuing education projects, both on line and in print.
New York State Works for Quality Vision Services With S 5308
By Suzanne Mullen, TVI, COMS
NYS AER chapter has been active in advocating that blind and visually impaired residents living in New
York State receive quality services by highly trained professionals. This is why NYS AER supports the
licensure bill in New York State to license Orientation and Mobility Specialists and Rehabilitation
Therapists. S 5308 would ensure the safety of persons who are blind or partially sighted by licensing the
trained vision rehabilitation professionals who work with them to restore their independent functioning
within the home, the school, the workplace, and the wider community. The bill is now in the higher
education committee. To read more about S 5308, visit the New York State Legislature website:
public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi. Why is this licensing bill important? As vision professionals, we
need to maintain consistently high standards in our field, both for the integrity of our profession and for
the protection of our consumers. As a parent of a visually impaired child, I want someone who is highly
trained and qualified to teach my daughter Braille and cane travel. By becoming a licensed profession, we
also open opportunities for more funding sources (such as Medicaid/Medicare) and expansion of our field
as a legitimate occupation recognized by law. What can you do? There are several options for you to
make your voice heard:
• Take an active role in your professional organization – AER – and support certification through
• Support the Medicare Low Vision Demonstration Project by participating as a service provider or
referring clients to those agencies that are designated to provide services under this program.
• Support our efforts in New York State by sending letters of support or showing your willingness to
become licensed in New York State.
Please send your comments to: Suzanne Mullen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Report – Leaders Working for You!
Marie Amerson, Secretary, AER Board of Directors
The following is a summary of the motions considered and approved at the September 2007
AER Board of Directors meeting. Numerous changes to AER’s Policy Manual were approved,
bringing it up to date and reflecting organizational practices. Please see the minutes for the
context of a motion and discussion pertaining to the issue.
1. Minutes of the April, 2007 Board meeting were approved with revisions.
2. The Finance Committee recommended that the Board approve the following increase in dues rate,
effective October 1:
Regular $135; Regular (CAN) $135; International $135; Same Household $109; Retired $60; Support
$60; Student $60; Transition $105; Associate $60; Corporate $550
All amounts are in U.S. dollars. The recommendation was unanimously accepted.
3. The FC recommendation that Job Exchange ads for corporate members be increased from $0 to $49 per
ad and mailing lists be provided at a substantial discount, but no longer free, was approved.
4. The motion to have the AER Board review the options available to move forward with exploring
options for the continuation of a Canadian leased office and appointing a working group to report on a
plan and budget at the January 2008 meeting passed unanimously.
5. It was moved that the Board accept the report of the Strategic Planning Committee and that we ask the
committee to clarify the item on ―indirect services.‖ Not withstanding this, the Board recommends
disseminating the content of the strategic synthesis at the earliest opportunity and begin taking steps to
utilize the new strategic synthesis to develop a three-year strategic plan for
2008-2011. The Board further thanks the committee for their work. The motion passed unanimously.
6. The following motion was unanimously approved: In recognition of the importance and
value of publications as a benefit to our members, and in recognition of our fiscal responsibility to AER, I
move that the AER Board proceed with creating a new AER publication with a new publisher that results
in a journal of equal or better quality to RE:view at an affordable cost.
7. A motion was made that AER pursue international membership as a strategic priority within the
following parameters: 1) AER will not lose money as a priority for negotiations, international or
otherwise; 2) AER will restructure its mission statement to reflect a global/world-wide impact;
3) AER needs to formalize a process to gather information about how AER is perceived globally; 4) The
UK proposal should be finalized and brought to the task force for comment; 5) any changes to the
organization could first be piloted; and 6) the Task Force, with direction from the Board, will continue to
work on the unresolved issues noted in the committee’s report. The motion passed.
8. To amend the Motion of April 2007 meeting, to state ―all regular members of AER‖ would be eligible
to vote. The motion passed.
9. To submit a Bylaws change to the membership at the 2008 Conference, to alter the Membership
categories to state the following: (changes in text highlighted) Article III. Membership Section 3.1.
Voting Memberships. There shall be the following voting memberships: Regular (United States and
Canada); Retired; Life; Same Residential Household; Student; Transitional; Support/Clerical
International Section 3.2. Non-Voting Memberships. There shall be a nonvoting
associate membership. There shall be a non-voting Corporate membership for companies, institutions,
and organizations. The motion passed.
10. To submit a change in Bylaws to the membership at the 2008 Conference as follows:
Article X. Chapters Section 1. Territory. Chapters may be organized within a state, province
or other political subdivision, may be organized comprised of two or more states, provinces, or political
subdivisions, or where practical there may be organized more than one chapter within a state, province, or
political subdivision, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors. The motion passed.
11. A motion was made that the recommendations of the Continuing Education Committee be made
available to Chapters and Divisions for their voluntary use, that data be collected on the effectiveness of
process and final preparation of written documents be developed at AER-Lift 2008. The motion passed.
12. A motion was made that the AER Board ask our Executive Director and AER President to develop a
certificate to express that the Board commends CNIB’s commitment to and support of professional
services to all blind and visually impaired Canadians, and that we recognize
CNIB’s support of AER. The motion passed unanimously.
2008 Silent Auction Challenge
AER challenges its 43 chapters and 13 divisions to provide items for the 2008 Silent Auction. Each
chapter and division is urged to donate at least one item for the fundraising effort—proceeds go to AER’s
operating fund to support member benefits. Books, gift baskets, vision-related products, travel, AER
membership or publications, and other creative items are welcome. Auction items will be available for
bids at the 2008 AER International Conference in Chicago, July 22-27. Visit www.aerbvi.org/conference
for more information and a donation form.
Assisting the Visually Impaired: From Folk Art to Profession
By Phil Hatlen, EdD
My dear friend, the late Sally Mangold, was fond of saying that she and I began working at a time when
education of blind and visually impaired students was a folk art. And she was right.
Consider the status of our profession in the mid 1950s. Schools for the blind controlled the education of
our students. They were clearly academic schools, carefully selecting students. Their teachers fit into two
categories: (1) first, second- and third-generation teachers, whose parents and perhaps grandparents also
taught at the school; and (2) subject-matter/academic teachers who learned about blind and visually
impaired students while on the job, usually from their veteran colleagues. In those days, it would have
been very unusual to find a teacher in a school for the blind who was credentialed in education of the
visually impaired. Thus, in terms of skills being passed on verbally from generation to generation, we fit
the mold of ―folk art.‖ The significant expansion of services to children in local day schools, and the
resulting tremendous growth in the number of professionals, moved us from a folk art to a profession very
quickly in the second half of the 20th century. Perhaps most significantly, the number of universities with
personnel preparation programs in education of the visually impaired grew dramatically in the 1950s and
1960s. This growth reflected the desperate need for more teachers due to the sudden influx of thousands
of blind children. We were quick to delegate the role of ―leadership‖ to our colleagues in university
programs. Researchers and writers, curriculum developers and advocates gradually turned us around, and
soon we became a profession. Understanding that I will undoubtedly forget some names, let me share
with you some of the folks who led the way. We have had some giants in research; colleagues like
Emerson Foulke, Butch Hill, Amanda Lueck, Sally Mangold, Sharon Sacks, Karen Wolffe, Cay
Holbrook, Alan Koenig, Anne Corn, and many, many others, have now given us a body of documented
knowledge that gives us legitimate claim to be a profession. Writers, such as Berthold Lowenfeld, Naomi
and Dean Tuttle, Natalie Barraga, Rosanne Silberman, and many others have given us a strong and
legitimate body of written works that solidify our position as a profession. Curriculum development has
become as important as curriculum adaptation, much of it done so well by the American Foundation for
the Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually
Impaired. As I look back on over 50 years in my profession, and as I look at the current leaders and
potential future leaders of my profession, I am filled with pride for our past accomplishments and I look
forward with excitement to our strong and dynamic future.
Nominations are now open for the 2008 AER Awards Program
Submission deadline: February 15, 2008
The 2006-2008 AER Awards Committee strongly encourages you to nominate candidates for one of
AER’s prestigious awards. The highest recognition that AER gives to outstanding blindness professionals
are the Allen, Bauman, McAulay and Shotwell awards. Each of these four awards honors a different
aspect of service to the field. The committee is also seeking nominations for the C. Warren Bledsoe
Award, which honors a noteworthy piece of literature contributing to the field of blindness, and the
Douglas C. MacFarland Award, which was established to honor an individual who has provided
leadership in the field of blindness and visual impairment and is now retired from the field. Visit AER’s
Web site at www.aerbvi.org to obtain an Awards Application or to get more information. Please take the
time to nominate a distinguished professional for the recognition he or she has earned. Contact Sara
Sellers at AER with questions about the awards at 877-492-2708, ext. 202, or send an e-mail to
email@example.com. Nominations are being accepted through February 15, 2008.
www.aerbvi.org or phone 877-492-2708, ext. 202
Mary K. Bauman Award
This award honors an individual who has made significant and outstanding contributions to the education
of children and youth who are blind and visually impaired.
Ambrose M. Shotwell Award
Established to honor an individual who has made significant and outstanding contributions to the personal
adjustment or rehabilitation of adults who are blind or visually impaired.
John H. McAulay Award
A professional who has contributed outstanding efforts and achievements leading to the placement of
people with visual impairments in productive employment is honored with this award.
Alfred Allen Award
Established to honor professionals who have spent their career in direct service to people with visual
Douglas C. MacFarland Award
This award is presented to an individual who is retired from the field after having provided leadership in
the field of blindness and visual impairment and who made innovative, signficant or outstanding
contributions either through direct service, professional organizations, research, literature and/or
preparation of professionals.
C. Warren Bledsoe Award
Presented by the AER Publications Committee in recognition of an outstanding piece of literature in the
field of blindness and visual impairment that has been published within the past five years.
AER Journal Submissions
Production on the first edition of AER’s new member journal is under way, and members are encouraged
to create articles for future issues. A peer-reviewed publication for professionals serving the visually
impaired and blind, the Journal seeks articles from the spectrum of ideas regarding service to the disabled
community. Topics that will be considered include (but are not limited to) education, research, new ways
of doing things, technology, philosophy, social and cultural issues, and rehabilitation. AER’s new online
article submission and peer review process will be available in late winter. In the meantime, request
submission guidelines or send articles for future 2008 issues via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact
AER at 877-492-2708 or 703-671-2500, ext. 203. Watch for announcements from AER regarding the
designation of editor-in-chief and associate editors.
2008 Calendar of Events
Feb 15: State of Hawaii 2008
Conference—Orientation & Mobility: Early Childhood and Students with Multiple Disabilities, featuring
Dr. Kevin Stewart; Pacific Beach Hotel, Waikiki, Oahu. For more information, please contact Joan
Anderson at 808-733-4992 or via email at Joan_Anderson@notes. k12.hi.us
Feb. 28-Mar 2: 49th Annual California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped
(CTEVH) Conference, Los Angeles Airport Marriott, Los Angeles, CA. Contact Christy Cutting, 702-
Mar. 13-14: Pacific Northwest Chapter 2008 Spring Conference, Tacoma, WA. For more information,
contact Kathryn Botsford at email@example.com or call 425-456-4675.
Mar. 26-28: Kentucky Chapter of AER Conference, General Butler State Park. Visit
kyaer.aerbvi.org/index.htm for additional information.
Mar. 28-30: AER-Lift Leadership Conference, Dallas, Texas. Conference open to the leaders of AER’s
chapters and divisions. For additional information, contact Bette Anne Preston at 877-492-2708, ext. 201
Apr. 10-12: AER Texas Chapter Meeting, ―Reaching New Summits,‖ Wyndham Dallas North by the
Galleria. Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Anna Bradfield.
Apr. 16-18: International Association of Science and Technology for Development Assistive Technology
Conference, Baltimore, Maryland. For details, visit www.iasted.org/conferences/home-619.html.
Apr. 23 - 25: Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter is hosting its annual Spring Vision Conference, Fresh
AER,‖ in Grantville, PA. For more information, please contact: Brenda Egan, Conference
Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website: www.penn-delaer.org.
May 7-9: AER Dakotas Chapter Conference at the North Dakota School for the Blind, which will be
celebrating 100 years, while the AER Dakotas Chapter will be celebrating our 25th anniversary!
May 12-13: Arkansas AER Spring Conference. Visit www.araer.org/ for details.
Jul. 22-27: AER International Conference, Chicago Downtown Marriott Hotel, Chicago, IL; contact
Bette Anne Preston, 877-492-2708, ext. 201 or email@example.com. Visit the web site for additional
information.492-2708 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.aerbvi.org
Planning an event in 2008?
Let everyone know about it and post it here! Send your event information to email@example.com or call
877-492-2708. ext. 201.
Begin the New Year with AER Books
AER carries specialized books and publications that help you help yourself! Visit www.aerbvi.org to view
a current publications title list and print out an order form. In addition to attractively priced AER
publications, the association carries several titles from the American Foundation for the Blind at a
discount for members.
Recruitment: We Need To Quit Talking to Ourselves!
First in a Three-Part Series
By Walter Wittich, KC Dignan & BJ LeJeune
Do you know who will replace you should you leave your job?
Do you or your employer know how to recruit qualified vision professionals?
Changing demographics indicate that the need for professionals in the field of visual impairment will
drastically increase over the coming decades. This includes both vision rehabilitation and education
professionals and medical professionals. Professions affected by this demographic change include:
• low vision therapy
• vision rehabilitation therapy (formerly rehabilitation teaching)
• teaching of the visually impaired
• orientation & mobility specialist
• ophthalmic nursing
• occupational therapy
The concern about recruitment of ―the next generation‖ of professionals is not a new development, as it
gained momentum during the 1980s. Despite this early concern, the required increase in the number of
trained personnel is slow, and still insufficient for the projected need.
• Over the years, the AER Recruitment Committee has worked on its own and with other agencies on
addressing this challenge. In the late 1980s, AER and the Affiliated Leadership League of and for the
Blind (ALL) initiated a cooperative program to address recruitment issues in Orientation & Mobility.
ALL’s efforts included innovative marketing and advertising strategies, improved training standards, and
• In 2003, AER hired a recruitment specialist, Dr. Dignan, to research this issue and develop strategies
and materials to address personnel shortages. Due to a number of factors, Dr. Dignan’s research was
completed, but never implemented by AER.
• Recruitment and retention were combined in one of the three priority objectives that have an immediate
impact on the future quality and availability of services. Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and
Low Vision (Council for Exceptional Children, 2000).
• Recruitment was also one of the most significant trends requiring our attention as an association in
AER’s Report of the Strategic Thinking Dialog (Fidler, 2007).
These and other programs have contributed to some advancement in successful recruitment, yet we are
still far from reaching desired goals. It is clear that the aging and impending retirement of vision
professionals highlights the need to make recruitment a priority for all vision professionals. Published
information on the topic of vision personnel shortages and recruitment is found mostly in journals that
cater to an audience already aware of the problem such as the Journal of Visual Impairment and
Blindness, RE:view, or proceedings of conferences in the vision rehabilitation field. In essence, we have
been talking to OURSELVES about this problem, when we really need to talk to OTHERS who might be
in a better position to assist us in attracting new personnel to the field. NOW is the time to build on the
work that has been done, and to use the information that is available so we can be better recruiters. By
increasing our understanding of who future vision professionals are, and learning what they care about,
we can be more successful as recruiters. Each successful step can increase our motivation to do more.
From our research (Dignan, 2003) we have learned that vision professionals tend to have the following
• People become vision professionals after knowing a visually impaired adult or child, and/or after talking
with a vision professional over a period of time.
• People tend to come to the field of vision with seven years of experience in another profession.
• Professions that are particularly good pools for recruitment of future vision professionals include
education, disability-related professions, and human service professions. When asked why they liked
working as a vision professional the answers were loud and clear:
• non-traditional jobs and/or non-traditional population;
• making a difference in someone’s life; and
• respect and leadership that come with the job.
We also know the following about recruiting mid-career professionals:
• It can take two years for that person to investigate, to act, to decide, and to change their life. Be patient.
• Repetition and positive messages are essential. We need to persevere in giving the message to others. A
potential recruit is not the person to complain to about your job.
• Tailor your message to the listener. Talk about solving problems to science teachers and about
leadership to those who want to make a difference.
• Help candidates see themselves in the job by personalizing your message; use personal pronouns and
speak about the successes you’ve had with your own students and consumers.
How can we use this information? As vision professionals EACH OF US can make a difference, not
only in someone else’s life, but also in our profession. We can use this information to know who to talk to
and what to say. Here are a few strategies that the current AER Recruitment Committee suggests for all of
us to climb out of our warm, comfortable box, and start talking to others about vision professions:
• Talk to college classes: many degree areas have survey classes that include a unit on vision and/or visual
• Exhibit at career fairs, education, graduate schools and professional job fairs; AER can help you with
• Work with your AER chapter and division to develop a recruitment plan for your group at your next
meeting. Sponsor a booth at a job fair, or send out postcards to university programs offering to be a
• Increase student involvement in AER by inviting them to join. As members, the students will begin to
attend your state meetings, and then they will spread the word among their peers – remember, students
talk to other students. States might also want to sponsor a student to attend the national meeting; this will
show them the breadth and depth of the profession.
• If your administrative assistant is a promising vision professional, encourage them to take classes. Many
programs are now available on-line and fit everyone’s schedule.
• Develop your own succession plan so when you are ready to retire, there is someone to carry on in your
• And let’s address the elephant in the room: we all need to work to increase salaries and benefits for
those working in the vision professions.
Yes, you have figured it out; the AER Recruitment Committee is recruiting YOU! We all need to quit
talking to ourselves about personnel shortages, and reach out to those outside the profession. Recruitment
literature outside our field is full of suggestions for candidate-centric (there’s a new word for you)
recruitment. Here are a few icebreaker comments to open a conversation:
• Are you interested in a career where you can make a difference? Would you like a career where you can
build relationships with individuals, not groups? Would you like a job in a career that is stimulating and
challenging, where each day brings new tasks? Would you like a job in a stable career where employers
will actively seek you out?
The AER office has recruitment materials to help you, including an attractive brochure about the vision
profession, and additional information on individual careers serving the blind and visually impaired.
Contact the AER staff today to stock up on materials; watch the AER website for future resource
information to assist in your recruitment efforts. We are planning to develop Powerpoint presentations
and more handouts that can enhance your efforts. So, quit talking to yourselves – get out there and talk to
Over the next few issues of AER Report, we will be sharing ideas to help you with your personal
recruitment efforts. If you have ideas, please contact the Recruitment Committee Chair, BJ LeJeune, with
your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the AER Office at Association for Education and
Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Suite 440, Alexandria, VA
22311-1744, (703) 671-4500, ext.202,
(877) 492-2708, FAX (703) 671-6391, email@example.com.
Council for Exceptional Children, (2000). National Plan forTraining Personnel to Serve Children with
Blindness and LowVision. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
Filder, MB (2007). Report of the Strategic Thinking Dialog.
Downloaded December 12, 2007 from the AERBVI web site
Dignan, KC (2003). Summary of Data from Survey Sources
for New VI Professionals. Unpublished manuscript.
2008 AER International Conference Set for July
AER and the AER Illinois Chapter invite you to make plans now to attend the 2008 International
Conference, scheduled for July 22-27 in Chicago, Illinois. Conference registration will open in early
2008, and will be available online through AER’s website, www.aerbvi.org. Check out the site for a
preliminary schedule and for conference registration fee information. Members may also use the site to
book hotel reservations at the beautiful Chicago Downtown Marriott, located in the heart of the Windy
City. The 2008 AER International Conference Featuring the Orientation & Mobility Division Conference
Within a Conference will bring together experts in the vision field to address today’s hottest topics. It’s an
opportunity to enhance your knowledge, collaborate with colleagues, and see the latest products and
services associated with the field. Plus, delegates will experience the exceptional sites, sounds and dining
opportunities that Chicago has to offer.
Don’t miss it!
BANA Update from the Fall 2007 Meeting
Reported by Diane P. Wormsley, PhD., AER’s BANA Representative
Since the last report on the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) in the spring 2007 issue of AER
Report, much work has been done by the organization that promotes and facilitates the uses, teaching, and
production of Braille, of which AER is a member. The Fall meeting of BANA was held in Philadelphia
and hosted by Associated Services for the Blind. The newest member of BANA, the Canadian
Association for Education Resources (representative Donna
Passey) was present for the first time at this meeting. The new American Printing House (APH)
representative, Mary Nelle McLennan, was introduced. A new associate member, The Matilda Ziegler
Magazine, was voted in at this meeting. BANA hosted an Open Forum at ASB on the evening of
November 14, 2007, to which approximately 22 people came. The attendees were for the most part
Braille readers who were members of the Jennie Beck Chapter of the Braille Revival League, with some
transcribers from ASB also in attendance. The Open Forum is an opportunity for the public to meet with
BANA to discuss issues, and to hear about the work of
BANA. As often is the case, at this meeting the attendees were presented with some thought provoking
suggestions for modifications which are being considered and which have been raised through the work
of the various technical committees which make recommendations to BANA for code additions and
changes. The board approved a news release for the BANA Braille Codes Update 2007, which is now on
the BANA Website (www.brailleauthority.org) and scheduled to take effect on January 8, 2008. This
update represents some minor changes in, and additions to, the English Braille American Edition 1994,
Revised 2002 (EBAE, Literary Braille Code), some changes in Braille Formats: Principles of Print to
Braille Transcription, 1997, and also incorporates changes to the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and
Science Notation, 1972 Revision.
The Nemeth Code portion of this update is a compilation of all changes and errata to the 1972 edition of
the Nemeth Code. The update is a preliminary release of specific changes prior to the complete revision
and publication of new editions of each of the codes which is due out in 2010. The file is downloadable in
accessible versions from the website. While it is long (91 pages), this is in part because the pages are
designed to be inserted in current code books, and therefore many pages have only short paragraphs on
them. What looks to be a formidable reading task is actually fairly easily accomplished when the copies
of the appropriate codes are at hand, so that the pages and rule numbers can be referred to while reading
the Update. A short summary of the Update is included below. The EBAE section of the Update includes
several new symbols (see Rule VIII, pages L33-34 in Update): the @ symbol (dots 4; 1), the ampersand
(&) symbol (dots 4; 1-2-
3-4-6) and the Copyright (dots 4-5; 1-4), Trademark (dots 4-5; 2-3-4-5) and Registered trademark (dots 4-
5; 1-2-3-5) symbols. There is now one single symbol for the crosshatch (#) (dots 4-5-6; 1-4-5-6) and this
symbol is to be used wherever the crosshatch is found (see Rule VIII same Update pages). In addition to
these symbols, the Update introduces the use of the two-cell slash (dots 4-5-6; 3-4). The two-cell slash is
used between numbers and letters where the one-cell slash could be confused with an ―st‖ sign and it can
also be used in dates where the slash has previously been replaced with hyphens (see Rule VI, pp. L22-28
for examples in the Update). This permits closer following of the print copy, especially in dates. Also
with respect to dates, the rule for use of the apostrophe has been rewritten to more closely follow original
text (see Rule I, pp. L13-L14 in Update). Two special composition signs, the termination indicator and the
transcriber’s note symbol, are incorporated into this section of EBAE (see Rule II, pp. L17-19 in Update
for examples). The use of the termination indicator has been modified slightly to give the Braille reader a
more accurate picture of what is happening in the print text. The Transcriber’s Note Symbol is widely
used in textbooks and now permits the use of lower whole word signs next to it, since it is now considered
a composition sign. For more specifics be sure to read the complete version of the EBAE updates on the
website. Some of the update involved making changes in the examples used to demonstrate use of a
particular rule, and are from all sections of the codebook where there is an instance of the new symbol
being needed where it did not exist before, or where a change in the brailling of an example is needed
because of the use of one of the new symbols or rules. Again, these are short pages and can be placed in
the code book in the appropriate section to replace the examples as they currently are shown. The changes
to Braille Formats involve the following: how to handle ISBN numbers, which by the end of 2008 will be
changed to a 13 digit number rather than a 10 digit number; how to handle print page numbers combined
with running heads, and alphabetic pages numbers; how to give a true indication of where boxed and
screened materials are located on the print page; how to Braille skeleton and wide tables and guidelines
for how to determine what table format should be selected for a particular table; and guidelines for what
to do with pictures in exercises rather than just inserting the traditional Transcriber’s Note. In addition,
sections and examples in Braille Formats were modified to include the new symbols to match the EBAE
rules. For Nemeth Code the vast majority of the changes were corrections to the previous edition which
has never existed in an electronic format, making modifications difficult. Readers will still have to take
their existing Nemeth Code book and manually insert these changes. An electronic version of the
Nemeth Code book is currently being produced by NFB which will permit easier revisions in the future.
The new portions of this involve adding a keystroke indicator to the list of shape indicators and adding a
new section on calculator or computer keystrokes. If you wish to obtain copies of the current code books,
EBAE and Braille Formats are available electronically and in brf files from the BANA website; go to
www.brailleauthority.org and scroll down to Literary and Formats under Publication, or use the links on
that website. The website also provides information about where hard copies of print and Braille can be
obtained. The website also provides information on where to obtain the Nemeth Code Manual which is
only available in hard copy at this time. I urge all of you to visit the BANA Website and download the
Update so that you have the latest information on the Braille code to pass on to your students and clients.
As of January 2008, new publications will be produced using the symbols, guidelines, and rules found in
the updates to the various codes. For additional information on the workings of BANA please contact
Diane P. Wormsley, Ph.D., AER Representative to BANA, Brenda Brodie Endowed Chair and Professor
of Special Education in Visual Impairment, North Carolina Central University, 2136 School of Education,
712 Cecil Street, Durham, NC 27707; Phone: 919-530-7693; Fax: 919-530-5353; or Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also address
BANA Chair, Judy Dixon (email@example.com).
Moving? Take AER with you!
Update your information via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medicare Reimbursement: Is There a Future for Specialized Low Vision Services?
Jim Deremeik, AER Low Vision Rehabilitation Division
Personnel preparation programs are designed to educate students to become providers of specialized
services for those having vision loss. These programs have evolved to three areas of concentration:
teacher training for the visually impaired, orientation and mobility, and rehabilitation therapy. The
problem is that universities are not producing a sufficient number of professionals to meet the demand of
the population, especially as it relates to the elderly with low vision. The growing numbers of individuals
requiring low vision rehabilitation services has put a strain on the pool of specialized professionals who
must provide the low vision rehabilitation instruction. This limited resource has recently been tapped by
the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Low Vision Demonstration Project to try to meet
the demand. CMS added certified low vision therapists, certified orientation and mobility specialists, and
certified vision rehabilitation teachers as specialized service providers who are eligible for Medicare
reimbursement of low vision rehabilitation services, provided to Part B beneficiaries. This historic
program, which reimburses for low vision rehabilitation services, was initiated by CMS through the five-
year Low Vision Rehabilitation Demonstration Project that began April 1, 2006. This program was
introduced in the states of New Hampshire, North Carolina, Kansas, Washington, the city of Atlanta, and
the five boroughs of New York City. This CMS project allows low vision rehabilitation services provided
by a CLVT, COMS, or CVRT, under the general supervision of an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or other
qualified physician, to be reimbursed by Medicare. The initial version of the program provided for up to
nine hours of low vision rehabilitation reimbursement by the above mentioned disciplines. A recent
change in the program has significantly increased the amount of service a low vision beneficiary in the
project may receive. On April 1, 2008, Medicare will pay up to twelve hours of service per year for the
remaining three years of this program. This would result in an additional 36 hours of low vision
rehabilitation service per case. In addition, the geographic area eligible for the project has expanded to
include the metropolitan Atlanta city area (477 additional zip codes) and eight additional counties in the
metropolitan New York City area: Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Putnam, Westchester, Suffolk, and
Nassau. To date, the participation in this project by vision rehabilitation professionals has been light; it
has been individual private agencies for the blind who have been the primary low vision rehabilitation
service providers under the demonstration project. Claims for individual private practices providing low
vision rehabilitation services using a CLVT, CVRT, and/or COMS have not been reported by CMS. The
key to the success of this project is to increase the number of appropriately trained professionals who are
qualified and willing to participate in this project. Public awareness and education to promote this project
has been ongoing. CMS has developed a PowerPoint presentation to inform service providers at the local
level. ACVREP, the accrediting body for vision rehabilitation professionals, has developed an expedited
certification process for potential certificants in the geographic regions eligible for the demonstration
project. The Low Vision Division #7 of AER has agreed to assist interested applicants in the ACVREP
certification process through the establishment of a mentoring and supervision program. However, these
group efforts need individual professional participation to realize success. We now are faced with a major
challenge. Are the members of AER prepared to support the Medicare Demonstration Project? If we miss
this opportunity, will it ever return? If you are a CLVT, COMS, and/or CVRT who is located in a region
covered by this project, are you participating? If you need to obtain ACVREP certification to participate
in the project, have you begun the certification process? The future of specialized services for low vision
rehabilitation depends on your answers to these questions. Much talk has been made of this project the
past few months. The history of the project and the facts about the project can be found at
www.aerbvi.org under Advocacy and then Medicare Low Vision Demonstration Project. Get informed,
and then create your own professional action plan.
For more information, please contact AER or the AER Low Vision Division at email@example.com.
To contact the author: Jim Deremeik, Johns Hopkins Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center
550 N. Broadway, 6th floor , Baltimore, Maryland 21205, 410-502-6431, firstname.lastname@example.org
AER Job Exchange
Looking for a new career? Check out what AER Job Exchange, the largest on-line career
resource in the field, has to offer. The following is a sample of available positions from AER
Corporate Members. Additional job opportunities and complete details on the following
positions is available at www.aerbvi.org.
Low Vision Clinic Coordinator/Outreach Itinerant Teacher -NEW MEXICO
Agency: New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Salary/Benefits: Benefits are available and the Salary is competitive.
Closing Date: Until filled
Contact: Veronica Hernandez, Human Resources, Director1900 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo, NM
88310,Phone: 575-439-4468, Fax: 575-439-4411, E-mail: email@example.com
Superintendent -NEW MEXICO
Agency: New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired*.
Salary/Benefits: Salary is set by the Board of Regents and is 95k to 110k depending on Qualifications.
Closing Date: 2-15-08
Contact: Veronica Hernandez, Human Resources Director, 1900 N. White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo,
NM 88310, Phone: 575-439-4468, Fax: 575-439-4411 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*AER Corporate Member
Executive Director - ILLINOIS
Agency: The Chicago Lighthouse*
The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is an Equal Opportunity
Employer in full compliance with local, state, and federal Civil Rights & Affirmative Action laws. The
Chicago Lighthouse maintains a strong policy of accommodation and a consistent practice of employing
qualified individuals with disabilities.
*AER Corporate Member
Outreach Itinerant Teacher - NEW MEXICO
Agency: New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired*
Salary/Benefits: Benefits are available and the Salary is competitive.
Closing Date: Until filled
Contact: Veronica Hernandez, Human Resources Director, 1900 N. White Sands Blvd. Alamogordo, NM
88310, Phone: 575-439-4468, Fax: 575-439-4411, E-mail: email@example.com
*AER Corporate Member
Admissions Coordinator - MASSACHUSETTS
Agency: Carroll Center for the Blind*
Salary/Benefits: To be Determined
Contact: (include address, phone, fax and email) Rabih Dow, Carroll Center for the Blind, 770 Centre
Street, Newton, MA; email firstname.lastname@example.org
*AER Corporate Member
Low Vision Specialist - IOWA
Agency: Iowa Braille School*
Salary/Benefits: Starts July 2008. School year position with continuing contract; Salary based on
education/experience. Comprehensive benefit package.
Contact: (include address, phone, fax, and email): Iowa Braille School, Sue Freet, Human Resources
Specialist, 1002 G Avenue, Vinton, IA 52349; 319-472-5221; email@example.com
Orientation & Mobility Specialist - IOWA
Agency: Iowa Braille School*
Salary/Benefits: School year position with continuing contract beginning in January 2008, based in
Vinton, Iowa. Iowa has great schools and is a wonderful place to raise a family. Salary will be based on
faculty Salary matrix.Comprehensive fringe benefit package. Contact us for more information.
Contact: (include address, phone, fax, and email): Sue Freet, Iowa Braille School, 319-472-5221, FAX
*AER Corporate Member
Teacher Itinerant VI - ARIZONA
Agency: Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind*, Phoenix, Yuma & Holbrook
Salary/Benefits: $31, 250-$47,648 annually; full state Medical, Dental, Vision, and Retirement Benefits.
Contact: (include address, phone, fax, and email): Human Resources Recruitment,
firstname.lastname@example.org (520) 770-3245 phone, (520) 770-3603 Fax www.asdb.state.az.us
mailing address: PO BOX 88510 Tucson AZ 85754
*AER Corporate Member
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (Henrico) 0046 - VIRGINIA
Agency: Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
Salary: Salary is negotiable above the minimum of the pay band ($31,352 - $64,347 effective 11/25/07)
based on Qualifications and Salary history.
Contact: Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired /Human Resources, 8004 Franklin Farms Drive,
Richmond, VA 23229. Fax: 804-662-7662. Phone: 804-726-1919. ONLY fully completed online
applications will be accepted at jobs.agencies.virginia.gov/. Visit our Career Center at www.vrcbvi.org
for details on requirements and Duties of this position. Position is open until filled.
*AER Corporate Member
Visit AER Job Exchange at www.aerbvi.org for the most up-to-date listings of job
opportunities in the field!
Spread the Word!
AER offers members a variety of services and professional support
Networking - Learning from peers is probably the most valuable benefit of membership in AER. The
networking opportunities through active involvement in the association on the chapter, division, and
international level can aid in professional growth, career advancements, and continued education.
Communication and networking on the local level are achieved through automatic membership in
Chapters. Division memberships enable members to focus on specific topics of expertise, including
Administration and Leadership, Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling & Employment Services, Multiple
Disabilities & Deafblind, Psychosocial Services, Information & Technology, Low Vision, Infant &
Preschool, Orientation & Mobility, Education Curriculum, Vision Rehabilitation Therapy, Division on
Aging, Itinerant Personnel, and Personnel Preparation. International and regional conferences provide the
opportunity for professional development as well as support.
Professional and Career Development - To enhance career development, AER members have access to
AER Job Exchange, the most up-to-date and active online listings of job openings in the field. Continuing
Education is an important part of professional development. In the past several years, AER has produced
a number of online continuing education programs that are approved for continuing education credit
through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).
There’s also the Members Only section of the AER Web site that includes articles covering field-specific
topics, survey results, and other helpful resources and tools.
Publications - AER provides members with opportunities for professional growth and development
through continuing education, regional, national and international conferences, and several publications.
The AER Report keeps members informed about Association news and policy. The Journalof Visual
Impairment and Blindness ( JVIB) provides an interdisciplinary approach to research and discussion
influencing the field of visual impairment. AER is currently in development of a new professional journal
to debut in the winter of 2007.
Insurance Programs - A professional liability insurance program is available to AER members, along
with a comprehensive insurance program package with many other important insurance coverages.
Special Discounts - AER members receive discounts on special AER publications, certain AFB
publications, conference registration fees, car rentals, education programs, certification fees through the
Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), and others,
including a reduced subscription price on a print version of the Journal of Visual Impairment &
Professional Recognition – AER recognizes its members’outstanding contributions to the field through
biennial awards including the C. Warren Bledsoe Award, the Allen, Bauman, McAulay and Shotwell
Awards, and the AER Outstanding Chapter Award.
Scholarships - AER provides two scholarships to students who are legally blind and are studying for a
career in the field of services to the blind or visually impaired. The scholarships are named in honor of
William and Dorothy Ferrell. They are awarded in the even number years.
Recruitment - AER recognizes the critical need for additional professionals to join the field. With the
aging population and increase of individuals with visual impairments, it is vital to keep the field in the
spotlight and encourage young people to enter the field. AER dedicates a significant commitment of time,
energy and resources to the problem of professional personnel shortages. Recruitment materials have been
developed and are distributed throughout North America for use at college recruitment and job fairs.
Advocacy - AER gives professionals and consumers in the field a collective voice on Capitol Hill to keep
the focus on the importance of maintaining specialized blind services for consumers of all ages. AER
participates in campaigns aimed at educating the public and decision makers at the state and federal levels
about the importance of specialized services for visually impaired people.
Membership in AER means support and development of the professionals in the field of providing
services to individuals with visual impairments. Take advantage of what your association has to offer and
urge your colleagues to join AER. Visit www.aerbvi.org for membership information, or call 877-492-
2708, ext. 202.
AER Chapter News
The 24th Alabama AER Training Conference, held October 11-12, 2007, in Huntsville, Alabama, was
a big success! This year’s conference focused on ―Employment, Employment, Employment.‖ In one way
or another, we are faced with multiple problems related to achieving Employment Outcomes for those we
serve. The conference was highlighted with over 20 presenters that provided important information to
improve our ability to assist those we serve to achieve Employment, Education, and Independence. Over
130 persons attended (the largest audience in recent years), along with 23 exhibitors and sponsors.
Presenters like Beth Butler, Vice President for Employment Compliance, Wachovia Corporation; Ed
Castile, Director, Alabama Industrial Development Training; Jim Gibbons, President, National Industries
for the Blind; Sharon Mikrut, President, ACVREP; and the featured keynote, Senator Roger Bedford,
representing Alabama’s 6th district, all contributed to an informative and successful event. The Alabama
Chapter presented its 2007 AER Billy Don Sims Scholarship award of $1,000 to Nicholas Derzis.
Nicholas is a graduate of Troy University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. In June 2005 he
became involved in the Youth Leadership Forum sponsored through the Governor’s Committee on
Employment of People with Disabilities. During this experience he became keenly interested in advocacy
and in helping persons with disabilities to realize their hopes, dreams, and achieve their life goals.
Nicholas said, ―This was the greatest feeling ever.‖ Nicholas is working toward a Master’s Degree in
Rehabilitation Counseling at Auburn University. Additionally, the Chapter provided a $500 grant ―To
Build Adaptive Mobility Devices for Infants and Toddlers with Multiple Impairments,‖ and a $500 grant
for marketing Alabama’s older blind program titled ―Reaching Out with OASIS.‖ At the awards
luncheon, Perry Hopper was the recipient of the ―Grider Award‖ for his many contributions to Alabama’s
Business Enterprise Program. AER President Joe Helm was presented with the Hezz Cox Award for his
commitment and service to blind and visually impaired persons and the Alabama Chapter. On Saturday
morning several members and guests had great fun raising funds for the Chapter scholarship by
participating in the annual golf scramble. While the AER Billy Don Sims Scholarship fund raising efforts
are only four years old, activities like the golf scramble, silent auctions, and private contributions have
resulted in a CD totaling $29,000 to fund future annual scholarships. Congratulations to John Mascia,
President-Elect, and the Chapter’s planning committee for organizing and running a GREAT event!
Alabama AER Leadership Training Initiative
The AER Leadership Training Initiative is an effort to attract and develop future leaders for the Alabama
AER Chapter. The AER Leadership Training Initiative is scheduled for April 17-18, 2008, and will be
conducted at Heritage Trails Conference Center in Sylacauga, Alabama. Dr. Larry Tyson, of the
University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Counseling Program, and Mr. Michael Lebeau, of the UAB
School of Business, will conduct the training. Training activities will include a presentation and
discussion of effective leadership, interactive group activities with emphasis on group challenges, an AER
board meeting, team building and a discussion of AER organizational and business topics that keep the
AER TRAIN moving! If you have an interest in becoming more involved with Alabama AER in a
leadership capacity (e.g., as an officer, board member, committee chair, etc.) please contact a board
member to express your interest. Applications for the training program are available on the AER Website.
Due to the limited number of slots available, the Alabama AER board will select training program
participants from applications received. Alabama AER will be covering most of the cost of this
On November 8-10, 2007, the Arizona AER Chapter, along with the Arizona Deafblind Project, hosted
our annual fall conference at a lovely golf resort just north of Phoenix, Arizona. The title of the
conference was ―Multiple Abilities/Multiple Disabilities: Programming for the Consumer/Student with
Multiple Needs, Including Deafblindness.‖ At this year’s conference we were pleased to have Kathy
Keller Scoggin and Barbara Miles as our guest speakers. Kathy and Barbara were joined by a host of
speakers from within Arizona, almost all members of AZ-AER. We were blessed with beautiful sunny
days and mild (not too hot) weather. Each year at our fall conference AZAER awards the Margaret Bluhm
Worker of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was Dorinda Rife, the Principal of the Arizona School
for the Blind in Tucson, AZ. Dorinda worked as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment in
Colorado before moving to Arizona. It is my hope that some of her colleagues from Colorado will see this
announcement and use this opportunity to reconnect and congratulate her. Her contact information can be
found on the AZAER website at www.ed.arizona.edu/azaer/. Our chapter is now planning our annual
Spring workshop, scheduled for Friday, April 25, 2008, which will address ―Transition Across the
Lifespan.‖ AZAER and guests will meet in Phoenix, AZ, at the Arizona Council for the Blind and
Visually Impaired facility. Workshop registration and details will be available in January 2008.
The Georgia Chapter of AER partnered with Georgia Vision Educators Statewide Training (GVEST) to
organize a fantastic conference at Epworth by the Sea, October 3-5, 2007. The focus of the conference
was ―Transition for all Ages.‖ There were over 100 participants, and presentations covered everything
from transition for families of young children to transition planning for high school students. It was a
great time. As part of the conference, Georgia AER presented their annual awards. Rookie of the Year
Award went to Rebecca Bartels. Rebecca works with clients at the Center for the Visually Impaired in
Atlanta, GA and is a great asset to the Atlanta area. Linda M. Williams received the Bennett Baxley Merit
Award. Linda is the Georgia chapter’s secretary and she has given tirelessly to the organization.
Additionally she holds many certifications, including visual impairment, and strives to give each student
everything they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. The Professional Achievement
Award was presented to Mary Phagan-Kean. Mary was our state vision consultant and has recently
retired. She continues to work with the students in our state as a consultant for the Academy for the Blind
in Macon, GA. The last award, Business of the Year, was presented to the United States Food and Drug
Administration for their dedication to making their electronic communications accessible to persons with
disabilities. Rita L. Harrison and her immediate supervisor, A. Michelle Raiford, attended the luncheon to
accept for the agency. Congratulations to all!
IN-AER just completed our State Conference on November 15 and 16, entitled: ―IN-AER: Putting Our
Best Sock Forward!‖ Needless to say, we had a sock theme, and everyone, including presenters, received
a pair of socks with our IN-AER Logo on them. Our presentations were outstanding this year: Dr. Karen
Wolffe on career planning; Dr. Eugene Helveston, our keynote speaker concerning the ORBIS program in
Third World countries and ―Cyber-Sight;‖ presenters from APH, GW-Micro, and Humanware; a very
interesting discussion on vision loss and acceptance across the lifespan by Deanna Austin and Shawn
Dobbs; and an informative talk on retinal diseases from Linda Pratt of Indiana University Medical Center.
Our award winners were: Outstanding Professional: Tom Grimmelsman; Outstanding Volunteer: Freddie
Edwards; Outstanding Parent: Penny Megenhardt. Our attendance was exceptional, and everyone seemed
to enjoy the presentations as well as the beautiful Southern Indiana scenery at Brown County State Park.
We had attendees from Indiana as well as out of state. The weather was crisp and the lodge’s roaring fire
was welcoming! Come join us next time!!
The Mississippi Chapter of AER will conduct its Mid-Winter training session on Tuesday, January 29,
2008, at the Mississippi Library Commission offices in Jackson, MS. The annual conference will be May
29-30, 2008, at the same location. Please see the MAER website for updated information. www.msstate.
The New Jersey Chapter will hold its spring conference on May 12, 2008, at the Center for Health
Affairs, Princeton, NJ. The conference is titled ―Blindness as a Plus: Working with Low Incidence-High
Significance Disabilities.‖ Our main topics are ―Visual Impairment and Autism‖ and ―Visual Impairment
and Cerebral Palsy.‖ For more information, please contact us at email@example.com
The New Mexico AER Chapter will hold its annual conference February 21 – 22, 2008, at the Marriott
Uptown, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference theme is ―Expanding the Core in New Mexico.‖
On Wednesday, February 20, 2008, there will be an all-day pre-conference event (held at the conference
hotel) sponsored by the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Dr. Karen Blankenship
from the Iowa Bureau of Children, Family and Community Services will present on ―Effective Practices
for the Expanded Core Curriculum.‖ The conference will begin on Thursday, February 21, with
Registration and Continental Breakfast at 7:00 a.m., followed by an Opening Address and workshop
sessions until 4:30 p.m. On Friday, February 22, we will begin with a continental breakfast at 7:00 a.m.,
followed by a keynote address and workshop sessions. The conference will end with a luncheon buffet.
The Northeast Chapter held its annual awards banquet at the Fall Conference in Quincy, Massachusetts,
on November 14, 2007. Five awards were given:
Cheryl Brown (Guilford, CT): Award of excellence in direct service to Children
Cheryl has been teaching blind and visually impaired children in Connecticut for over 25 years. She has a
longstanding and well-deserved reputation for excellence in her field. While teaching Braille and
technology to her students, she also provides skills in all areas of the expanded core curriculum to foster
greater independence. Cheryl is best known for her meticulous organizational skills, creativity, and
passion for teaching. She is committed to helping her students reach their full potential, both academically
and socially, and is willing to go ―above and beyond‖ to do so. In addition to teaching her students,
Cheryl has taken on the leadership role of Unit Coordinator at the Connecticut Board of Education and
Services for the Blind, where she mentors and oversees many other teachers. She is the perfect role model
to all in the profession of teaching children with visual impairments.
Sarah Dorsch (Allenstown, NH): Award of excellence in direct service to Adults
This prestigious award is given to someone whose dedicated service and innovative approach has been
outstanding in the field of vision rehabilitation. Recipients of the ―Award of Excellence‖ are involved in
activities which substantially benefit or significantly contribute to the independence of adults with visual
impairments. Sarah has worked for the New Hampshire Association for the Blind as a Certified
Rehabilitation Therapist for the past 32 years. She has helped thousands of New Hampshire residents to
remain independent in their homes and communities. This year, Sarah will be retiring after a long and
very successful career.
Linda Waters: Distinguished Service Award
This award is presented to an individual who is not in the vision field, but whose work substantially
benefits individuals with vision impairment. Linda Waters is the Director of Pupil Personnel Services of
the Franklin Public School System in Franklin, Massachusetts. Since becoming the director of Pupil
Personnel Services, Linda has taken it upon herself to learn about the needs of students with visual
impairments. She devotes time each month to meet with the TVI and O&M professionals to keep current
about the issues facing the students with visual impairments in her school system. Linda understands that
these students have specific needs that are quite unlike other students in her area. She has made it possible
for the children in her school district to receive the unique vision services that they need.
Dr. Barry Kran: Thomas Caulfield Award
Dr. Kran is the Optometric Director of the New England Eye Low Vision Clinic at Perkins School for the
Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, and Chief of the Individuals with Disability Service, New England
Eye Institute/New England College of Optometry, in Boston. Through Dr. Kran’s strong belief in a
collaborative, trans-disciplinary model of care, the New England Eye Low Vision Clinic is now the only
eye clinic in the state of Massachusetts that actively seeks to provide comprehensive eye care to
individuals of all ages with visual and multiple impairments. In addition to his direct service, Barry is a
teacher and author. Since 2001 he has helped to train over 200 future optometrists to work with children
and adults with multiple impairments, and is in demand as an international consultant and lecturer.
Dr. Karen Ross: Fr. Thomas Carroll Award
The Fr. Carroll Award recognizes an individual known as an innovator, a mover, and a shaker, who has a
positive impact on the lives of people with visual impairment. Karen Ross, Ph.D., is the Vice President of
Educational Services at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts. Dr. Ross was
recognized for her long-time commitment to providing service to blind children throughout the state, and
for her innovative special programs, CarrollKids/CarrollTeens that have brought a new dimension of
educational enrichment to school children with vision impairment attending public schools.
Come to the Great Pacific Northwest for a wonderful spring conference in Tacoma, Washington. The
conference, scheduled for March 13-14, 2008, features two days of presentations touching on topics such
as Low Vision, Traumatic Brain Injury, Functional Braille, Birth to Three Services, Parent Programs, and
TBVIs working with their local school psychologist, just to name a few. There will also be a product
demonstration by APH and a post-conference statewide parent meeting sponsored by the Department of
Services for the Blind. For more information, contact Kathryn Botsford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call
The Tennessee Chapter fall conference, ―Challenges of Learning with Low Vision‖ was held at Fall
Creek Falls State Park in September 2007. Lifelong Achievement awards were given to Mila Truan and
Sherry Trent. The Outstanding TVI award was presented to Alison Conway, and Kitty Burnett received
the Outstanding Related Services award. A luncheon was hosted in October 2007, prior to the Tennessee
School for the Blind’s Unity Conference, to recruit members and brain-storm ideas for future conferences
and workshops. The 2009 workshop will follow the Unity Conference.
As our year draws to a close, AER-Ohio has wrapped up another successful statewide conference!
―AERO—A Shared Vision‖ was well-planned and well-attended. Sue Guagenti, our Past-President and
Conference Chairperson, did a fantastic job of managing the event, and the AERO board played an
integral part in supporting her throughout the entire planning process. Special thanks to Mike Wigle, for
providing technical support throughout the three days, and to Sherry Raymont, who worked diligently to
manage all of the CEU materials for everyone who attended. It takes an entire team to create a successful
conference; we are grateful for all of our AERO members and conference attendees who helped to make
this conference a success. Special recognition was presented to the following individuals:
Dr. Kay Clarke was awarded the Judy Cernkovich Educator of the Year Award
Mrs. Jan Jasko was awarded the J. Kenneth Cozier Award
Mr. Corey Grandstaff was awarded the David H. Newmeyer Scholarship
Mrs. Joy Spite was awarded an AERO Membership Grant
As the new year approaches we have already begun our planning for future Ohio conferences, and we are
marking our calendars for the International Conference in Chicago this summer. Board meetings will
resume in February with the addition of our two newest board members, Lori Board and Bernadette Van
Den Tillart. We look forward to a happy, healthy and successful 2008! For more information, visit the
New Mexico chapter page at www.aerbvi.org
We held our annual New York State AER (NYSAER) Chapter fall conference at the Albany Marriott in
Albany, NY. Thank you to all of our conference attendees, conference workshop participants, and
vendors for making the conference a huge success! NYSAER gave out $3,000 in scholarship money to
students who are attending college and studying the field of blindness and visual impairment. This year’s
scholarship recipients were Jason Peck and Shirley Lew. NYSAER presented four awards to recognize
colleagues working in the field of blindness and visual impairment. This year’s award winners were:
Nancy Miller, the George E. Keane award; Diane McMillan, the Ann Range award; Barb Carsen, the Nat
Seaman award; and Sherry Courtier, the Meritorious award. Congratulations to all of our award winners.
NYSAER held a membership contest for those who recruited members, renewed lapsed members, and for
new members who recently joined. It was a great success and we gained 28 new members!! Information
about the 2008 conference will be coming soon.
The North Carolina AER Chapter is a cosponsor of the North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment
and Blindness, to be held April 24-26, 2008, on the campus of the Governor Morehead School for the
Blind in Raleigh, NC. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
United in Our Vision: 2008 AER-Lift Leadership Conference
March 28-30, 2008 at the Omni Mandalay at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas
Training for Chapter and Division Leadership and special sessions for Newsletter Editors,
Treasurers, Membership Committee Chairs and Many More!
Don’t miss this event! Registration is now open at www.aerbvi.org!
Who should attend: Chapter Leadership; Division Leadership; Newsletter Editors;
Membership Committee Chair; At-large Board Members
Members of the Education Curriculum Division have selected Sally Mangold for this biennium’s Wall of
Tribute initiative. Sally was an energetic teacher, author, and innovator who made numerous contributions
to education curriculum for students who are blind and visually impaired. The Wall of Tribute is part of
the ―Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field‖ housed in a special wing of APH. Its
purpose is to honor individuals, historical figures, or organizations that have made a difference to a
specific person (e.g., a family member) or to the broader field of blindness. The engraved stones come in
five sizes ranging from 3‖ x 8‖ ($375) to 12‖ x 8‖ ($5,000), and each includes a Braille identifier strip at
the bottom. They are displayed in wooden columns under the words ―Friends of Leaders and Legends.‖
(Please note that the Wall of Tribute is different from the Hall of Fame, although both are located in the
same room.) Nominees for the Hall of Fame must meet strict criteria and undergo an in-depth review
process. For more information on the Wall of Tribute and the Hall of Fame, visit www.aph.org) The
Education Curriculum Division has budgeted $300 towards a Wall of Tribute stone honoring Sally
Mangold to be in place by the next International AER Conference in July 2008.
CVI Education Builds International Connections
By Mary T. Morse, PhD., Special Education Consultant & Certified Teacher of the Visually
Cortical (or cerebral) visual impairment (CVI) is a disability resulting from either an insult to the brain or
how the brain organization becomes configured during prenatal development. CVI affects how an
individual understands the visual information received by the eyes. The location and extent of the brain
insult determines, in part, which functional behaviors will be affected. However, what to call this
condition, and for whom the label should apply, has been debated since the 1920s. Also debated have
been issues related to diagnosis, incidence rates, etiologies and interventions. What is not debated is the
fact that CVI is one of the most difficult visual conditions to understand, partly because most individuals
(but not all) with this brain-based disability are visually consistently inconsistent and also may have
additional disabilities, some visible, many not. Where are we now, some 70 plus years later? The debate
regarding appropriate labeling continues but there is increasing awareness that in spite of difficulties with
labeling, the observable functional behaviors impact not only children but also many persons who have
suffered from strokes and traumatic brain injury, the latter impacting many returning veterans. These
many years later, we also know that CVI does not manifest itself in a singular manner, but rather presents
itself both in the type of CVI and in the severity, with some individuals having no visual responses at any
time to those who appear to have excellent vision for some things, some of the time. Thus, we see a wider
range of professional disciplines involved in the diagnosis and treatment of persons with CVI – including
medical specialists, educators, and a variety of therapists, paraprofessionals, and mental health workers.
This wide range of involved disciplines has an impact on many fronts as related to CVI: The need for
learning about CVI in personnel preparation programs; common terminology as related to CVI;
communication and coordination between professions, and an understanding and appreciation that each
profession approaches CVI with a different prism, differing roles, and differing responsibilities. We also
know that persons, both young and old, and their families, know no sociological, cultural or national
boundaries. This means there are diverse eligibility standards for varying social services not only within
our own countries but internationally. However, there also is a vast international base of knowledge about
CVI, a base of information that is beginning to be shared across countries and across professional
disciplines. Seventy years later, we are finding the need for mutual support, information, and training in
regard to CVI. This need is not restricted to those of us in the United States and Canada, but is worldwide.
AER and the Low Vision Division recognized this need and supported a full-day workshop at the 2006
AER International Conference in Utah. From that conference, an online course was developed in 2007
regarding aspects of diagnosis and treatment approaches. The course, entitled CVI - Damage to the Brain:
A Common Cause of Visual Impairment in Children, is conducted by Dr. Gordon Dutton, a pediatric
ophthalmologist from Glasgow, Scotland. To date, 238 persons, representing a range of professions, have
registered from the international community, from countries including Canada, England, India, Ireland,
Scotland and the United States. Such a response, in such a short time, illustrates worldwide concern for
this very complex visual condition. Such a response demonstrates what a relatively small professional
organization (AER) can contribute beyond its own borders in this wonderful age of technology.
CVI – Damage to the Brain – A Common Cause of Visual Impairment to Children
This online accessible course was presented at the 2006 AER International Conference and is broken into
9 sections. The course provides students. an overview of the visual system and how it works, disorders of
vision due to damage to the brain, and approaches to helping students with vision problems due to
damage to the brain, Dr. Dutton provides participants theory and practical application from his expertise
as a clinician working with children and their families having been diagnosed with CVI. The course is
broken into eight learning modules. The ninth and last section is a question and answer forum for those
who attended the Salt Lake City workshop. The intended audience for this course is any care provider
working with a child diagnosed or suspected of having cortical (cerebral) visual impairment. For more
information and workshop fees, visit www.aerbvi.org; use the continuing education link to access this
course and others that can help support your professional development. Sign up today!
Welcome New Members!
New Members- September 13, 2007 – December 21, 2007
Carol W. Braithwaite
Ronald W. Conley
Patricia S. Edwards
Curtis R. Glisson
Renita C Holman
Jesse B. Johnson
Nancy B. Pendergraph
Theresa D. Sorrell
Angela F. Stough
Ramona S. Evans
Carol Lee Hathaway
British Columbia Chapter:
Rhynette C. Bergmann
Laura R. King
Lorri Ann Peterson
Michael J. Troilo
Katherine Kinzie Wong
Carolyn M. Adcox
Roberta Ann Dailey
Wanda M. Lee
Kathleen J. Michaelson
Melissa S. Morley
Lidia M Schroeder
Virginia E. Waeffler
Krystal P. Bragg
Hazel M Floyd
Susan C. Myerscough
Alice B. Ridgeway
Elizabeth A Abelson
Maria G. Alsip
Brennan M. Kelly
Tammy A Price
Barbara E. Schlomann
Eileen Luther Sokoloski
Heather D. Stout
Kathleen M. Brewster
Nancy A. Higgins
Carolyn A. Kerstetter
Florentina J. Mendez
Ann M. Rutherford
Debra K. Calvert
Carey Ann Moore
Michael A. Williams
Villas V. Wells
Sofaia L.T. Cavu
Christopher R. Kreider
Kris M. Romano
Pamela M. Arbeiter
James F. Baker
Betty C. Milne
Victor M. Ellis
Harold L. Miller
North Carolina Chapter:
Donna M. Englestad
Amy E. Pickett
Kara B. Ahern
Michelle J. Antinarelli
Kathleen A. Bagley
Thomas J Banning
Catherine H. Bly
Julie A. Boren
Deborah A. Brams
Nicole A. Brown
Jennifer A. Coady
Thomas J. David
Myretta D. Farrell
E. Katarina Fraser
Kathleen M. Graham
Mary Lou Jackson
Lisa A. Jacobs
Hannah Jones Pope
John J. Majkut
Barbara B. Mason
Jennifer Fulrong O’Brien
Marka Gardner O’Connell
Cody Jane Potter
Janet L Salek
Robert P. Takacs
Linda A. Von Imhof
New Jersey Chapter:
Kathleen M. Dinwoodie
Kerry J. Trent
New Mexico Chapter:
Vickie J. Chapman
Barbara A. Chigbrow
Gail A. Lloyd
Denise Romero Rhein
Valerie J. Tiensvold
Northern California Chapter:
Leslie D. Silva
Northern Rockies Chapter:
Douglas B. Robinson
New York Chapter:
Amy C. Brush
Nancy P. Cohen
Deborah B Cromwell-Stamp
Barbara J. Devney
Patricia A. Franklin
Karen G. Galluch
Jacqueline M. Goodstal
Nancy D. Skye
Jacqueline U. Suh
Margaret E. Wallace
Lisa S. Cellura
Debra E. Jolly
Brenda Young Lammers
Alphonso L. Sanders
Mary Cathy Holden
Sue L. Archibald
Jane Baozhen Chen
Keith D. Gordon
Catherine A. Tufts
Ruby Van Eeken
Joyce L. Lonsford
Julie A. McEvoy
Elizabeth Reed Owens
James V. Schroeder
Eric D. Jerpe
South Carolina Chapter:
Kari E. Arnold
Elizabeth (Betsy) Conway
Paul E. Moton
Southern California Chapter:
Paul A. Lund
Thomas J. Olzak
Ingrid S. Shoaf
Roseanna C. Davidson
Mollie A. Flores
Jarret Cade Gist
Donna L. Glover
Peter J. Graves
Marnee M. Loftin
Jennifer L. Sapp
Mollie J. Stockinger
Pamela M. Thompson
Nancy H. Smith
Laurel M. Glenn
Catherine Fitzgerald Golding
Kelsey L. Strohm
West Virginia Chapter:
2008 Call for Nominations: We Need Your Input
Stephen Miyagawa passed away on Friday, November 16, 2007. Stephen was a very special man, whose
invaluable writing helped to preserve our history of O&M. He was blinded in the Korean War, and went
to Hines, Illinois, for their blind rehab program. That program changed his life, and he remained very
grateful until the day he died. He was editor of the newsletter of the blinded vets when one of the Hines
staff was killed. Stephen wrote a moving tribute to this person, and then realized that he could express his
gratitude for the Hines program by writing salutes to staff people while they were still alive. He has thus
written many Tributes that feature personal histories and anecdotes about Hines folks, including many of
our O&M pioneers. These Tributes are a real treasure to our profession, and provide unique insights into
these forefathers of O&M. When Stephen’s beloved wife Wanda died after many years of illness, he
asked friends and family to make contributions to the O&M Archives, and they donated thousands of
dollars to help our O&M Archives continue to preserve the history of our profession. The O&M Division
Archives Committee honored him with the establishment of the Wanda Miyagawa Memorial Newsletter
collection, which displayed current O&M newsletters and some of Stephen’s Tributes, including the
metal printing plates from some of the Tributes which featured a picture of the person being saluted, with
beautiful scrolls designed by Stephen’s brother. Stephen authored a book ―Journey to Excellence:
Development of the Military and VA Blind Rehabilitation Programs in the 20th Century‖ (published by
Galde Press in 1999). The book reveals the rich detail that only Stephen could gather in his own
meticulous style from extensive research and interviewing many of the people who were involved in that
Betsy A. Zaborowski
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, Reporter, The Baltimore Sun, November 30, 2007
Betsy A. Zaborowski, who had been diagnosed with retinal blastoma at a young age and later became
blind, devoted her entire life to fighting the notion that blindness is a tragedy. Dr. Zaborowski, former
executive director of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, died of
cancer at her Denver home on November 29, 2007. She had served as executive director of the Jerrigan
Institute, the first of its type in the nation, which provided education, employment and adaptive
technology for the blind, from 2003 until this year, when she stepped down because of failing health.
At her death, Dr. Zaborowski was a senior adviser to the NFB. Dr. Zaborowski was born Oct. 7, 1949,
and raised in Thorp, Wis., where she graduated from high school. She held a bachelor’s and master’s
degree in educational counseling from the University of Wisconsin in Menomonie, and earned her
doctorate in psychology from the University of Denver in 1985. From 1970 to 1976, Dr. Zaborowski
worked as a junior and senior high school guidance counselor on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1976,
she moved to Colorado, where she was a mental health and university-based counselor at the University
of Colorado at Boulder. In 1980, she worked in the field of health psychology for Kaiser Permanente in
Denver, while studying for her doctorate. After moving to Baltimore in 1987, Dr. Zaborowski, a clinical
psychologist, established a private practice specializing in women’s issues. She also was an adjunct
professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Continuing Studies, where she taught a graduate
education counseling course. She also frequently lectured at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and
Kennedy Krieger Institute. In 1995, Dr. Zaborowski joined the NFB as director of special programs, a
position she held until 2003, when she was named executive director of the Jernigan Institute. In 1998,
she was selected one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, and again in 2000, by The Daily Record. In 2004,
Smart Woman magazine featured her on its cover, and the next year, Smart CEO featured her as one of 25
admired Maryland leaders. Then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed her to the Maryland Information
Technology Board, and later was the first chairwoman of the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities. She
also served two terms on the Baltimore City Women’s Commission.
From the AER Listserv: Members Helping Members
Topic: Making I-Pods Accessible
I have a totally blind middle schooler whose parents want to give him an iPod for Christmas. He already
has a shuffle but it doesn’t hold enough music. Is there any way we can adapt the new iPod to make it
more user-friendly for him?
See www.rockbox.org for firmware which will allow the iPod to speak its menus as well as speaking, or
spelling, file and folder names. Note that the iPod has a touch wheel which, though many people use it
happily enough, can be a pain to use without seeing the screen. Therefore, if one doesn’t necessarily want
the Apple player for its cool factor, one might consider other players which run Rockbox like the Sandisk
Sansa or Toshiba Gigabeat, depending on the size of the music/book collection. Alternatively, it might be
worth looking at some of the blindness specific players like the Victor Stream, which plays MP3s as an
addition to a book reader, or the Milestone 311 which, though extraordinarily overpriced for its feature
set, is completely accessible. For audio demos and reviews of quite a few portable audio players, you
might want to have a look at www.blindcooltech.com/. And for more information on accessible portable
audio players, see www.hartgen.org/
Names in the News
Congratulations to Sheila Amato, who has been selected as the 2008 CEC (Council for Exceptional
Children) Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year. The Division of Visual Impairment of the CEC is one of the
smallest divisions, so this is quite an honor for Sheila and the entire VI teaching population. This is the
second year in a row that a VI teacher has been awarded this prestigious title.
Donna McNear has been selected to receive the CEC Outstanding Leadership Award. This award
recognizes and honors a CEC member who has made significant contributions in leadership and
dedication to students with exceptionalities at the local, state, national, and international levels over an
extended period of time.
Gregory L. Goodrich, Ph.D., Research Psychologist and Coordinator, Optometric Research Fellowship
Program VA Palo Alto, Health Care System, was quoted in an article in USA Today on November 14,
2007. The article was titled ―Brain Injuries Also Danger To Vision.‖
Annemarie Cooke accepted the position Vice President for Sales and Administration at De Witt and
Associates in Midland Park, New Jersey. De Witt is a leading assistive technology training, support and
education firm. She begins her new position on January 1, 2008. At DeWitt & Associates, Cooke will
oversee national sales strategies for the company’s unique courseware which comprises instructor
and student modules for instruction of various assistive technologies used by people who are blind,
visually impaired or have learning disabilities in order to use the Internet, e-mail and various Microsoft
applications. For more than 16 years, Cooke served as senior external relations officer for Recording for
the Blind & Dyslexic, a national not-for-profit organization that is the country’s major producer of
academic textbooks and other education materials serving people who cannot read standard print
effectively because of a visual, physical or learning disability.
Dr. Evelyn Rex, retired professor from Illinois State University, will celebrate her 85th birthday on
March 31, 2008. Cards and notes from former students and colleagues would likely be appreciated.
Although she has no memory for recent events, she does sometimes talk, or ask, about students and
colleagues from the past. She even expressed the wish that she had a list of former students and where
they are now. She lives in an assisted living environment at 14 Heartland Drive, Apt. #215, Bloomington,
IL 61704. Virginia Mosler, also a former student, sees her several times a year, and is willing to be a
contact for information about Evelyn. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.