by Elly Dupre and Neva Fairchild

Do you wish there was a guide that explains how to work with an older person who is experiencing vision loss later in life? Perhaps you are an individual who offers a variety of services to older people but have not had an opportunity to learn about vision loss. Knowing how to work with an older person who is blind or low vision is important because you will meet people who are struggling with poor vision who may or may not be able to ask for what they need to be able to participate in programs. It is imperative that loss of vision does not keep older people from taking full advantage of services designed to help people live full, healthier, more satisfying lives as they age.

The Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition’s Access to Quality Services Committee (AQSC), a group of vision rehabilitation professionals, has developed the Aging & Vision Loss Tool Kit. Providers who serve the aging population and other groups can share this resource free of charge with individuals and groups who need to learn about vision loss to be able to provide better services to older people with vision loss. The kit is housed on the AVLNC Public Policy Committee Folder in a downloadable word document format. Look for it under “Community Resources.”

Contents of the Toolkit

  • Working with Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals Understanding Vision Loss
  • Common Eye Conditions Including Those That Cause Low Vision
  • Identifying If Someone May Have a Vision Problem
  • Blindness Etiquette
  • When Guiding an Individual Who Is Blind
  • Barrier Removal in Facilities and Providing Access to Programs
  • Adaptive Recreation, Leisure, Sports
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Sources for Additional Information about Vision Loss
  • Prevalence of vision loss

How You Can Use the Toolkit

  • Help others more effectively help individuals who are blind or low vision.
  • Learn how older people who are blind or low vision can be as independent as possible.
  • Express the needs of a person who is blind or low vision to a person providing home care.
  • Advocate for change with a provider who serves older people with vision loss.
  • Offer in-service training in a variety of settings.

A Place to Start

The Aging & Vision Loss tool Kit is not the be-all and end-all of training, but it is a place to start raising awareness and educating others. The AQSC believes that awareness and education are the missing links between “senior services” and those who are blind or have low vision.

Aging services providers may begin using the kit in staff trainings. Individuals, family members and vision rehabilitation professionals may begin using the information in whole or in part to raise awareness and offer guidance to aging service providers so that vision loss does not hamper the older individual from full participation in a variety of circumstances.

In summary, the Aging & Vision Loss Tool Kit will pave the way to understanding and opening doors to older people with vision loss that may have been previously closed to them.

Review the Toolkit online, print all or part of the information, and use it to help raise awareness, dispel fear, and cultivate a more inclusive environment for older people living with vision loss.