Services to Older Individuals with Vision Loss
 
American Council of the Blind
Resolution 2013-19
 
Summary

 
This organization believes that it is now imperative that the whole blindness community come together to develop and implement a comprehensive action plan to begin to develop and implement a national strategy, including a major public awareness campaign, to increase federal funding for older Americans who are experiencing vision loss.
 
WHEREAS, the National Health Interview Survey indicates that more than 21.2 million adult, non-institutionalized Americans currently experience significant functional vision loss, and it is estimated that at least ten million people in America are seniors with vision loss; and
 
WHEREAS, funding under Title 7, Chapter 2 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program, is currently at only $32 million; and
 
WHEREAS, current U.S. House-proposed budgets recommend that this allocation be reduced to only $16 million; and
 
WHEREAS, the result of the combination of high numbers and low funding have created a crisis of unprecedented seriousness; and
 
WHEREAS, this crisis will result in depriving hundreds of thousands of people who are losing vision of their rightful access to appropriate services; and
 
WHEREAS, low funding levels have already created a situation where there is insufficient available funding for hiring qualified professionals with specialized training; and
 
WHEREAS, many of the services provided to older blind and visually impaired persons are delivered by occupational therapists who do not have the specialized expertise that is absolutely necessary for delivering  appropriate rehabilitative services; and
 
WHEREAS, without sufficient funding, it is likely that individuals who could be trained to live productive and meaningful lives will instead be institutionalized; and
 
WHEREAS, actuarial evidence suggests that, unless immediate action is taken, costs created by unnecessary institutionalization will far exceed the costs of providing training to adjust to vision loss;
 
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 11th day of July, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, that this organization believes that it is now imperative that the whole blindness community come together to develop and implement a comprehensive action plan to begin to remediate this untenable situation; and
 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the president and board of directors are hereby instructed to host a meeting of organizations of and for the blind including, but not limited to, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the VisionServe Alliance, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to take initial steps to develop such a plan; and
 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these organizations shall develop and implement a national strategy, including a major public awareness campaign, to increase federal funding for older Americans who are experiencing vision loss.
 
Adopted.
 
Marlaina Lieberg, Secretary