Tag: Mass Commission for the Blind

Resources for Individuals with a Vision Loss

picture of the feet and cane of a person going down stairs

As we discussed in last week’s blog, once a person is diagnosed with a vision loss there are resources available to help people adjust. In fact, all eye care providers are required to report patients diagnosed with legal blindness so they can access resources.

In Massachusetts, there are about 35,000 residents who are legally blind and registered with the Commission for the Blind, the statewide resource for coordinating vision professional services.

Once a person is registered with the Commission, a case manager will meet with the individual and assist them in accessing services of their choice.

These may include:

Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS)
Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT)
Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT)
Assistive Technology Specialist
Deaf/Blind Specialist
Rehabilitation Teacher
Vocational Counselor
Case manager
Children’s Rehabilitation Case manager

For additional information, contact the Commission for the Blind at
(617) 727-5550.

Additional Resources

Blindness & Vision Impairment Resources from (Mass. Dept. of Developmental Services)
This site provides resources for individuals with vision impairment, legal blindness or deaf/blindness and intellectual disability.
Resources include:

Daily Living with Vision Loss
Leisure, Communication, and Recreation Resources
Local  & National Organizations Dedicated to Vision Loss
Product Catalogs of Aids & Appliances for Vision Loss
Eye Safety, Vision Care & Finding an Eye Care Provider

Professional Organizations / Vision Education / Certification

Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
is the professional organization of the blindness/vision loss field.

Northeast Chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (NE/AER)

Northeast Regional Center for Vision Education
UMass Boston has certification and master programs for Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists (COMS) and Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), as well as Teachers of the Visually Impaired.

White Cane Law Promotes Safety and Independence

This month we are pleased to introduce Meg Robertson, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Have you heard about the White Cane Law?

Massachusetts, along with the rest of the country, has a White Cane Law. The Massachusetts White Cane Law states that all motorists, when they see a pedestrian using a guide dog or a white cane at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop.

The Orientation and Mobility Department at the Mass. Commission for the Blind is working to raise public awareness of the White Cane Law. To learn more come and celebrate International White Cane Day at the State House on Friday October 14, from 10-noon.

A symbol of independence

The white cane is a mobility device used by individuals who are legally blind to navigate safely around their communities. It is a symbol of independence, since anyone who is using a white cane is asserting their independence over blindness by continuing to travel within their communities.

There are different types of white canes used by individuals who are legally blind.
Cane choices depend on the individual’s vision impairment, age, height, gait, etc. The main types of white canes are a support cane type, and/or a long thin cane, which are white with red at the bottom of the cane.

Mobility devices offer a choice in support

Individuals who are legally blind but still have functional vision may use the support type cane to alert motorists that the pedestrian is legally blind. These canes can also assist with depth perception on stairs or curbs.

The more common used mobility device is a long white cane. This cane is used for independent travel and to avoid obstacles

Specialized training is needed for both types of canes as well as travel skills. This specialized training is provided by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). All individuals who need a white cane, should be evaluated by a COMS to be sure they get the correct cane and proper training.

A small percentage of people who are legally blind choose a guide dog as a different type of mobility device. Either way, all should receive Orientation & Mobility training with a long cane and street crossing skills before acceptance by a dog guide school. The White Cane Law applies to guide dog users as well.

For more information on white cane training or blindness, contact the Orientation and Mobility Department at the Commission for the Blind www.state.ma.us/mcb or 800-392-6450 x 626-7581 (Voice) or 800-393-6556/TTY.