BAM Celebration at SalusEach October, faculty, staff and students from the Blindness and Low Vision Studies department commemorate National Blindness Awareness Month by hosting an engaging activity for the Salus community. Earlier this month, they set up a photo booth, complete with props and facts about blindness and visual impairments so the Salus community could learn more about their profession. Some faculty and students also explained why they chose to pursue a career in which they help the visually impaired.
 
Lachelle Smith, CVRT, director of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy program
 
Q: Why did you choose a career in blindness and low vision? 
 
I chose a career in blindness and low vision due to my personal experience living with a visual impairment. After several years of challenges and receiving assistive technology training from a blindness and low vision practitioner, I was introduced to the profession of vision rehabilitation therapy (VRT). Although I had received training in elementary school from a teacher of the visually impaired and some orientation and mobility training in high school, I never knew there was a profession specifically for working with individuals who were blind or visually impaired.
 
I had always loved to teach, but didn’t think I could become a classroom teacher because of my visual impairment, but VRT was different. It encompassed all those daily living skills that I struggled to perform all of my life the “sighted way.” I would now learn about adaptations, accommodations and technology that would specifically help people “like me!” Seventeen years later, I am at Salus teaching and directing in the very same program I began my personal and professional journey in, making a difference in the lives of individuals living with blindness and visual impairment.
 
Q: What’s the best part about working in blindness and low vision?
 
The best part of working in blindness and low vision is the moment I realize that my client believes in their ability to live the life they desire, not the life that the societal messages tell them is available with blindness or low vision. It is that moment, when they once again, believe in their abilities and do not concentrate on their disability. It is the moment when they achieve their set goals in rehabilitation and then share what they’ve learned with others like them, paying it forward. In essence, what gives me the most pleasure in what I do is seeing others succeed in what they want to do, while living with blindness and low vision.
 
 
Fabiana Perla, EdD, COMS, CLVR, chair of the Blindness and Low Vision Studies department
 
Q: Why did you choose a career in blindness and low vision?
 
I chose the field of blindness and low vision because I was very interested in the unique experiences of people with abilities that were different than mine. I loved the idea of teaching others how to read with their hands or see with their ears. Particularly, the field of orientation and mobility was very appealing to me, with the world as my classroom and the unpredictability of each day being an important part of each lesson.
 
Q: What’s the best part about working in blindness and low vision?
 
The best part of working in my field is building strong relationships with my students and their families. These relationships are fostered through one-on-one instruction in a variety of settings. Because some of these settings involve high risk for individuals with vision loss (e.g., complex crossings, public transportation, etc.) building trust is one of the first (and most rewarding) things we work on. I would not change my job for any other.
 
 
Angela Smith’19 BLVS
 
Q: Why did you choose a career in blindness and low vision?
 
I chose to pursue a career in blindness and low vision studies, specifically, orientation and mobility (O&M), because I am drawn to the individualistic nature of instruction. O&M specialists are uniquely positioned to provide education and resources that encourage independence and promote confidence in our students. Our goal is to equip our students of all ages with the skills, techniques, and knowledge to actively problem-solve in their daily lives and make decisions that can improve their overall quality of life. The ability to travel independently can inspire autonomy and personal actualization for our students.
 
 
Emily Vasile, MAT, TVI, MS, CLVT, instructor and the coordinator of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities
 
BLVS Studies at Salus UniversityQ: Why did you choose a career in blindness and low vision?
 
I chose a career in blindness and low vision because I wanted to make a difference. I have low vision and didn't receive certain vision services as a child because I did not meet state eligibility requirements. Growing up, I learned a lot of things through trial and error. When I discovered in college that there was actually an entire field dedicated toward the education of students with visual impairments, I knew that this was the career for me. I wanted to share my story with my students, encourage them to advocate for themselves and to know that their "dis-ability" is not a negative ability, but rather a differing ability that allows them to see the world a little differently than others.
 
Q: What’s the best part about working in blindness and low vision?
 
The best part about working in blindness and low vision is that every day brings something new - a new case study, a new student, a new grant opportunity, a new piece of technology, new research, etc. Our field is small, but mighty. Each new experience brings about another opportunity to make a difference and spread awareness about our field and the services that are available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
 
Learn More about BLVS Studies at Salus