Amy Freeland - Western Michigan University
My name is Amy Freeland and I am honored to have been chosen for the NCLVI Fellowship as part of the 2006 Cohort! Like many of us serving in the field of blindness and low vision, my educational and professional path has been an exciting, yet unexpected one.
I attended Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and another in music with the hopes of continuing my schooling in Music Therapy at the graduate level. At that time I found employment with a large rehabilitation agency in West Michigan, working with adults with profound developmental and other various medical disabilities. While there, I was fortunate to provide direct services to a young woman with deaf blindness who had wonderful adaptive skills despite her lack of an organized communication system. It was through my work with this young woman that I learned to love the unique processes involved in assisting people with visual and other sensory loss to become as independent as possible. My passion for the field of blindness and low vision had been sparked!
In 1993, I enrolled in a master’s program at Western Michigan University that specialized in blindness and low vision studies, graduating in 1994 with a degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (formerly Rehabilitation Teaching). In 2004, I returned to Western Michigan University to complete a second master’s degree in Orientation and Mobility. Since 1994, I have been contracting with the Michigan Commission for the Blind both at their center-based facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and as an itinerant therapist “in the field”. My career soon branched out to include contracts with private insurance companies and private rehabilitation facilities in West Michigan.
Through my professional and educational life, I have grown increasingly interested in public policy and research to support legislation to improve the lives of those living with vision loss. I have built relationships with legislators on Capitol Hill, researchers in the field of blindness and low vision, consumers, and other service providers to advocate for third party reimbursement for vision rehabilitation services. I am interested in similar activities to secure adequate transition services for young adults with visual impairments as they leave the public school system and learn to utilize adult health and human services.
This next step in my professional and educational career is an exciting one! I look forward collaborating with the other NCLVI Fellows as we strive to build on the legacy of leadership in our field.