BLVS Summer Residency Program Packs in a Lot of Learning
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BLVS Summer Residency Program Packs in a Lot of Learning

Kristy Bilger ‘23TVI was rotating through stations in a Visual Efficiency class learning about about different optical devices for near, intermediate and distances tasks.

The students were trying out magnifiers, telescopes and devices that are spectacle-mounted, getting familiar with the different options that are out there for low vision rehabilitation patients.

There’s a lot to learn, and it can be exciting and exhilarating for the students.

BLVS student in class“My brain hurts, but in a good way,” said Bilger, referring to the experience of being on the Salus University campus in late July and early August as one of the Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) students for their required summer residency.

Bilger, a student from Philadelphia in the Educators of Children and Youth With Visual Impairments, also known as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) track, was among those students meeting face-to-face with instructors who were providing hands-on learning and practical applications during the summer program.

Students are in full learning mode in their specialties — Education of Children with Visual Impairments (TVI), Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT), Orientation and Mobility (O&M), or Low Vision Rehabilitation (LVR) — for the weeks they are on campus.

“Regardless of the discipline, however, all students learn best practices related to working with individuals with low vision, particularly how to assess functional vision, and strategies to enhance visual efficiency,” said Fabiana Perla, EdD, COMS, CLVR, chair of the BLVS department at Salus.

BLVS students and faculty working in classIn the Visual Efficiency class, Kerry Lueders, MS, COMS, TVI, CLVT, director of the LVR and TVI programs, led the students through stations where they learned about the different optical devices for low vision patients.

Morgan Dukes ‘22O&M from Maryland in the O&M track who was visiting the Philadelphia area and the Elkins Park campus for the first time, described how the students in the Visual Efficiency class compared hand-held microscopes of various powers.

“We’re looking at different menus, cereal boxes and different passages while comparing various optical devices,” she said.

Tim Fountaine ‘22LVR, an occupational therapist in the LVR track, came from Florida for additional training in low vision therapy, which he plans to use as a sub-specialty to complement his occupational therapy expertise.

“There is a big need for it in southwest Florida because the population has a lot of elderly people and not a lot of practitioners,” said Fountaine, who was aware of the Salus BLVS program having worked in the Philadelphia area before moving to Florida. “We’re condensing a lot of stuff into a short period of time here on campus.”

BLVs students in classDr. Perla said that functional vision assessments, one of the competencies students learn in the summer residency, complement clinical visual assessments performed by eye care practitioners and paint a realistic picture of how the individual performs visually in a variety of natural environments and under different visual conditions.

“That understanding is then used to inform intervention strategies and interprofessional collaborations with eye care practitioners leading to optimal outcomes for those seeking our services,” she said.

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