A vision rehabilitation therapist works on proper cane technique with an adult participant outside a large brick building.

Vision Rehabilitation

When someone loses their vision, there may be many day-to-day activities that become more challenging. VISIONS team of licensed staff help to solve these challenges with individualized training and adaptations designed to improve your overall safety and independence.

Vision Rehabilitation Services

A vision rehabilitation instructor engages in sensory play with a toddler.

For children under 10, or children up to 21 with multiple disabilities, VISIONS staff first assess their skills and needs, then work closely with the child and their family members to design an individualized rehabilitation plan, complete with achievable goals and tasks. We include families in all our vision rehabilitation training in order to best support the child’s training.

Participants and their families learn how to:

  • Navigate safely within their home or community
  • Prepare snacks and light meals using the equipment in your kitchen or adaptive equipment we provide for free
  • Organize and tidy up their spaces using cleaning tools in your home, or adaptive tools we provide for free.

A young girl sits with an instructor and learns how to safely cut strawberries with an adapted cutting tool.

For children and young adults (10-21), our staff focuses on skills and techniques to help them at school, and around the house, including:

  • Preparing snacks and light meals, and keeping their spaces tidy either using equipment in the home or adaptive equipment we provide.
  • Safely traveling to and from school, and navigating within the school to get from class to class.
  • Overcoming their feelings of doubt with assistance from our licensed social workers, and advocating for their needs in school.

In addition, we offer at-home and residential programs designed to teach young adults job readiness skills. Click here to learn more about our Youth programs.

A man wearing a bright yellow safety vest, along with the help of an instructor, learns how to safely navigate a warehouse.

For adults (18+), our staff focuses on introducing new skills and techniques that can help them at work and in the community, including:

  • Preparing and sticking to routines to become ready for the job.
  • Utilizing public transit/paratransit to travel to and from work.
  • Assessing and requesting the appropriate reasonable accommodations for work, and helping employers implement these accommodations.

In addition, we provide job training and placement, as well as adaptive technology skills. Click here to learn more about our job placement and training.

An older adult using a cane walks up the steps of a subway platform and toward the camera.

For older adults (55+), our staff work with you to create an individualized plan to teach whichever independent living skills you need, including:

  • Managing your home with vision loss.
  • Safely navigating your neighborhood.
  • Helping you determine and apply for benefits (social security, food stamps, etc) with the help of our licensed social workers.

These services are available both in the home, and at VISIONS Center on Aging, our older adult center located at 135 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Please note: In order to receive social work services, you will need to also receive independent living training, or orientation and mobility training

Click here to learn more about VISIONS Center on Aging.

Our Team Approach

Our team will help you and your family learn the techniques to live with vision loss and remain active at home, school, work, and in the community. Coping with vision loss can be difficult. The challenges it poses can seem overwhelming at times, and may result in feelings of anxiety, frustration, sadness, anger, or depression. ALL VISIONS services are provided in English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, and ASL and other languages as needed by bilingual staff or trained interpreters. Our rehabilitation team consists of:

CVRT (Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists)

CVRT's are vision specialists with a Masters Degree who provide instruction in the use of compensatory skills and assistive devices for communication and coping with daily living. This includes learning Braille, adapted computers with speech or magnification, handwriting/signature, listening and recording technology, and keyboarding. Instruction in daily living skills includes cooking, personal care, taking care of your home, childcare and leisure activities. Where appropriate, use of optical aids prescribed by an optometrist is reinforced to enable a person to use remaining vision to manage their daily tasks.

COMS (Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists)

COMS are vision specialists with a Masters Degree who provide instruction in how to navigate or travel safely within the home, neighborhood, school and community.  The skills include how to identify where you are and where you want to go, street crossing, traveling on public transportation, safely using a prescribed long red and white cane and using optical devices prescribed by an optometrist that use remaining vision for moving around one's environment safely and efficiently.

LMSW (Licensed Medical Social Workers)

Licensed Masters level social workers (LMSW) provide emotional support, guidance and counseling to help in the process of adjusting to vision loss.  LMSW's and caseworkers may also assist individuals with determining what benefits they are eligible for and how to apply for these benefits.

OT (Occupational Therapists)

Licensed Occupational Therapists (OT) work with the VRT/COMS and may help when there is additional sensory, physical and/or age-related issues or conditions that make daily activities difficult when combined with vision loss.

Ready to Get Started?

VISIONS vision rehabilitation services are free to individuals sponsored by the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB). To request information on how to register with the NYSCB to begin taking utilizing these programs, please contact:

Mandica Gheorghe
Senior Department Manager

(212) 625-1616 Ext. 127

Bill Hixson
Senior Director of Rehabilitation

(212) 625-1616 Ext. 145

Cathleen McGuire
Senior Director of Rehabilitation and Outreach

(212) 625-1616 Ext. 133

Carmen Rivera
Intake Manager

(212) 625-1616 Ext. 134