Research has shown that rehabilitation of people who are blind or have low vision is more successful when provided by an agency with categorical services provided by professionals specifically trained to work with clients with vision loss. DOL should, as a partner in VR provision, encourage states to conform and maintain this successful mode of service delivery.
People complain about how much more it costs to rehabilitate a person with vision loss than it does with other disability groups. Most people don't realize that the bulk of rehabilitation for most disability groups happens in the medical model paid for by health insurance.
Regarding blindness rehabilitation services, medical reimbursement is not possible. Vision rehabilitation provided by a credentialed professional who works in the field of blindness needs to be paid for through the vocational rehabilitation system. For example, a long cane and the training in the use of the cane is not covered by insurance. A person who is blind needs to learn to use a cane to function in their everyday life prior to even thinking about returning to work.
DOL can help dispel this misconception when it arises, it might be a useful reminder for those who know, and an eye opener for those who didn't know before.
Since WIOA was passed and implemented, DOL has been assigned a more direct role in VR. If the current Open Forum is to commence a new era of communication between the Department and the diverse communities of citizens it is requesting feedback from, an ongoing mode of communication must be strengthened and maintained. Advisory Councils at federal, state, and local levels will go a long way toward that ongoing communication. And it will not be enough to have one disabled person represented on these advisory councils. Different disabilities pose different challenges to people in working environments. Mandated seats on these advisory councils should be reserved for several disability groups, and include a person who is blind or has low vision.