Skip to main content

April 9-15, 2023: Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Appreciation Week

WHEREAS, the Michigan Chapter Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MAER) represents Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRT); and,

WHEREAS, April 14th, Anne Sullivan's birthday, is the actual day of recognition, acknowledging her as one of the first recognized Home Teachers for Helen Keller; home teachers were the original occupational title of today’s VRTs; and,

WHEREAS, VRTs provide the primary skills of independent living with vision loss internationally since the 1800s, and in Michigan since the 1960s, with the first state-employed Adult Education Specialist who traveled across the state to teach Michiganders who were blind or partially sighted adapted daily living skills, including: braille, recorded books, and adaptive techniques for daily activities such as cooking, home and financial management, personal care, and leisure activities; and,

WHEREAS, through state and nonprofit collaboration, there exists a small group of specially trained, itinerant vision rehabilitation therapists who provide primary vision rehabilitation training and carry on this important work of delivering independent living skills to blind and visually-impaired Michiganders in their homes and places of employment, in conjunction with other vision rehab professionals including Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Teachers of the Visually Impaired, Low Vision Therapists, and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors; and,

WHEREAS, blindness and vision loss constitutes a significant disability affecting all aspects of independent living and employment, and increases the financial and emotional burden on public services and programs for individuals not trained in independent living skills; and,

WHEREAS, we celebrate this small group of professionals who are dedicated to improving the lives of Michiganders, supporting and advocating for their independence and self-determination, while reducing the cost to Michigan communities, public services, and health care systems; and, 

WHEREAS, one of the few premiere VRT training institutions is located in Michigan at Western Michigan University whose Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies was established in 1961 and remains one of a handful of Master's Degree University programs in the United States training VRTs;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim April 9 – 15, 2023, as Vision Rehabilitation Therapists Appreciation Week in Michigan.