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The RT News
Newsletter of Division 11
Summer 2001

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Message from the Chair: Greetings from Warsaw, Poland
As I compose this message, I'm sitting in my Warsaw apartment, gazing at the busy street below, thinking about how fortunate I am to be here at this moment in time. Since 1996, I have been making this annual journey to teach in the post-graduate Rehabilitation Teaching/Orientation and Mobility program at The Academy of Special Education in Warsaw, Poland. The AWARE-Europe Foundation, which has funded this program since its inception, has a new Website at Please visit them to learn more about the status of the profession of Rehabilitation Teaching in Central Europe.

This year, I planned to deliver updates in surgical treatments and related therapies for age-related macular degeneration, as well as an overview of the current status of Rehabilitation Teaching. However, as the session progressed, I became acutely aware that it was I who was the student in many ways. It is through my interactions with my Central European students that I have begun to broaden my view of the rehabilitation process and heighten my awareness of the international rehabilitation community.

Coincidentally, one of my favorite writers is the Polish essayist and poet Czeslaw Milosz, and my appreciation of his work continues to deepen as I spend increasing amounts of time in Poland. The following essay, entitled Narrow-Minded, is one that I read several days ago in preparation for an all-day teaching session, and it embodies many of the feelings that my international work engenders in me:

"My knowledge is limited, my mind puny. I tried hard, I studied, I read many books. And nothing. In my home, books spill from the shelves; they lie in piles on furniture, on the floor, barring passage from room to room. I cannot, of course, read them all, yet my wolfish eyes constantly crave new titles. In truth, my feeling of limitation is not permanent. Only from time to time an awareness flares of how narrow our imagination is, as if the bones of our skull were too thick and did not allow the mind to take hold of what should be its domain. I should know everything that's happening at this moment, at every point on the earth. I should be able to penetrate the thoughts of my contemporaries and of people who lived a few generations ago, and two thousand and eight thousand years ago. I should. So what?"

Milosz is correct, of course. We do the best work that we can, wherever we are on Earth, and there are increasing numbers of us everywhere. On April 26-29, a meeting of European ADL-Teachers convened in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss personnel preparation issues relevant to professional program development. Future issues of the RT News will contain updates from our European partners on the results of this conference, which is certain to have an impact upon our own practice in North America.

As of May 1, we have logged 1,200+ visits to the Rehabilitation Teaching Website at Keep those visits coming! Back issues of the RT News are now available online, as well as resources, publications, international university programs, our Code of Ethics, and current legislation. Keep reading the RT News to gain information about pending legislation, including the Medicare Vision Rehabilitation Coverage Act, updates from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP), and the progress of training guidelines, certification standards, and national testing for Rehabilitation Teaching Assistants.

Remember that your colleagues all over the world are sending you greetings, including a special “Dzien dobry!” from my students and graduates here in Poland.

Maureen A. Duffy, RTC
Chair, Division 11 2000-2002

Division 11 Officers for 2000-2002:
Chair: Maureen Duffy, PCO Dept. of Graduate Studies in VI, 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027-1598, (215) 780-1362;;

Chair-elect: Bruci Hawkins, 1002 E. Shore Dr., Ithaca, NY 14850, (607) 277-5436;

Secretary/treasurer: Mary Beth Harrison, 2955 Lincoln Avenue, North Riverside, IL 60546 (708) 447-5765;

Past Chair: Lisa-Anne Mowerson, 121 Locust Court, Pittsburgh, PA, (412) 635-7318;

RT T-SHIRT: Cream colored, Hanes polo style T-shirt, with "Rehabilitation Teaching" embroidered in Hunter green over the left chest. Sizes M and XL. only $20.00

MOUSEPAD: Royal blue with the wording " Rehabilitation Teaching, a profession with a past and a future" SALE: $3.00

"RTs Are Really Terrific" pin: round, white with dark blue lettering
$1.00 each or 6 for $5.00

Send your orders to: Maureen Duffy, PCO Dept. of Graduate Studies in VI, 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027-1598, w (215) 780-1362, or

New items: Commuter coffee mugs and baseball caps will be available soon, engraved with the new slogan “Whatever Works,” along with a Latin translation. Watch for the announcement!

Laura Mahler, RT from Alaska
How did you enter the vision rehabilitation field?
I belong to the Lions International here in Alaska, and a fellow Lion asked me to take the position as Elderly Blind Coordinator at the Alaska Center for the Blind.

How long have you been a Rehabilitation Teacher/vision rehabilitation professional?
That was almost six years ago now. My experience and background is in Special Education.

Tell us about your current job.
As the title says, I work with those people who are over 55 years of age who have a vision loss great enough to interfere with their daily living. Because most people who are 55 to 70 years old do not consider themselves "elderly," and many who were eligible for the program did not consider themselves "blind,” we coordinators in Alaska adopted the name "Visually Impaired Senior Alaskans Program." This has proven to be a better public name. There are four territories in which the state has divided its V.I.S.A Program: Northern, which includes Nome, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, Delta Junction, and Tok (pronounced "Toke"), as well as all the villages in that same area; South-Central and Southwestern, which is my territory and includes Bethel, Dillingham, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Anchorage, Matanuska/Susitna Valley, Copper River Valley, and all the villages in that area; Kenai Peninsula, which includes Valdez, Cordova, Kodiak Island as well as Kenai Peninsula; and Southeastern Alaska, which is the area known as the panhandle and includes Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Ketchikan.

You must remember that the state of Alaska, if placed on top of the continental U.S. would cover 1/5 of that territory! South-Central and Southwestern Alaska contains half of the population of the entire state, so I am kept quite busy. I make almost 300 contacts a year. I do a lot of traveling by small plane and riverboat. I have not been on a snow machine yet, but I have used a 4-wheeler to get to a client in a small village. When I go to a village, I have to have an interpreter to converse with the elder most of the time. I have been lucky to have a family member do the interpreting for me. Because of weather conditions, many times I cannot get to a village to see the elder. This has been a problem for me, but I have been able to train local health care attendants, and senior center staff so that many of the daily living skills can be used without my even having contact with the person. If the elder needs special attention, then I can make the trip and spend a few days working closely with that person. I also do presentations to local service organizations--especially the Lions clubs--if the village has one. I go into schools and speak about blindness and vision loss. I do radio and television talk shows to "spread the word" about alternative techniques and other services available. Right now, I have a partnership project going on in which my program shares the expense of a video magnifier with senior centers and senior housing units (and even service organizations who want to help out) so that seniors with vision loss have equipment available to them.

Tell us something special about yourself.
I am a long-time Alaskan, and enjoy the special advantages of living here. I fish for halibut and salmon, watch and photograph eagles, whales, all kinds of water birds, moose (some live right here in Anchorage, so it is easy to get photos), and beautiful scenery. It is certainly a great place to live and work.

Why did you join Division 11?
I chose Division 11 because I knew I would receive information and gain a network in Low Vision, which is an important part of my job.

The Academy has begun its work in certifying blind rehabilitation professionals. Now, it is time for Division 11 to begin the work of guaranteeing that our personnel preparation programs meet the criteria that will ensure that graduates are eligible for ACVREP certification.

During the next several months, Division 11 will be reviewing the personnel preparation programs at universities around the country. This is a major undertaking that will enable our profession to grow and prosper.

As newly selected chair of this committee, I am eager to identify certified RTs who are interested in assisting in this process. We will review the documentation of the universities, compare it to the guidelines approved by the AER Board last fall, and make recommendations to the universities concerning their adherence to those guidelines.

If you are interested in being a part of this exciting task, please contact me by April 1. You can reach me in several ways: Phone (708) 524-1351; e-mail; or mail 925 N. Taylor, Oak Park, IL 60302.

Moira Williams, RTC
Private Contractor, Philadelphia Area

Zenith Speak EZ Talking 4-Head VCR
Catalog Model: SPEAKEZ
LS&S Group
P.O. Box 673
Northbrook IL 60065
List Price: $179.95; Shipping charge $11.00

Catalog Description: High quality unit featuring state-of-the-art circuitry for a high contrast, distortion free picture.

Key features include the following:
  • remote has large easy-to-read buttons
  • commercial skip
  • forward/reverse speed search
  • slow motion
  • 1 year, eight-event timer recording
  • on-screen programming in English, Spanish and French
  • picture pause
  • automatic digital picture tracking
  • automatic head cleaner
  • instant timer recording
  • real time tape counter
  • automatic tape speed adjustment
  • soft touch loading
  • automatic operation
  • cassette indicator
  • 181 channel capability
  • automatic channel search
  • channel add/delete
  • One year warranty
The Zenith Talking VCR appears to be a normal VCR. The remote even looks like every other remote in this reviewer's house; however, it does not have large buttons like the ad says. It takes two “AA” batteries, and contains the standard features of play, stop, ffwd, rew, pause, number pad, channel up and down, power, tracking, tv/vcr, rec., sp/ep, menu, quit and enter. The additional keys this remote contains that may not be standard on all remotes are eject and commercial skip. The remote would have to be explained to a visually impaired/blind individual before he or she would be able to use it to the fullest extent.

Upon receiving the VCR, this reviewer unpacked it under blindfold, and hooked it up to my television, replacing my standard VCR with the talking VCR. This task was fairly easy under blindfold, because the wires are plugged into the same general areas on each VCR (top cable wire stays on top, etc.). Once the VCR was plugged in, this reviewer turned it on to program the time and some recording. An instructional voice starts after a second or two delay. It was a female voice and she walked me through the setting of the time. She did not, however, voice the buttons I was pushing, so I did not know if I was pushing the correct buttons or not. I also had to listen to her directions all the way through, because sometimes I needed to push enter after my input and sometimes I didn't.

The next task was setting up the channels; in my case, cable. This, again, was easy enough. Once the 'auto program' choice was selected, the VCR went through searching for data. The voice repeated this line approximately every 30 seconds so I knew it was doing something.

The next task to be tackled was to program a show or two. The general procedure for recording was easy, except this reviewer was thrown slightly when the VCR said: Press number key to select program. At first I didn't realize I needed to select the one program, out of eight, that I wanted. Initially this is ok, but if I choose to program several shows to record every week and then need to add another program, I would need to remember how many programs I already have, which show is under which program number, etc. The screen does pop up on the next free program number, and I could just press Enter to move to the next line, but if I didn't have sighted help I would not necessarily know this. If I need to go back and edit an existing program, I do need to know which program number I need. The VCR does not verbalize existing text. It only verbalized the buttons I was pushing during the programming functions or time set function. Also, when inputting the time to begin recording, it takes a possible four digits; if I put in 2:00 but meant 12:00, when I put in the '1' to start over, the time actually now says 20:01. Also, when I move onto the next item, there's no confirmation of what I just entered, so I really have no idea if it's wrong or not. Patience and care during this step are rewarded.

This reviewer also tried programming under low vision simulation (purchased from AWARE). All instructions that were verbalized were also placed on the screen. Using a 27” television, these instructions were white and stood about 1” tall, and were placed on a blue background. I was able to read these directions from about 20” away. As I went through each step, the step I was working on was highlighted in black. This reviewer was unable to see this highlight using the 'cataract' simulation included in the simulation kit. The blue background and the black highlight just blended together.

All programming needs to be done through the remote, but it is possible to play tapes, surf channels, and record instantly from the face of the machine itself. During the rewinding function, as the machine approaches the beginning of the tape, the rewind process becomes extremely slow. There is no loud noise as it completes its cycle. There is on-screen notification when it has finished recording, but no auditory confirmation.

For the average person who just wants to program a few shows to record once or weekly, this VCR should meet his or her needs. However, for the less confident consumer who would really like voice review of previously recorded programs, I would suggest holding off until the developers can improve upon the features of this model.

Our membership has increased during the past two years, but we know there are many more RTs, RTAs and related personnel that would benefit (as would the profession) from becoming a member of Division 11, AER. The best way to share the benefits of membership is when members of a Division ask others to join. To help motivate you -- our current members -- to attract and find new members, we are sponsoring a one-year membership drive (until 12/01).

For every three new memberships to AER Division 11 that you submit, you will receive $30.00 toward the cost of attending one continuing education project of your choice. Just send the three new membership forms, your name and address as sponsor, and the title of the program you plan to attend to Maureen Duffy, Chair.
Maureen A. Duffy, RTC
Administration on Aging and the National Institute on Aging
  • Age Pages: Common eye pathologies related to aging
  • Internet Information Notes: Low Vision and Aging: links to all major blindness and low vision resources in the US
American Society on Aging
  • Search under keyword: vision and find links to vision loss and aging; changes in vision with aging; vision rehabilitation; signs of vision loss; research studies; cataracts; listings of public and private agencies
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University
  • Links to the Information and Referral Resource Project (I&RR)
  • Contains excellent links to local and national vision, rehabilitation, and aging sites and resources
One Stop Resource for Eye Care Information
  • “Health Issues” contains section on “Aging and Your Vision”
  • Links to aging, vision, and rehabilitation resources
Family Village: A Global Community of Disability-Related Resources
  • Search under keyword: blindness and find links to organizations, chat rooms, newsgroups, and Websites
The National Eye Institute
  • Photograph catalog contains downloadable images of functional vision loss simulations
  • Information on research, low vision, publications, and age-related eye disorders
National Institute on Aging
  • Search under keyword: vision and find links to the Better Vision Institute; National Center for Vision and Aging; American Optometric Institute; National Eye Institute; research studies
On Health - in association with WebMD
  • Search under keyword: vision and find links to articles and resources on macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes, glaucoma, laser corrective surgery
  • Link to MEDLINE database
The Arc of the United States (Formerly Association for Retarded Citizens)
  • Aging With Developmental Disabilities: Changes in Vision
  • Links to agencies, support services, publications
University of Illinois Extension 4-H project: Walk In My Shoes: Making Sense of Sensory Changes
  • Changes in Vision: A series of experiential learning exercises to simulate age-related vision loss
  • Supplies to create an “Immediate Aging Kit”
Vision Loss Resources (Private Minnesota agency)
  • Self-Vision Screening Test
  • Database of U.S. service providers
The RT Listserv subscription information has changed once again, since our hosts at the University of Massachusetts-Boston have changed servers. Please remember to either unsubscribe or change your listserv setting to "nomail" if you will be on vacation.

RT-L is the Rehabilitation Teachers and professionals discussion list.

To subscribe to RT-L, type the command:
SUBSCRIBE RT-L firstname lastname in the BODY of an emessage - substituting your actual first and last names - and send it to:

To post to RT-L, once you have subscribed, send your emessage to:

To unsubscribe from RT-L, type the command:
UNSUBSCRIBE RT-L in the BODY of an emessage, and send it to:

To contact the listowner of RT-L, Bob McCulley, email either:
Division 11 and the Rehabilitation Teaching Test Committee extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all of the individuals who gave so generously of their time, talent, and brainpower to validate the new Rehabilitation Teaching certification test. As most of you are aware, the test has become part of the new ACVREP certification process. Because of your willingness to share your time and knowledge, Division 11, Dr. Paul Ponchillia, Dr. Susan Ponchillia, and the RT Test Committee were able to present a fully validated testing instrument to ACVREP in December 2000. Confidentiality requirements prevent us from thanking each individual personally; therefore, please accept this public acknowledgment from the officers and members of Division 11. We couldn't have done it without you!
Division 11 extends its sincere thanks to the following members of the RT Certification Committee, who presided over and processed the final round of certification applications as AER transferred the certification process to The Academy (ACVREP). Between September 2 and December 1, 2000, AER processed approximately 470 new certification applications from all disciplines, normally the number that are processed in a year. Our hard-working Committee members are the following:

Nancy Northard, RTC, COMS, Chair
Lynne Luxton, RTC
Patricia Wisner, RTC
John McMahon, RTC, CLVT
Cheryl Richesin, RTC, COMS
Tracy Fehr, RTC
Laurel Tucker, RTC

Once again, a sincere “thank you” to all for your dedication to RT certification standards, and to the profession of Rehabilitation Teaching.
Calling all RTs! Are you tired of the same old presentations on cane techniques or field research? If so, your ideas are NEEDED! Share your innovative program ideas, unique lesson plans, tricks of the trade, research projects, or new publications.

Don't forget to submit your proposal for a presentation, workshop, or poster at the next International AER conference in Toronto by July 15th.

Contact AER for further details:
1-877-492-2708 or
July and August are great times to catch up on projects:
  • Create a file of skill training recipes
  • Create a labeling book using a mini photo album and index cards
  • Create a field assessment kit using only one tote bag
If you have news to share such as local RT award winners, RT publications, or items of general interest, be sure to share it here! Send your information to Lisa-Anne Mowerson at

Archived RT News: Newsletter of Division 11
September, 2000
December, 2000
Spring, 2001
Summer, 2001
Fall, 2001
Winter, 2001
Spring, 2002
Summer, 2002
Fall, 2002
Winter, 2002
March, 2003
May, 2003
September, 2003
March, 2004
June, 2004

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