Specialized Services

Achieving long-term personal goals

Our Specialized Services are all about achieving long-term and advanced independence goals, like learning to be fully independent at home, or navigating the world with skill and confidence. Specialized Services also addresses the needs of children, as well as adults with vision loss and a dual diagnosis such as mental health, cognitive disease, acquired brain injury, or chronic disease conditions including diabetes or cardiac disease.

Delivered after an individual has completed their Primary Services, these services support the needs of clients who require a greater number of visits to achieve their identified goals, and may include one or more of the following:

Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program

All people with Diabetes who are over 12 years old should receive regular eye screenings. Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss in Canada and is the most frequent cause of new cases of blindness among adults younger than 75. Research has shown that early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care can reduce the risk of vision loss by 95 per cent.

VLRC has developed a Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program in partnership with community organizations to provide screenings for Diabetic Retinopathy. It allows health care providers increased mobility to reach individuals in more remote locations. Digital photographs are taken of both retinas using a portable hand-held fundus camera. The images are uploaded into an automated Diabetic Retinopathy screening software, approved by Health Canada and a report is provided at point of care. Retinal imaging can occur as part of routine diabetic or health care appointments.

A referral is then made to Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada who will coordinate the required follow-up care with the client’s GP and/or appropriate eye care professional.

The Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program aims to reduce the risk of vision loss by the early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy. If you live in Ontario, click here for the Diabetic Retinopathy Community Referral Form

If you are outside of Ontario, please contact Josie McGee at Josie.McGee@vlrehab.ca

Essential Skills for Daily Living

Our certified specialists help clients build the skills they need to live safely and independently with vision loss. This may include helping clients to: 

  • Learn safe methods of pouring a cup of coffee, preparing a meal, and using household appliances
  • Discover simple techniques for labelling medications, identifying money, using the phone, and organizing household items
  • Learn how to use large-print, braille, and audio products, and adaptive technology as a part of day-to-day life
  • Find community programs, financial subsidies, and other helpful resources available in their local area  

Travel and Mobility Instruction

Learning to travel independently with vision loss is an essential skill. Our certified specialists can help clients learn how to:

  • Use the sighted guide technique (a comfortable way to walk with a sighted person) and use remaining vision and other senses to travel
  • Use a white cane and other mobility tools
  • Find and cross intersections
  • Ride public transit with confidence to reach community resources like the grocery store, bank, or shopping mall
  • Navigate new environments like a workplace or school campus

Early Intervention Services

Low vision and blindness can limit a child's incidental learning and development. Our early interventionists work with children, families, and community partners to address concerns and support success in the early years by:

  • Helping families understand their child's vision or blindness, and how it might affect their functional development
  • Helping families identify specialized services, information, and materials that can support them, as well as facilitating opportunities for counselling and contact with other families
  • Addressing parents' concerns in a number of areas, including socialization, mobility, play skills, communication, literacy, and sensory awareness
  • Supporting children and families with transitions into community activities, daycare, pre-school, and school settings

Assistive Technology Services

These services help clients discover a world of exciting technology products – from accessible audio book players to video magnifiers to computer screen readers and other items that can help make life with vision loss easier. Our certified specialists can:

  • Provide clients with an assessment and provide recommendations on assistive technologies that meet their specific needs
  • Show clients how to use their assistive technologies, to help make the process as easy as possible
  • Help clients get the tools they need for their workplaces or schooling
  • Help clients find out what financial supports they might be eligible to receive for the purchase of assistive products

Specialized Services are delivered through a blended approach of in-person sessions with our specialists, as well as virtual sessions wherein the client and the specialist talk over the phone, or through an online platform like Zoom. These services conclude only when the client has achieved their goals, and they are welcome to come back for more Specialized Services at any point if their needs and goals change.