College News Spring 2007 article on the Importance of Registration
There is a worrying drop in the number of CVI certifications as the graph below demonstrates. The reasons for the decline is not clear and we would like feedback from College members about the process (email@example.com) There will be a poster associated with the CVI project shown at the Annual Congress and members are invited to discuss their concerns with Catey Bunce, the lead statistician, and her co-workers.
The Paediatric Subcommittee have been working with Dr Bunce on a form to collect epidemiological information about children with visual impairment which will shortly appear on the College website.
A member of the College's Lay Advisory Group gives her perspective as a social worker:
Misconceptions about registration
In 35 years of working with blind and partially sighted people and their supporters, there is one issue that invokes a sense of despair. Each year one or two people would ask why registration was not deemed appropriate for individuals whose visual impairment was caused by 'brain damage'. One man summed it up: 'Surely blind means blind?'
In time I learned that there were certain 'groups' of people where registration was not always discussed:
- People with cerebral visual impairment (mainly people with cerebral palsy) - I was sometimes informed that GPs or optometrists would not refer such people to ophthalmologists because 'their eyes are perfect'. Occasionally a relative would announce that an ophthalmologist had said they could not register someone because 'there is nothing wrong with their eyes'.
- People with severe learning disabilities may not be registered, despite family and professionals knowing they were born with a visual impairment. There may be many reasons for this, but mostly commonly I was told that registration is 'irrelevant' to the individual as 'they are getting all the benefits to which they are entitled'. This is untrue. It is important that people with severe learning disabilities are registered. Much can be achieved when they receive the right help.
- People with advanced dementia affecting vision. Involvement by rehabilitation officers for the visually impaired may prevent people from becoming even more confused by their environment. Relatives are often keen to obtain all the appropriate benefits, including the blind person's tax allowance - especially when people are living in expensive nursing homes.
The Blind Person's Act 1920 and subsequent legislation allows that:
"People who are blind/severely sight impaired or partially sighted/sight impaired are entitled to be registered - regardless of the cause of their sight problem".
Help from a rehabilitation officer for the visually impaired can make a substantial difference to people's quality of life. Registration is a 'passport' to services. People need this help. They have a right to it!