– Envision announced today a partnership between the Envision Research Institute (ERI) and Wichita State University’s Regional Institute on Aging (RIA) that will increase resources for both organizations and promote greater professional and academic interest in low vision rehabilitation. The ERI, which was established by Envision in 2014, focuses on meaningful and applied vision research with the goal of raising the standard for low vision patient care and removing functional barriers for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The RIA is a virtual research organization established by WSU that serves as an intellectual and scientific organizer for the university and its partners to facilitate, leverage, and expand ongoing research work to enhance the lives of older adults.
“We want to inspire students and faculty to solve problems faced by individuals who are blind and visually impaired (BVI), by offering direct access to ERI researchers, BVI service providers and individuals of all ages who struggle with the functional barriers created by their visual impairment. The problems can be tackled at so many levels across the lifespan, and is particularly important in the context of age-related vision loss” said Laura Walker, Ph.D., ERI executive director. “By affiliating with the RIA, we are gaining exposure across departments to achieve the cross-disciplinary perspective we believe is essential to drive innovation that will result in meaningful changes in the lives of those Envision serves.”
“The formal collaboration between ERI and the RIA at WSU allows us to expand existing collaborative research and educational activities for our faculty and students,” said Alex Chaparro, Ph.D., RIA director. “Over the past year, Dr. Walker has been advising several teams of faculty and students from engineering and the department of psychology working on joint research projects. These types of educational and research experiences will better prepare our students for job opportunities serving the increasing aging population.”
As part of the collaboration, Dr. Walker has been appointed as an adjunct research scientist at the RIA. She will serve as a guest lecturer for WSU courses and act in an advisory role for Ph.D. candidates. Dr. Walker, ERI scientists and staff members will collaborate with students and faculty to facilitate their exposure to applied problems in visual impairment and support research projects. RIA will provide access to online and physical libraries, institutional review boards and ethics training to facilitate ERI research activities.
At Envision, WSU students will be invited to attend Envision’s continuing education events and visiting scholar presentations, accompany Envision staff on clinical rotations and observe programs such as:
- The integrated Envision Child Development Center, where children who are blind or visually impaired learn and play alongside their typically sighted peers;
- The Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center that gives individuals who are blind or visually impaired the tools they need to see beyond their vision impairment and better navigate everyday activities;
- Envision’s employment programs, developed to accommodate the high percentage of blind and visually impaired employees working at its headquarters and nearby manufacturing facility.
“Envision’s relationship with Wichita State University continues to grow, and the partnership between the ERI and RIA is the latest move forward,” said Heather Hogan, Senior Vice President Foundation Mission Services. “It adds to an impressive list of collaborations that include WSU Ventures, the National Institute for Aviation Training, WSU’s Provost Office and the College of Education. The children in our programs and adults who are blind or visually impaired have already benefitted from the practical results of our joint projects and much more innovation is ahead.”