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Envision Opens 10th Annual Conference on Low Vision

September 10, 2015
Envision, the Wichita, Kan.-based not-for-profit organization that supports those who are blind and visually impaired, officially opened its 10th Annual Conference at The Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver this morning with a session honoring outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life of those who are blind and visually impaired and keynote addresses from two individuals representing the great athletic accomplishments those with vision loss can achieve. The multidisciplinary conference, which draws in ophthalmologists, optometrists, occupational therapists, teachers of the visually impaired, researchers, academics and others, continues here through September 12.

The Opening Plenary Session of Envision Conference 2015 included a keynote address by Dr. Jeanne Derber, an optometrist who, in addition to maintaining a private practice, serves as the director of vision services for the U.S. Olympic Training Center, a certified medical classifier for the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and the International Blind Sports Association, and as a consultant for the Colorado College hockey team. Sharing the podium with her as keynote speaker was Matt Simpson, a member of the USA Men’s National Goalball Team who has won two USABA National Championships and an International Blind Sports Federation World Youth Championship, has qualified for the 2016 Paralympic games in Brazil and serves as the membership and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. The two speakers offered insight into the beneficial role sports play in the rehabilitation, health and confidence of those who are blind and visually impaired, and the importance of overcoming obstacles to participating in sports such as lack of awareness of existing programs or the opportunity to join them.

Envision also presented several awards during the Opening Session to acknowledge outstanding contributions to the field of low vision. The Envision Oculus Award was presented to the Hadley School for the Blind (www.hadley.edu), a 95-year-old institution based in Winnetka, Ill., that promotes independent living for those who are blind and visually impaired, their relatives, and professionals and paraprofessionals in the field of blindness. The award is presented annually to individuals or organizations, nominated by their peers in vision rehabilitation and research, whose careers or programs have had a significant impact on people who are blind or visually impaired through professional collaboration, advocacy, research or education. The Hadley School is broadly recognized as a global leader in distance education, and provides nearly 10,000 students each year from more than 100 countries with tuition-free programs.

Envision also presented the Envision Award in Low Vision Research to Robert W. Massof, Ph.D., founder and director of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, a division of the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. The award recognizes outstanding low-vision research by a mid-career senior investigator who has six or more years post-terminal or professional degree experience in low-vision and vision-rehabilitation research. Dr. Massof is a professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has joint appointments in computer science at the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. His research focuses on clinical and basic vision psychophysics, physiological optics, sensory engineering and psychometrics. He is a Fellow of both the Optical Society of America and the American Academy of Optometry, a member of several other professional societies, and has authored more than 160 published scientific papers and book chapters and edited a book on low vision policy and service-delivery issues. He holds five patents and three software copyrights on instruments.

“We are proud to honor an institution and an individual that give so much to the BVI community,” said Envision’s President/CEO Michael J. Monteferrante in presenting the awards. “By dedicating their efforts to the discovery and dissemination of information, both The Hadley School and Dr. Massof break down barriers that might otherwise prevent those who are blind and visually impaired, their families and others from achieving all that they can in the world. We salute their commitment and accomplishments and encourage others to follow their examples.”

A Decade of Multidisciplinary Discussion on Low Vision 
Held each September, the Envision Conference offers more than 90 hours of clinical education and research sessions pertaining to low vision. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, occupational therapists, medical researchers, students and instructors from leading low-vision optometry schools and other professionals and academics come together to focus on improving the quality of low-vision care through collaboration, advocacy, research and education. Many sessions qualify for continuing education credits from a long list of organizations including Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE), Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP) through the Registered Provider of Professional Learning and Education (RPPLE) program, Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). 

This year’s conference was made possible in part by Gimbal, Inc. (www.gimbal.com), the San Diego-based company that has pioneered advanced geofencing, industry-leading Bluetooth Smart beacons, location-based engagement, analytics, security features and privacy controls to drive mobile app engagement and loyalty while enhancing the user's real-world experiences, and by Washington, D.C.-based Vanda Pharmaceuticals (www.vandapharmaceuticals.com), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of products for the treatment of unmet medical needs, including  solutions for Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, a rare circadian rhythm disorder affecting up to 70% of people who are totally blind. Learn more at www.Non-24.com.

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