VisionServe Alliance: Internship Program
VisionServe Alliance is a consortium of Executive Directors and CEOs of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the country that provide services to people with vision loss. VisionServe Alliance brings together the full diversity of services for people with vision loss with the ultimate goal of unifying the many issues and organizations operating independently of one another in the field. Collaborative projects, national trends, stronger management and leadership, and advocacy issues have been born from these
conversations and activities.
The overarching problem of vision rehabilitation agencies is that there is a very small pool of graduates that specialize in the field, with only thirty graduating annually. This grant was provided to help inform these graduates of the largely unknown opportunities of internships with VisionServe Alliance member organizations. The grant also helped to uncover a larger pool of potential candidates by changing a ruling that limited which graduates were able to take the Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Certification exam.
The grant initially helped graduate students working towards completing a Masters or Doctoral Degree in Vision Rehabilitation. In order to graduate, these students must complete a 350 hour internship in their field. The grant was used to help make students aware of internship opportunities.
Most students, as well their professors, were unaware that nonprofit members of the VisionServe Alliance offered the internship programs necessary to graduate. Many students believed that internships were only available through the Veterans Administration, leaving members of the VisionServe Alliance underserved. The grant expanded internship opportunities available to graduates and helped VisionServe Alliance members find qualified health professionals in a very difficult-to-staff niche market.
In addition to expanding internship opportunities, the grant also allowed the VisionServe Alliance to uncover a bigger pool of graduate candidates for the vision rehabilitation field. Through their research, VisionServe Alliance found that there was an existing ruling that prevented other qualified health professionals (OTs, PTs, etc.) from taking the vision rehabilitation therapist certification exam. VisionServe Alliance was able to make a case for
these professionals to become certified, allowing the very limited pool of vision rehabilitation
therapists the ability to expand.