Occupational Therapy and Vision Rehabilitation Network (OTVRN)

The network began in 2016 when Tanya Packer contacted CAOT to begin a conversation about the need to promote occupational therapy in low vision rehabilitation. CAOT was quick to respond and a  Water Cooler Talk, Low Vision Rehabilitation: Practice Possibilities for Occupational Therapists , was held.  An impromptu email correspondence began between three occupational therapists interested in continuing the conversation. In less than two weeks, the group had expanded with occupational therapists from across Canada speaking up. CAOT agreed to create a network to further support the development of occupational therapy involvement in the area of vision rehabilitation. Initially named the Occupational Therapy and Low Vision Rehabilitation Network, the network has rebranded to show the focus on vision rehabilitation, which is inclusive of Canadians with various degrees of vision loss. 


All Canadians with vision loss will have equal access to quality occupational therapy services, both in the area of vision rehabilitation and other areas of practice.


Occupational therapists will make a substantial contribution to the lives of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted through education, research and advocacy.


We will do this by:

  • increasing the visibility of and access to occupational therapy in vision rehabilitation across Canada,
  • developing relationships and partnerships with other key stakeholders in vision rehabilitation and the government,
  • promoting, disseminating, and facilitating research in the area of occupational therapy and vision rehabilitation,
  • actively promoting best practice occupational therapy in vision rehabilitation,
  • connecting occupational therapists across Canada, providing a platform to network and discuss best practice in the promotion of health, wellbeing, and participation of people who are blind or partially sighted,
  • creating and/or promoting educational and professional development resources and opportunities, including the inclusion of vision rehabilitation topics into occupational therapy curricula, and
  • advocating for the role of occupational therapy within vision rehabilitation.


Laura Bulk (British Columbia)  Co-chair - laurabulk@gmail.com
Mathieu Carignan (Quebec)
Teresa Chien (Ontario)
Melissa de Wit (Ontario)
Julia Foster (Ontario) Co-chair - Julia.Foster@kingstonhsc.ca
Jonathan Harris (Nova Scotia)
Naomi Hazlett (Ontario)
Debbie Hébert (Ontario)
Ellen Johnson (Nova-Scotia)
Rosemary Lysaght (Ontario)
Patty Mason (British Columbia)
Colleen McGrath (Ontario)
Tanya Packer (Nova Scotia) 
Linda Petty (Ontario)
Debbie Rudman (Ontario)
Minnie Teng (British Columbia)


Social Media
You can connect with OTVRN on Facebook and on Twitter by finding #OTVRN and following @LYBOT.

Online Resources

AOTA Low Vision Page
AOTA Guideline
Low Vision Rehabilitation Packet
CAOT Practice Evidence Webinar: Technology for older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL): What do occupational therapists need to know?

Occupational Therapy and Vision Rehabilitation in the News
Crosier, S. (2018). Vision project ‘life-changing’. Retrieved from http://www.thewhig.com/2018/05/24/vision-project-life-changing

Systematic Reviews
Arbesman, M., Lieberman, D., & Berlanstein, D.R. (2013). Methodology for the Systematic Reviews on Occupational Therapy Interventions for Older Adults With Low Vision. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(3), 272-278. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.007021  http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851677&resultClick=3

Berger, S. (2013). Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy Interventions for Older Adults Living With Low Vision.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy67(3), 263-265. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.007203  http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851675&resultClick=3

Berger, S., McAteer, J., Schreier, K., & Kaldenberg, J. (2013). Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve Leisure and Social Participation for Older Adults With Low Vision: A Systematic Review.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy67(3), 303-311. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.005447  http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851681&resultClick=3

Liu, C., Brost, M.A., Horton, V.E., Kenyon, S.B., & Mears, K.E. (2013). Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve Performance of Daily Activities at Home for Older Adults With Low Vision: A Systematic Review.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy67(3), 279-287. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.005512   http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851678&resultClick=3

Justiss, M.D. (2013). Occupational Therapy Interventions to Promote Driving and Community Mobility for Older Adults With Low Vision: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy67(3), 296-302. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.005660  http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851680&resultClick=3

Smallfield, S., Clem, K., & Myers, A. (2013). Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve the Reading Ability of Older Adults With Low Vision: A Systematic Review.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy67(3), 288-295. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.004929  http://ajot.aota.org/article.aspx?articleid=1851679&resultClick=3

Articles by Network Members
Brown, C. M., Packer, T. L., & Passmore, A. (2013;2011;). Adequacy of the regular early education classroom environment for students with visual impairment.  The Journal of Special Education, 46(4), 223-232. doi:10.1177/0022466910397374

Carignan, M., Rousseau, J., Gresset, J., & Couturier, J. (2008). Content validity of a home-based person-environment interaction assessment tool for visually impaired adults.  Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 45(7), 1037-1051. doi:10.1682/JRRD.2007.10.0158

Desrosiers, J., Wanet-Defalque, M., Témisjian, K., Gresset, J., Dubois, M., Renaud, J., . . . Overbury, O. (2009). Participation in daily activities and social roles of older adults with visual impairment.  Disability & Rehabilitation, 31(15), 1227-1234. doi:10.1080/09638280802532456

Doorey, J.; Douglas, S., Viska., L., Packer., T (2009). Care for the Carers: A Self-management program for carers of people with vision impairment. http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au:80/R?func=dbin-jump-full&local_base=gen01-era02&object_id=119482

Laliberte Rudman, D., Gold, D., McGrath, C., Zuvela, B., Spafford, M., Renwick, R. (2016). “Why would I want to go out?” The process of negotiating social participation amongst Canadian older adults with age-related vision loss. Canadian Journal on Aging, 35, 465-478

Laliberte Rudman, D., Egan, M., McGrath, C., Kessler, D., Gardner, P., Ceci, C., & King, J. (2016). Low vision rehabilitation, age-related vision loss and risk: A critical interpretive synthesis. The Gerontologist, 56, 32-45.

Lee, L., Packer, T. L., Tang, S. H., & Girdler, S. (2008). Self-management education programs for age-related macular degeneration: A systematic review. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 27(4), 170-176. doi:10.1111/j.1741-6612.2008.00298.x

McGrath, C. (2011). Low vision and older adults: The role of occupational therapy,  OT Now.

McGrath, C.E., & Rudman, D.L. (2013). Factors that influence the occupational engagement of older adults with low vision: a scoping review.  British Journal of Occupational Therapy76(5), 234-241.  http://bjo.sagepub.com/content/76/5/234.full.pdf+html

McGrath, C., & Astell, A. (2017). The benefits and barriers to technology acquisition: Understanding the decision-making processes of older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL). British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 80, 1-9

McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., Spafford, M., Trentham, B., & Polgar, J. (2017). Environmental barriers and the production of disability for seniors with age-related vision loss (ARVL): A critical ethnographic study. Canadian Journal on Aging, 36, 1-12.

McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., Polgar, J., Spafford, M., & Trentham, B. (2016). Negotiating ‘positive’ aging in the presence of age-related vision loss (ARVL): The shaping and perpetuation of disability. Journal of Aging Studies, 39, 1-10.

McGrath, C., Laliberte Rudman, D., Trentham, B., Polgar, J., & Spafford, M. (2016). Re-shaping understandings of disability associated with age-related vision loss (ARVL): Incorporating critical disability perspectives into research and practice. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-9.

McGrath, C., Sidhu, K., & Mahl, H. (2017). Interventions to support the occupational engagement of older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL): Findings from a scoping review. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 35, 1-17.

Packer, TL., Simpson, C., Drury, V., Sim. S., Pereira, M., and Re, M. (2009). Living safe : A Self-management program for people with vision impairment. Perth Western Australia: Curtin University of Technology.  http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au:80/R?func=dbin-jump-full&local_base=gen01-era02&object_id=119481

Girdler, S., Boldy, D., Dhaliwal, S., Crowley, M., & Packer, T. (2010). Vision self-management for older adults: A randomised controlled trial.  British Journal of Ophthalmology, 94(2), 223-228. doi:10.1136/bjo.2008.147538

Petty, L. (2005). Technology and occupation: High technology vision aids for an aging population.  OT Now, 26-28.

Petty, L.S., McArthur, L., & Treviranus, J. (2005). Clinical Report: Use of the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure in Vision Technology.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(5), 309-312. doi: 10.1177/000841740507200508

Petty, L., Foster, J., & Rigby, P. (in press). Screening and assessment approaches to identify functional vision loss in community-dwelling older adults requiring mobility aid assessment: A scoping review. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Small, J., Darcy, S., & Packer, T. (2012). The embodied tourist experiences of people with vision impairment: Management implications beyond the visual gaze.  Tourism Management, 33(4), 941-950. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2011.09.015

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