New program for blind children launched

For a child with a visual impairment, touch, hearing, and the use of any remaining or residual vision all are critically important for learning and development.
Support by trained professionals is essential to help children develop these senses to the best of their ability.
Children who have low vision sometimes are not identified until well into their toddler years, and vision problems often can be mistaken for other conditions that affect development.
The Northwestern health Unit, with funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services as part of Ontario’s Best Start Strategy, is launching a new Blind-Low Vision program.
The health unit will work with a number of partner agencies to ensure families with children who are blind or have low vision receive support.
As part of the North Words portfolio of services, the Blind-Low Vision program will promote the early identification of children with visual problems and offer a seamless approach to parents of identified children.
This will ensure the right services are available when they are needed.
Key components of this new provincial program are family support and counselling, specialized intervention and education services, and professional and parent education.
The Northwestern Health Unit continues to deliver the message to parents that a baby’s vision should be checked at the age of six months.
In partnership with community physicians and optometrists, the health unit hopes that identification of vision problems will occur much earlier so that children and their families can receive the help they need as early in life as possible.
Although the incidence of blindness and vision impairment is quite low, its impact on a child’s development is extremely significant.
Referrals to the Blind-Low Vision program are made by calling the Northwestern Health Unit, North Words toll-free number at 1-877-553-7122.