Blind and 55 years old or older? OVR can help!

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Posted on Dec 04 2019

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Are you or anyone you know 55 years old or older and is legally blind or is severely visually-impaired? You can get help from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s newest caseworker.

Marlena M. Litulimar is OVR’s newest caseworker for its Independent Living for Older Blind program that is intended to help those who are legally blind or severely visually-impaired, whose corrected vision in the better eye is 20/70 or worse.

“I love helping people,” Litulimar said. “Before this, I worked for the WIC program, for women, infants, and children. I am thankful for this opportunity because helping people…is my passion.”

OVR offers information and referral, advocacy training, peer counseling, diagnostic vision, eyeglasses or other visual aids, self-sufficient health maintenance training, family support, transportation, including help with equipment to be more mobile such as canes, walkers, talking watches, hearing aids, and more.

Those who do not know their corrected vision will be referred by the ILOB caseworker to an eye clinic for a vision exam. Eligibility for the services will be based on the vision report.

“My goal is to increase the number of participants we have for the program,” Litulimar said.

The good news is OVR is currently working on updating policies and procedures to make the eligibility requirement more lenient, even with restrictions, so that more people can avail of the services.

“The 20/70 eligibility criteria is very difficult for a person with a severe vision impairment to [meet] because most of them might mostly fall on 20/50 or 20/60. I am going to try and change the policies and procedures and try to make it easier [for people],” said OVR director Maryann Borja-Arriola.

“Right now…the eligibility criteria is concrete so either we have a public hearing to [make the changes], or just go ahead and make those changes,” Borja-Arriola added.

Borja-Arriola has been working with the Older Independent Blinds-Technical Assistance Center to address concerns about clients being unable to meet the eligibility criteria, with a lot of them already having applied to avail of the services for up to seven times.

“I feel their [applicants’] sentiment,” Borja-Arriola said. “A lot of them have been applying for almost six, seven times already, and it is very frustrating. This is why we are trying to redo the policies and procedures, make alterations to it, to make it more lenient, with restrictions.”

To avail of the ILOB program, contact OVR through Litulumar via phone at (670) 789-8705, email: marlena@ovrgov.net, voice: (670) 322-6537/38, or TTY: (670) 322-6549.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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