Jenice Heck, LOTR, MMCJenice Heck, LOTR, MMCOccupational therapist Jenice Heck, LOTR, MMC, has officially joined UAB’s LVR graduate certificate program as an adjunct professor and will soon bring her expertise in blindness rehabilitation to its students. Heck, who is vice president of vision rehabilitation services at The Lighthouse for the Blind in New Orleans, believes UAB’s LVR graduate certificate program will be the only one in the nation to offer this training. 

“This is a gap in the field for occupational therapists working in vision rehabilitation because most energy and resources have been focused on working with people who still have some residual vision,” says Heck, who was born with Leber congenital amaurosis and is one of a few blind OTs in the United States. 

“OTs come out of training with great strategies for [clients with] low vision but, when they’re faced with someone who has no usable vision, many skills are not transferring, and they don’t always know how to help these clients,” she says. 

Heck hikes up a hill.Heck hikes up a hill.Beth Barstow, PhD, OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA, director of the LVR graduate certificate program and associate professor of occupational therapy, approached Heck last year to ask her to develop the training OTs in UAB’s program need to work confidently with blind clients.

“UAB is very lucky to have an occupational therapist such as Jenice join our team. She is an innovative OT who has skills in blindness rehabilitation that few possess,” Dr. Barstow says. “Adding Jenice to our team will enable OTs to develop valuable skills needed to move into non-profit and VA positions and fill a much-needed gap in service provision.”

Heck commends UAB for creating this opportunity for OTs to develop skills across the spectrum of vision loss. “It’s a positive step forward for the entire field,” she says.

In the meantime, anyone who is interested in resources for people who are blind can find adaptive strategies on Heck’s YouTube channel, Insight4blind. She offers tips and techniques for independent living, from stocking a pantry and cooking to pet care to preparing for employment and much more.