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CSE  Rehabilitation Counsellor 

Department: Centre for Sight Enhancement(Low Vision Services Effective Date: March, 2008
Grade: USG 10 Reports to: CSE Administrator

General Accountability

The Low Vision Rehabilitation Counsellor reports to the CSE Administrator. The Counsellor provides professional support to patients and their families as requested by the patient or recommended by the clinician. The Counsellor is expected to interact on a professional basis with all optometrists, interns and residents working in the low vision area to ensure optimal patient care.

Nature and Scope

The School of Optometry Clinic provides a clinical facility for the education of Optometry undergraduates, graduate students and residents at the University of Waterloo. It also provides a comprehensive Optometric service to the general public through a University-based clinic. Approximately 30,000 patients are seen annually. Special populations are served through outreach projects around the region, across the country and throughout the world.


The Centre for Sight Enhancement (CSE) is a semi-autonomous clinical research and teaching facility within the School of Optometry. It is involved exclusively with activities related to the assessment and rehabilitation of visual disorders, visual impairments, visual disabilities and visual handicaps. The CSE has been designated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for the assessment and provision of high technology sight enhancement and sight substitution systems to visually impaired Ontario residents under the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). This Ministry program provides partial funding for these and other prescribed low vision aids.


The Centre for Sight Enhancement is an integral part of the overall teaching, research and clinical activities of the School of Optometry. Clinical low vision services within the CSE are provided by faculty optometrists with specialty training and experience in the low vision field. These "low vision clinicians" are assigned to the CSE low vision service by the School of Optometry Clinic Director who appoints a Head - Low Vision Services" co-ordinate the clinical activities within the area. CSE support staff are available to assist with reception, intake, assessment, counselling, training, clerical support and follow-up activities in the area. These support services are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.


The provision of clinical low vision services at the Centre for Sight Enhancement has evolved into a highly sophisticated and complex process. Since its creation in 1984, the Centre has experienced a tremendous change in the profile of patients being seen and in the services that they require. A greater number of young and profoundly impaired individuals are now being seen with more complicated educational and vocational requirements. In response to these changing service demands, the CSE low vision service has adopted an effective multidisciplinary team approach for low vision rehabilitation. Optometric low vision services are supported internally by a Rehabilitation Counsellor, Low Vision Therapist, High Technology Assessment Specialists and clerical support and externally by a large assortment of community services. The CSE also interacts regularly with many advocacy and consumer support groups attempting to assist blind and visually impaired individuals.           


The Counsellor is responsible for providing long and short-term counselling to assist clients in coping with social and emotional issues that may arise from, or accompany their vision loss. The counsellor will provide individual, couples and family counselling to clients at the clinic to assist in adjustment to vision loss. As needed, the counsellor will make appropriate referrals to the community for those clients experiencing difficulties in the social, emotional, financial or vocational realms as a result of the visual or accompanying disorder.


The counsellor provides support for individuals experiencing other changes/stress in their lives.  Providing assistance in coping with other physical, emotional and relationship issues (such as MS, diabetes, eating disorders, personality disorders, abuse, relationship issues etc.) has been demonstrated to have a  positive impact on the ability of the client to develop improved coping skills in  living with low vision.


The Counsellor will also offer and provide follow up support to clients through scheduled phone sessions or return visits to the clinic for in-office counselling.


The LVCIC reports to the CSE Administrator together with all other CSE and SEEPAC staff positions.

Statistical Data

As part of the multidisciplinary professional Low Vision Clinic team, the Rehabilitation Counsellor would manage between 250 – 300 face-to-face counselling sessions annually. In addition, a similar number of sessions would be conducted as counselling or follow up sessions managed by telephone. The Counsellor would also be responsible for a wide variety of community consultations involving client needs and services available

Specific Accountabilities

  1. To provide individual and family counselling to help clients and their families cope with progressive vision loss, adjustment to low vision, adjustments required in daily living activities, vocational adjustments, etc. This counselling may take place before the initial visit to the clinic, during the appointment or as arranged.
  2. To maintain clinical reports regarding counselling sessions with clients and families which will be organized within the client’s counselling file.
  3. To participate with the multidisciplinary team to plan individualized low vision services which address the various needs identified by the client.
  4. To identify client needs which can be best met by other services within the community which may not be available within the Low Vision Service.  These services may include adjustment counselling, vocational counselling, genetic counselling, orientation and mobility training, daily living skills training and financial assistance.
  5. To provide support for low vision clients having problems with community services, benefits and financial subsidies which may be available.
  6. To establish and maintain contacts with various community agencies, services and resource groups which can be consulted for information, advice and support of the low vision client.
  7. To encourage the formation of and to facilitate support groups involving low vision clients.
  8. To perform other duties as assigned from time to time by the Administrator.

Working Conditions