Contact: Sophie Kershaw-Patilla
STARKVILLE, Miss.—The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University has named Sylvia Stinson-Perez as the new director of the Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center.
Stinson-Perez has more than 20 years of experience in the field of vision rehabilitation and five years in higher education. She is assuming her new leadership role Monday [Jan. 7].
Funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration under the U.S. Department of Education, OIB-TAC training and technical assistance activities focus on agencies that serve older individuals with blindness to improve administration, operation and performance of their programs.
“We are very pleased that Sylvia will be leading the OIB-TAC,” said Michele McDonnall, NRTC director. “She is well qualified for the position and has a thorough understanding of the unique role our center plays in the continued enhancement of independent living outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”
Housed within MSU’s College of Education, the NRTC has been awarded more than $31 million over 37 years to support research, training, technical assistance and dissemination activities, enhancing employment and independent living outcomes for individuals with blindness and other visual impairments. The NRTC is the only federally funded center focused on employment outcomes of persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Most recently, Stinson-Perez served as chief executive officer and executive director for the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind in Port Richey, Florida. The non-profit organization provides a full range of vision education, rehabilitation and employment services to individuals of all ages experiencing vision loss or blindness.
A graduate of Florida State University and Saint Leo University, she holds master’s degrees in social work, visual disabilities education and business administration. Stinson-Perez is also a certified vision rehabilitation therapist.
“Vision loss is one of the many challenges of aging, yet one that can be successfully overcome. Services and rehabilitation training provided by programs designed to help seniors remain independent, productive and engaged can make a huge difference in adjustment to vision loss,” Stinson-Perez said. “I am looking forward to leading the OIB-TAC team as we continue to work with state agencies and community rehabilitation providers to promote independence, community involvement and well-being for older individuals who are blind.”
Stinson-Perez is herself visually impaired and believes strongly in advocacy, best practice and professional development. She has been an active member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, previously serving as Florida chapter president.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of adults with vision loss is expected to continue increasing rapidly, with cases of age-related macular degeneration expected to double and diabetic retinopathy expected to quadruple by 2050. Each state receives federal funding with the goal of developing an effective program to meet the needs for independence of this aging population with blindness and visual impairments.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.