Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) Handbook, Section 5, Code of Ethics for Vision Rehabilitation Therapists
Revised: December 6, 2012
We professionals in the area of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) of persons who are blind and visually impaired, recognize our commitment to provide the highest quality of services to those individuals whom we serve. The purpose of our profession is to instruct individuals with visual impairments in the use of those compensatory skills and aids that will enable them to live safely, productively, and interdependently. Our primary obligation as Rehabilitation Teachers is to consumers, and in all of our professional relationships, we will keep the best interests of consumers as our priority. Vision Rehabilitation Therapists are committed to consumers and their families, to our employers the community, our profession and other professionals; and to ourselves. We recognize our actions and in-actions affect the lives of those whom we serve, and we accept this responsibility.
Defined by this Code of Ethics, the Vision Rehabilitation Therapist is a professional practicing in the private or public sector who evaluates, instructs, and guides a person with a visual impairment through a consumer-centered individualized plan of rehabilitation instruction designed to achieve stated life skills and goals. These competencies encompass specific, identifiable, evaluation and teaching skills and knowledge to enable a person with visual impairment to develop and/or enhance sensory and kinesthetic capabilities, personal management skills, communication skills, orientation skills, low vision utilization, assistive technologies, vocational skills, leisure and recreation activities, and home management. The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist also will assist the consumer to understand his/her vision loss and facilitate the development of appropriate coping mechanisms.
Vision Rehabilitation Therapists pledge themselves to standards of acceptable behavior as it relates to the following: Commitment to the Learner; Commitment to the Community; Commitment to the Profession; Commitment to Colleagues and Other Professionals; and Commitment to Professional Employment Practices.
- Commitment to the Learner
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) will value the worth and dignity of each individual.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will take all reasonable precautions to provide for the physical safety of the learner from conditions that interfere with learning and protect the best interest of the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will conduct a record review before beginning instruction with the learner. The specialist will make reasonable attempt to obtain and evaluate information about the learner that is relevant to the VRT assessment and instruction.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will respect the rights of the learner and legal representative to participate in decisions regarding the instructional program.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will make the recommendation for the continuing or discontinuing of services with the learner and/or their legal representative and will base that recommendation upon an evaluation of the learner's needs, abilities, and skills. Their recommendation will be made in the learner's best interest, independent of personal or agency convenience.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will provide information regarding the various types of VRT devices and strategies, and will explore with the learner which device(s) and strategies will best meet specific needs. The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not dispense or supply specialized aids and devices unless it is in the best interest of the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will seek the support and involvement of the family and/or legal representative to promote the learner's instructional goals and in advancing his or her continued success. For example, the VRT will share information as appropriate with the learner's permission with the family that will facilitate the learner's welfare and independence, but will not communicate information that violates the principles of confidentiality.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will seek the advice and counsel of colleagues whenever such consultation is in the best interest of the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will respect the privacy and confidentiality of all information pertaining to the learner obtained through or stored in any medium (i.e., hard copy, cellular phone conversations, electronic mail, social-media, facsimile, texting, video, audio-visual). He or she will not divulge confidential information about any learner to any individual not authorized by the learner to receive such information unless required by law or institutional policies, or unless withholding such information would endanger the safety of the learner or the public.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will obtain permission from the learner or legal representative before inviting others to observe a lesson or before recording the voice or image of the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will obtain full informed, written permission from the learner or legal representative before releasing information to a requesting agency or individual.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will make all reports objective and will present only data relevant to the purposes of the evaluation and instruction. When appropriate, the specialist will share this information with the learner and/or the family and/or legal representative.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will endeavor to disseminate information to service providers involved with the learner as it relates to VRT knowledge, instruction, and experiences so as to facilitate the goals of the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not allow undue consideration of personal comfort or convenience to interfere with the design and implementation of lessons.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will endeavor to establish and maintain a trusting relationship with the learner, maintain ethical standards of behavior and manage conflicts of interest by full disclosure.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will avoid accepting a referral for services of a learner with whom he or she has a current or has had a prior relationship which may compromise the integrity of the instruction. If, because of the unavailability of other competent professionals this is not possible, the nature of such a relationship will be made known to supervisor(s) for the learner's protection and to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will be responsible for services to learners who are referred and who are accepted as a learner and will provide ongoing supervision when any portion of the service is assigned to interns or student teachers who are enrolled in training programs, with the understanding that each individual will function under strict supervision.
- Commitment to the Community
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not discriminate or knowingly engage in behavior that is harassing or demeaning based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or on any other basis prohibited by law.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not engage in sexual harassment.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will demonstrate in his or her practice an appreciation of the need to provide necessary accommodations, including full participation in program access, accessible facilities and services.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not engage in any activity that results in the exploitation of the learner. Exaggeration, sensationalism, superficiality, and other misleading activities are to be avoided.
- Commitment to the Profession
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will exercise professional judgment related to the practice of vision rehabilitation therapy services.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist who is conducting research, will seek informed consent and provide information to include (1) description of the research, (2) the purpose of the research, (3) the participant's right to withdraw from the research even after participation has begun; (4) the potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects that could occur; (5) the potential research benefits; (6) the plan for confidentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and (8) whom to contact for further information.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will interpret and use the writing and research of others with integrity. In writing, making presentations, or conducting research, the Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will be familiar with and give recognition to previous work on the topic.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not engage in fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. If the VRT discovers significant errors in his or her published data, he or she will take reasonable steps to correct such errors via correction, retraction, erratum, or other appropriate publication means.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will give credit through joint authorship, acknowledgment, footnote statements, or other appropriate means to those who have contributed significantly to research or concept development in accordance with such contributions.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist reviewing material submitted for presentation, publication, grant, or research proposal will respect and guard the confidentiality of and the proprietary rights in such information of those who submitted it.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will conduct investigations in a manner that takes into consideration the welfare of the subject(s), and report research in a way as to lessen the possibility that the findings will be misleading.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not accept gratuities or gifts of significance over and above the predetermined salary, fee, and/or expense for professional service.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not engage in commercial activities that result in a conflict of interest between these activities and professional objectives with the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist involved in development or promotion of VRT devices, books or other products will present such products in a professional and factual way.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will report suspected or known negligence, illegal, or unethical behavior in the practice of the profession to appropriate authorities.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not misrepresent his or her credentials.
- Commitment to Colleagues and Other Professionals
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will engage in professional relationships on a mature level and will not become involved in personal disparagement.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not knowingly make false, deceptive, or fraudulent public statement concerning his or her practice or other work activities; nor that of persons or organizations with which he or she is affiliated.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not knowingly offer professional services to a person receiving VRT instruction from another Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, except by agreement with the other specialist or after the other specialist has ended instruction with the learner.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist who is a member of an interdisciplinary team will participate in and contribute to decisions that affect the well-being of learners by drawing on the perspectives, values, and experiences of his or her profession. Professional and ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of its individual members will be clearly established.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will seek to facilitate and enhance team efforts with other professionals. In such situations where team decisions are made, the specialist will contribute information from his or her own perspective and will abide by the team decision unless the team decision requires that he or she act in violation of the Code.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist who is responsible for education and professional preparation programs will take reasonable steps to ensure that the programs are designed to provide the appropriate knowledge and proper experiences for students enrolled in such programs, and to meet the requirements for licensure, certification, or other goals for which claims are made by the program.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist who serves as an internship supervisor will perform supervision sufficient to fully support the intern's progress and safety.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist who serves as an internship supervisor will perform supervision sufficient to fully support the learner's progress and safety.
- Commitment to Professional Employment Practices
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not accept a position of employment where ethical principles of VRT practice are compromised or abandoned, unless the position is accepted with the intention of amending or modifying the questionable practices and providing that he or she does not participate in the behavior which violates the Code.
- The Vision Rehabilitation Therapist will not accept remuneration for professional instruction from a learner who is entitled to such instruction through an agency or school, unless the learner, when fully informed of the services available, elects to contract privately with the specialist.