Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired

A Message from Raymond Hopkins

Commissioner Raymond HopkinsWelcome to this website of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). DBVI is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that is dedicated to its mission of providing services and resources which empower Virginians who are blind, vision impaired or deafblind to achieve their desired levels of employment, education, and personal independence. Whether you are experiencing vision loss yourself, have a family member who has a visual disability or you’re conducting research; I hope the information found here is beneficial to you.

The department offers a wide array of specialized services and programs for Virginia residents of all ages who are experiencing significant visual disabilities. With the assistance of DBVI it is hoped that persons who are blind, deafblind and vision impaired will acquire the skills which lead to confidence and positive attitudes which are essential components in becoming independent contributing members of our communities.

A major focus of DBVI is assisting our fellow Virginians who meet specified eligibility criteria in achieving quality employment outcomes. Towards this end, the Department offers vocational rehabilitation services to include counseling, vocational evaluation, job training, job development, placement, post-employment and other services to assist consumers in obtaining jobs in the public and private sectors. Please visit the Vocational Rehabilitation page on this website to learn more about our employment related services.

We also provide training and licensure for qualified individuals who are blind to manage food service operations on public and private property. If you have the business acumen and interest to manage demanding businesses, entrepreneurial opportunities are available in cafeterias, snack bars, and other vending facilities in public and private buildings. Information on the Business Enterprise Program is available through this website.

The Virginia Industries for the Blind provides another employment option for blind Virginians. Through its two plant locations in Charlottesville and Richmond; its several supply store operations on military installations across the Commonwealth; and support services provided to various governmental entities, this division of DBVI directly employs persons who are blind and deaf blind. Please follow the link to the VIB website to learn more about the skilled and unskilled positions that are available in this service area.

We recognize the need for individuals to acquire the skills that will enable them to function independently in home, educational, occupational and other settings in spite of visual disabilities. Assessments and training to assist consumers who are blind, vision impaired or deaf blind in achieving their independent living goals are available through residential and community based services of the Department. Included in the services offered by our six regional offices and the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired is training in the areas of skills of daily living, home management, communication skills including use of Braille, orientation/mobility and use of assistive technologies. Elsewhere on this website is more detailed information regarding our Rehabilitation Teaching, Orientation and Mobility, and Rehabilitation Technology programs.

The largest group of individuals with significant vision impairments are those who are 60 years of age and older. As the population of the country and Commonwealth grow older, seniors with age related vision loss are increasingly accessing our independent living services. Please read more about specialized programming for older individuals who are blind if you have need of such services.

It has been estimated that 85% of individuals in the United States who are categorized as blind have some useable vision. Low Vision services assist individuals with decreasing vision of all ages in utilizing their remaining vision to maximum benefit. Many people who have “low vision” are able to benefit from the use of optical aids and devices in educational, employment, independent living and recreational activities. DBVI has a network of contracted eye care professionals to assist in providing low vision services to consumers throughout Virginia, and you may learn more about these services here.

There is a small segment of Virginia’s population who experience dual sensory losses of vision and hearing. Specialized assessments and technical assistance available through DBVI assist consumers and service providers to meet the needs of individuals who are deafblind. You may learn more about the specialized services provided by our skilled consultants regarding services to consumers who are deafblind.

Vision loss does not have to be a road block in accessing information. The department's Library and Resource Center (LRC) provides Braille, large print and recorded materials to increase consumers' access to materials in alternate media for educational and leisure reading. Also, DBVI supports Newsline for the Blind which allows eligible individuals to access newspapers and periodicals via the telephone and computer. The LRC link will lead you to details regarding our information services.

For children who have vision impairments, a good foundation in compensatory skills is vital for later success. The department through its Education Services program collaborates with parents, schools and early childhood specialists to assist in the education and development of blind, deafblind or visually impaired students.

Today, people who are blind can perform many tasks and jobs that were previously inaccessible and/or unavailable to them. Advancements in technology have opened many doors and opportunities. We understand the importance of technology in employment, education, and independent living for our customers and place a high priority on making rehabilitation technology available. Please read more of how DBVI leads the way in Virginia in providing technological solutions for our clientele through our Rehabilitation Technology services.

This Department employs a staff which is highly trained and committed to assist Virginia's blind, deafblind, and vision impaired citizens in reaching their full potential. The services of the department are comprehensive, varied and available in local communities as well as through the residential component, Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired in Richmond. All training opportunities that DBVI offers are intended to assist consumers who are blind to develop the skills, confidence and positive attitude needed to achieve their goals. Please allow us to be of assistance to you or someone you know.

This website provides detailed information about the department's programs and services. I hope you find the information helpful. You may contact us by telephone through our toll free number, 1-800-622-2155, or in the Richmond area: 371-3140. You may also reach us by following the “contact us” link on this website.

Warmest regards,

Raymond Hopkins, Commissioner

This File Was Last Modified: Monday June 18 2012