Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Welcome to Independent Living

A man is playing cards using a large print deck of cards


Are you one of many Virginians who is living with vision loss? If you are, you know how hard it is to find ways to complete routine daily tasks. Let us help you. Our specially trained staff will come to your home to discuss our services with you. We will teach you skills that will help you:

  • Read and write
  • Use a computer
  • Live productively
  • Care for yourself
  • Care for loved ones
  • Socialize
  • Travel
  • Enjoy recreational activities
  • In other words, retain your independence!!

Any and all of these goals can be achieved. DBVI has a team of specially trained teachers and instructors who will help you learn to adjust to your personal vision loss by helping you learn to function safely, comfortably and confidently in your home and community in these areas of your choice:

  • Orientation Training in the Home Environment

    Learn the basic techniques to orient yourself without the use of a cane. Includes techniques for walking with a sighted guide, protective techniques, trailing and locating dropped objects, room familiarization and orientation to specific indoor areas.

  • Personal Management (Activities of Daily Living) Skills Training

    Learn personal care and hygiene, eating techniques, money identification, medical and health management, social obligations, personal grooming and personal record keeping.

  • Home Management Skills Training

    Learn adaptive techniques in food selection and preparation; cooking; clothing selection, organization and care; use and care of home furnishing and appliances; child care; sewing; ironing; home maintenance and minor repair; and establishment of a suitable living environment.

  • Communication Skills Training

    Learn reading and writing Braille, keyboarding, typing, handwriting, use of timepieces and the telephone, familiarity with and use of electronic communication devices, use of the abacus, methods of verbal and non-verbal communication, listening skills and record keeping. Is it hard for you to read regular size print? You can listen to books on tape, or learn to read using magnification.

  • Crafts, Recreation and Adaptive Skills Training

    Learn to develop self-confidence and adaptive skills including family, social and community activities; educational pursuits; and recreational and leisure-time activities.

  • Adjustment Counseling

    Adjustment counseling gives you an opportunity to express feelings and thoughts regarding visual disability and specific problems related to it, and to assist you in examining and working through these feelings and attitudes that impede learning of skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?

Anyone can apply for services. Simply contact the closest regional office and say you want to apply for “independent living (RT/IL --Rehabilitation Teaching / Independent Living Services) services if under age 55, or Older Blind Grant services (if 55 or over)”. Be prepared to give your contact information, and to discuss your specific needs related to vision loss and independence.

Who is visually eligible?

In Virginia, you cannot obtain a driver's license if your distance vision is worse than 20/70 in the better eye after best standard correction or if the visual field is restricted to less than 70 degrees in the better eye. So, for DBVI purposes, you have a severe visual disability if this is the case or if you have a rapidly progressive eye condition. To be eligible for rehabilitation teaching/independent living services, a consumer must have a severe visual disability which, for that individual, constitutes a substantial impediment to personal independent functioning, or if a functional vision assessment indicates fluctuating acuities in varying circumstances. If there are questions about the eligibility of any applicant, the issue will be resolved by the regional manager, with consultation from the program director when necessary. If you are under age 55 and otherwise eligible for RT/IL services, you must be legally blind and financially in need in order to receive any purchased services.

What does legally blind mean?

To be considered legally blind you must have a best corrected distance visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, or visual fields of 20 degrees or less.

What does visually handicapped mean?

If your distance vision is worse than 20/70 in the better eye after best standard correction or if the visual field is restricted to less than 70 degrees in the better eye.

What services are available?

Almost anything – refer to list

Where can I learn Braille?

You can learn Braille in your home, you can take classes over the Internet or you can attend Braille classes in person at the Rehabilitation Center located in Richmond, VA.

Do I have to pay for anything?

The teaching services are free to all. You might be asked to pay all or part of the cost of purchased items, depending on your income/assets, using 80% of Virginia median income.

Where can I get services?

In your home and/or community – we come to you. We also offer training at VRCBVI (Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired).

How long will I receive services?

Until you have reached your IL goals or want to stop.

Older Blind Grant Program

If you are 55 or older and have a severe visual impairment, you may be eligible for the federally funded Older Blind Grant. Visual eligibility is the same and anyone can apply for services.

  • Age -- 55 or older
  • Severe visual impairment
  • Individualized evaluation
  • Set Independent Living goals with consumer
  • Write Independent Living Plan and provide services
  • Some financial participation
  • Post-assessment to assure goals are met

The annual reports for the Older Blind Grant Program can be found on the Publications page.

Program Director Information

For further information, please contact:
Name: Jane Ward-Solomon
Address: 397 Azazlea Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227
Telephone: (804) 371-3112
Toll Free: (800) 622-2155
Email: Jane Ward-Solomon

This File Was Last Modified: Tuesday January 05 2016