Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get services?
We provide services to individuals residing in the state of Florida. Phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses are listed for every office at Contact DBS. You can select the closest office near you by selecting the county you live in. Also, you can contact us by calling our toll free number 1-800-342-1828.
What are the different programs and services offered by Florida Blind Services?
Services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired are provided through 12 district offices, Florida Blind Service's Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, local community rehabilitation programs serving the blind, or a local Center for Independent Living. The types of services provided directly or sponsored by us are summarized below.
- Children - Children and family services are provided to eligible children who are blind or visually impaired and their families so that they may reach educational and independent living goals. Successful outcomes enable children to transition from preschool to school and from school to work or other appropriate community programs.
- Older Adults or Non-working Blind - Independent living services are provided to enable individuals who are blind and severely visually impaired to live more independently in their homes and communities with the maximum degree of self-direction. Successful outcomes enable individuals to live more independently in their community and/or transition to the world of work.
- Services to Individuals Seeking Employment - Vocational rehabilitation services are provided to assist individuals who have a bilateral visual impairment which constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment; and need services to prepare for, enter or engage in or retain gainful employment. Successful outcomes lead to achievement of employment goals.
- Employer Services - Employers who need information about how to make a job accessible to an employee with a visual impairment or want to hire a qualified employee can contact us for this information.
- Business Enterprise Services - The Business Enterprises Program provides job opportunities in the food service sector for eligible blind persons under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Job opportunities include: snack bar, cafeteria, highway vending machines, or non-highway vending.
- Braille and Talking Books Library - The Florida Division of Blind Services also provides information and reading materials needed by individuals residing in Florida who are unable to use standard print as the result of visual, physical, or reading disabilities. These services are provided through its Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library Services.
What is the Vocational Rehabilitation program?
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services assist persons who are blind in preparation for, obtaining, and retaining employment. Applicants are made eligible based on their visual disability, their need for VR services, and their intent to work. The VR counselor and the eligible individual jointly identify a vocational goal and the services needed to achieve it. Services may include:
- Training to help individuals achieve the vocational goals they have selected. Individuals may need training to acquire the skills of blindness and vocational training or post-secondary education.
- Job placement services. VR counselors help job seekers develop a job search plan, write a resume, practice interviewing, and locate job search and placement resources.
- Rehabilitation technology services. Through such services as job site assessment, procurement of appropriate assistive technology devices, and training in the use of adapted equipment, blind employees can perform their jobs competitively and efficiently.
- Post-employment follow up. After individuals have achieved their employment goals, VR counselors can continue to serve as a resource to both employees and employers. Individuals can receive benefits counseling, and employers can receive assistance in recruiting, training, and retraining employees who are blind.
What is the Independent Living Rehabilitation Services program?
Through the Independent Living (IL) Rehabilitation Program, persons who have recent vision loss learn the skills they need to live independently and participate actively in family and community life. Services might include:
- Instruction in the alternative skills of blindness. In homes and local communities, IL staff provide individual and group training in travel with the long white cane, Braille, keyboarding, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and leisure activities.
- Coordination of community services. IL staff help locate and coordinate community-based services that allow blind individuals to remain independent.
- Provision of in-service training. IL staff give instruction in blindness techniques to community service providers so that they, in turn, can provide this training to the blind individuals whom they serve.
What is the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and what services does it offer?
The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides reading materials free of charge to people in Florida who cannot use standard print because of blindness, physical disability, or reading disability. The library circulates books and magazines on cassette tape, in Braille, and in large print to eligible borrowers throughout the state. The Library maintains a collection of over 88,000 book titles and makes available to its borrowers over 120 different magazines. Because the Library is a cooperating member of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), its borrowers have access to all NLS services. The Library also circulates descriptive videos, videos enhanced with audio descriptions. These videos range in subject from popular movies to documentaries, with an audience from children to adults.
What is the Business Enterprises program?
The Business Enterprises Program (BEP) provides opportunities for legally blind clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to manage their own businesses. These blind entrepreneurs manage a wide variety of food service operations, including cafeterias, restaurants, coffee bars, vending locations, highway rest area vending sites, and catering. These businesses can be found at federal, state, county, municipal, and private locations throughout Florida.
What does Florida Blind Services do to inform the general public about blindness?
Because it is important to educate the public about the nature of blindness and the competence of people who are blind, Florida Blind Services participates in public education activities. Florida Blind Services staff can make arrangements to:
- Give presentations about Florida Blind Services services and blindness to schools, churches, civic organizations, and other interested groups;
- Provide in-service training about Florida Blind Service's services and blindness skills to care centers, community rehabilitation programs, and other community service providers;
- Participate in fairs, expos, displays, and other public events.