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RI Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
"Helping Individuals with Disabilities to Choose, Find
and Keep Employment"

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Services for the Blind &
Visually Impaired



The purpose of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired is to provide eligible individuals with visual impairments the opportunities and support that will enable them to become independent, active, self-sustaining members of their community.


To be eligible for services, you must be visually impaired, with acuity of 20/60 or less in the better eye with correction, or a field loss of twenty degrees or less in the better eye.


Children and Youth:

Services to children from birth through age twenty-one are provided by social workers and rehabilitation counselors. These services include:

Ball Bullet Counseling and guidance to children with visual impairments and their parents;
Ball Bullet Medical and educational planning;
Ball Bullet Advocacy;
Ball Bullet Vocational guidance;
Ball Bullet Summer camp program, Camp Mauchatea, in conjunction with the Lions Sight Foundation.


In order to promote employment and independent living opportunities for adults with visual impairments, these units employ rehabilitation counselors, social workers, rehabilitation teachers, and mobility instructors.

Services may include:
Ball Bullet Assessment, counseling, and guidance;
 Ball Bullet Training in mobility, daily living skills, and communication (including Braille);
Ball Bullet Vocational training;
Ball Bullet Adaptive equipment;
Ball Bullet Job development and placement.

Assistance is offered for:
Ball Bullet Financial and medical benefits;
Ball Bullet Housing;
Ball Bullet Property and income tax exemptions;
Ball Bullet Information and referral.

Most services are at no cost.

Business Enterprises Program

The Business Enterprises Program [BEP] of ORS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers training and employment for qualified persons who are legally blind. Licensed blind vendors operate vending facilities at 17 locations found throughout the state. Vending facilities are established by the "State Licensing Agency" or "SLA" in public buildings as provided for in state and federal legislation and regulation. Licensed blind vendors are assigned to these locations on the basis of their seniority within the program. All locations are operated as independent businesses in close cooperation with the SLA. Types of facilities range from small snack bars serving light snacks and beverages to larger food-service sites serving hot and cold entrees prepared on-site.

Those interested in applying for training must meet the following basic entry requirements.

Applicants must:

1. Be a Vocational Rehabilitation client who is ready for training.

2. Be eighteen years of age or older.

3. Possess skills in the capacity or potential to travel independently.

4. Possess sufficient capacity to learn and/or perform basic math skills.

5. Give evidence of stable personality traits sufficient to meet and deal with the public.

6. Be willing to exercise due care in daily maintenance of personal cleanliness and grooming.

7. Be legally blind.

8. Be a citizen of the United States.

Candidates selected for training participate in a minimum of eight weeks of classroom and on-the-job training offered through the SLA. In addition, new trainees are required to obtain and maintain food Safety Certification to insure safe food-handling measures are consistently practiced in the program.

Anyone who would like further information concerning BEP is encouraged to discuss their interest with their assigned VR Counselor or if there are specific questions, to contact Lori DiOrio, Assistant Administrator at 222-2300, Extension 401or email

Independent Living Program for the Older Blind

Rhode Island Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Office of Rehabilitation Services, coordinates a federal program of independent living services for those who are blind and visually impaired over the age of 55.  This program provides comprehensive services to over 650 individuals annually.  Services included are service coordination, information and referral, counseling, orientation and mobility instructions, provision of a white cane, instruction in activities of daily living, communication training, evaluation, and limited provision of adapted or specialized equipment.  Specialized services are available for individuals who are deaf/blind. 

The goal is to provide services to allow the individual to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities with a maximum degree of self-direction.
This program also conducts in-service training sessions once a month at facilities and organizations around the state to improve public understanding of the capabilities and needs of older individuals who are blind and visually impaired.  Additionally, an annual training conference for social service and direct care staff is held every fall.

NEWSLINE for the Blind... As of July, 2005, individuals who are blind, visually impaired or print handicapped can utilize this comprehensive newspaper reading service that is accessible through the use of any touch-tone phone. For an application, contact Linda Hughes, Casework Supervisor at 401.222.2300 x423, or fill out a copy and return it to address on form.

State Independent Living Council - State Plan

Social Services Program

Rhode Island Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Office of Rehabilitation Services, provides services to children from birth through 14, elderly individuals, and individuals for whom a vocational goal is not feasible.  These services include service coordination, information and referral, and family counseling.  222 children who are blind, visually impaired and multi-handicapped were provided with services, with 54 attending Camp Mauchatea, the residential summer camp sponsored by the unit.  29 infants and toddlers under the age of 3 were provided with early intervention services through a cooperative agreement with the Vision Services Program at the Department of Education.  In total, 733 individuals were provided with services through the social service unit.

For more information concerning the Independent Living Program or Social Services Program, contact Linda Hughes at (401) 222-2300, Extension 423 or by email at

Vocational Rehabilitation Program

A Federal/State program created to assist people who are blind or visually impaired to obtain or maintain employment. Services provided include evaluation, orientation, mobility training, rehabilitation technology, guidance and counseling, career assessment, educational planning, vocational training, provision of adaptive equipment, job development, placement and follow-up services.

Fact Sheets

Business Enterprises Program
NEWSLINE for the Blind
SBVI Brochure
Social Services

Related Links:

Governor's Advisory Council for the Blind  
National Federation of the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind
MD Support , Inc. (Technical & emotional support for people with retinal degeneration)
American Council for the Blind
American Printing House for the Blind
Library of Congress National Library Services for the Blind & Physically Handicapped
National Braille Press
National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind


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40 Fountain Street, Providence, RI 02903
401.421.7005 (V) ~ 401.421.7016 (TDD) ~ 401.272.8090 (Spanish)~ 401.222.3574 (Fax)
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Last updated 12/28/09