Florida Division of Blind Services
Welcome to the Florida Division of Blind Services.
Mission Statement: To ensure blind and visually-impaired Floridians have the tools, support and opportunity to achieve success
Vision Statement: In partnership with others, create a barrier free environment in the lives of Floridians with visual disabilities.
WIOA Unified Plan Available for Public Comment
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified Plan for the State of Florida, Program Years 2017—2020, is available for public comment. Florida is submitting an initial Unified State Plan which includes the following required programs: Adult Program, Dislocated Worker Program, Youth Program, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Vocational Rehabilitation program, including the Blind Services Program.
The deadline to submit public comment is March 7, 2016. While you may review the plan in its entirety, specific requirements for the Florida Division of Blind Services begin on page 214.
New Online Referral and Application for Services
We are excited to announce that the Florida Division of Blind Services Online Referral and Application for Services system is now available. Floridians who are blind or visually impaired, or their caregivers, can easily inquire about or apply for DBS services through the self-service portal. This new system allows DBS staff to process and track applications more efficiently. The Online Referral and Application are available online or for download in English and Spanish. A Doctor Referral Form (also known as an Eye Medical Report) is also available for download by doctors referring a client to DBS.
To get started, visit the Online Referral and Application System.
Innovative Projects Program
The DBS Innovative Projects Program provides funding to support projects and programs that benefit Floridians who are blind or visually impaired. This year, DBS will award up to $300,000.00 to not-for-profit organizations who have innovative ideas or approaches to providing services to our target population. Learn more about the program and application process here.
To have your project considered for funding, please apply by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 14. For those agencies interested in applying, but have questions about the program or application, representatives from the Innovative Projects Program Review Committee will be available via conference call on Monday, February 15 at 11:30 a.m. To join the conversation, please use the dial in info below:
Phone number: 1-888-670-3525
To ensure fairness to all applicants, guidance concerning the application process will only be available during this conference call.
Savings Accounts to Individuals with Disabilities
In 2016, the Florida ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Program will offer savings accounts to individuals with disabilities. These tax-free savings accounts can be used to save for disability-related expenditures without jeopardizing the eligibility for Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicaid benefits. As the program is being built, it is critical that the needs of the target audience are being represented.
If you are an individual living with a disability (or a caregiver), please take this brief online survey: http://bit.ly/1MlyNRB
DBS Office Relocation
As of Tuesday August 11, 2015, The Division of Blind Services Tampa office will be temporary relocated due to flood damage caused by heavy rainfall earlier this month. Until further notice, Tampa Division of Blind Services will be operating at the below address:
New (temporary) address:
1313 North Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602
For any questions please contact:
Local Number: (813) 871-7190
Toll Free: (800) 757-7190
Abilities Work Web Portal
Florida’s employers have a new tool where they can find information about hiring qualified employees with disabilities, The Abilities Work Web Portal, located on the Department of Economic Opportunities’ Employ Florida Marketplace website. The Abilities Work Web Portal is a group effort between disability agencies and organizations in Florida, and it was created with you, the employer, in mind.
A team of professionals is available to help employers who are interested in hiring a person with a disability or want information that will make hiring employees with disabilities easier. Staff at the Abilities Work Help Desk are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make a connection between Florida employers seeking to hire individuals with disabilities and job candidates who have disabilities. Call 844-245-3405 or email at email@example.com to find your next employee!
Who We Are and What We Do
The Florida Division of Blind Services helps blind and visually impaired individuals achieve their goals and live their lives with as much independence and self-direction as possible. To apply for services you must first download and complete the Application for Services Form and submit it to your nearest Division of Blind Services office.
Blind Babies Program
The Blind Babies Program provides community-based early-intervention education to children from birth through five years of age who are blind or visually impaired, and to their parents, families, and through community-based provider organizations.
The Children's Program serves children who are blind from five years of age through transition to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. This program supplements services already offered by the school system to foster the child's learning and ability to function independently. The child's parents, guardian, and family members should be an integral part of the program in order to foster independence.
The goal of the Transition Program is to assist young people in meeting their future employment goals through transitioning from school to work or from school to a higher educational program. Students must have a visual impairment in both eyes and require vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for employment. Transition services are generally provided through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. However, they could also be provided through the Children's Program. In either case, the student will have a Plan of Services. The types of services to be provided through Blind Services are normally incorporated into the student's Individual Education Plan as well. The final goal is to ensure that your child can be an independent adult.
Independent Living Program
Independent Living Services are provided to enable individuals who are blind or severely visually impaired to live more independently in their homes and communities with a maximum degree of self-direction. Successful outcomes enable individuals to live more independently in their community and/or transition to the working world.
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Vocational Rehabilitation Services are provided to assist blind and visually impaired individuals seeking employment. Qualified individuals must have a bilateral visual impairment which constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment and needs services to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain gainful employment. Successful outcomes lead to achievement of employment goals.
Information services are provided to Employers who need to know how to make a job accessible to an employee with a visual impairment. Employers seeking to hire a qualified employee can also contact us for this information as well.
Business Enterprise Program
The Business Enterprise 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.
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a place where people who are blind can reside temporarily while they learn to lead productive, self-sufficient lives. The Rehabilitation Center program incorporates instruction in a variety of independence skills, as well as case management, including home management, cooking, cleaning, personal care, labeling, orientation and mobility, Braille, access computer technology, adaptive equipment and devices, college prep, job readiness, home repairs, adaptation to blindness and many other skills that contribute to independence and the confidence to seek the highest level of employment possible.
Braille and Talking Books Library
The Florida Division of Blind Services also provides information and reading materials needed by individuals who are unable to use standard print because of a visual, physical, or reading disability. These services are provided through its Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library.
If you live in Florida and have trouble reading print as the result of an eye problem, a reading disability, or difficulty holding a book because of arthritis, a stroke, or an accident, you may apply for Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library services. Libraries, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other Florida institutions with customers who have disabilities which impede their use of conventional print may also apply for services.