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Last Modified: April 13, 2021

April 12, 2021
Time To Be Bold

Time To Be Bold is a national public service awareness campaign through the Independent Living Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center at the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. The OIB-TAC and this campaign are funded by the Dept. of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration, which also funds services and training for individuals with visual impairments, including vocational rehabilitation (VR) and the Independent Living Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) programs nationally.

The TimeToBeBold campaign is designed to educate, engage and empower people who are 55+ with low vision to maintain/regain their independence by utilizing the free or low-cost services provided by the RSA-funded OIB programs.

  1. Over 3 million Americans 55 and older have difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
  2. Almost 1 in 10 individuals age 75 or older reports difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses.
  3. Each U.S. state and territory offers free or low-cost services to help individuals adjust to vision loss.
  4. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals with vision loss, who are eligible for services seek them each year.
  5. It can be challenging to find services, which is one major reason we created this campaign.

Go to timetobebold.org for a list of free or low-cost services in your state that will give you the tools, technology, training, and support you need to live your bold, best life.


April 5, 2021
April Is…

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Women are at a higher risk of eye disease and eye related health issues. According to the University of Utah, two-thirds of blindness and visual impairments occur in women. Since women statistically live longer than men, they are also at a higher risk of other eye diseases related to an increase in age. Because of this, it is especially important for women to pay close attention to any changes in their vision and eyes and keep up with their annual eye exams.

Here are some preventative measures women can take to protect their eye health:

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Wear sunglasses when you’re outside for long periods of time
  • Keep up with your annual eye exam

Sports Eye Safety Month

Who doesn’t love playing a good game of baseball or racquetball? Although many of us love a good outdoor or indoor sport, those that play it must remember to remain safe while doing so. Because of some of the equipment used and or the high physical contact of the sport, participants are put at a higher risk for an eye injury.

In order to remain safe and avoid hazardous interactions, people partaking in sports and physical activities should wear the proper equipment associated with it and report any issues or discomfort in their eyes immediately to their eye doctor if involved in an incident.

The good news about sports eye injury is that most are highly preventable as long as the activity is played properly and any necessary gear is worn correctly.

Sports that can cause eye injuries (from high risk to low risk):

  • Basketball
  • Water Sports
  • Baseball
  • Racquet Sports

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Literacy Awareness Month

What is CVI? CVI stands for cortical visual impairment. CVI is an impairment that can occur to an individual because of a brain injury. CVI literacy awareness has been established to help bring attention to the importance of the different methods required in reading and writing for children with CVI.

Here are a few organizations that can be used as resources to CVI and CVI literacy.

You can celebrate all of April’s observances by learning more about eye health statistics and bringing awareness to them in your personal sphere of influence. Here are some easy ways to share information with your family, friends, and coworkers:

  • Post the link to this article on your Twitter page so people can learn more about April’s Eye Health observances
  • Join a group related to eye health on Facebook and learn about the topics they bring to light
  • Share a picture of yourself with your eye doctor at your annual eye exam on Instagram with one of these hashtags: #WomensEyeHealth #WomensEyeHealthAndSafety #SportsEyeSafety #CVILiteracyAwareness #AnnualEyeExam

March 23, 2021
Host the See Different Team

In 2015, the Florida Division of Blind Services saw a need for dispelling misconceptions and motivating people to change their perceptions toward blindness. In an effort to satisfy this need in the community, the See Different Initiative was born. The founding members of the team were Adam Gaffney, David Darm and Walter Blackmon, and the mission of the group was to create educational, entertaining and interactive workshops towards breaking down barriers caused by confusion, fear and a lack of firsthand knowledge and motivating people to change their perceptions toward blindness.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped a lot of things – but the See Different Team’s mission hasn’t been one. The team quickly and efficiently transitioned into virtual forums and events to continue their work of helping others “See Different” about people who are blind or visually impaired in communities all across Florida.

The team is accepting engagements through the rest of the year and invite you and your organization to be a part of this exciting experience! Here are some things the Team can bring to your event or group:

  • Simulated experiences (modified for virtual events)
  • Assistive tools and technology demonstrations
  • Personal testimonials about living with a visual disability
  • Education on service animals and the white cane
  • Adaptive sporting and recreational activities (modified for virtual events)
  • Question and Answer sessions about anything blindness related

There are a variety of groups that can benefit from participating in these forums, including:

  • K-12 Classes
  • Small businesses & large corporations
  • College and university programs
  • Faith-based groups
  • State and local governmental organizations.

By helping more people in the community to "See Different," the Team creates more opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired to Live, Learn, Work, Play, and Succeed alongside their sighted peers. To learn more about what the See Different Team can bring to your upcoming event, email seedifferent@dbs.fldoe.org for more information and to schedule an event!

March 1, 2021
March is . . .

March is save your vision month.Save Your Vision Month

In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared March as national Save Your Vision month. Since then, optometrists, ophthalmologist, and other eye health care professional’s efforts to bring awareness to preserving vision through eye care safety, regular eye exams, good nutrition, etc. are emphasized during this month.

March is workplace eye safety month.Workplace Eye Safety Awareness Month

Did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 2,000 U.S. workers every year sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment? Most people associate eye injuries with professions like construction, mechanics or other similar fields that use potentially dangerous tools and chemicals. However, people that work in office settings can also injure their eyes through complications related to looking at a computer screen for 7+ hours a day.

Always wear protective equipment when you are at work around potentially dangerous equipment and products. Periodically rest your eyes (by looking at a wall or closing them) to prevent eyestrain when working on the computer for long periods of time.

To be safe regardless of your profession, stay up to date on your annual exams and report any changes in vision to your doctor.

World Optometry Day (March 23)

When is the last time you thanked your optometrist? If you can’t recall how long it’s been, March 23rd is the perfect day to do so on World Optometry Day!

Many people get optometrists and ophthalmologists confused with one another but there are distinct differences in the two types of eye specialists – one of those distinctions being that optometrists aren’t required to have a medical degree (M.D.), but rather a doctor of optometry (D.O.)!

To learn more about optometrists and the differences between them and ophthalmologists, check out this article from the VeryWellHealth.com.

You can celebrate all of March’s observances by learning more about eye health statistics and bringing awareness to them in your personal sphere of influence. Here are some easy ways to share information with your family, friends, and coworkers:

  • Post the link to this article on your Twitter page so people can learn more about March’s Eye Health observances
  • Join a group related to eye health on Facebook and learn about the topics they bring to light
  • Share a picture of yourself with your eye doctor at your annual eye exam on Instagram with one of these hashtags: #FLDivisionofBlindServices #AnnualEyeExam #EyeHealthAwareness #MarchIsSaveYourVisionMonth #WorkPlaceEyeSafety #WorldO

February 9, 2021
February Is . . .

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month

February is career and technical education month.

There are many paths to successful, lucrative careers. The CTE route is an alternative to what’s considered “the traditional option” for post-secondary education. The newest initiative for workforce education will help Floridians Get There by providing opportunity and resources to technical education options all across the state.

To learn more about the Get There initiative, visit www.GetThereFl.com.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) & Low Vision Awareness Month

February is A M D and low vision awareness month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness worldwide and leading cause of low vision for Americans over the age of 65. Low vision is defined as a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by treatments such as surgery, glasses, or prescription medicines.

Here are some things you should know about AMD and low vision:

  • AMD can be categorized as either wet or dry; wet is the more damaging form of the disease
  • Family medical history can help you determine if you have a higher risk of AMD
  • AMD is one of the leading causes of low vision
  • Getting regular eye exams is a preventive measure you can take to catch it in time and get the types of treatments that will slow the progression.

To learn more about AMD and Low Vision, visit CDC.gov

February 2, 2021
DBS Celebrates Black History Month

The Division of Blind Services (DBS) is happy to recognize and celebrate Black history month! Influential people in history come in all shapes, sizes, colors and of course – abilities. There are countless visually impaired and blind African Americans that have helped shape the course of our history. Here are just a few of them!

Ray Charles

Ray Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930, in Greenville, Florida. When he was 7 years old he lost all of his vision to glaucoma and learned how to live independently with help from his mother and teachers at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

Charles became one of the first black musicians to have primary artistic control over his music when he signed with ABC Records in 1950. His music has made history and is well known all around the world. 

Harriet Tubman

Many have heard of Harriet Tubman, but few know that through her courageous acts she also battled with a brain injury and a visual impairment she got from a blow to the head she received from one of her former slave owners.

Other free and enslaved African Americans affectionately knew her as Moses because she risked her life to help lead a record number of slaves in the south to freedom. Her disabilities did not define, nor stopped her from becoming one of the most important “conductors” of the Underground Railroad.

Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins

Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins, was born in 1849 on a Georgia plantation. His original slave owners believed he was worthless and would not be able to work because of his blindness and autism. He and his family were sold to new owners who discovered Tom had a gift of imitation through music.

Tom was hired out as early as the age of 9 to play the piano for his slave owners in the city. He became popular due to his ability to imitate any piece of music he heard. At one point in his life, he even went to Europe and met some influential composers and musicians. Tom played the piano until his passing at the age of 59.

Dr. Laurence C. Jones

Dr. Laurence C. Jones was an advocate and educator for blind and visually impaired African American students. He helped to establish the Mississippi Blind School for Negroes at Piney Woods – the school he established for the rural black community in that area. Jones and Martha Louise Foxx – the first teacher and principal of the Mississippi Blind School, were the first to establish a school like that of its kind.

Haben Girma

Haben Girma was born completely blind and deaf to parents who were new to raising a child with disabilities. Through their nurturing, and Girma’s desire to become all that she can be – she became the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law school. She is an author, public speaker, disabilities rights advocate and practices law in the state of California.

January 20, 2021
The Division of Blind Services Florida Employer and Employee Support

The Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) helps blind and visually impaired individuals achieve their goals and live their lives with as much independence and self-direction as possible. DBS has 15 district and satellite offices that partner with local Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP). Together they offer a number of programs and services for eligible clients who have a medically diagnosed visual impairment and/or blindness. Here are a couple of DBS’s most popular employment programs:

Vocational Rehabilitation Program: This program assists an individual in achieving or maintaining an employment outcome that is consistent with his/her unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choices.

Business Enterprise Program (BEP): The Florida Business Enterprise Program (BEP) administers one of the largest vending and food service programs operated by people who are legally blind in the United States. Everything the individual needs to get started running their own food service facility is provided, including training, facility, equipment, inventory, and the necessary funds to begin operations.

DBS is also proud to assist employers who are looking for ways to support their employees with disabilities. DBS offers a variety of opportunities for employers and employees with visual disabilities as they work collaboratively to maintain the best employment relationship possible.

Here are some of the services DBS can provide to employers:

  • Immediate and appropriate candidate referrals that will save you time and recruiting costs.
  • Follow-up support services that demonstrate a commitment from DBS to ensure long-term support and a safe hiring decision for your company or organization.
  • Professional support and technical services that ensure a smooth training period as the DBS team works to maintain your production numbers and meet your timelines.
  • On the job training services that will save you time and the cost of training a new employee.

To learn more about opportunities available for your organization, please contact your local DBS office.

December 16, 2020
DBS’s See Different Lunch and Listen Holiday Edition

On Wednesday, December 16th, our See Different Team hosted a virtual Lunch & Listen Holiday Edition Talent Show that was a wonderful holiday treat! The talent showcase provided an opportunity for others to see blindness from a different perspective through the diverse talents of DBS clients and staff. Also, to recognize the value that blind and visually impaired persons bring to Florida's communities.

Although the show was for enjoyment and entertainment, three silent judges were on hand and picked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place best acts! These winners will receive Braille/Print certificates of recognition and honorary mention on our website and social media!

Sharon Jadoo & Omar Banegas in 1st placeharon Jadoo  & Omar Banegas in 1st place

Sharon Jadoo works as an Employment Placement Specialist in our Miami office. In total, she has 17 years of service with DBS. Omar Banegas, a client of DBS, who attends Miami Lighthouse for the Blind is a multi-talented professional musician and teacher who plays keyboard, guitar, and bongos and is currently learning the violin.

Sharon and Omar came together to bring us a melodic duet of O Holy Night and Falez Navidad and the judges voted them our 1st place winners!  

Congratulations Sharon and Omar!

Izzi Guzman in 2nd placeIzzi Guzman in 2nd place

Izzi Guzman is an accomplished brass musician and composer who lives in Orlando. She is currently a freshman at the University of Miami studying Music Education and attends online classes at Berklee College of Music in the Professional Music department.
In her free time, she creates digital art and makes videos, connecting these interests to her musical ones.

Izzy showed us how it’s done by playing a lively medley of Christmas tunes on her trombone. The judges voted her our 2nd place winner!

“I would like to give a shout out to the Lighthouse of Central Florida's Transition program, one of the many services I'm grateful to get from DBS, for opening my heart to the blind/visually impaired community and giving me opportunities to grow professionally and help me transition from a student to a future educator.” - Izzy says.

Congratulations Izzy!

Kalen Mercer in 3rd placeKalen Mercer in 3rd place

Kalen is the Outreach Coordinator at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend. He plays a number of instruments, including saxophone and piano. Kalen has a passion for music and a heart for helping and bringing joy to others through his beautiful gifts.
His rendition of Linus & Lucy from Charlie Brown was truly a pleasure to hear and he made complex look easy as his fingers flew!

The judges voted him our 3rd place winner! Congratulations Kalen!

Happy Holidays

The committee also wishes to congratulate and give a huge thanks to ALL who participated and took the time to bring us all some much-needed holiday cheer this year!

If you missed the event, no worries! You can watch the full show here on the blog. If you’re not already, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on our future See Different and DBS events.

Happy Holidays and Joy to the World from your DBS See Different Team.

December 4, 2020
The Florida Division of Blind Services Partners with Vispero

Access to digital accessibility can be a huge barrier for individuals that are blind or visually impaired. The Division of Blind Services (DBS) has recognized this issue and continuously works to create innovative and accessible ways for our clients to have greater access in digital spaces.

Towards the beginning of 2020, DBS finalized a partnership with Vispero Software (one of the nation’s leading assistive technology providers for the visually impaired) that allows every eligible client and community resource partner (CRP) the opportunity to have access to a number of different assistive technologies.

This collaboration gives clients access to software like, JAWs, and ZoomTech – important digital tools that support independence for people with visual impairments. DBS is proud to take the lead in being the first government organization in the nation to provide free access to digital accessibility in this very unique way. The partnership increases opportunities for clients and creates a more inclusive digital environment for Floridians with disabilities.

If you are interested in learning more about access to free assistive technology devices through this program, contact your local DBS office.

December 3, 2020
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 61 million people in the United States living with a disability https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html. Disabilities can range from cognitive to physical – like blindness or a visual impairment. Many disabilities are invisible and hard to detect which is one of many reasons why we should always be considerate of those around us and continue to work towards inclusivity and accessibility within our communities.

On December 3, DBS will join the world in celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities. DBS is proud to empower, equip and support the blind and low vision community, including support for Florida’s children, teens, young and elderly adults with a visual impairment or blindness.

Visit DBS.MyFlorida.com to learn more about the programs and to apply for services in your area.

October 15, 2020
Summary for White Cane Awareness Walk Video

Division of Blind Services White Cane Awareness Day Virtual Walk Along event flyer.

On October 15, 2020, DBS’s See Different Team hosted a White Cane Awareness Day Virtual Walk-Along. This event celebrated and brought awareness to the symbol of independence the white cane represents for blind and visually impaired individuals and educated drivers and pedestrians on the laws designed to protect them and our communities.

During the event, participants were able to:

  • Hear testimonials from people who are blind or visually impaired and their experiences with driver safety,
  • Walk alongside our See Different Team as they showed us how they rely on a white cane, dog guide, and technology, to travel independently, and
  • Had the opportunity to be a part of a live Q & A session and can ask the team questions about the white cane law, dog guides, accessible technology, and more!

Download the video from the White Cane Awareness Day Walk Along

The video is an MP4 file. Right click on the link below and select "Save Target As" or "Save Link As." You will get a file navigation box that will let you choose a location to save the video. Navigate to the location you want to save it to and select "OK" or "Save."

Download the White Cane Awareness Day Walk Along Video

October 1, 2020
Summary for Accessible Voting 101 Virtual Forum Video

Accessible voting webinar flyer.

On October 1, 2020, DBS’s See Different Team hosted an Accessible Voting 101 Virtual Forum. The purpose of the event was to ensure people with disabilities had all of the information needed to vote safely and independently in the upcoming and future elections and to demonstrate the accessible voting options available in Florida so voters can feel comfortable and confident casting their ballots.
Our speakers, Debbie Grub and Jim Kracht (former presidents of the Florida Council of the Blind and advocates for disability rights), discussed the history of voting rights and answered questions from participants.

Download the video from the Accessible Voting 101 Webinar

The video is an MP4 file. Right click on the link below and select "Save Target As" or "Save Link As." You will get a file navigation box that will let you choose a location to save the video. Navigate to the location you want to save it to and select "OK" or "Save."

Download the Accessible Voting 101 Webinar Video