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Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services

Welcome to the Web Site of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS). The mission of the Bureau is to assist Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired gain the skills necessary to live and work independently in their communities.

BBVS can assist people with visual impairments in several different ways:

Finding Employment

The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps individuals prepare for or retain employment. Services offered can include but are not limited to:

  • Counseling and guidance
  • Vocational evaluation
  • Blindness skills training
  • Mobility (travel) instruction
  • Instruction on performing daily living activities
  • Vocational and college training
  • Occupational tools and equipment
  • Job placement services

Services are based on an individual's employment needs and choices, and some or all of these services may be needed. VR counselors work directly with the individual to determine an employment goal and what services are needed to reach that goal.

Setting up a Business

The Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP) assists persons who are blind to operate their own food service businesses in commercial, industrial or governmental locations. Food services can range from a vending machine route to management of a large cafeteria.

BEP can also assist interested persons with entrepreneurial business ventures other than food service. These businesses might include:

  • specialty product sales
  • franchise operations
  • gift shops
  • kiosks

Independent Living Skills

BBVS can assist adults to become more self-sufficient and independent in their homes and communities. Available services include:

  • Advocacy and counseling
  • Information and referral
  • Blindness skills training
  • Mobility (travel) instruction
  • Instruction on performing daily living activities
  • Purchasing assistive equipment

Specialized Children Services

BBVS provides assistance to children with visual impairments to ensure they reach their maximum educational and vocational potential. Available services include:

  • Advocacy for educational services
  • Guidance and counseling for children and their families;
  • Community orientation and mobility (travel) instruction
  • Children's summer programs
  • Adaptive equipment

BBVS services are provided throughout Pennsylvania by professional staff in District Offices located in the following cities

  • Philadelphia
  • Wilkes-Barre
  • Harrisburg
  • Altoona
  • Pittsburgh
  • Erie

The BBVS Office Directory will help you find a BBVS district office near you. You may refer yourself to OVR at the CWDS website.

Please note: You do not need to visit an office in order to receive services since our staff will be happy to make an appointment to come to your community or home and to take an application for services!

BBVS Resources 

STRIVE ON Program for Students

Links to Resources on Blindness and Low Vision

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