Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services

General Information

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services
1521 North Sixth Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Brief Description

Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) provides services to assist Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired to work and maintain independent lives.
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM: 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; orientation and mobility instruction; rehabilitation teaching; vocational and college training; occupational tools and equipment; and, job placement services. Services are based on an individual's needs and choices, and some or all of these services may be needed for the person to prepare for or retain employment. VR counselors work directly with the individual to determine an employment goal and what services are needed to reach that goal. An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed jointly by the counselor and customer.
REHABILITATIVE TEACHING: Rehabilitation Teaching helps individuals learn how to safely and efficiently carry out daily activities at home, on the job and in the community. After a comprehensive evaluation, an individualized program of instruction is developed, and can include the teaching of Braille; home management skills; cooking and home repair as well as personal management.
ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY INSTRUCTION: Orientation and Mobility instruction teaches individuals to travel independently around their homes, workplaces, and in their communities. After an evaluation of need is completed, a training plan is developed to meet the customer's specific needs.
RANDOLPH-SHEPPARD BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM: The Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (BEP) assists persons operate food service businesses in commercial, industrial or governmental locations. Food services can range from a vending machine route to the 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; and, kiosks. Business sites and equipment are provided through the program, as well as ongoing assistance from BEP agents. Eligible persons enter this program through being served as customers in the BBVS Vocational Rehabilitation program.
INDEPENDENT LIVING FOR THE OLDER BLIND: This program serves individuals who are age 55 or older, and who are legally blind. It is designed to enable individuals to achieve or regain maximum independence within their homes and communities. Visual eligibility must be documented. There is a financial needs test for cost services. Available services include: advocacy; counseling; information and referral; blindness skills training; rehabilitation teaching; orientation and mobility instruction; and, low vision services.
PREVENTION OF BLINDNESS SERVICES: Prevention of Blindness Services are provided via contract and can include: pre-school vision screening; adult vision screening; eye safety programs in schools, industries, businesses, community organizations and senior centers; public education programs; referral for services/follow-up; and data collection.


Susan Neff, Aging Services Specialist,

Services Offered

  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • Offers a wide range of services including home instruction, family counseling, referral to services required, training, vocational counseling and job placement. Provides training in the effective use of remaining vision and instruction in the use of electronic travel aids and low vision devices.

  • Counseling
    • Offers counseling to address the challenges experienced by persons who are blind or visually impaired.

  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • Provides orientation and mobility training.

  • Employment/Job Training
    • Customers are encouraged to seek gainful employment in a variety of jobs and training is available through the Vocational Rehabilitation program. The Business Enterprise Program is a specific training and employment option for customers interested in operating a food service business. Candidates for the program must have a visual acuity of no greater than legal blindness and must successfully complete an evaluation and training program.

  • Information and Referral
    • Offers information and referrals to aging programs.

  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • Offers braille instruction.

  • Low Vision Services
    • Offers low vision services.

  • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
    • Training in the use of assistive technology.

  • Reading Services
    • Offers reading services.