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Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Veterans

Reading braille in a book.

Severely disabled blind Veterans may be eligible for case management services at a VA medical center and for admission to an inpatient or outpatient VA blind or vision rehabilitation program. In addition, blind Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system may receive:

  1. A total health and benefits review as well as counseling on obtaining benefits that may be due to the Veteran but have not been received.
  2. Adjustment to blindness training and counseling.
  3. Home improvements and structural alterations.
  4. Specially adapted housing and adaptations.
  5. Automobile grant.
  6. Rehabilitation assessment and training to improve independence and quality of life.
  7. Low-vision devices and training in their use.
  8. Electronic and mechanical aids for the blind, including adaptive computers and computer-assisted devices such as reading machines and electronic travel aids.
  9. Facilitation and recommendation for guide dogs and support in the use of guide dogs.
  10. Costs for veterinary care and equipment for guide dogs.
  11. Talking books, tapes and Braille literature.
  12. Family education and support.

Eligible visually impaired Veterans (who are not severely visually disabled) enrolled in the VA health care system may be eligible for services at a VA medical center or for admission to an outpatient VA blind rehabilitation program and may also receive:

  1. A total health and benefits review.
  2. Adjustment to vision loss counseling.
  3. Rehabilitation assessment and training to improve independence and quality of life.
  4. Low-vision devices and training in their use.
  5. Electronic and mechanical aids for the visually impaired, including adaptive computers and computer-assisted devices, such as reading machines and electronic travel aids, and training in their use.
  6. Family education and support.

Blind Rehabilitation Centers

The Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRC) are residential inpatient programs that provide comprehensive adjustment to blindness training and serve as a resource to a geographic area usually comprised of several states. BRCs offer a variety of skill courses designed to help blinded Veterans achieve a realistic level of independence.

Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS)

An outpatient training program that employs a multi-skilled and experienced blind rehabilitation instructor who teaches skills in the Veterans home environment and/or local Veterans Affairs medical center. The BROS instructor has advanced technical knowledge and competencies in least two of the following disciplines at the journeyman level: orientation and mobility; living skills; manual skills and visual skills. The BROS has been cross-trained to acquire broadly based knowledge in each of the BRC disciplines including computer access training.

Library of Congress

The National Library Service provides a free library service to persons who are unable to use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. Library patrons can expect to borrow audio or braille books such as they might find in print at a local public library. Books and magazines in audio form (talking books) and braille are delivered to eligible readers by postage-free mail and are returned in the same manner. Specially designed phonographs and cassette players are also loaned free to persons who borrow talking books from their library.

Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinators

The Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinators are case managers who have responsibility for the coordination of services for severely disabled visually impaired Veterans and active duty Servicemembers. VIST coordinator duties include providing and/or arranging the provision of appropriate treatment in order to enhance functioning such as making referrals to Blind Rehabilitation Centers, Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Services, VICTORS, VISOR, and low vision clinics. Other VIST coordinator duties include identifying newly identified individuals who have severely disabling visual impairment, providing counseling, problem resolution, arranging a review of benefits and needed services, and conducting educational and outreach programs relating to VIST and blindness.

Visual Impairment Services Outpatient Rehabilitation (VISOR) Program

The Vision Impairment Services Outpatient Rehabilitation (VISOR) program provides short-term blind and vision rehabilitation. The program usually completed in two weeks. They provide comfortable overnight accomodations for veterans and eligible active duty Service members who are visually impaired and require lodging. Those who attend VISOR must be able to perform basic activities of daily living independently, including the ability to self-medicate.

Visual Impairment Centers to Optimize Remaining Sight (VICTORS) Program

The Visual Impairment Center to Optimize Remaining Sight (VICTORS) concept was developed to complement existing inpatient Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs) to care for Veterans with significant visual impairment (20/70 to 20/200 or worse visual acuity and/or significant visual field loss). The interdisciplinary VICTORS outpatient program represents a unique team approach to vision rehabilitation using the disciplines of optometry, ophthalmology, social work, psychology and low vision therapists. VICTORS provides rehabilitation through definitive medical diagnosis, functional vision evaluation, prescribing and training in use of low vision aids, counseling and follow-up.

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