Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Youth & Special Programming

Are You Ready for the Adventure
Of Your

(Learning Independence, Feeling Empowered)

What is LIFE?

  • 5 week residential training program for high school-aged blind and vision impaired youth
  • Provides basic training in the skills of blindness and in advocacy skills
  • Helps students become responsible for their lives
  • Provides students with opportunities to explore employment and college goals
  • Provides an opportunity to gain real world work experience or additional skills of blindness training
  • Affords opportunities to participate in physical fitness and confidence building activities
  • Offers opportunities to network with successful mentors who are blind or vision-impaired
  • Helps students develop positive strategies for dealing with misconceptions about blindness
  • Provides daily opportunities to have LOTS of fun!

Dates to remember for LIFE:

  • Application Deadline: June 5, 2017, or until program is full
  • Program Begins: 1:00 p.m., July 9, 2017
  • Program Ends: 12:00 p.m., August 11, 2017
  • Student/parent meeting with staff: 8:15 - 10:00 a.m., August 11, 2017
  • Student and parent wrap-up meetings: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., August 11, 2017
  • Graduation Ceremony: 11:00 a.m., August 11, 2017

Daily LIFE


  • Braille
  • Cooking
  • Personal and Home Management
  • Travel
  • Keyboarding/Computers
  • Access Technology
  • Physical Fitness and Wellness Instructio
  • College 101
  • Job Readiness
  • Work Experience
  • Conversations about Blindness

Confidence Building Activities:

  • High Adventure course
  • Formal dinner/dance
  • Rock Climbing
  • You "AUTO" know
  • Movies
  • Grilling
  • Hiking
  • Business networking skills
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Swimming
  • And much more!

Work Experience

Students work part-time in a community-based setting during the last three weeks of LIFE.
** In some instances staff will recommend that a student continue to focus on blindness skills (Travel, Braille, Access Technology, and Cooking) during the last three weeks of the program.

Requirements For Life

  • Be at least 14 years old and be returning to a high school academic program in the fall of 2017
  • Be blind or vision impaired
  • Be able to actively participate in all five weeks of the program
  • Be able to participate in a group structured program
  • Be able to take care of personal care needs independently, including managing and self-administering medications
  • Have a valid State of Virginia ID card

What is the application process for LIFE?

  • Go to and you will find three documents: 1) 2017 LIFE application, 2) DBVI health checklist/general medical form, and 3) DBVI eye report form. The application may be completed by a participant’s parent(s) or DBVI VR counselor. The health checklist and eye report MUST be completed by a medical professional and be dated within one year of the date of the student’s 2017 LIFE application. If a student attended a summer program at VRCBVI in 2016, the health form submitted for that program is acceptable, provided the parent(s) submit a statement that the student’s 2016 health information has not changed and is still accurate.
  • Once these forms are complete, they can be scanned and e-mailed to no later than June 5, 2017, or until the program is full. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
  • Student and parent(s) will participate in an informational interview by phone with VRCBVI staff, which will be scheduled by Greg Chittum, Special Projects Coordinator.
  • After the complete application packet has been reviewed and the interview with parent(s) and applicant has been conducted, the VR Counselor and parent(s) are notified within one week whether the applicant is accepted into the program.
  • Get your application in quickly, as a maximum of 22 participants will be accepted into the program.

For additional information about the LIFE Program, or to schedule a tour of VRCBVI, please contact:
Greg Chittum, Special Projects Coordinator
Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
401 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227
(804) 371-3151
Twitter: @VRCBVI_Strong
Facebook: VDBVI


Here’s what previous participants had to say about their LIFE experience at VRCBVI:

I loved the instructors and how the classes get you to think and challenge yourself.
My favorite activities were probably rock climbing and Challenge Discovery. These activities are the ones that meant the most to me because they are the ones that really challenged me and got me out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot about myself and gained confidence during these activities.
I liked the recreational activities because they were different every day and challenged me to do things I had never done before. Orientation and mobility helped me be sure of my surroundings and helped me know I can do things nonvisually or with my residual vision.
It was really awesome learning skills like slicing a tomato, which I definitely used at my job, improving slate and stylus skills, and analyzing intersections. I feel much more confident about my ability to travel independently.
Working at the job I had this year, I did stuff I never get to do such as drive a forklift and help fix an airplane.
I learned how to use my cane better. I learned how to bake and give a waitress a tip at a restaurant. I learned how to be more independent. At work, I was taught how to use many different tools for a job like using a blow torch.
I learned how to use my other senses, not just my vision, which I never really did. I also learned how to actually type, not just hunt and peck. I’ve learned how to communicate with people better, and how to cook and take care of my home.
When I return home, I will be cooking more and doing things myself, such as chopping things in the kitchen. I feel like I could live by myself and be okay.
All I have to say is that this Program was the best summer program I’ve ever been a part of. I hope to come here again in the future.

Are You Ready to LEAP Into College?

What is LEAP?

  • Five week collaborative program with Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
  • Opportunity for rising high school juniors and seniors and high school graduates from spring 2017 to assess their college-readiness skills, enhance awareness of the academic and blindness-related demands of college, and evaluate ability to manage time and priorities
  • Classes taught on the VCU campus by college professors and/or graduate students
  • Classes graded according to collegiate standards (not reflected on transcript)
  • LEAP participants housed in the VRCBVI dormitory
  • Minimum of six accepted applicants required for program to take place

Dates to remember for LEAP

  • Application Deadline: April 14, 2017
  • Program Begins: 1:00 p.m., July 9, 2017
  • Graduation Ceremony: 2:00-5:00 p.m., August 10, 2017 (MCV Campus)
  • Students must depart the VRCBVI Campus no later than 12:00 p.m., August 11, 2017

LEAP Overview

  • Explore STEM-H Majors and Careers - see Sample Schedule below:
Monday @ VCU Tuesday @ VCU Wednesday @ VCU Thursday @ VCU Friday @ VRCBVI
9:00-11:00 am Academic Writing 9:00-11:00 Intro to Science 9:00-12:00 Academic Writing 9:00-11:00 Intro to Science 9:00-12:00 VRCBVI Blindness and Access Technology Skills** 8:15 - 12:00
11:00-12:00 pm Library Time   Library Time    
12:00-1:00 pm Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch at VRCBVI
1:00-2:00 pm Intro to Math Intro to Math Intro to Math Intro to Math VRCBVI Blindness and Access Technology Skills** 1:00 – 5:00
2:00-2:30 pm Break Break Break Break  
2:30-3:30 pm VCU 101* VCU 101* VCU 101* VCU 101*  

* VCU 101 could include:

  • Blackboard
  • Public Speaking
  • Mock Interviews
  • DSS office
  • Instructors
  • Professionalism
  • Career Exploration
  • Market Analysis
  • Learning Assessment
  • Advocacy Skills
  • College Applications
  • Effective Writing/Reading
  • Learning Skills/Test Taking Strategies
  • Requesting Accommodations

** VRCBVI Blindness and Access Technology Skills
On Fridays at VRCBVI LEAP students will be taking skills of blindness classes (i.e., cane travel, access technology, personal and home management, braille, and/or wellness instruction). Class selections will be determined by students in collaboration with parents, VRCBVI instructors, and DBVI field staff, if applicable. Students are encouraged to utilize the skills they learn in their Friday classes throughout the LEAP program.

LEAP Assessment Staffings

Assessment staffings will occur within two weeks of the completion of the LEAP program. Students meet by teleconference with designated VRCBVI and VCU staff, their VR Counselor, and appropriate family members to report assessment results and recommendations.

Requirements for LEAP

  • Must be blind or vision impaired
  • Be a rising junior or senior in high school or have graduated from high school during the spring of 2017 and planning to attend college
  • Have access to an existing e-mail account (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.)
  • Have the necessary technology to participate in college classes and complete assignments, which student must bring with him or her to use during the program (e.g., laptop or tablet with access technology such as JAWS, Zoomtext, etc.)
  • Have a method for and be prepared to take written notes during class
  • Be able to participate in a full five-week program
  • Be able to participate in a program that is group structured
  • Be able to take care of his/her own medical and personal care needs
  • Have a valid Commonwealth of Virginia ID card

What is the application process for LEAP?

Complete the online LEAP application at the following link: (The first question asks you which organization you are affiliated with. Please select “DBVI.”)

Please mail, fax, or email the following items to VCU, Division for Academic Success:

1. Documented GPA of 2.5 or above
2. Two letters of reference (one academic reference)

VCU, Division for Academic Success
ATTN: Debbie Roberts
1000 E. Marshall St.
Richmond, VA 23298
Fax # 804-828-4609

After the completed application has been reviewed, the applicant and parents will be notified within two weeks of whether the applicant is accepted. Hurry! Applications are accepted until the program reaches a capacity of fifteen students, or until April 14, 2017, whichever comes first.

If the applicant has a DBVI VR counselor, the counselor will be notified of the applicant’s acceptance into LEAP, at which time the counselor will need to complete a DBVI Service Authorization and submit same to VRCBVI.

After the applicant has been accepted into LEAP, additional waiver forms are required. These forms will come directly from VCU and will need to be signed and returned so that the applicant can participate in activities sponsored by VRCBVI.

For additional information about the LEAP program, or to schedule a tour of VRCBVI, please contact:

Greg Chittum, Special Projects Coordinator
Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
401 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227
(804) 371-3151
Twitter: @VRCBVI_Strong
Facebook: VDBVI