Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Core Curriculum

Orientation & Mobility

Are you afraid to walk somewhere you might encounter stairs? When you want to go someplace, do you have to wait until it’s convenient for a friend or relative to help you get there? Do you avoid crowded places? Do you often hear people say to you, “Look where you’re going?” If your life experiences seem to be shrinking because you feel more comfortable staying at home, orientation and mobility training can help you gain or re-gain the freedom and fun in your life! We will teach you different ways to gather information about your surroundings without needing to use vision. Upon completion of our program, students are able to go where they want, when they want, safely and independently.

An astonishing number of people who are legally blind choose to hide their vision loss. They present themselves as sighted due to the negative public perception that is associated with blindness. Most people who pretend to have good vision have not been exposed to proper training in the use of nonvisual skills; a large percentage grow to love using the long white cane and nonvisual travel techniques once they experience the freedom that comes with using these tools.

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Personal & Home Management

Is it a challenge for you to sort your clothes and do your own laundry? Have you ever wondered how you could manage your own money and independently grocery shop for yourself and your family? Do you ask yourself how you could label items in your kitchen pantry so you can find what you need quickly and efficiently? Is your vision making it impossible for you to get and stay organized, and keep your house clean and neat? Learning skills of daily living will enable you to care for yourself and your home environment independently.

Students learn to keep their homes clean

Our Personal and Home Management instructors teach students non-visual cleaning skills so they can keep their own homes clean and sanitary.

In this department, students learn the fundamentals of personal and home management, including organizational skills, sewing, cleaning, laundry, ironing, clothing identification, alternative labeling of household items, grooming, banking, budgeting and money management, record keeping, and adaptive technology designed to assist them perform daily living skills independently. This department also provides supervision and guidance for the independent living apartment experience. Please consult the instructors in this department for further information about the independent living apartment experience.

Cooking/Kitchen Skills:

Have you ever wondered if you could prepare a Thanksgiving meal for your family and friends? Did you previously entertain friends in your home, but have now stopped due to your vision loss? Do you miss cooking your favorite recipes? Does the thought of using a deep fryer scare you? Do you want to be able to cook delicious food and present it in an appealing manner again? If “yes” is your answer to any of these questions, VRCBVI’s cooking/kitchen skills classes can help you!

VRCBVI has a large kitchen classroom with three work areas. Each work area is equipped with a stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, sink, and microwave. Instruction includes cooking terms and techniques, ways to access recipes, and cooking from scratch independently and nonvisually. Students learn skills such as using sharp knives safely and effectively, cooking safely around hot appliances, utilizing small electrical appliances, and cooking for a group of people. Students also learn how to clean the kitchen, as well as kitchen appliances, and how to wash dishes. While working in the kitchen, students will learn to organize and label food items and spices. The goal is for students to gain the confidence and ability to cook for themselves and others, as well as to keep their own households clean and orderly.

Upon completion of the cooking class, students will prepare a graduation meal for at least 20 people. The student is responsible for independently budgeting the meal, planning the menu, grocery shopping, preparing and serving the food, and cleaning up after the meal is finished. This activity will enhance confidence and demonstrate that the student is able to problem solve and successfully and independently prepare a meal for a large group of people. After completion of this project, preparing a meal for a smaller group of people will be easy to manage and will no longer seem problematic.

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Access Technology Services

Instructor and student in the Keyboarding class

Our Keyboarding instructor ensures that students learn to touch type so they are prepared to move into our Computer and Access Technology class.

Are you unable to complete computer tasks at work as quickly and efficiently as you once did? Are you unsure how to use the computer due to your declining vision? Is that computer mouse getting harder and harder to find and use? Do you ever wonder how you could use that touch screen device nonvisually? Do you wonder how technology could help you be competitive in the workplace? If so, computer and access technology training can give you that foothold and competitive edge that you need!


Do you miss being able to read for business or pleasure? Would you enjoy being able to read to your grandchildren? When you give presentations, would you like to have notes to refer to even in varying lighting situations? Would you like to be able to maintain eye contact with people while you read from your notes? If the answer to these questions is yes, then learning Braille would benefit you!

Braille screen cover for I-Pad

A Braille screen cover allows blind or vision impaired people to use touch screen devices.

Instruction in Braille at Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VRCBVI) provides functional and foundational Braille skills in the Literary Code to adult students who are adventitiously blind and have little or no functional Braille skills, or to congenitally blind students who either have not maintained their Braille skills after their secondary education, or who were not taught or expected to use Braille skills.

Though students may choose only to learn the Uncontracted Braille Code, this curriculum assumes instruction will be that of the standard BANA Braille Code, commonly called the Contracted Braille Code. Students will be strongly urged to continue their instruction throughout the duration of their training at VRCBVI, and to learn the entire Contracted Code, as signage, menus, etc., are produced in the Contracted Code. Because this course is part of the Core curriculum at VRCBVI, and because learning any nonvisual skill is best done nonvisually, all Braille students with any residual vision are required to wear sleep shades. By using sleep shades, students will gain mastery of their skills and become more confident.

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Conversations About Blindness

Have you ever felt like you were the only one dealing with your particular issues related to blindness and that no one around you understood how you are feeling? Have you ever wondered how to handle a socially awkward moment involving blindness or vision impairment? What successful strategies have other blind and vision impaired people developed to find work, identify new trends, participate in community activities, etc.? Have you wondered how to handle situations in which family members or the general public took actions that demonstrated that they did not believe you could do an activity because of their perceptions of blindness?

During the conversations about blindness class, these questions and many more are discussed and debated. These weekly discussion groups bring staff and students together to share common feelings and experiences, explore personal and public attitudes about blindness, and hear guest speakers who are blind share their struggles and success stories. The goals of the class are to help students develop positive attitudes about their blindness and to learn strategies to assist them to deal effectively with misconceptions about blindness encountered in the general public and in themselves. The class will also help students learn to advocate for opportunities and responsibilities to demonstrate their capabilities and talents to themselves and family and friends around them.

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Wellness Instruction & Recreation

Do you let your blindness or vision impairment stop you from exercising and having fun? Do you wonder how blind people can ride a bike, go hiking or fishing, work out at a gym, do yoga, or ballroom dance? Are you interested in learning about Wellness to maximize your health? If so, our Wellness Instruction/Recreation class is for you!

Wellness instruction is an excellent way to build self confidence. Students at VRCBVI participate in wellness instruction and recreational activities as a means of building physical stamina, relieving stress, enjoying leisure time, and unwinding with friends. Recreational activities are also available in the evenings during the class week and periodically on weekends. Students are encouraged to let staff in this area know about recreational activities that would challenge them to build their confidence in blindness skills they are learning at the Center. Some of the possible activities may include: skiing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, tandem bike riding, yoga, etc.

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