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Iowa Department for the Blind Programs

Primary Tasks

    Secondary Tasks

      The mission of the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) is to empower blind Iowans to be gainfully employed and live independently. Its vision is to be the world’s leader in blind rehabilitation services.

      IDB's Mission, Vision, Values, and Culture

      Department services and programs include:

      Because the Department is funded primarily through state and federal tax dollars, most of the services it offers are provided to eligible Iowans at no cost to them.

      Vocational Rehabilitation Program

      The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program assists persons who are blind or low vision in preparing for, obtaining, and retaining employment. Applicants are made eligible based on their visual disability, their need for VR services, and their intent to work. The VR counselor and the eligible individual jointly identify a vocational goal and the services needed to achieve it. Services may include:

      • Training to help individuals achieve the vocational goals they have selected
      • Assessment, demonstration, and training in the Assistive Technology Resource Center
      • Job placement services
      • Rehabilitation technology services
      • Post-employment follow up

      More information about the Vocational Rehabilitation Program

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      Independent Living Program

      The Independent Living (IL) program serves individuals with vision loss caused by a condition that cannot be corrected with glasses and has affected the person's ability to complete daily activities such as  driving, reading the mail, dialing a telephone, cooking safely and more.  Individuals served under this program do not wish to pursue paid employment and are at least age 55 or have other disabilities in combination with their vision loss.  Rehabilitation Teachers in the IL program travel throughout the state to help individuals obtain the skills needed  to live independently and participate in family and community life.

      More information about the Independent Living Program

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      Adult Orientation and Adjustment Center

      The Orientation Center is a residential training program for adults who are blind or low vision. Located in Des Moines, the Center provides in-depth, individualized blindness training to students so that they can return to their home communities to live independently and work competitively in the careers they choose. Students receive training in four areas:

      • Development of self-confidence
      • Blindness skills
      • Job readiness
      • Public education

      More information about the Orientation Center

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      Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

      The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides reading materials free of charge to Iowans who cannot use standard print because of blindness, physical disability, or reading disability. The library:

      • Provides books and other materials in a variety of formats: Braille, large printdigital audio recordings, print/Braille, descriptive video, and electronic text mailed to patrons' homes. Registered readers may also download audio and Braille books and magazines online (BARD). Because the Library is a cooperating member of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), its borrowers have access to all NLS services.
      • Transcribes print materials into Braille and recorded formats. Employment-related, educational, and leisure materials not already available in alternative media are transcribed upon request. The Library also transcribes other magazines and books appropriate for its collection.
      • Acquires instructional and employment materials for students and workers. The Library's instructional Materials Center (IMC) locates textbooks and other educational materials for Iowa's K-12 and college students who cannot use standard print. The IMC also locates job-related materials for employed Iowans for whom standard print is not an option.
      • Provides independent access to the Library's collection through the On-Line Public Access Catalog (OPAC). Linked to the Department's web site, OPAC allows borrowers to search the Library's collection, select books, and put them on reserve.
      • Circulates videos enhanced with audio descriptions. These videos range in subject from popular movies to documentaries and in audience from children to adults.

      More information about Library Services

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      Business Enterprises Program

      The Business Enterprises Program (BEP) provides opportunities for legally blind clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation program to manage their own businesses. These blind entrepreneurs manage a wide variety of food-service operations, including restaurants, coffee bars, vending locations, highway rest area vending sites, and catering. These businesses can be found at federal, state, county, municipal, and private locations throughout Iowa.

      More information about the Business Enterprises Program

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      Aids & Devices Store

      Located at the Department's central office in Des Moines, the Aids & Devices Store sells adapted items useful to persons who are blind or low vision. White canes, Braille and talking watches and clocks, Braille-writing equipment, magnifiers, measuring devices, Braille and large-print playing cards, games, cooking and sewing aids, and other items are available for sale.

      More information about the Aids & Devices Store

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      Public Education & In-Service Training

      Because it is important to educate the public about blindness and the competence of people who are blind, the Department is eager to participate in public education activities. The Department can make arrangements to:

      • Give presentations about the Department's services and blindness to schools, churches, civic organizations, and other interested groups.
      • Provide in-service training about the Department's services and blindness skills to care centers, community rehabilitation programs, and other community service providers.
      • Participate in fairs, expos, displays, and other public events.

      Arrange a speaker to present on blindness

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