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Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
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  1. What are the eligibility requirements for CBVI services?
  2. How do you apply or refer someone for services?
  3. What other information might be needed?
  4. How much do CBVI services cost?
  5. What are VR services?
  6. I just recently lost a lot of my vision. Can VR services help me adjust to what has happened?
  7. Can VR services help me prepare for employment?
  8. I am interested in being self-employed. What can CBVI do for me?
  9. How long do I have to wait for CBVI to find me a job?
  10. What does CBVI do for children who are visually impaired?
  11. What kinds of services are available to help blind and visually impaired children in the classroom?
  12. Is there anything that can be done outside of the classroom to assist a child who is visually impaired?
  13. Are there any services available for individuals with both hearing and visual impairments?
  14. Why do I need independent living services?
  15. How are these services provided?
  16. Can I learn these same skills in my own home?
  17. Can CBVI help me find out what other social services might be available?
  18. What can I do in my leisure time?
  19. What is Project BEST?
  20. How does one find out more about eye screenings?
  21. Do I have to go to an eye screening to get eye health services?
  22. How long do I have to wait for CBVI to find me a job?
  23. What if I am not satisfied with CBVI services?

  1. What are the eligibility requirements for CBVI services?
    A person is eligible for services if he or she is VISUALLY IMPAIRED or LEGALLY BLIND with best correction, and is experiencing problems in his or her life as a result of the vision loss.

    VISUALLY IMPAIRED means that an individual's vision is 20/70 or less in the better eye. (The person sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person sees at 70 feet.)

    LEGALLY BLIND means that an individual's vision is 20/200 or less in the better eye. (The person sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person sees at 200 feet.) Also, an individual is considered legally blind if he or she has a restricted visual field limited to 20 degrees or less. (The person sees 20 degrees of all the objects in his or her field of vision when a normally sighted person would see 180 degrees.)
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  2. How do you apply or refer someone for services?
    To apply or refer someone for services call 877-685-8878, 973-648-3333 or your local CBVI office. Please be prepared to provide the following information:
    - Applicant's name and telephone number
    - Applicant's address, including county of residence and zip code.
    - Description of applicant's vision problem (optional)
    - Description of services needed (optional)
    - Name and address of eye doctor currently treating the vision problem. (optional)

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  3. What other information might be needed?
    You may be asked to provide current eye, ear and medical reports, financial information, and any other data we deem necessary in order for us to provide good services. When necessary, the medical information will be paid for by the Commission at no financial expense to the applicant. All information will be kept confidential in accordance with the HIPAA.

     
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  4. How much do CBVI services cost?
    Many of the services and programs are available free of charge to New Jersey residents. However, certain Commission services may require the financial participation of the clients who have incomes in excess of an established standard. This means you may be asked to share in the cost of such items as eye surgery, specialized training equipment and higher education.

     
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  5. What are VR services?
    Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services provide you with the opportunity to learn skills that will help you secure and maintain employment.

    A variety of programs and services are available to current high school and college students, individuals who desire employment, and those who are homemakers.

     
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  6. I just recently lost a lot of my vision. Can VR services help me adjust to what has happened?
    Yes. Counseling and personal guidance to help you adjust to visual impairment or blindness are an important part of VR Services.
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  7. Can VR services help me prepare for employment?
    Yes. When you enter a VR program, your needs, interests and abilities will be assessed. Following this, a suitable plan of action will be mutually developed and agreed upon, based on your needs. You will receive the evaluation, counseling, guidance and training necessary for you to gain the skills needed to begin employment. Job placement and post-employment services are also available after a training program has been completed.
    Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Staff assist clients with training in development of job seeking skills, pursuing employment opportunities and placement. Coaching and consultation is also made available to employers for clients in job jeopardy situations through the exploration of employment alternatives and sensitizing employers to client needs.

     
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  8. I am interested in being self-employed. What can CBVI do for me?
    Another Commission VR service is the Business Enterprise Program. You will receive all of the basic VR services already described but you will also be evaluated for suitability to operate a business and receive appropriate training.
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  9. How long do I have to wait for CBVI to find me a job?
    You should not wait for CBVI to find you a job.
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  10. What does CBVI do for children who are visually impaired?
    We provide educational services to children and their families. These services are designed to allow visually impaired students to participate equally with sighted students in regular classroom activities. Preschool, (ages birth to four) educational services are also available. Assistance is also available for those who may require specialized educational settings.
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  11. What kinds of services are available to help blind and visually impaired children in the classroom?
    A team of Education counselors is ready to help blind and visually impaired children receive tutoring, reader services, assistance with adaptive aids, and instruction in communication skills, which may include typing or learning to read and write Braille. In addition, these counselors will arrange for the provision of special books, materials and technical equipment from the Meyer Instructional Resource Center that will help children function on an equal footing with their sighted classmates.
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  12. Is there anything that can be done outside of the classroom to assist a child who is visually impaired?
    Yes. We will provide counseling for families of infants and preschool children. Our Education counselors may also provide enriching toys and materials from the Meyer Instructional Resource Center for use in the home. Special instruction can also be obtained for independent travel and daily living skills. In addition, we sponsor summer programs for blind and visually impaired children and teenagers, including career exploration and pre-college experience programs each held on the campus of NJ universities and group recreational activities in a camp setting.


     
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  13. Are there any services available for individuals with both hearing and visual impairments?
    Yes. Our Deaf-Blind Unit provides educational, vocational and independent living services to children and adults. Special attention is given to communication needs. Interpreter services and special equipment may also be provided.
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  14. Why do I need independent living services?
    The goal of Commission Independent Living programs is to enable a blind or visually impaired person to lead a safe, efficient and   productive life.  Instruction in areas of orientation and mobility, activities of daily living and with eye health nurses are designed to provide an opportunity for an individual to continue to live in an environment most comfortable for them, even regaining skills needed to return to the work force.  

     
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  15. How are these services provided?
    Once an inquiry is received from the potential client or family member, a referral is made to a supervisor to assign the case to a primary caseworker, the discipline of which is based on the needs of the individual.  CBVI clients may be assigned to multiple caseworkers (described in question 14) depending on their individual needs. Once assigned, thorough, personalized assessments are completed, driven by the goals of the client.  In addition, low vision doctors are available in the community who may provide devices such as special glasses, magnifiers or telescopes to optimize remaining vision.  Those in need of blindness skills with a desire to explore employment opportunities may also be referred to a vocational rehabilitation counselor, who can offer an additional array of counseling services related to employment.
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  16. Can I learn these same skills in my own home?
    Yes. Home instruction is available from the Commission. Each of the instructors described in question 14 are assist in adjustment to vision loss by providing counseling to you and your family in areas such as home management, personal grooming, hygiene and communication skills which may include typing or learning to read and write Braille. Orientation and Mobility instructors are also available to prepare you to learn to travel, with safety, independence and confidence, about your home, community, educational setting and workplace. Sessions may also include instruction in utilizing any remaining vision to your best advantage and the use of public transportation.
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  17. Can CBVI help me find out what other social services might be available?
    Yes. CBVI will refer you to your county/local office of social services where they will be able to assist you with registering with and utilizing community and state services, including child care, housing assistance, Social Security, as well as health, nutrition and recreational programs. These offices can also aid you with applications for emergency financial assistance, food stamps, family counseling, and Medicare/Medicaid, for example. (NJWorks).  A partnership exists between CBVI and the Division of Disability Services for CBVI clients 55 years of age and older, and serves as central source to learn more about these and other support opportunities in each county.
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  18. What can I do in my leisure time?
    Along with pursuing a hobby or craft, we can help you apply to the Talking Book and Braille Center, which offers books in Braille, large print, and digital formats. Based on where you live in the state, the Commission can also help you access community companion programs, where you will be matched with a volunteer who will assist you in areas such as transportation or accompany you to leisure and recreational events, a radio reading service which provides a scheduled reading of newspapers, magazines, and special programming for print-handicapped listeners; or provide information on self-help groups for blind and visually impaired persons living in your area.
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  19. What is Project BEST?
    The screening unit of CBVI, formerly known as Project Prevention, has been renamed Project BEST (Better Eye-Health Services and Treatment). The mission of the unit, is to detect, assess, and treat vision-threatening eye-health conditions. CBVI is committed to helping preserve vision where this is achievable.  This program name change reflects the high-quality of the eye-health services that CBVI provides, and it removes the potential of conveying any negative connotation about blindness, in instances where vision-loss will occur. Further, the screening unit also serves as an important referral source for people in need of blindness training, and it serves as a gateway for blind and vision-impaired people to receive training and realize their full potential.

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  20. How does one find out more about eye screenings?
    Screenings are advertised in local newspapers and on the CBVI website.  You may call Sunil Parikh, Coordinator, Project Prevention at 973-648-7400, to find out when and where an eye screening is being conducted in your area. Types of screenings include: preschool and school age children, adult diabetic eye disease detection screenings, migrant worker screenings and adult vision screenings, some of which take place at fixed sites on a monthly or semimonthly basis.  These locations are available on the CBVI website.
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  21. Do I have to go to an eye screening to get eye health services?
    No. We will send an Eye Health Nurse to your home to offer direct assistance by arranging for the following: eye examination and treatment, hospitalization for eye care, artificial eyes, post-operative glasses, and financial aid with surgery and eye care needs, when necessary. The Eye Health Nurse will provide instruction in the use of optical aids and special medical appliances. In addition, the Eye Health Nurse will train you in administering certain medications.
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  22. How long do I have to wait for CBVI to find me a job?
    You should not wait for CBVI to find you a job. CBVI provides consumers with the training and resources necessary to become work-ready. Your counselor will assist you in your search for employment, but ultimately, finding employment that meets your individual needs is your responsibility.
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  23. What if I am not satisfied with CBVI services?
    You may file a written or verbal complaint with your Commission caseworker, their supervisor, or the Regional Office Manager. You may also request an Administrative Review, or a fair hearing if the issue is not resolved.
    Complete instructions for this process will be provided at the time you request a review or hearing. You may also obtain assistance in resolving problems through Disability Rights in Trenton, by calling their toll-free number, 1-800-922-7233.


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