Frequently Asked Questions

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What services does New York State provide to those who are visually impaired?

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, through its Commission for the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB), provides rehabilitation services to individuals who are legally blind and reside in New York State. NYSCB programs include:

For further information about NYSCB's programs, call 1-866-871-3000.

What is legal blindness?

A person is considered "legally blind" when his/her visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with best correction, or his/her field of vision is 20 degrees or less in the better eye.

What is visual impairment?

A person is considered to be "visually impaired" when he/she has a visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye with best correction, or a visual field of 140 degrees or less in the better eye.

How do I know if I'm eligible for NYSCB vocational rehabilitation services?

In general, to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, an individual must have one or more physical or mental impairments that keep him or her from working. For NYSCB services, an individual must be legally blind. The person must also need vocational rehabilitation services in order to get or keep employment, and must be able to benefit from services. Individuals who receive SSI and SSDI are generally presumed to be eligible. The NYSCB counselor is responsible for determining whether an individual is eligible for services.

What kind of services would my legally blind child receive from the Commission for the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)?

Working with the family, a NYSCB Children's Consultant will help develop a plan to meet your child's needs. The plan may include rehabilitation service provided in your home, the community and/or private rehabilitation agencies. The Children's Consultant may provide counseling and guidance to your family, advocacy services, educational consultation and vocational coordination.

How do I become a teacher of the visually impaired, and orientation and mobility specialist of rehabilitation teacher?

There are two colleges in New York State that train individuals to become teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialists or rehabilitation teacher.

Dominican College

470 Western Highway
Orangeburg, NY 10962

  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Hunter College of CUNY

Department of Special Education
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist
  • Rehabilitation Teacher

For more information on these and other colleges and universities offering these programs, visit the Special Education Exchange website.

I would like more information about dog guides or seeing-eye dogs. Does NYSCB train these dogs?

No. Although we provide people with training in the skills of daily living, NYSCB does not train dog guides. There are four dog guide schools in New York State.

Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc.

371 East Jericho Turnpike
Smithtown, NY 11787
Phone: 516-265-2121
Outside New York: 800-548-4337

Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Inc.

611 Granite Springs Road
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
Phone: 914-245-4024 or 800-942-0149

Upstate Guide Dog Association, Inc.

P.O. Box 165
Hamlin, NY 14464
Phone: 716-964-8815

Freedom Guide Dogs

1210 Hardscrabble Road
Cassville, NY 13318
Phone: 315-822-5132

Who is eligible?

Any New York State resident who is legally blind may be eligible for services provided by NYSCB. Legal blindness is defined as:

If you are unsure if you are legally blind, NYSCB can assist you in determining eligibility.

I do not meet eligibility for services, but I am concerned about recent vision loss. Are there services to help me adjust to this vision impairment?

If you are visually impaired but not legally blind, you may qualify for Job Save and Independent Living services to assist you in managing your impairment.

How do I apply for services?

If you are interested in any of the programs or services offered by NYSCB and would like to receive an application, please contact the district office located closest to you, or call this toll free number:

TDD: 1-866-871-6000

I am not interested in pursuing a career; I just need help around the house. Can NYSCB help me?

Services are also available for those interested in learning skills for independent home management. If you are legally blind and 55 years or older, or under 55 and not seeking employment, the Adaptive Living Program (ALP) can help you carry on your everyday activities and teach you new household skills to assist you in adjusting to vision loss.