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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Blind

Independent Living Services

What are Independent Living Services?

Living independently is a primary goal for most people who are blind or visually impaired.  Through comprehensive, quality services, most people can achieve their goals.  These services are available to eligible North Carolina residents through our Division. Many services are available to you at no cost, while some are based on your financial resources.

Independent Living Services are available to assist persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired to develop skills that enable them to independently manage their activities of daily living.  Basic instruction is provided by Social Workers for the Blind in the consumer’s home usually on a short-term basis to help them achieve their goals.  However, if extensive instruction in the home is needed, it will be provided by our Independent  Living Rehabilitation Counselors in the home or community based learning-centers known as Mini Centers.

Some of our Independent Living Services include: 

Who is Eligible

Any North Carolina resident who has a visual impairment, or is legally blind and desires to develop skills to meet the demands of daily living and remain independent in their home and community is eligible for services. 

How to Apply

The Social Worker for the Blind will explain services available to you, complete an assessment, and develop a plan to enable you to achieve your goal(s). 

Contact DSB

Contact a Social Worker for the Blind in your DSB District Offices
Phone: 1 (866) 222-1546
Spanish: 1 (800) 662-7030

Your Rights

The Client Assistance Program (CAP) helps people with disabilities in understanding and using independent living services. CAP is available to negotiate with individuals and with the agency if a disagreement occurs about a decision that cannot be resolved by talking with the DSB Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselor and the Counselor’s supervisor. For more information, contact: N.C. Client Assistance Program (919) 855-3600 (Voice or TTY), toll free at 1 (800) 215-7227, or by email at

Access to Printed Materials for Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired

Our Communications Unit produces material in alternate format: primarily Braille for DSB employees.

Materials for other agencies, groups and individuals are produced in Braille as time permits for a fee for per page. Other alternate formats may be produced if the person in need of the material has no other means of obtaining the material in an alternative format.

The Unit will follow all copyright laws, specifically Public Law 104-197, which allows the production of material in "specialized formats" (Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities) without obtaining copyright permission. Large print production is not included in Public Law 104- 197. The Unit will not produce textbooks, cookbooks, math, computer codes or foreign language Braille. Consumers will be referred to appropriate resources if the Unit is unable to fulfill requests.

The Communications Unit is located in the Haywood Building, 315 Ashe Avenue, 2601 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27606. The telephone number is (919) 715-2436.

Low-Vision Rehabilitation Services

The terms “low vision”, “legal blindness”, and “blindness” are not always fully understood. “Low vision” is a term used to describe a multitude of visual experiences. When individuals have limited, but at least some useable vision which cannot be fully corrected with regular eyeglasses, medical treatments or surgery and this limited vision interferes with their ability to participate in functional tasks, they may be described as having low vision.

Persons who are completely blind have no useable vision or even the ability to detect if there is light in the environment. Often “blind” and “legally blind” are used interchangeable but most people who are legally blind are not completely blind. “Legally blind” is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with best correction or having visual fields of 20 degrees or worse in the better eye. Individuals with low vision may or may not be legally blind.

Low vision rehabilitation services seeks to enhance an individual's useable vision to improve their participation in meaningful activities. Limited vision may be aided by low vision training (for instance in learning to locate the best area of their visual field) as well as optical and non-optical aids.

The types of adaptations that individuals with low vision need are highly varied; thus individualized assessments are needed to determine the best combination of devices and training. Low vision rehabilitation services should never take the place of regular medical eye care. Low vision rehabilitation should not begin until medical eye care is current and any active condition is stabilized. If you are having trouble seeing, the place to start for help is a current full eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Low vision evaluations are conducted in people's homes, workplaces, local community settings as well as the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Evaluation Unit. Referrals for low vision evaluations are made by the individual's DSB counselor or social worker. Low vision services are also part of Daily Living as well as services for those 55 and older. For more information contact the DSB District Office nearest your home.

Voter Registration

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 as amended was enacted to enhance voting opportunities for every American citizen and especially to individuals with disabilities who have historically had lower voter registration rates.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, the Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselor, and the Social Worker for the Blind offer individuals the opportunity to (1) complete a Voter Registration Preference Form and (2) offer the North Carolina Agency Voter Registration Application/Update Form at application for service, recertification, at each renewal of service, change of address or name.


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