VRCBVI Overview

VRCBVI provides training in the skills of blindness and, above all, promotes the belief that blindness is neither a barrier to employment nor to living a full and meaningful life. By stressing self-sufficiency and independence, we strive to empower our students to take charge of their own lives. In an atmosphere of open communication, teamwork, and trust, we provide adjustment training in skills which allow persons who are vision impaired or blind to function as independently, safely, and efficiently in society as possible. Our training program has been designed to teach students skills of blindness, and provide confidence building activities which will give students the freedom to pursue their chosen careers and interests. Most training programs at VRCBVI are individually tailored to meet the specific needs of the student. We also offer special programs that provide specific training to groups of students with similar needs, such as our LIFE program (“Learning Independence, Feeling Empowered”) for transition-aged students and our Senior Retreat for blind and vision impaired individuals aged 55 and older.

About Blindness

Despite common misconceptions, blindness need not be the dreadful, negative experience feared second only to cancer and AIDS. Blind individuals can perform most jobs, recreational activities, and daily tasks safely, independently, and efficiently using adaptive techniques known as the "skills of blindness."

At the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VRCBVI), students learn these empowering techniques in preparation for entering the work force and regaining independence. At VRCBVI, students also learn to "blend in" and address negative public attitudes toward blindness. At the end of a comprehensive Personal Adjustment Training program, students acquire the skills and attitudes needed to successfully adjust to blindness and eliminate the barriers typically associated with it. With these skills and opportunity, blindness can truly be reduced to an inconvenience.

Tour Our Center

We welcome and invite you to tour our Center! If you are interested in scheduling a tour, please call VRCBVI's Front Desk at (804) 371-3151.

Directions to VRCBVI:

401 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227

Southbound Rt. I-95

Exit #82 (Chamberlayne Ave./Rt. 301). Exit onto Chamberlayne Avenue. At the 3rd light, Azalea Avenue, turn left. Go 0.9 mile. VRCBVI is on the right and is the building on the right as you enter.

Northbound Rt. I-95

Exit #82 (Chamberlayne Ave./Rt. 301). Turn right at the light and go two more lights (Azalea Avenue). Turn left onto Azalea Avenue and go 0.9 mile. VRCBVI is on the right and is the building on the right as you enter.

Eastbound Rt. I-64

Exit (left exit) onto Rt. I-95 North (to Washington). Follow directions for Northbound Rt. I-95. OR Exit onto Rt. I-295. Exit onto Rt. I-95 South (to Richmond). Follow directions for Southbound Rt. I-95.

Westbound Rt. I-64

Exit onto Rt. I-95 North (to Washington). Follow the directions for Northbound Rt. I-95. OR Exit 200 onto Rt. I-295. Exit 38 onto Meadowbridge Road West. At the third light (Azalea Avenue) turn right. Go 0.7 mile. VRCBVI is on the left and is the building on the right as you enter.

Frequently Asked Questionsopen all close all

Typically, once we receive a complete application from the rehab teacher/VR counselor (the application must include current eye and medical reports (dated within a year of the application date), as well as any other pertinent information), prospective students will be notified as to whether they have been accepted within one month (counting from the complete application date). The exception would be if extenuating medical circumstances exist which require clarification to assist us in best meeting the needs of the student. Once the application has been received and the student has been accepted, the VRCBVI Director works directly with the student to schedule an entry date. The entry date depends on the student’s availability to commence training.

We offer Cane Travel (Orientation and Mobility), Braille, Keyboarding, Computers and Access Technology, Personal Home Management/ Cooking, Adult Basic Education, Vocational Services, and Health Education. Your training schedule will be individualized to best meet your training needs.

We have a dormitory with 28 private dorm rooms and six independent living apartments. Dorm supervisors are on duty at night and on weekends to assist residents and encourage use of skills being learned in training classes. We have laundry facilities available for students to do their own laundry free of charge (although students must supply their own laundry detergent and dryer sheets). We also have a cafeteria where residential students are served three meals per day, seven days a week. Students residing in our Independent Living apartments prepare their own meals in their own apartment kitchens.

If you are living in the dorm, you should bring items you would typically need to be away from home comfortably for weeks at a time. You will receive a detailed list of things to bring when you receive your acceptance packet by email or U. S. mail. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, state issued ID card, medical insurance card, any prescription and over the counter medications you need, copies of your prescriptions, any needed medical supplies such as diabetes testing supplies, clothing, all weather apparel (such as raincoat, boots, hat, and gloves), spending money, toiletries and personal items, bed sheets, towels, laundry supplies, cleaning supplies, alarm clock, low vision aids, cell phone with extra batteries and charger, and materials for independent note taking (e.g., slate and stylus, digital recorder). Our case manager will talk to you in more detail about what you should bring during your pre-entrance conference call.

It varies by the individual case, but somewhere between six and nine months is a good guideline.

We do not have clinical staff and do not provide medical care to students. Students who become ill while at training are expected to seek medical care independently off campus at Richmond area hospitals, clinics, or doctors’ offices. In case of a medical emergency, VRCBVI staff will call an ambulance to transport an urgently ill student to the emergency room for treatment. We do have health educators on staff who provide education and training to students to help them manage their own medical conditions and medications independently.

Please call our Director, Melody Roane, at (804) 371-3151. We welcome visitors and encourage you to come visit our training center! Come see how we are changing what it means to be blind or vision impaired!

We have recreational activities scheduled during the week in the evenings and on some weekends. Additionally, there are plenty of things to do in and around Richmond! We encourage students to plan independent outings in the community, either on their own, or with other students.

While there is no cost to you for training, and meals are provided free of charge, you will want to bring money for items such as cleaning supplies and personal items.  We have vending machines in the dorm with drinks and snacks which take $1 dollar bills, change, or debit cards.  Some recreational activities are off campus.  While these activities are optional, they are at the student's own expense.  During off campus cane travel lessons, students may go to businesses at which they want to make purchases. This is permitted, but is also at the student's own expense.  You will also need to bring funds for copays for scheduled or unplanned doctor, urgent care facility, or ER visits, for prescriptions and OTC medications you may need, and for transportation (Uber/Lyft/taxi fare) to address your medical needs

Students are permitted to leave campus at their own discretion whenever classes are not in session, but are solely responsible for arranging their own transportation. Transportation in the area includes cabs, para-transit (known as the “CARE van”), and the Azalea Connector, which runs during morning and afternoon rush hours. The nearest bus stop for non-rush hour service is one mile away.

Students are responsible for all aspects of their own money handling. The closest ATM machines are approximately a mile off campus.

Students are responsible for maintaining their own prescriptions. The nearest pharmacies are Walgreens & CVS.

ATTN: Student’s Name
401 Azalea Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227
If packages need to be delivered, staff is available to sign for packages between 8:15 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Mail and packages are delivered to the Activities and Administration building, not to the dorm.

Contact Us

Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
401 Azalea Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23227
(804) 371-3151
Toll Free: (800) 622-2155

Staff Contacts

Name Title Phone
Melody Roane Center Director
Brooke Rogers Assistant Director for Administration 804.371.3338
Amy Phelps Assistant Director for Instruction 804.371.3052
Jeff Harner Administrative and Fiscal Technician 804.371.3324
Michelle Davis Administrative and Program Specialist II 804.371.3406
Victoria Keesee Receptionist 804.371.3151
Name Title Phone
Elizabeth Weisbond Adult Basic Education Instructor 804.371.3993
Kris Foley Case Manager 804.371.3325
Vacant Lead Technology Instructor
Michael Villafane Technology Instructor 804.371.3994
Kim Ladd Diabetes Educator 804.371.3977
Becky Keller Lead Orientation and Mobility Instructor 804.371.3093
Domonique Lawless Braille Instructor 804.371.3400
Jimmy Morris Orientation & Mobility Instructor 804.371.3372
Dave Fuller Personal & Home Management Skills Instructor 804.371.3079
Michael Triplett Personal & Home Management Skills Instructor 804.371.3405
Vacant Coordinator for Community Engagement
Sarah Call Orientation and Mobility Instructor 804.371.3606>
Name Title Phone
Sonya Highsmith Lead Dorm Supervisor 804.371.3226
Earl Everett Dorm Supervisor 804.371.3226

Operating Hours

The Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired is a 24-hour residential skills of blindness training facility. Scheduled classes are delivered from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We encourage students to consider remaining on campus some weekends to practice the skills they are learning, rather than returning home every weekend. Activities are routinely scheduled in the evenings and on some weekends, and we urge students to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in these activities. During weekends when no activities are scheduled, we encourage students to plan independent outings in the community, either on their own or with other students.

Major Holiday Breaks

We observe the following holidays throughout the year: Easter, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Our adult training classes break for summer, typically for the month of July and part of the month of August. During the summer break in the adult program, we conduct programs for youth and special populations.