Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh (BVRS) was born from a merger between the Pittsburgh Blind Association and the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind. Today, we are the primary nonprofit rehabilitation agency in southwestern Pennsylvania for persons who are blind, vision impaired, or who have other disabilities.
The Pittsburgh Blind Association (PBA) was founded in 1910, primarily to provide employment opportunities for persons who were blind or vision impaired. At that time, Pittsburgh was a booming industrial city. Unfortunately, the work environments often were not safe places for individuals with vision loss. For workers who were disabled or blinded on the job, choices were few. No social services were available and many injured workers or people blinded by disease relied on the kindness of their families or had to beg in the streets to survive.
A solution to the terrible situation facing these people arose when several prominent Pittsburgh citizens, a local Pittsburgh ophthalmologist, and a women’s philanthropic group decided to pool their resources to form the first Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, Pittsburgh Chapter. Its mission was to provide employment and to promote blindness education and prevention. Since that time, people with vision impairments have come to us to learn skills and earn a salary that allows them to become independent. We have maintained a manufacturing facility of some type since PBA’s founding in 1910.