Eugenio Chavez is a young individual who has been gradually losing his vision due to Early Onset Retinal Degeneration. When he first came to the Bureau of Services to the Blind (BSB) on 04/05/2018, his vision was Vacc 20/80+1 OD, 20/50+1 OS; in April 2022, he became legally blind with VAsc 20/400 PHNI OD, 20/400 PHNI OS.
From 2018 to 2022, BSB team worked with Eugenio to identify his functional limitations and remove barriers to employment. Services provided to him include mobility training from BSB internal staff, AT assessment with TMCC, AT equipment according to TMCC AT evaluation, TMCC college tuition and books, summer internship with BEN, soft skills training. Eugenio also worked with Internal Job Development team and completed various activities. He was approved to be on the 700-hour list as admin assistant 1.
Because of Eugenio’s visual situation change, BSB team reevaluated his academic and vocational needs, and decided to support him to attend a 6-month residential program at Blind Connect in Las Vegas. Administration supported his plan and approved this expenditure.
With the assistance from the agency, Eugenio completed residential training successfully; at Blind Connect he learned the full aspects of blind skills and how to function independently as a blind person in home management, mobility, AT and braille.
During Eugenio’s stay in Las Vegas, Blind Connect provided him with the opportunity to tour Business Enterprises of Nevada (BEN) sites and meet with BEN operators, he decided to pursue his career goal as a BEN operator.
In 1936, the Randolph-Sheppard Act established the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program, which provides individuals who are legally blind with an opportunity for employment and self-support through the operation of vending facilities on federal and other properties. Federal and State laws provide a priority right for individuals who are legally blind to operate food, beverage, and vending in federal, state and local public buildings.
With the collaborative effort between BSB team, Blind Connect and BEN team, Eugenio completed all BEN program required tasks, including general medical exam, psychological exam, blind skills assessment (ADL, O&M and AT), community based assessment, vocational assessment, on the job training. Blind Connect provided tremendous support to help Eugenio get accepted to BEN program and continues to assist him with becoming an interim operator even after Eugenio coming back to Reno.
Eugenio described his experience at Blind Connect as “amazing” and “life changing’. He said he has gained “freedom” in mobility, cooking, cleaning, braille and AT. He found a career path which he is passionate about and is inspired by the blind staff at Blind Connect every day.
Eugenio will continue his career path to be a licensed BEN operator, he will be working on The Chicago Lighthouse Business Enterprise Program Licensee Training (BEPLT) and Nevada Restaurant Association