We are a statewide nonprofit organization.
- Chartered by the State Corporation Commission
- IRS 501(c)3 Tax Exempt
- Registered with the Greater Hampton Roads Better Business Bureau
- Registered with the State Corporation Commission
- Registered with the Virginia Charitable Gaming Commission
- United Way Combined Federal Campaign #8061 (write in)
Our Mission is two-fold:
- To locate inform and assist blind, partially blind and deafblind individuals
- To elevate the social, economic and cultural levels of those who for whatever reason fall between the cracks of Stage agency help.
- An affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
- Chartered July 1995
We have the following satellites:
- Shanendoah Valley
- Peninsula Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired - VAB
- Virginia Association of the Deafblind - VAB
- VAB Mountain Vision PD-1
- VAB Mountain Vision PD-2
What We Are About
The Virginia Association of the Blind is an organization of people who have visual impairments and have information which we would like to share with you to make life a little easier as you cope with your vision loss. Here are a few of the things that sum up what we're about:
- We do not give "professional" advice, only practical answer to some aspects of living which we and our families already faced.
- We encourage and assist the blind, partially blind and deafblind, especially "newly blinded" to develop their potential so that they might assume their responsible place in their community.
- We work in coalition with all disability groups to eliminate barriers and make Virginia and America accessible for all citizens.
Information We Help Others Obtain
We also assist in obtaining the following information:
- Access to Rehabilitation Programs
- Low Vision Testing and Assistive Optical and Electronic Devices
- Orientation and Mobility Training
- Financial Assistance for Eye Care
- College Courses
- Library Services
- Special Transportation
- Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Computer Access and Training
- Educational Services for Blind Children
- Employment in the (VIB) Virginia Industries for the Blind Workshops
- Vending Facility Employment
- Voter Registration
- Radio Reading for the Blind
- Therapeutic Recreation Programs
- Guide Dogs and Training
- Aids and Appliances
Shortly we will resume the VAB "Outasight" monthly newsletter to keep you informed of meetings, seminars, conventions and legislative issues. The newsletters also helps inform recipients of policy changes of agencies that provide services that affect persons with visual impairments. Outasight will be available in large print, cassette and by email.
We also host community outreach programs through special entertainment events, seminars, monthly newsletters, brochures and our nationwide 800 and fax lines.
In 1971 Nelson Malbone was declared legally blind. He was working at Ford Motor Company in Norfolk and did not want to lose his job so he did not say anything to anyone. In 1973, when the energy crisis came, the president of the United States ordered all plants and big business to cut off every other light and then Nelson could no longer have enough light to see how to do his job. After a period of sick leave, Ford Motor retired him on disability.
At first he felt doomed and then after trying to get services from the
state, he found there just was not much available for him. Then he
started reaching out to meet other blind people. A few years later
Nelson and several other vision impaired persons looked for an organization.
At first, a try with NFB which they did not agree with, they still
kept reaching for something better. After much discussion with others
in the same boat Nelson asked Lydon Harrell if he would help him to
organize a grass roots organization of and for persons who are blind
or partially blind. He and Lydon sat at Nelson’s kitchen table and picked
out the name “The Virginia Association of the Blind”, and drew up the
constitution and by-laws, filed the necessary papers with the State
Corporation Commission to be incorporated, and filed the papers for
501 (C(3) tax exempt charitable organization status and VAB was created
on August 5, 1981. Nelson Malbone was elected as Charter President,held
that position for fifteen years and held the Executive Director position
for five years until his untimely death on July 7, 2001 at an ACB Convention
in Des Moines, Iowa. All through these years attorney Lydon Harrell,
also a charter member, has faithfully been in our midst and at our
beck and call for advice and legal matters.
Nelson bought his first computer so he could keep records, write Newsletters for VAB, and to correspond with the outside world. It was an apple computer in dos format and had a voice synthesizer to make it audible for him. The electric typewriter also served as a printer. VAB had many fund raisers during the first fifteen years and each year was always just a little better than the year before. In 1984, VAB joined with Old Dominion Council to be the state affiliate of the American Council of the Blind. In 1987, VAB began sponsoring country music shows for a couple of years then changed to circus act shows for five years then tried bingo for a year in Chesapeake but was not satisfied with the narrow profit.
VAB’s first satellite , The Peninsula Council of the Blind was formed
in the Newport News Hampton area in 1988. In 1989, VAB as part of Old
Dominion Council, hosted the ACB Convention in downtown Richmond. We
began to notice that our agenda was not the same as the Old Dominion
Council and in 1991, VAB decided to withdraw its affiliation. That
year we paid at large dues to ACB and the following year, we asked
the ACB board for our own affiliation as a second
state affiliate. The ACB board placed VAB on a three year probationary period and at the end of that period, VAB proved its worthiness and after a tough battle, VAB was granted its charter as a State Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind.
In 1997 Nelson was approached by Nelson Tibbett from Victory Bingo Hall in Portsmouth. After much discussion, VAB began operating a Bingo game on Sunday afternoons and another game on Saturday Nights at 7p.m. We built up a good clientele and many things began to happen for VAB. We continued to run two Bingo games for eight years. In 1998, VAB bought our first 15 passenger
van, the following year we bought another , later another, then we purchased a work van for the computer program and then a 2000 ford 15 passenger van. In July of 1999 VAB sponsored fifty five vision impaired persons and a few sighted guide-volunteers with air transportation and lodging to the American Council of the Blind National Convention in Los Angeles, California.
On March 3, 1999, VAB helped to form the Virginia Association of Deafblind-
VADB At the charter meeting, with about one hundred and fifty persons
present; one hundred were deafblind, the participants voted to become
the third satellite of VAB. We presented them with a check in the amount
of $10,000.00 as start up seed money.
In August 1999, Virginia Association of the Blind - Shenandoah Valley was chartered with ninety members. Many of VAB officers and directors traveled to Roanoke for the ceremony and Executive Director Nelson presented the new group with a 1998 15 passenger Dodge van and a check in the amount of $5,000.00.
We welcomed them into VAB and encouraged them all to reach out and help other blind and partially blind persons in their area. Executive Director Nelson was presented with a key to the city and a crystal star by the Mayor of Roanoke. In March of 2001 ,we welcomed Virginia Association of the Blind - Ches Bay as our fourth satellite.
In July of 2001 three VAB vans carried twenty six persons to the American
Council of the Blind National Convention in Des Moines, Iowa. On the
last day there, Nelson Malbone, Our Leader, died very unexpectedly in
Mercy Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa. At the Twentieth Annual Meeting in
August 2001, Alice,Malbone Nelsons widow was named by the VAB Board as
In March of 2003 Alice Malbone, assisted by Kenneth Lovern, Chartered two new satellites in far Southwest Virginia. They are VAB Mountain Vision Planning District One which meets at The Junction Center for Independent Living in Wise; and D.A. Mountain Vision Planning District Two which meets at the Four Counties Transit Center in Norton.
As of June 30, 2005 VAB lost their lease at the Commercial Bingo Hall and currently are seeking other fund raisers to continue our services to severely vision impaired persons in Virginia. The Malbones have always provided office space for VAB in their home, parking and maintenance of the VAB vans One of our fund raisers is a plaque that will hang in the new office with the names of anyone contributing $100.00 or more to the building fund as an honor to our financial supporters.
Our motto is “To Locate, Inform, and Assist.” We network together to
help each other cope with our common barriers.
We hold monthly group meetings and wherever possible we provide transportation in groups to meetings, workshops, seminars, conventions, recreation, and socials. Whenever funds are available we provide transportation to blinded veterans for meetings, seminars, picnics, and much more.
VAB have provided transportation to many other groups when funds were available, at no charge to the blind participant. For many years we have provided eligible vision impaired persons and needy school children with a donated computer customized to fit their individual needs at no charge. We work with the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and other disability organizations to provide computer access.
The VAB Office has always been located in the Malbone home . Alice joined VAB in 1986, served as secretary for fifteen years and Executive Director for seven years. Alice is retiring as of August 3, 2008. Alice is now married to Kenneth G. Lovern, former charter president and Executive Director of The VAB Shenandoah Valley and former secretary and treasurer of VAB .
VAB is located at 4209 George Washington Highway, Portsmouth, Virginia to serve as the State office.
The office has a Toll Free telephone 800-426-2144 and local telephone for Tidewater area 757-465-7230.
Our Mission is: "To locate, inform and assist the Blind." We have paid mortgage payments for people. Fixed roofs for people. We strive to elevate the economic, social and cultural levels of persons who are blind or partially blind in Virginia.