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Blind Industries and Services of Maryland originated in 1908 as the Maryland Workshop for the Blind (Chapter 566, Acts of 1908). It adopted its present name in 1973 (Chapter 164, Acts of 1973). Although it is not a State agency, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland receives State funds.

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland provides employment, vocational training, rehabilitation, and education to blind adult Marylanders, some of whom have multiple disabilities. This includes teaching blind adults day-to-day skills necessary to live in a sighted society. The agency is open for the labor and manufactures of all blind citizens of Maryland over eighteen years of age who can give satisfactory evidence of character and ability to do the work required. All profits from blind industries are used to further the agency's mission (Code Human Services Article, sec. 7-703).

To carry out these programs, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland operates four divisions: Industries; Services; Rehabilitation and Training; and Vending Services. The divisions market their products and services with the aid of the pricing committee for Blind Industries and Services.


The Board of Trustees consists of eleven members appointed for three-year terms by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. At least four of these members must be blind or visually impaired.

The Industries Division employs blind and visually impaired adults to manufacture more than 150 products for federal and State government agencies and commercial and private businesses. The Division oversees four facilities: one each in Baltimore and Cumberland, and two in Salisbury.

The Rehabilitation and Training Division originated as the Rehabilitation Division and reformed as the Training Division in 2006. It received its present name in 2008. Accredited by the State Department of Education, the Division teaches the skills of independence, builds self-confidence, and prepares blind people for everyday challenges at home, school, work, or other activities. The blind instructors who staff the center encourage the attitude that it is okay to be blind, while providing training in adaptations that are necessary in a sighted society. The eight-month residential training program teaches braille; computer technology; independent cane travel; wood shop; job readiness; physical fitness; and life skills, such as finances, cooking, and cleaning. As part of the course, job seeking and employment skills also are offered. Students enjoy many physical fitness activities as well. In addition, the center runs youth and senior programs throughout the year serving blind and visually impaired persons from age six through seniors.

For individuals, organizations, companies, and government, the Division transcribes printed material into braille for a nominal fee. The Division also sells, at cost, aids and appliances such as braille watches, talking clocks, talking calculators, canes, and games. Items are available at the main office on Washington Boulevard or may be ordered by telephone.

Blind industries operates eight Ability One Base Supply Centers located on military installations in Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The stores carry a full line of office supplies, tools, cleaning supplies, and military clothing.The products also are available through Super Eagle Supply, an e-commerce site staffed by customer service representatives who are blind.

Created in 1989, the Vending Services Division installs and services vending machines dispensing beverages or snacks throughout eleven major delivery routes in Maryland. Teams of two employees (one blind, one sighted) keep the machines stocked, and in working order. The Division is opening up many nontraditional sales and service jobs for blind workers.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2015

July 1, 2015

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