National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota

ResolutionA11-05

Regarding: Technology and SSB

 

WHEREAS, computer technology is an integral part of our lives today, especially in higher education and employment, and blind people need access to that technology in order to compete successfully in both; and  

 

WHEREAS, the federal Rehabilitation Act and Regulations recognize this fact by requiring that assistive technology and training be provided to customers throughout the rehabilitation process, including during adjustment to blindness training, going so far as to exempt them from comparable services and benefits requirements; and

 

WHEREAS, it has come to our attention that some rehabilitation counselors in State Services for the Blind's Workforce Development unit still consider public library computers a "comparable service", and refer rehabilitation customers to Eye-Link and other programs, instead of buying them the assistive technology they need; and

 

WHEREAS, these same counselors often require customers to jump through hoops, such as waiting until they get a letter of acceptance from a college or university, or requiring them to prove that a specific job requires the use of a computer, instead of logically assuming that it will; and

 

WHEREAS, these stingy and shortsighted practices not only violate the Rehabilitation Act and Regulations as laid out in Rehabilitation Services Administration Technical Assistance Circular 98-04, but also harm SSB's blind customers by denying them the equipment and in depth training they need to compete in higher education and employment; and

 

WHEREAS, preparing blind people for, and helping them get, competitive employment are the reasons why SSB's Workforce Development unit exists, and such practices no doubt have contributed to SSB's comparatively low customer employment rate and comparatively high customer failure rate; now, therefore

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this 9th day of October, 2011, in the city of Bloomington, Minnesota, that this organization condemn and deplore the practice of denying blind customers the assistive technology they need to succeed in higher education and employment; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota call upon the Director of SSB and its Director of Workforce Development to take immediate action to fix this problem through written communication, staff training, individual counseling, disciplinary action, and whatever other means are necessary to assure compliance with federal law and regulations; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota call upon the Director of SSB and its Director of Workforce Development to inform the President of the NFB of Minnesota on the actions taken and provide a complete report on such actions at the next NFB of Minnesota semiannual or annual convention.