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A2002-01: Regarding Opposition to Low Standards in Vendor Outcome Measures at SSB

Adopted in: 2002

Topics: State Services for the Blind, Adjustment-to-Blindness Training

WHEREAS, measures of customer success, when appropriately developed and applied, can be a key component in improving the quality of services to the blind and can provide prospective students of adjustment to blindness training with one important part of the information they need to make an informed choice about service providers; and

WHEREAS, State Services for the Blind (SSB) has developed an instrument for measuring outcomes which purports to include measures of the skills and the self-confidence a blind job-holder needs in the areas of independent travel, communication, home and personal management, technology, leisure activities, attitude about blindness, and career planning; and

WHEREAS, a committee of service providers and others was appointed to participate in the development of the instrument, and the process was facilitated by Public Strategies Group, an entity with knowledge about developing public systems but with no background at all in the provision of services to the blind; and

WHEREAS, examination of this recently developed instrument shows that a preponderance of the skills and abilities being measured are very basic, "entry-level" tasks which can often be performed by a blind person without the need to go through adjustment-to-blindness training at all (e.g., making telephone calls; plugging a cord into an electrical outlet; and traveling around home, garage and yard); and

WHEREAS, furthermore, the measurements do not elicit information about whether the student can perform a given task using techniques not requiring vision; and

WHEREAS, because a positive attitude about blindness—in addition to mastery of blindness skills alone--is a critical indicator of a person's success on the job and in life, high-quality adjustment-to-blindness training centers carefully and deliberately work with students to help them put their blindness into the proper perspective; and

WHEREAS, repeated requests by committee members having extensive experience in work with the blind for inclusion of measures that reflect the real-world skills required to hold a job and that assess the student's overall attitude about blindness were ignored and discounted throughout the development process; and

WHEREAS, some of the questions in the final version of the survey provoked laughter from members of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind and the public when they were read at a recent Council meeting; and

WHEREAS, the resulting instrument--with its insultingly low standards, its dubious relevance to the actual experience of adjustment to blindness, and its trivialization of the adjustment-to-blindness process--sends a clear message of minimal expectations for blind people, is virtually useless for gathering meaningful information about the types and quality of services provided, and represents a drastic drop in the standards historically applied at SSB;  now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this second day of November, 2002, in the city of Rochester that this organization condemn and deplore the instrument currently being used at State Services for the Blind (SSB) to measure outcomes of vendors providing adjustment-to-blindness services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that SSB abandon the use of the current instrument and rewrite it in a framework of high expectations and with a greater emphasis on higher-level skills, use of nonvisual techniques to accomplish tasks, and assessment of attitude toward blindness;  and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the members of the Rehabilitation Council to reject these outcome measures as they are currently designed and join us in requesting that they be revised.

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