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S2000-01: Regarding Protection of Statutory and Programmatic Integrity of SSB

Adopted in: 2000

Topics: State Services for the Blind

WHEREAS, published analyses of national data from the rehabilitation  Services Administration as well as other studies have clearly demonstrated that the unique needs of blind persons are most cost‑effectively addressed through specialized agencies separate and apart from services for other persons with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, State Services for the Blind (SSB), a branch within the Minnesota Department of Economic Security (MDES),  is the primary agency empowered to provide vocational  rehabilitation, independent living, and communication center services to blind Minnesotans; and

WHEREAS, despite a legislative appropriation to SSB in 1999 to meet the service needs of blind Minnesotans, rehabilitation funding remains unavailable for two of the three categories of persons seeking essential services such as training in blindness skills for vocational rehabilitation, adaptive equipment for managing medical conditions, etc.; and

WHEREAS, recently, the department of economic security has further eroded the quality of services to blind Minnesotans by siphoning off funds earmarked to serve blind persons in order to pay for administrative overhead and departmental functions unrelated to blindness; and

WHEREAS, recent changes in the administrative structure of SSB have been conducted in a secretive manner, without public input, and pose a serious threat to the separate and identifiable status of SSB; and

WHEREAS, the Governor's Workforce Development Mini‑cabinet has issued a recommendation of "further review" of SSB, with an underlying statement of belief that "programs that advance [increased employment] should be housed at the Department of Economic Security, while programs that promote independent living should be housed at the Department of Human Services"; and

WHEREAS, clearly, vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and communication center services for blind persons frequently overlap and are intertwined with one another, so that during the course of rehabilitation, a client is likely to require all of them at some point; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind on this 6th day of May in the city of Rochester, Minnesota, that this organization call upon the legislature and governor to strengthen and protect the statutory and programmatic integrity of State Services for the Blind (SSB) to prevent its being diluted into other unrelated state bureaucracies and to ensure that it is and remains an independent and unified  agency providing independent living, vocational rehabilitation, and communication center services to the working‑age  blind, blind senior citizens, and blind children of Minnesota; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that any consideration of structural or departmental changes to the agency be made only with input from consumers via their elected representatives.

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