WHEREAS, the Communication Center at State Services for the Blind (SSB) has for over forty years been the primary source of textbooks and other material in braille or on tape for students and others who are blind in Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, services provided by the Communication Center have until now been funded mainly by money allocated for vocational rehabilitation of the blind; and
WHEREAS, the management at SSB has recently determined that paying for school books in accessible formats is not an appropriate use of Vocational Rehabilitation funding, and, in the name of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has instituted a new policy for the Communication Center, wherein, over a three-year period, the full responsibility of paying for education-related materials in braille and on tape will be transferred to individual institutions of higher education and to the Department of Children, Families and Learning (for K-12 students); and
WHEREAS, this shift will likely produce consequences which fly in the face of the spirit of the ADA and run counter to the precepts of rehabilitation in general: (1) college students will now be forced to work through Offices for Students with Disabilities in order to obtain course materials in braille or on tape, which will foster greater dependence on others for making these arrangements; (2)institutions with less resources may, instead of paying the high fees set for the Communication Center's services, resort to less costly (and perhaps inferior) methods of producing course materials on tape or in Braille, not only affecting the quality of students' course materials, but also endangering the centralized, statewide services currently in place;(3) students' choices of college may become limited by the resources available at the various colleges/universities; Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twelfth day of May,2001, in the city of Alexandria, that this organization express its position that the provision of education-related materials in accessible formats is properly the responsibility of State Services For The Blind and is a legitimate use of Vocational Rehabilitation funding.