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S2011-01: Regarding Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors for the Blind

Adopted in: 2011

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

WHEREAS, in 2010, through the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, a provision was added to Minnesota Statutes 248.07 requiring that anyone hired as a rehabilitation counselor for the blind in Minnesota complete a six week training program under sleepshades at an adjustment to blindness center before practicing as a rehabilitation counselor; and

WHEREAS, the intent of this law is to provide these new counselors with a foundation and resources to equip them to help their blind customers to overcome the overwhelming public misconceptions about blindness that result in barriers to independence and employment; and  

WHEREAS, to support the intent of the legislation, it is essential that those who manage and supervise the work of rehabilitation counselors for the blind also possess a strong belief in the capabilities of the blind and an understanding that the real problems of blindness are due to misconceptions rather than lack of eyesight; and

WHEREAS, it recently came to the attention of the  National Federation of the Blind that a newly hired counselor at State Services for the Blind (SSB) had a great deal of difficulty with completing her staff training, particularly with the wearing of sleepshades; and

WHEREAS, the Director of SSB has informed us that measures are being put in place to improve the hiring process so that new hires have a clear understanding of the purpose and importance of the training before they begin; and

WHEREAS, it is also important that, in follow-up to the initial training,  the new counselors receive ongoing education as well as support from their supervisors; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this 21st day of May in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization call upon the director of State Services for the Blind to take all necessary steps to ensure that rehabilitation counselors for the blind are capable of conveying a positive attitude to their customers about blindness and about the importance of comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the SSB director to require that those who supervise rehabilitation counselors for the blind undergo the adjustment to blindness training required for the counselors they supervise.

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