Regarding Comprehensive Adjustment-To-Blindness Training

A2019-01: Regarding Comprehensive Adjustment-To-Blindness Training

Adopted In : 2019

Topics : Rehabilitation

WHEREAS, research data,[i] along with the lived experience of generations of blind people across the nation, have shown that, in the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process, an approach to adjustment-to-blindness training that is concentrated and comprehensive yields better employment outcomes than training that is narrowly-focused and conducted over multiple shorter segments; and

WHEREAS, because a positive attitude about blindness, in addition to mastery of blindness skills, is a critical indicator of a person's success on the job and in life, students need time not only to learn nonvisual techniques for independent travel, reading, home management, and the like, but also to gain the confidence to deal with the vast misconceptions and low expectations they will encounter in the public; and

WHEREAS, Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB), a division of the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the primary agency empowered to provide vocational rehabilitation services to blind Minnesotans, has at times during the last decade demonstrated leadership in its commitment to high-quality adjustment-to-blindness training for those preparing to enter the workforce; and

WHEREAS, during the recently-completed federal fiscal year, increased constraints on SSB's VR services, resulting from efforts to better track spending in VR, have led some to view SSB's counselors and supervisors as becoming overly focused on dollars in preference to seamless, quality training designed for long-term success; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota has learned recently of instances in which SSB counselors opted to pick and choose individual classes instead of authorize a complete program—even for a person who had never had other adjustment-to-blindness training (for example, "since your vocational goal is in technology, we will only authorize computer training" or "don't take the careers class while you are at the training center—we will provide that in-house for you later"); and

WHEREAS, the creation this year of a new Rehabilitation Teacher/Coordinator position—the only one of its kind—to provide VR services which, have up to now, been provided by multiple contractors, has prompted further concern that SSB is moving toward smaller, quick-fix solutions instead of complete programs that bring lasting results; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in Convention assembled this 27th day of October, 2019, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota, that this organization Call upon Minnesota State Services for the Blind to renew its commitment to the long-term success of blind vocational rehabilitation customers by ensuring that vocational rehabilitation counselors and supervisors understand the true benefits of full-time, comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training, and that they will actively encourage their customers toward a complete program rather than classes on a piecemeal basis.


[i] For example, see Bell and Mino: Employment Outcomes for Blind and Visually Impaired Adults

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