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Resolution 2020-02: Regarding Requiring Minimum Standards for the Training of Blind Individuals Provided Through the California Department of Rehabilitation

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness does not define one’s potential and that, if given the proper training and technology, a blind individual can fully compete with sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, a blind individual is more likely to succeed in employment with at least a basic knowledge of Braille, technology, independent living skills, and orientation and mobility; and

WHEREAS, one of the purposes of the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is to address barriers to employment for blind individuals by providing adequate training and guidance about current technology; and

WHEREAS, the amount and level of training can vary widely for each DOR client, depending on funding for local training centers and the DOR counselor’s knowledge and understanding about blindness; and

WHEREAS, clients may wait months or years before they can obtain training in basic skills; and

WHEREAS, although clients have the right to exercise informed choice about where to receive training, they are not always made aware of this right and are sometimes forced to receive training that does not adequately address their blindness needs; and

WHEREAS, clients are often discouraged by their counselors from attending out-of-state training centers, even if in-state agencies do not meet the needs of the clients’ employment goals: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of California in convention assembled this twenty-fifth day of October, 2020, that this organization urge the California  Department of Rehabilitation to establish a recommended list of client pre-employment skills necessary to support employment, and that during the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) process, clients must be provided the opportunity to accept  or reject offers of training for these skills. Key employment skills which may be included on a recommended list of pre-employment skills list might include: training in contracted braille; training in basic computer skills; effectively operating a smart phone; preparing a variety of meals and safely storing food; performing independent living skills including using a variety of home appliances; training in basic mobility skills including crossing different types of intersections and including lighted intersections; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a client must agree that they have been offered satisfactory opportunities to learn all these pre-employment skills before their case may be closed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a client must be informed in writing that only after they agree that these pre-employment skills have been offered and completed, their case may be closed; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if services required to be provided to meet the pre-employment skills are not readily available  in time to address a client’s disability needs, for example, if Braille or orientation and mobility training are unavailable for multiple months, then the DOR counselor must identify and  fund alternative sources of those services, or demonstrate to the client that those services are not available from alternative sources; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all clients shall be informed and provided with information about training centers outside of California, including the training centers operated by the National Federation of the Blind, in order for clients to examine and evaluate which center adequately addresses their blindness pre-employment needs.

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