Skip to Content

Resolution 2020-03: Regarding an Increase in Funding for California’s Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program

WHEREAS, the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind program  (OIB) is a federally-funded   effort which provides training and accessible technology for individuals fifty-five years or older who are blind to increase their ability to live independently and care for their individual needs; and

WHEREAS, for the past three fiscal years the federal OIB program has been awarded $33,317,000 each year of which California receives roughly $4 million ; and

WHEREAS, the American Community Survey estimated that in 2018 there were 4,584,000 visually impaired Americans fifty-five or older and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this number will increase rapidly due to diabetes and other chronic diseases that cause blindness; and

WHEREAS, the small $33,317,000 awarded to the OIB program each of the past three years  to meet the needs of an eligible national older blind population of approximately 4,584,000 individuals means that on average, only $7.27 per eligible individual, is available each year to   train and equip each blind senior, and 

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines one’s abilities, and, given the proper technology and training, blind people of all ages can and must be able to live the lives they want; and

WHEREAS, basic independent living training for older Californians who are blind to fully participate in their communities simply costs more than $7 per year.   In fact, honoring and supporting California’s blind seniors with training in O&M, independent living, and high and low technology solutions can cost between $1,000 to $7,000 per senior; and

WHEREAS, unlike other states, California does not supplement its small federal OIB grant with other funding sources, worsening the already-shameful situation after the elimination of all independent living homemaker training the DOR instituted in 2017; and

WHEREAS, ever since the homemaker training elimination in 2017, blind Californians have been treated to sympathetic utterances from California officials, but not a single new dollar has been committed to augment independent living programs for blind seniors; and

WHEREAS, without identifying supplemental sources of state funding, impoverished seniors and those recently blind, today face expenses of between $1,000 and $6,000 for the essential adaptive equipment routinely funded by DOR for those under age 55 and on an employment track; and 

WHEREAS, on July 18, 2020, the National Federation of the Blind passed a resolution to urge Congress to increase funding for the OIB Program: 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 Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation and California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, to work actively to find ways to substantially increase funding for the Independent Living Services for California’s Older  Blind Program; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Director Xavier and Secretary Ma to work with us to identify and promote specific funding sources sufficient for the independent living training needs of every older blind Californian so that they can get the training and technology needed to live in independence, social integration, individual productivity, and personal dignity.

Back to top