The official policy statements of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the state convention.
The resolutions committee meets early during the convention. Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.
Resolution 2022-01: Regarding Need for Collaborative Efforts in Rehabilitation Service Provision for Blind Children and Adolescents
WHEREAS critical case studies in state-federal rehabilitation agencies and higher education provide evidence of blind children having greater opportunities at academic, social, vocational, and physical development when they are provided with and abundance of opportunities to gain experience and develop transferable skills; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan actively creates programming intent on facilitating transferrable skills that emboldens its members, young and older, to live the life they want through active engagement and advocacy, including our annual Washington Seminar advocacy event, Braille Enrichment Literacy and Learning Program, and a multitude of additional student-related programs that bolster the aforementioned principles; and
WHEREAS, section 393.356 of Michigan Public Act 260 of 1978 mandates that stakeholders in the development of students with blindness and low vision, including educational entities, rehabilitation agencies and service providers share resources and information intent on the cultivation of these skills for the overall success of the student; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan has worked in earnest to collaborate with the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) in providing blind children and adolescents, their parents, and educational professionals with information about programs promoting transferrable skills development and refinement over the past ten years; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons has communicated to the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan that it is attempted to work with the Michigan Department of Education and local school districts to attain contact information for potential children that can benefit from the program and service opportunities offered has met resistance due to HIPAA violation concerns; and
WHEREAs, the Health Information Portability Accessibility Act (HIPAA) refers to identifiable information’s use being mishandled by responsible parties but does not mention or inherently contradict the ethos of collaboration outlined in Michigan Public Law 260, which established the Michigan Commission for the Blind, now known as the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons; and
WHEREAS, it is the expectation of state-federal rehabilitation agencies, like the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, to promote service providers’ programs to potential clients in educational institutions, especially when the programs offer career exploration experiences, work-based readiness, social skills development, post-secondary education counseling and self-advocacy skills training as outlined in Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014; and
WHEREAS, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 is currently the national precedent of service provision for youth with blindness and low vision and includes the sharing of contact information of blind youth between primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education, and state-federation rehabilitation agencies for the purpose of pre-employment transition service provision: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan in convention assembled this sixth day of November, 2022, in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, we urge the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons to renew their attempts at a collaborative relationship with the Michigan Department of Education, including local school districts, to facilitate potential program marketing and service provision; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED we impress upon the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons the efficacy of our approach to independence and the evidenced-based practice that is implemented into our local, state and national programming for youth and students, as demonstrated in our annual collaboration to support Michigan’s blind students in attending the Midwest Regional Student Seminar hosted by the National Association of Blind Students, a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind; and
BE IT Further RESOLVED we communicate and demonstrate to the Michigan Department of Education and local school districts the benefit of sharing pertinent information about Michigan’s blind students through connecting them with our local, state and national opportunities and programs, as is precedent in various state-federal rehabilitation agencies throughout the country, creating a multitude of opportunities for these youth, promoting transferable skills for employment and independent living, facilitating a pathway to gainful employment and successful case closure.