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 Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.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 2018-01: Regarding Addressing the Shortage of TVIs and O&M Professionals in Michigan
WHEREAS, blind people CAN work, study, play, travel and enjoy the benefits of society, if and only if, blind people have learned specialized skills and techniques such as Braille, travel using the long white cane/dog guide and a multitude of other techniques for living equal lives; and
WHEREAS, blind children in Michigan from birth through high school and their parents, rely on Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI’s/TCVIs) and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M Specialists), to teach these skills; and
WHEREAS, there is an extreme shortage of TVI’s and O&M specialists, both here in Michigan, and in the United States generally; and
WHEREAS, the Michigan Department of Education has entered into a seven-state Consortium Program to try to address this shortage and also created a provisional certification allowing teachers to teach blind students before having completed the appropriate course of study followed by state teacher certification; and
WHEREAS, these efforts have not been sufficient, leaving many blind children with no or severely limited resources to teach these essential skills while at the same time college- prep programs for TVI’s and O&M specialists are closing at an alarming rate, leaving only one such program left in Michigan; and
WHEREAS, this lack of qualified teachers has left many students, who are moving on to college or seeking employment, unable to read efficiently, write, take their own notes, or travel effectively; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) can provide services to students in transition programs, BSBP staff are trained to work with adults, not secondary students, and their case loads are currently appallingly high; and
WHEREAS, this situation leaves many of our blind students looking forward to a life of unemployment, underemployment, and “adult childhood”: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the city of Southfield, Michigan, that this organization call upon the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Michigan Bureau Of Services For Blind Persons (BSBP), to work collaboratively with the National Federation of the Blind to find solutions to solve this difficult and deleterious problem.
Resolution 2018-02: Regarding Identifying Blind Students to BSBP
Whereas for a blind child to thrive, he or she should receive the full range of “services for the visually impaired” (from the age of birth until high school graduation or exiting the school system) provided by the appropriate School authorities, and “transition services” from 14 years of age to high school graduation provided by the Bureau of Services for Blind people (BSBP), which are intended to improve their chances of success in college and the work place; and
Whereas post-secondary rehabilitation services are provided by the BSBP, after high school; and
Whereas Public Act 260, passed in 1978, requires the Superintendent of the Michigan Department of education to provide a complete list of all blind students in the state of Michigan to the BSBP annually; and
Whereas the BSBP cannot provide services to students who they do not know of; and
Whereas we routinely find parents, VI Teachers and students who have never heard of the BSBP; and
Whereas the Department Of Education, citing privacy concerns, never followed the law and has consistently refused to provide the BSBP with any lists of blind students: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the city of Southfield, Michigan, that this organization condemn and deplore the Michigan Department Of Education’s blatant disregard for the law as well as the welfare of blind children and insist that the Superintendent and the Michigan Department of Education obey the law and begin providing a full list of ALL blind students to the BSBP with all deliberate speed whether VI is designated as the primary disability or not.