[PACapitalChapter] Call To Action: Keep BBVS

Drenth, Joe Joe.Drenth at JBTC.COM
Wed Apr 24 17:09:42 UTC 2019

Hello NFB Family,

The Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry is considering closing the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS). He is trying to justify it as a cost-savings measure, but he has not provided any financial proof. He is also ignoring studies that show the tremendous harm that such an action would have on the blind and visually-impaired citizens of Pennsylvania. He needs to stop considering this as a viable option.

We need your help to protect blindness-related services in Pennsylvania. Please share the important message “Keep BBVS” with your state legislators and the Governor’s office.

Below are talking points you can use when you call or meet with your Pennsylvania representatives and senators. They are also attached as a flyer you can hand out to concerned neighbors, friends, and any others who could help.

The Department of Labor and Industry's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation should abandon consideration of any plan to
ELIMINATE the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services.

1. Research shows that consolidation of blindness rehabilitation services into general rehabilitation services hurts blind clients.
BBVS has historically been its own Bureau because of the recognition that services to blind and visually-impaired individuals need to be highly specialized. Studies performed by Mississippi State University’s National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision found that combining blindness-related vocational rehabilitation services with general disability VR services negatively affect the rehabilitation outcomes of blind and visually-impaired individuals and reduces the average income of those who do achieve employment.

2. Projected cost savings is minimal; likely harm to blind clients is great.
Closing BBVS would not save much money compared to the harm it would do, and OVR has not presented any fiscal justification for this action.

3. BBVS provides specialized rehabilitation services distinct from the rest of OVR.
Eliminating BBVS would negatively impact social services for blind children, students, adults, and seniors, since BBVS offers critical opportunities for assistance, training, employment and independent living for which there are no counterparts in the general disability vocational rehabilitation program.

4. OVR did not seek input from stakeholders regarding this plan.
This option is being planned within the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation without input from the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania, the Governor's office, or the blindness community.

Please contact your state legislators and the following offices to share your concerns about the proposal to eliminate BBVS. Also, please share phone calls made and copy all emails to KeepBBVS at nfbp.org.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Phone: (717) 787‐2500

Email: govcorrespcrm at pa.gov

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak

Office phone: (717) 705-2630

Cell phone: (717) 265-5765

Email: wgoleksiak at pa.gov

Acting Executive Director of the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Ryan Hyde
Central Office phone: (717) 787-5244
Email: rhyde at pa.gov

To find the names and contact information for your Pennsylvania General Assembly Representatives and Senators, visit the following web page and enter your mailing address:

Thank you very much,

Joseph Drenth
First Vice-President, NFB of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation
Senior R&D Software Engineer, JBT Corporation, Automated Systems Division

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