Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS) Position Paper

A few months ago, a group of people representing the blindness-related organizations in Pennsylvania, led by Steve Pennington of the Client Assistance Program, wrote a position paper for keeping the Pennsylvania Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) strong and independent. This paper presented the arguments against merging BBVS into the general disability vocational rehabilitation program. For those of you who will be attending the NFB of Pennsylvania convention in person or via the stream, Steve Pennington will be referring to this position paper in his presentations about how to help BBVS accomplish its purpose of helping blind and visually-impaired individuals attain employment.

NFB 4th Annual Blind Womens Empowerment Conference

“Sister to Sister, Heart to Heart”


Bringing to you an awesome panel of diverse blind women along with dynamic keynote speaker, Denise Avant. These talented sisters will be telling it to you from their hearts to your hearts. Get ready to be dazzled, rejuvenated, and inspired to live the life you want.

                        Pepco Edison Place Gallery

Thursday, October 31, 2019
10:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Ticket Price: $25.00

702 8th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
[Nearest Metro Station is Gallery Place 9th & G St.]

All Women Are Welcome

  • To RSVP or for more information contact Libra Robinson at (202) 427-3600 or email leelibra342@gmail.com no later than October 24, 2019
  • All sales are final/no refunds

NFB4th Annual Blind Womens Empowerment Conference flyer (Word Document)

2019 NFB of PA State Convention Announcement

National Federation of The Blind of Pennsylvania
2019 State Convention
The Radison Hotel and Conference Center
1150 Camp Hill bypass, Camp Hill, PA 17011
800 – 333 – 3333

Friday, November 1 – Sunday, November 3, 2019

Reserve your room at the hotel now! Call the hotel at (800) 333-3333
A special room rate of $89.00 is available for convention attendees from Wednesday, October 30th through Sunday, November 3rd
FOR MORE INFORMATION call Joseph Drenth, Convention Chair, at (215) 827 7787 or e-mail joe.drenth@jbtc.com
Please register online at http://www.nfbp.org/convention


Friday Events:

  • Technology Seminars, Roundtable Discussions, and Breakout Sessions
  • Exhibit Hall
  • Meetings of Blind Students, Parents of Blind Children, Deafblind/Hearing-Impaired, and Guide Dog Users.
  • Resolutions Committee Meeting
  • State Board Meeting
  • Hospitality
  • Auction (donations requested)

Saturday Events:

  • Report from the National Representative (TBD)
  • Interesting speakers, presentations, and panels
  • Banquet Saturday Evening

Sunday Events:

  • Chapter Sharing Breakfast
  • State Business Meeting
  • Adjourn at Noon

CALL TO ACTION to preserve independent blindness services in Pennsylvania

We need your help right now to preserve blindness services in Pennsylvania. The Secretary of Labor and Industry is considering doing away with the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services and rolling those services into the general disability services bureau. If this happens, all of the services now provided by BBVS will be in jeopardy, including individualized vocational rehabilitation, Independent Living Older Blind, Business Enterprise Program, and specialized services for children and adults.

Please email the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry, Mr. Jerry Oleksiak, at wgoleksiak@pa.gov to request that he immediately stop considering this merger and that he not ignore the unique needs of blind and visually impaired individuals. You can also say that the blind and visually-impaired community of Pennsylvania does not deserve to be treated like second-class citizens

When you email Secretary Oleksiak, please copy Joe Drenth, Joe.drenth@jbtc.com on the email.

Also, please contact Governor Tom Wolf to express the same sentiments. You can call his office at 717-787-2500 or you can complete an online form to submit your comments electronically at www.governor.pa.gov/contact.

Finally, you should also contact your state representatives to tell them about this issue and to ask them to do everything in their power to preserve independent blindness services. Meeting with them in person is the best way to reach them, but commenting on their social media channels and sending them phone and email messages are good ideas, as well.

Thank you for taking action on this important issue right away. You should contact these people as often as possible, even every day, so they cannot ignore the problem.

Here is more background information:

The idea of doing away with Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) and lumping those services under the general disability vocational rehabilitation services bureau (BVRS) has been mentioned several times recently by the Secretary of Labor and Industry and by the Acting Executive Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), under which BBVS and BVRS currently exist as independent bureaus.

This idea of merging the bureaus has been around for a long time, but it is being talked about by these individuals and a few others more and more frequently over the past months, such as at State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation meetings, Blindness Enterprise Program meetings, and several other events. Their increasing focus on this plan is alarming and should not be allowed to continue.

Although OVR’s official position is that no decision has been made to merge these services, they are doing more and more planning behind the scenes in preparation for taking this drastic step. They use the argument that this change would save money, but no reports or information is available that backs up this claim. Even if it saved a little money, we cannot allow them to continue considering this option in their numbers game to get OVR out of its budget shortfall. There are many other ways to save far more money that do not damage the lives and livelihoods of thousands of blind and visually-impaired Pennsylvanians.

2019 NFB Washington Seminar

Monday, January 28, through Thursday, January 31, 2019

It is time again for us to take our concerns directly to our legislators in Washington, DC. For those that are not familiar with Washington Seminar, this is where 500 members of the NFB come together to present three to four issues important to the blind and disabled community to our federal Congressional representatives. In addition to meeting with members of Congress and Senators, Washington Seminar is the site of student seminars and meetings of many NFB groups and divisions.

To learn more about Washington Seminar, including the issues being presented and details for hotel room reservations, please visit www.nfb.org/washington-seminar.

Blind Women’s Empowerment Conference in Washington DC

Theme: “I Am Woman. Hear Me Roar!”

The National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia

The women of the NFBDC proudly present the 3rd Annual Blind Women’s Empowerment Conference with another awesome all blind panel & keynote speaker ready to inspire other women so they can rise to any occasion, reach their goals and live the life they want.

Women at this conference will be invigorated, uplifted, and empowered while enjoying a delectable lunch prepared by the Shiloh Baptist church catering staff. And, if you are looking for some bling bling or something to accessorize that new outfit, you can stop by one of our vendor tables that will be available after the conference. All women are welcome.

Keynote Speaker: Evelyn Valdez

Thursday, October 11, 2018; 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.

The Shiloh Baptist Church
1510 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001


To register or for more information, please call Libra Robinson at (202) 427-3600 or email at leelibra342@gmail.com no later than Friday, October 5 , and bring your cash payment to the door on the day of the event. All sales are final, and no refunds will be provided.

“Live the Life You Want in the Nation’s Capital!”

Harrisburg Chapter meeting announcement


The NFB of Pennsylvania is excited to announce that the Harrisburg and surrounding areas chapter is being revitalized. A group of interested folks will be meeting on June 2 at 10 am at the Center for Independent Living of Central PA at 207 House Ave. Camp Hill PA 17011.

The following are some important instructions about the area and how to get into the building. Its at Senate Ave and House Ave. When giving directions to a driver, once on House ave, follow the loop around, once the street turns left. 207 is the second building on the right. Passengers and persons should park at the entrance that is closest to the street, the door that does not have a ramp. Drivers should turn right into the first driveway into the parking lot and an make an immediate left. This is also the door that can be used when using paratransit.

Once in the building, there is a hallway that is straight in front of you. As you walk down this hall, the restrooms are on the left. The Ladies is first. The button to open the door is on the left at the corner, it’s a square box. The door opens to the right. Second is the men’s room. On the right a hallway begins just past the men’s room. Turn right, the door to the conference room is on the left. Again, there is a big square button on the left to open the door. Once in that door, There is a small front room. The hallway to the conference room is on the right of that hallway and spreads in the same direction in which you came into the last door. The conference room door at the end of the hallway on the left. There are braille signs on all the doors.

We hope that you can join us. If you’re not able to join that day but are interested in learning more, please send an email to marsha.drenth@gmail.com

See you soon!

Thank you,

Marsha Drenth
email: marsha.drenth@gmail.com

Washington Seminar 2018

Monday, January 29, through Thursday, February 1, 2018

It is time again for us to take our concerns directly to our legislators in Washington, DC. For those that are not familiar with Washington Seminar, this is where 500 members of the NFB come together to present three to four issues important to the blind and disabled community to our federal Congressional representatives. This year we have four issues. In addition to meeting with members of Congress and Senators, Washington Seminar is the site of student seminars and meetings of many NFB groups and divisions.

To read the issues, and to view pictures from the 2018 Washington Seminar, please visit our Washington Seminar page. To read the fact sheets for the issues, please visit the [NFB Washington Seminar] page.