The official policies of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania 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 Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.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 2012-01: Regarding Bureau of Blind & Visual Services Childrens Program
Whereas, the majority of the school districts and intermediate units in Pennsylvania are unwilling or unable to provide the necessary educational tools to allow a blind child to achieve on a level playing field with their sighted peers, and:
Whereas, for the most part, parents look to the professionals in the field of education for the best supports for their blind children, and;
Whereas, these same parents are not provided with proper information to adequately decide the real needs of their blind children to be successful students, and;
Whereas, only a small percentage of these parents are provided contact information for the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania (NFB of PA) who provide parents with information and advocacy promoting the highest expectations of their children, and;
Whereas, historically the majority of district offices within the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) have not been effective advocates or provided blind children with any services until they reach transition age, and;
Whereas, BBVS has recently begun to encourage their social workers to provide information that parents need to know regarding their rights in the IEP process, and;
Whereas, BBVS is initiating a new childrens program and providing training on this program to all the social workers in every district office, and;
Whereas, this program will encourage social workers to attend IEP meetings, provide advocacy to parents, and provide rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility services in the home and community, and;
Whereas, the NFB of PA fully supports these efforts of BBVS in the provision of this information and these services, and;
Whereas, the Pennsylvania Association of Parents of Blind Children (PAOBC) has already been approached by a representative of BBVS regarding this new children’s initiative,
Therefor let it be resolved this 4th day of November 2012 in the city of New Cumberland,That the NFB of PA encourages BBVS to move forward with there new children’s initiative, and;
Let it further be resolved, that the NFB of PA applaud BBVS for its efforts in assisting blind children at an early age to compete on a level playing field with their sighted peers, and;
Let it further be resolved that the NFB of PA will partner with BBVS to provide support and advocacy for parents of blind children who are having difficulty convincing the various school districts of their legal responsibilities toward these children.
Resolution 2012-02: Regarding Protection of the Rights of blind Parents
WHEREAS, blind people are as capable of parenting and caring for children as their sighted peers; and
WHEREAS, the myths and misconceptions about blindness held by judges, child welfare officers, and social workers frequently cause them to raise questions about the capabilities of blind parents, caregivers, and guardians, even when there is no evidence of difficulty, danger, or neglect; and
WHEREAS, hospital officials and other child welfare workers have tried to remove children from the care of their natural parents, simply because both parents happen to be blind; and
WHEREAS, the capabilities of blind persons are called into question in many proceedings involving child placement, care, custody, visitation, adoption, guardianship, child welfare, and related matters; and
WHEREAS, in divorce cases in which one spouse is sighted and the other is blind, the sighted spouse frequently uses blindness as a weapon to gain custody of the child, even when the blind spouse has been successfully providing care for years, and judges and court investigators may be quick to accept these specious arguments because of their own lack of knowledge about blindness; and
WHEREAS, only five states have laws protecting the rights of disabled parents, guardians, and caregivers to care for children; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has an excellent record of creating model civil rights legislation and conducting public education campaigns to implement such legislation; and
Therefor let it be resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled this 4th day of November, 2012, in the city of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, that the members of this organization take action to pass legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of blindness in proceedings involving childcare, custody and visitation, adoption, guardianship, child welfare, and related matters; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of this organization call upon organizations related to child safethy and their local chapters to develop educational programs in consultation with the National Federation of the Blind to inform personnel who make child placement and care decisions about the capabilities of blind parents, caregivers, and guardians; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we develop a mentoring program for blind parents to encourage, educate, and train them in the alternative techniques necessary to properly care for children of all ages.