Monday, September 10, 2007

Solid Promises Broken by Texas Officials
Howdy comrades!When the Texas legislature voted to consolidate Vocational Rehabilitation Services once provided by the Texas Commission for the Blind with a wide range of services under a huge umbrella agency, blind Texans were promised that certain services for blind Texans would continue to be provided by a Division for Blind Services. NFB and ACB testified that consolidating services for blind people could be disastrous, but State officials promised that services would actually improve as a result of streamlining all these programs by eliminating duplication of efforts throughout a myriad of agencies which provide similar programs. That’s how Texas ended up with DARS, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitaive Services, a massive bureaucracy comprising about two dozen different agencies or programs.We were given solemn promises that certain activities such as provision of adaptive technology, human resources for professionals specializing in provision of blindness skils would always be kept within the Division of Blind Services. Comrades, those officials lied to us because both Adaptive Technology and Human Resources are being subsumed into the vast bureaucratic structure of DARS. Just as both NFB and ACB feared, these highly specialized services absolutely crucial for the successful rehabilitation of blind Texans are now endangered. We are fighting for our common needs, presenting a rare united front in opposition to further consolidation. Can we trust a general agency to understand what kinds of adaptive technology we need for a given job? Will a bureaucrat eventually decide that having talking computers should be adequate and eliminate the teaching of Braille? What’s to prevent some future bean counter from deciding that blind people have those nifty albeit costly talking computers allowing them to telecommute to work? The State could save big bucks on teaching travel skills, after all. This may sound preposterous, but similar notions have been proposed by uninformed agency or university types in other states. In other words, the promises that blind people had nothing to fear from streamlining have turned out to be a solid con.Regards,Chairman MalPower to the Peeps!