Braille Monitor April-May 1985
by Kenneth Jernigan
The National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) is a relatively quiet organization. It customarily holds two meetings a year and makes few headlines. However, on November 14, 1984, NCSAB passed a resolution which is worth noting. It warned producers of aids and appliances that their products were being scrutinized and that they would either measure up or be discussed and "ranked" at the 1985 fall meeting of NCSAB. What a threat! The resolution, along with a mass produced form letter, was sent to the Chief Executive Officers of a number of organizations.
There can be no question as to the desirability of striving for quality in the production and distribution of aids and appliances, but there is considerable question as to NCSAB's right or ability to make it happen. Already there is a widespread feeling among the blind that the state agencies have gone beyond their proper role. If the state agencies can regulate the producers and distributors of aids and appliances, what checks and balances exist to keep them from abusing their power? On the other hand, if they do not do the regulating, is there any other effective means of getting it done? Even if their attempt is proper, will their action be effective? Will the producers be awed or just amused by being "ranked?" Here is the letter and the resolution. Note the tone, as well as the substance.
Incidentally, John Wilson is Director of the Texas State Commission for the blind.
February 8, 1985
Dear Chief Executive Officer:
The National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) is composed of chief administrators of public rehabilitation agencies serving blind and visually disabled persons. The agencies represented by these members annually serve approximately 300,000 persons in the United States and Territories.
Your organization has been identified by at least one member agency of NCSAB as a provider of a product(s) used by visually impaired or blind persons. As such, we are forwarding to you a copy of Resolution 84-09 as adopted by the NCSAB membership at its recent fall meeting. This resolution is being sent to all product manufacturers.
In an effort to improve upon the record of quality and services that we have experienced from some manufacturers and/or their representatives, we wish to make all organizations aware of our intent to identify those product manufacturers viewed as providing poor services and/or products at our next fall meeting.
Regardless of your record of service or quality, you are being notified of this survey. We are sure that those of you who provide services and products which are satisfactory will recognize our need to undertake this effort and we encourage you to continue development of products for use by persons who are visually impaired or blind.
John C. Wilson, President
National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
WHEREAS, the vocational rehabilitation agencies comprising the membership of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind are the major purchasers of aids and equipment designed to assist blind and visually impaired persons in employment and in everyday life, and
WHEREAS, the employment of blind persons often depends upon the availability of quality equipment with few maintenance problems and the manufacturers' cooperation in providing timely repairs, and
WHEREAS, the membership has experienced difficulty ensuring that the equipment fulfills expectations and in obtaining manufacturers' timely assistance in delivery and repair,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the membership of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, in conference assembled this 14th day of November, 1984, in San Diego, California, insists upon quality aids and equipment and timely service from manufacturers and their representatives.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if such is not forthcoming, the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind shall, at its next fall meeting, formulate a ranking of the quality of services and equipment provided by manufacturers and their representatives that conveys the advisability of purchase from them.