Statement of the NFB Board of Directors Regarding the Final Report of the Special Committee
This is an update regarding the safety and support initiatives of the National Federation of the Blind.
On January 6, 2021, the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind authorized the establishment of a temporary Special Committee to fully investigate the Federation’s current and historical handling of reports of sexual misconduct. Other than establishing the Committee, neither the President nor the NFB Board of Directors have directed the work of the Committee. While the Board had hoped the Committee’s work would be complete by the 2021 National Convention, more time was needed to complete a thorough review. The Board decided to release the Special Committee’s interim report on June 29, 2021, so that it would be available prior to the convention. The Board received the final report of the Special Committee in November 2021, and, at its meeting on December 3, 2021, voted to also release the final report to the Federation membership.
With the release of the final report of the Special Committee, the Board believes the Committee has completed its significant charge and, therefore, has sunsetted the Committee, effective today. We thank the Special Committee for its work, and we again thank all of the courageous survivors, along with thoughtful leaders and members, who continue to inform our critical work to make the Federation safer and stronger every day.
The Board would also like to extend our deep appreciation to those who provided feedback on the draft Code of Conduct that was circulated earlier in the fall. We are reviewing that feedback and making final revisions to the organization’s Code of Conduct, which will be effective on January 1, 2022. It is important to note that the work of the external investigator will continue with respect to code of conduct complaints involving sexual misconduct.
With the sunsetting of the Special Committee and the new revisions to the Code of Conduct, the Board believes that significant changes have been made to strengthen the organization. However, we do not believe our work is done. Many other recommendations from this year’s initiative will be implemented as part of our safety and support work going forward. One example is the 2021 Convention’s adoption of our 2021 board resolution to create the Federation SAFE Fund to support those who are harmed by incidents of misconduct within our movement. The Board is finalizing the details of the initial launch of the Fund and we expect those details will be available early in 2022. In addition, our Blind Survivors Group is beginning to do further outreach, and the Board continues to implement new response protocols and mechanisms for providing training and tracking information. The Board also continues to work on other recommendations we have received from the Special Committee, the Survivors Task Force and Blind Survivors Group, and our partners at RAINN. Finally, we will continue to coordinate with, and monitor the progress of, our state affiliates and our three affiliated training centers in implementing new reporting and response procedures. We believe that with the active engagement of so many diverse and committed members from all parts of the country, as well as the outside experts we have consulted, we have a strong roadmap for strengthening our work together while demonstrating the importance of appropriate conduct in and around Federation events, programs, and activities.
This Board is dedicated to upholding our ongoing responsibility to monitor policies and procedures, to make improvements as we find they are necessary, and to take all other actions that contribute to a safer, more supportive, and more welcoming environment for our members and those who work with us. Thank you for your commitment to informing our work on these efforts and to the movement more broadly.
National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors
November 1, 2021: Blind Survivor Group Established
July 22, 2021: NFB Board of Directors Statement Regarding NFB’s Constitution and Code of Conduct
June 29, 2021: Statement of the NFB Board of Directors Regarding the Interim Report of the Special Committee
April 15, 2021: Open Letter on Safety and Support Progress
December 16, 2020: Open Letter of Apology from President Riccobono