Statement of the NFB Board of Directors Regarding the Interim Report of the Special Committee
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 Board of Directors have directed the work of the Committee in any way. On June 20, 2021, the Board received the Special Committee’s Interim Report and feels strongly that it is in the best interest of the organization and its members to release this interim report in advance of the national convention. The Board voted to release the report on June 22, 2021. Because the Convention serves as the supreme authority of the organization, the Board believes that the Convention should be fully aware of its progress in examining these issues and in considering future policies of the organization, even as that work continues.
The work to critically examine our past work and procedures, within the complex dynamics of a volunteer-driven, nationwide movement, has been difficult and often painful. Moreover, the Board recognizes that there is a great deal of work yet to be done to ensure that the Federation is the safest and most welcoming organization that we can humanly create. We continue to express our support for the survivors who have courageously come forward and shared their stories. We also appreciate the reflections of Federation leaders who continue to inform how the organization can evolve its practices to better support members by responding swiftly, appropriately, and effectively to these concerns. We are committed to being as transparent with our activities in this area as possible, and we will continue to be guided by the lived experience of survivors for the purpose of strengthening safety and support within our Federation. To this end, we are also making available the results of a climate assessment, conducted by our partners at RAINN, which gives us better data about the experiences and perceptions of our membership around sexual misconduct, as well as to better understand the existing barriers to reporting within the organization. This data will serve as a baseline to measure progress toward a safer Federation in the future. Following the 2021 National Convention, the Board will consider carefully the recommendations contained in the Interim Report, the climate assessment analysis, information gathered through our other safety and support efforts, and the final report of the Special Committee which is expected in the fall.
Ultimately the Board is responsible for operating and overseeing the Federation between national conventions. The Interim Report documents how, in carrying out that role, we have not always handled allegations and incidents of misconduct in the most effective, empathetic, and trauma-informed manner. We are deeply sorry for that. The Board of Directors established the organization's Code of Conduct in 2018 in clear recognition that more proactive procedures were necessary. We are pleased that the report highlights the work that the Board has so far completed to raise expectations within the movement. Going forward, we want the membership to know that this Board will not rest until we have made the necessary changes and adopted policies and procedures to create a safer, more supportive, and more welcoming environment for our members and those who work with us. This will continue to demand action from all of us in this movement to get it right—we all are part of this culture change. This is why we remain hopeful that the Convention will adopt our board resolution to create the Federation SAFE Fund to support those who are harmed by incidents of misconduct within our movement. As these concerns continue to gain greater consciousness in society, the National Federation of the Blind strives toward the goal of being an outstanding model to other volunteer membership-driven organizations through the establishment of our own policies, practices, support mechanisms, and record of action and awareness.
National Federation of the Blind Board of Directors
- Special Committee’s Interim Report (PDF) Special Committee’s Interim Report (MP3)
- April 15, 2021: Open Letter on Safety and Support Progress
- December 16, 2020: Open Letter of Apology from President Riccobono