FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Monday, February 19, 2007
Carl Jacobsen
President
National Federation of the Blind of New York
(718) 567-7821

Blind Leaders Support Independent Agency

Urge Legislature to Adopt Governor’s Plan

Albany, New York (February 19, 2007): Blind leaders at the state and national level have praised Governor Elliot Spitzer’s budget proposal to create an independent agency to serve blind New Yorkers.  The new agency will have broad authority to provide rehabilitation services to all of the blind of the Empire State and will be run by a board of directors, the majority of whose members must be blind.

“As the leading organization of blind persons in this state, and having advocated for years for better services for blind consumers, we are extraordinarily pleased that the Governor proposes to create a separate and independent agency to serve blind New Yorkers,” said Carl Jacobsen of Brooklyn, President of the National Federation of the Blind of New York.  “Governor Spitzer has repeatedly shown throughout his political career that he is a strong advocate for the blind and others with disabilities, and this landmark proposal reflects his progressive and positive attitude towards blindness and blind people.  He clearly understands that this new agency is the best way to ensure that all blind people can become productive members of the workforce and society of the Empire State.  This initiative by Governor Spitzer is the best thing to happen to blind New Yorkers since the creation of the original New York Commission for the Blind in 1913.”

“Research and experience have demonstrated time and again that a separate, independent rehabilitation agency focusing exclusively on the needs of the blind, and run by officials that are directly accountable to blind consumers, provides the best services and produces the best rehabilitation and employment outcomes for the blind,” said Greg Trapp, President of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) and Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind.  “The blind of New York are truly fortunate to have an administration in power that has recognized the importance of a separate entity focusing exclusively on blindness, and the NCSAB will be thrilled to welcome the new member agency.”

Laura Herman, an 85-year-old resident of Niagara Falls, said, “This is truly the best thing that has happened to the blind of New York in my lifetime, and having been a blind advocate all my life, I am thrilled that I am here to see it come to fruition.”