Braille Monitor                                                                                March 1986



NAC Bites the Dust in Kansas

by Marc Maurer

Actually it happened on the last day of 1985, but on January 10, 1986, it became official: Kansas State Services for the Blind renounced NAC's accreditation. This came at a time when the supporters of NAC were loudly trumpeting optimism and growing momentum, claiming that NAC was at the threshold of a period of a new era of expansion and credibility. But the developments in Kansas put it all in perspective. NAC is the same old NAC--still trying slight of hand, still making exaggerated claims, and still on the slide. The Kansas State Services for the Blind was scheduled for a NAC review later this spring. Joann Watson, Commissioner of Rehabilitation for Kansas, asked several people what help NAC had been to the agency for the blind. And she got answers. Dr. Richard Schutz, Director of Services for the Blind, said that NAC had been of no use at all. The agency advisory committee said unanimously that there was no point in continuing with NAC accreditation. Even the American Council of the Blind affiliate refused to buck the tide.

It is written that all things come right in the fullness of time and that time discovers truth. NAC, which began with such flourish and fanfare, is approaching its twentieth year. In twenty years much can be built. However, NAC's legacy to history is not an edifice of proud accomplishment but an empty husk. The lack of program, the attempt to take without giving, and the caprice and malice which characterize NAC's activities are all pervasive and increasingly evident. Those who have supported NAC in the past (Kansas being a prime example) are ever more frequently coming to realize that NAC is a hindrance, not a help. Kansas State Services for the Blind has joined the growing number who have had enough.

Dr. Richard Schutz said it diplomatically; he said it in proper language; he said it (if one reads between the lines) with dry wit--but the important thing is that he said it. For NAC (at least in Kansas) there is no tomorrow. One might almost say that NAC received a delayed Christmas present:

Topeka, Kansas
December 31, 1985

Mr. Dennis L. Hartenstine
Executive Director National Accreditation Council for
Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Hartenstine:

The issue of our division's continuing its NAC accreditation was recently evaluated. Discussion involved managing staff of the division, higher level authorities within the larger organizational entity of which the division is a unit, and constituents. Effort was made to balance the perceived benefits of maintaining accreditation against the financial costs and the substantial amount of staff time required. After due consideration a decision was reached that we shall not attempt to maintain NAC accreditation after the current term expires on December 31, 1986. Therefore, please cancel plans for the next on-sight survey of our division which is currently scheduled for May 4-7, 1986. I wish your organization well in its future endeavors.

Richard A. Schutz, Ph.D.

Director of Services for the Blind It is not that Kansas is disillusioned with the concept of accreditation or with paying its fair share to get accreditation. It is that Kansas is disillusioned with NAC. In case there is any doubt consider the following excerpt from the January 17, 1986, minutes of the Division of Services for the Blind Supervisors meeting. The matter is handled with a good deal more terseness than in the letter from Dr. Schutz to NAC:

Division of Services for the Blind
Supervisors Meeting Minutes

January 17, 1986


Suzannah Erhart
Jayne Frost
Caroline Lauer
Richard Schutz
Robert Sheldon

NAC has been notified that DSB plans to discontinue NAC accreditation. CARF accreditation for the rehabilitation center and Kansas Industries for the Blind should be pursued. Richard Schutz will order the necessary CARF materials.