Assemblymember Titus' Able Column
Over the last few months, the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Children and Families held two public hearings on the recent movement to reform the current service delivery system for people who are blind or visually impaired in New York State. The first one was held on August 29, 2007 in Albany, and the second one was held September 25, 2007 in New York City.
As many of you might be aware, the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) currently provides and oversees services to blind and visually impaired individuals throughout the state. Over the last year in particular, there has been a move by some advocates and government representatives to make changes to the existing service delivery and oversight system. In fact, the Governor's 2007 budget presentation included a proposal to replace the existing CBHV, which is currently located within the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), with a newly-created Office for the Blind. While this proposal was not included in the final budget, the establishment of a new Executive Board within CBVH was. It was decided that these hearings should be sponsored after a number of advocates approached the Assembly with concerns that they had had little or no input into the recent moves for reform - even though they would be highly affected should the proposed changes take place.
Therefore, these hearings were held to determine what, if any, changes should be made to the existing service delivery system for people with vision impairments in New York State, including oversight of the system, and whether or not the recent alterations (both proposed and actual) to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped were necessary or adequate. It was the goal of the Task Force and Committees to give all affected parties the opportunity to answer these important questions and have their voices heard on this issue.
While we heard from a large contingent of individuals who both opposed and supported many of the recent proposals, the Task Force is still encouraging any affected individuals or advocates to contact our office regarding this issue if you have not already done so or if you missed the opportunity to participate in the hearings. You can contact my Task Force office at:
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities
Thank you to those of you who have already spoken up regarding this very important issue, and thank you in advance to those of you who still plan on doing so. We truly appreciate all of your input, which will allow us to proceed accordingly in the months and years to come as we are always looking to improve the service delivery systems for all people with disabilities.
Assemblymember Michele Titus, Chair
New York State Assembly
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