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RE: The devaluation of the RSA proposed by the Department of Education

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RE: The devaluation of the RSA proposed by the Department of Education

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) oversees the largest funding stream and program to prepare people with disabilities, including blindness, for independence and employment, with approximately two-thirds of those actually served achieving a successful employment outcome; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Education proposes to eliminate the division for the blind, a fundamental resource in the success of blind individuals because it provides guidance to federally legislated programs that serve blind vendors, blind seniors, and deaf-blind people and because it provides essential guidance to the twenty-four separate state agencies serving the blind as well as the general rehabilitation agencies lacking expertise regarding the unique services blind people need to become independent and self-confident; and

WHEREAS, the department also proposes to close all RSA regional offices and abolish nearly half of all RSA jobs, making effective federal monitoring of state rehabilitation programs difficult if not impossible; and

WHEREAS, in addition, as though these actions to reduce the role of the RSA were not enough, the department proposes to demote the RSA commissioner to a director, who is not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate, further diminishing the power of the RSA; and

WHEREAS, the department has been mute or even supportive of Department of Labor intentions to consolidate rehabilitation funds under a scheme referred to as WIA Plus, and all of these actions constitute systematic destruction of the RSA program, the only program that has demonstrated success in the rehabilitation of blind people, offering the skills and confidence that prepare us for employment: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this eleventh day of September, 2005, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization condemn and deplore the Department of Education for its systematic effort to devalue the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration, an action that is detrimental to the futures of thousands of blind people and others with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Congress to enact language in legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which amends Section III of the Rehabilitation Act by directing the administration to preserve the division for the blind, RSA staff positions, and the RSA regional structure; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly encourage Congress to maintain language preserving existing law regarding the RSA commissioner.

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