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"NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped" Becomes "New York State Commission for the Blind"

Division Enters Second Century of Service with New Name

Rensselaer, NY (August 1, 2013): The Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión today announced that the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped has been officially re-named the “New York State Commission for the Blind” under legislation signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today. Its new official acronym is NYSCB.

“The Commission, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary, works every day with blind people of all ages to help them improve their lives and give them tools they need to succeed. With Governor Cuomo’s signing of this new law, their mission and scope of responsibilities are now better reflected in their new name and we continue our commitment to advance our positive approach,” said Commissioner Carrión.

“NYSCB Associate Commissioner Brian Daniels said, “I would like to offer our thanks to our wonderful stakeholders and outstanding staff who collaborated closely on this exciting name change. The New York State Commission for the Blind has an appropriate and widely-embraced new name which is simple yet describes who we are quite well. This name change is particularly poignant for us and our statewide community as we begin our second century of service to New York State residents who are blind.”

Daniels explained that the name change reflects an evolution in language away from the use of the word “handicapped,” which many blind individuals find to be offensive. Indeed, such term suggests a helplessness that goes beyond a physical or mental limitation created by a health condition. The origin of the word derives from the phrase “hand in cap,” in reference to individuals who publicly begged for money.

In addition, the change more accurately aligns the name to the scope of the division’s function which is to provide services for individuals who are legally blind. Many New Yorkers who are not legally blind have visual limitations that can be addressed through the use of vision aids such as glasses or contact lenses, and, therefore, those limitations do not substantially impact those persons’ daily activities or functioning and, therefore, do not need the services of the NYSCB.

Carl Jacobsen, NYS Affiliate President of the National Federation of the Blind, said, “For as long as I can remember, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped was referred to by blind New Yorkers as the Commission for the Blind. Those of us who did so simply stated the reality that we are blind and are prepared to take our places in society as participating members. The attitudes and practices at the Commission encourage people to reach an understanding of who they are and to strive to participate in the life of the community. We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for acting to change the name of the primary agency for blind people and by doing so encourage people to proudly join the mainstream. We also commend the administration of the new Commission for the Blind for its positive attitudes which among other things is reflected in the new and easily understandable name of the agency.” 

Established in 1913, the New York State Commission for the Blind works on behalf of people who are legally blind and living in New York State. The Commission partners with vision services organizations to provide comprehensive services to blind New Yorkers of all ages. These services include vocational rehabilitation; orientation and mobility training; independent living skills training; and employment counseling and placement. In addition, the Business Enterprise Program provides management skills training, stock loans and necessary equipment to assist legally blind entrepreneurs in operating newsstands, snack bars and convenience stores in government buildings.

NYSCB is a consistent frontrunner in helping train and place blind individuals in competitive, integrated employment. The NYSCB vocational rehabilitation program helps people who are blind gain valuable employment skills, and works closely with community organizations and vocational rehabilitation agencies to train and develop candidates based on employer needs. Employees who are placed through the CB program report high job satisfaction and receive support not only from CB but also from their supervisors and co-workers.

For more information about Commission for the Blind programs, or to find a local district office, call 1-866-871-3000 (TTY: 1- 866- 871-6000), or visit ocfs.ny.gov.