ALBANY, N.Y., May 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --The New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers who are Blind (NYSPSP) today announced the signing of an updated and expanded Letter of Designation (LOD) to create employment opportunities for New Yorkers who are blind. Two out of three working-age blind New Yorkers are unemployed.
NYSPSP's mission is to create jobs for New Yorkers who are blind or visually impaired, as designated by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)/NYS Commission for the Blind (NYSCB). The updated agreement is the result of a collaborative effort between several parties, including input from the 10 affiliated nonprofit agencies across the Empire State who employ people who are blind.
"The agreement significantly advances our mission to create new and innovative employment avenues for New Yorkers who are blind or visually impaired. By exploring new models allowed in the law to partner with NYS businesses, we open up new job opportunities for an under-utilized but highly motivated employment base who stand ready and able to contribute in the workforce," said Carrie Laney, Executive Director of NYSPSP.
"Through our close partnership with NYSCB and the NYS Office of General Services (OGS), we are committed to not only providing new jobs for New Yorkers who are blind, but also increasing the possibilities for advancement to management positions and greater income potential," Laney said.
The revised LOD enables NYSPSP and NYSCB to partner with private companies and represents a joint commitment to job creation for the blind and visually impaired. These partnerships will benefit the affiliated agencies and small businesses by combining and maximizing resources, improving competitiveness for contracts and other professional bid opportunities.
"Our partnership with NYSPSP will continue to encourage successful employment opportunities for blind New Yorkers, inspiring confidence in the workforce reinforced by sound training," said NYSCB Associate Commissioner, Brian S. Daniels. "We are so proud of the vast success we have had together to date. This expansion will build on our success, opening the field for more applicants to take advantage of the program."
Since 2012 when the initial LOD was signed, the NYSPSP program has expanded to include 10 affiliated nonprofit agencies across the state of New York, and a 30% increase in labor hours generated by the program and an almost two-fold increase in total wages paid to New Yorkers who are blind. Through continued growth in the last fiscal year, these agencies provided more than 450 employees who are blind with nearly 180,000 hours of direct labor employment. In 2018, these employees received more than two million dollars in wages – enabling them to contribute to New York's economy and tax base as tax payers.
"Careers for New Yorkers who are blind have advanced from straight manufacturing or kitting types of opportunities to professional and leadership positions that build careers," said Ken Fernald, President and CEO, AVRE. "I may be a very good example of that, starting in a part-time direct labor position and then working my way up through different levels and responsibilities to my current position of CEO."
The 10 nonprofit affiliate agencies produce more than 1,600 products -- office supplies, safety items, cleaning supplies, food service items, emergency kits, and cleaning chemicals -- and provide skilled and technical services -- mailing services, data transcription, data imaging, contract management, contact center services, and online and digital accessibility, including 508 assurance.
Under Preferred Source Law, state and local agencies must purchase products and services that meet their "form, function and utility" and appear on the OGS Preferred Source List from NYSPSP. These offerings are currently produced by the affiliated agencies in New York which employed more than 450 blind and visually impaired New Yorkers in 2018. Information on NYSPSP's thousands of products and many business services can be found at www.nyspsp.org.
In continued partnership with OCFS/NYSCB and OGS, NYSPSP plans to continue to develop new products and services that meet the needs of state customers while fulfilling its mission to provide employment opportunities for New Yorkers who are blind and visually impaired.
"Expanding our program is truly a win-win proposition for both parties. By partnering with our affiliated agencies, commercial companies can tap into a knowledgeable, motivated, reliable workforce to help fulfill government contracts and other business needs. At the same time, it allows our employees to offer a range of quality, tailored services," Laney said.
The program expansion is due in part to support and advocacy from National Industries for the Blind (NIB). NIB created this uniquely New York program to be run and managed by New Yorkers specifically to support efforts to employ New Yorkers who are blind. NYSPSP is a related 501(c)(3) corporation to NIB.
"NIB is extremely proud and encouraged by the growth and success of the NYSPSP. Through the product catalog and an ever-expanding menu of service offerings, New Yorkers who are blind or visually impaired are getting the opportunity to do meaningful work that is supported by the state agencies, local municipalities, schools, and nonprofit organizations that acquire essential goods and services from preferred sources," said NIB President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lynch. "The continuing economic benefits of the NYSPSP stand as a model for other states to use in creating employment opportunities for people who are blind."
About the New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers Who Are Blind
The New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers Who Are Blind (NYSPSP) is a state-mandated initiative under Section 162 of the Finance Law which creates and sustains employment opportunities for New Yorkers who are legally blind by directing state and local government agencies to purchase pre-approved products and services on the Office of General Services (OGS) Preferred Source List. All of these offerings are produced by affiliated nonprofit agencies in New York that employ people who are blind or visually impaired. They are:
Alphapointe – Queens
Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Rochester
Association for Vision Rehabilitation & Employment – Binghamton
Aurora – Syracuse
Central Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Utica & Syracuse
My Blind Spot – New York City & Long Island
Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany – Albany
Olmsted Center for Sight – Buffalo
Southern Tier Association for the Visually Impaired – Elmira
VISIONS – Manhattan
OGS information at: https://ogs.ny.gov/procurement/preferred-sources
OCFS/NYSCB information at: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/cb/
SOURCE New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers who are Blind