On January 20th, 2023, several members of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana called upon the 2023 Montana legislature and the Governor to add substantially more state dollars to the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program. Increased funding would allow BLVS to fill vacancies with qualified staff, and to promptly deliver services to older blind Montanans.
why we need a budget increase for the older blind program:
- 300,000 Montanans are 55 years of age or older. Of this group, an estimated 60,000, or one in five, will experience vision loss as a natural part of the aging process
- To maintain their independence, these older adults will need to learn and use alternative nonvisual techniques and tools.
– The Blind and Low Vision Services Bureau (BLVS) of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) delivers this help to older visually impaired Montanans.
– Because of staff shortages, many older blind Montanans are presently waiting six months or longer to receive assistance.
– The demand for such life-enhancing services for the older blind in Montana far outpaces the supply. This situation leaves far too many Montanans unnecessarily isolated and without a support system,
–Samantha Chase, Missoula Chapter President, January 28th 2023