Industries For The Blind Of New York State
Industries For The Blind Of New York State, or IBNYS, was a non-profit organization established in 1946. Its purpose was to provide meaningful employment opportunities for New Yorkers who were blind or visually impaired. Based out of Sarasota Springs, IBNYS sold products to state agencies through NYSPSP, the New York State Preferred Source Program.
The Preferred Source Program was created through a provision in the Finance Law of 1946, which gave organizations working through NYSPSP the opportunity to supply goods to state agencies first, before other suppliers, as a means of encouraging employment for people with disabilities. IBNYS worked with eight different suppliers that provided rehabilitation and employment, and handled the marketing, contracting, billing, collection, and administration for its affiliates.
Products Made By The Blind
NYPSP offers a wide range of products made by blind workers, which are available for order on their website. This includes cleaning supplies like bottles, mops, soaps, and sponges, as well as office supplies like batteries, USB drives, rubber bands, and memo books. Also available are flags for schools, along with safety equipment like flashlights and safety vests. Certain medical supplies are provided by the organization, as well as toner cartridges used in offices.
Because the law mandates purchasing from the program, organizations that employ the blind and disabled are exempt from competitive procurement laws, and do not have to offer bids, guaranteeing employment opportunities, although prices have to be no more than 15% above market value in order to gain this status. Though the program has been very successful, there are multiple organizations which provide employment, such as NYSID, and state agencies can make their own purchasing decisions like any entity.
Industries For The Blind of NYS v. The State of New York
In 2005, IBNYS was commissioned to provide ponchos and sandals for Cave of the Winds, an attraction at Niagara Falls. Though IBNYS provided more than 450,000 pairs of sandals, the attraction experienced a greater need that season, and IBNYS could not fulfill additional emergency orders in time. Because a lack of these items would cause the attraction to close, a different vendor was used at an increased cost. Cave of the Winds continued to accept the products from IBNYS as they were delivered, but did not pay the associated invoices, so IBNYS filed suit for the approximately $480,000 that was still outstanding. While under normal circumstances, Cave of the Winds would be entitled to pay a reduced cost due to the late delivery, the court ruled that they were liable for the entire amount because of an email in which they said they would accept delivery "regardless of the time it takes." Therefore, full payment was required.
State Changes Administrators
On December 26, 2012, The New York State Office of General Services announced that the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped would be working with a new organization for the New York State Preferred Source Program for people who are blind. This effectively ended their relationship with IBNYS. The agency entered into a new agreement with National Industries for the Blind to work within its guidelines for providing the products listed in its catalog. National Industries for the Blind, or NIB, is a national organization that has been operating since 1938, creating and managing employment opportunities for the blind through the AbilityOne Program.
Dissolution of IBNYS
After the termination of its relationship with the state, Industries For The Blind Of New York State dissolved in 2014. They donated their remaining assets to the American Foundation for the Blind, a national organization dedicated to promoting research into technological advances and advocating for opportunities for the blind and visually impaired. Though its work with the state has finished, IBNYS helped its supplying non-profit agencies to thrive, and ensured that blind workers were able to find employment and develop skills, a remarkable contribution to the State of New York.