The UB Regional Institute has partnered with the Industries for the Blind of New York State (IBNYS) to assess the benefits of its services to the overall state economy as well as individuals who are blind. The first and largest such program in the nation, the nonprofit IBNYS and its eight affiliated agencies provide blind persons with rehabilitation alongside the production and sale of goods and services ranging from office supplies and work garments to call centers and computer technology training. The agencies then sell these blind-made products to public entities across the state based on a “preferred-source vendor” law, which mandates that state agencies and local subdivisions purchase, where available, commodities “produced, manufactured or assembled” by New Yorkers who are blind.
The report, released in December 2011, presents a comprehensive assessment of the economic and quality-of-life impacts leveraged by IBNYS and its affiliated agencies. In addition to total economic output, jobs created, local business partnerships and the production of a diverse array of goods and services, the report assesses potential impacts based on projections to double employment of New Yorkers who are blind within the next five years. The report looks behind the numbers to tell the stories of individuals employed by these agencies and the benefits they have experienced in terms of economic opportunity, career advancement and quality of life.