WINSTON-SALEM, NC (August 10, 2020) – Today provides bittersweet closure to our nearly four-year effort to protect jobs for employees who are blind or visually impaired working in our optical lab and supporting IFB’s long-standing contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs. President Donald J. Trump has signed into law H.R. 4920, the Department of Veterans Affairs Contracting Preference Consistency Act.
This legislation will help protect existing, longstanding VA contracts held by AbilityOne nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind or have other significant disabilities, but it does not enable IFB Solutions to regain the VA contracts lost last fall or all of the optical lab jobs supporting those contracts.
The legislation was amended by the U.S. Senate earlier this year to exclude contracts that have already been terminated by the VA as is the case for IFB Solutions. Agreeing to the amendment was important to enabling swift approvals thereby saving as many current VA contracts held by our fellow AbilityOne agencies as possible.
Going forward, we’ll continue to pursue new contract opportunities, especially commercial opportunities outside of the federal marketplace. Our comprehensive optical lab services, trained employees and mission of creating life-changing opportunities for people who are blind are tremendous advantages as we go after new business.
We want to thank the Winston-Salem community and our North Carolina legislators, including Representatives Virginia Foxx and Mark Walker who worked on the initial legislation first passed by the U.S. House along with Senator Thom Tillis who serves as a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Their efforts were incredibly instrumental in the passage of H.R. 4920. We also want to thank Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines for his support as we pursued both legislative and judicial solutions. And, most importantly, we want to thank the Winston-Salem community for your letters of support, your financial support as donors, and for the purchases you make at our Twenty200 Eyewear retail store that help maintain our optical lab operations.f
Additional information about IFB Solutions’ fight to protect jobs for people who are blind can be found here.
ABOUT IFB SOLUTIONS
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab and operates a retail location in Winston-Salem. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org