IFB Solutions has been serving the blind community since 1936, and now we face a grave threat to our mission of employing, training and serving people who are blind or visually impaired.
On June 3, 2019, we were notified by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that it would begin terminating our long-standing contracts to produce eyeglasses for military veterans and their families. These contracts, which IFB Solutions has held since 2000, provide employment for 137 IFB Solutions employees who work in our optical lab, including 76 people who are blind and 15 veterans. Together, our employees produce with great pride approximately 1,200 pairs of eyeglasses each day.
The VA’s contracting decisions are the result of procurement policy changes following a recent court order that the Rule of Two as currently outlined in the Veterans Benefits Act gives priority to veteran-owned companies over AbilityOne nonprofits like IFB Solutions. IFB Solutions has been fighting that legal interpretation for three years (see Quick Facts & Timeline here).
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IFB Solutions optical lab employee Scott Smith, who is blind and a veteran, shares the importance of raising our voices to protect jobs for people who are blind.