IFB Solutions has been serving people who are blind since 1936, and since 2016, we’ve been working with National Industries for the Blind and other agencies to address a grave threat to our mission of employing, training and serving people who are blind or visually impaired.
At the core of this threat are contracts awarded by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to AbilityOne nonprofit agencies like IFB Solutions for work that supports the VA, more than 20 million military veterans, and their families. Veterans are not just a population IFB Solutions has served for two decades by manufacturing millions of pairs of glasses, but also a significant part of our employee base. To read their individual stories, click here.
On August 6, 2020 President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Contracting Preference Consistency Act passed by Congress on July 20, 2020. This legislation will help protect the existing, longstanding VA contracts held by AbilityOne nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.
Unfortunately, this legislation 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.
The impact to our employees has been significant, made even more difficult by the global pandemic. Approximately 80 positions were eliminated in the optical lab with the loss of our VA contracts and another 49 positions were lost in the lab due to the pandemic.
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.
On August 8th, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed a bill into law that protects jobs for people who are blind. Thank you to our lawmakers and community who supported us along the way.