#MemberSpotlightMonday features the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, who was recently featured in a news story by KENS 5 on a new art exhibit at the Witte Museum called, “My Heart is Not Blind” by Michael Nye, comprised of 47 photos and associated 3-5 minute audio clips of blind individuals from across the U.S.
Today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday is IFB Solutions in Winston Salem, NC, who won the 2018 Employment Growth Award for hiring 63 new employees who are blind. Watch this video featuring the story of one great employee, Anastasia:
Today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday is the Valley Center for the Blind, serving folks who are blind and visually impaired in Fresno, California. We’re also thrilled to have their Executive Director, Ken Warkentin, join VisionServe’s board of directors this year. Welcome Ken!
Each year since 1879, Ex Officio Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind have journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky for the APH Annual Meeting. At first by steam locomotive, steamboat, and buggy, later by car and airplane, Trustees have traveled to Louisville to share their knowledge and experience with APH and with each other.
In today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday we’d like to thank our member American Printing House for the Blind for supporting our #VSAFallConf in Portland, OR. Known as “the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired,” check out their new free online crossword game:
In today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday post, we showcase Lighthouse of Broward County who has created a multi-sensory mural honoring Florida’s state bird, the mockingbird, utilizing boxy sensors installed above the art that produce sounds of the singing mockingbirds, and scents of orange citrus groves and fresh pine trees. The artwork also includes raised textures for touching.
October 15th is National White Cane Safety Day, so we thought we’d share the White Cane Law: “A totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a predominately white cane (with or without a red tip), or using a guide dog, shall have the right-of-way. The driver of any vehicle approaching this pedestrian, who fails to yield the right-of-way, or to take all responsibility necessary precautions to avoid injury to this blind pedestrian, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other applicable provision of law.” – Vehicle Code #21963 #NationalWhiteCaneSafetyDay
Today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday features our member Blinded Veterans Association and our corporate partner OrCam who were both spotlighted on today’s episode of Dr. Phil. US Veteran Scotty Smiley, blinded in Iraq in 2005, demonstrates how the OrCam MyEye 2 has changed his life, allowing him to read text, recognize faces, identify products and more. OrCam is offering a discount on their MyEye device through Wednesday. Click to learn more at: http://bit.ly/2IISwNT
Today’s #MemberSportlightMonday is about Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss in Duluth, Minnesota. They offer many great programs serving clients across the state, including a Transition Program open to youth 14 to 21 years of age who have visual impairment or blindness and are still in school. The photos below show some of the many activities participants enjoy: free use of a computer and technology training, cooking class, rock climbing and a city-wide scavenger hunt. https://www.lcfvl.org/transition
This #MemberSpotlightMonday we’d like to spotlight Joe Bogart, Executive Director of the Blinded Veterans Association. Joe retired from the U.S. Army as a Major after serving 28 years as a Combat Engineer. While serving in Iraq in 2006, he was wounded and left legally blind. In 2008, he again deployed to Iraq as the first Blind Service member to return to ground combat since the Civil War. After his retirement in 2018, he took over as the Executive Director for the Blinded Veterans Association. Joe also serves on the Board of Directors for the Missouri based Veteran Support Organization called Camp Hope. [photo below is Joe with his son] Find out more at their website, www.bva.org
by Roxann Mayros, President and CEO, VisionServe Alliance
In partnership with the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB), VisionServe Alliance has sponsored a Compensation and Benefits Survey biennially since 2010. This is the only survey in the field of blindness and low vision that provides data on executive and vision rehabilitation specific professions.
There are several nonprofit compensation surveys available these days, so why does VisionServe Alliance’s Board of Directors believe this survey is necessary and important? For a couple of reasons. First, there is a national shortage of vision rehabilitation professionals that provide rehabilitation training, travel skills, jobs, and educational services to people with vision loss, and no other organization is surveying this class of employees. In a limited market, it is important that VisionServe members have good salary/benefit information to help attract and retain the talent needed to reach their mission. Sometimes salary alone isn’t enough, and leaders need to know about the benefits other organizations are providing.
Second, because the IRS considers compensation to include the total of all income received by the CEO/Executive Director, including not only salary, but also contributions to retirement accounts, housing and car allowances, insurance premiums paid by the nonprofit to benefit the executive director only, and even club memberships if the membership primarily benefits the individual rather than the nonprofit (www.nonprofitcenter.org). This explains what sets VisionServe Alliance’s survey apart – we inquire about compensation AND benefits. Attracting top leaders to our member organizations is competitive and can be complicated, especially when the IRS Form 990 requires reporting about the “comparable” data used by an organization to justify salaries paid to an organization’s top compensated employees.
With 5 surveys under our belt – 2018 survey results were recently delivered to members and associates – we have observed a few important trends:
Despite political and economic turbulence throughout 2017, survey participants continue to experience and to reflect the strong demand for the services offered by nonprofits in the field of vision rehabilitation, education and employment.
Over 5 surveys (2010 – 2018), we continue to see a difference in pay between men and women, as well as a pattern of women relatively more often found as President/CEO/Executive Director of small organizations and men more often at large organizations. This appears to account for much of the overall difference in pay.
We were surprised to see that women made gains in 2018. When we grouped similarly sized organizations together, we found no pattern of pay differences between the men and women in each group. In fact, in some groups the average pay for women in the President/CEO/Executive Director is higher than the pay for men.
The great majority (83%) of survey participants expect to give regular pay increases over the next twelve months. The median overall annual pay increase reported is 3%. These numbers are almost identical to the results reported in previous surveys.
Around two-thirds (66%) of survey participants expect increased competition from other employers to attract and retain qualified employees during the next twelve months. Just over half (54%) plan to increase their regular, full-time workforce in the year ahead.
Our Compensation and Benefits Survey reflects both optimism and the challenges of finding, hiring, and staffing VisionServe Alliance member organizations, especially with shortages of teachers of the visually impaired and vision rehabilitation professionals.
If you did not participate in the survey and are a member of VisionServe Alliance or NAEPB, you may purchase a copy that is calibrated to your community’s local labor statistics for $250 by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not a member, you may purchase a copy for $500.
by Roxann Mayros, President and CEO, VisionServe Alliance
With most of the news focused on immigration issues, I was interested when a message from Independent Sector appeared in my in-box talking about a new series of articles and a Podcast focused on the Civil Society. I clicked in expecting to read about how the United States was founded and enhanced by people coming to these shores to participate in a democracy that is the envy of the entire world. I expected to read about diversity and immigration issues. What I did not expect to read was a new name to describe the work done by nonprofits. In my years of study – I have a Master’s and two certificates in Nonprofit Management/Leadership – I have heard the nonprofit world called the third sector, charitable sector, impact sector, voluntary sector, and nonprofit sector, but never the Civil Society, which Independent Sector describes as “private action in service of the public good—as opposed to public action for public good (which is government), or private action for private good (which is business).”
No matter what we call what we do, Independent Sector says that it all adds up to “1.5 million organizations that employ more than 11 million professionals, mobilize more than 63 million volunteers each year, and take in more than $390 billion in philanthropic donations annually, plus many hundreds of billions in government grants and contracts.” So, whatever we call ourselves, the nonprofit organizations in America touch every aspect of our daily lives in profound—though often unnoticed—ways.
Even so, we are in an era when, as a sector, we are facing challenges to the way we do business. Last year’s tax law disincentivizes the everyday donor from making charitable contributions. The tax law also made changes to the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) that could significantly increase nonprofits’ tax burden. And the potential repeal of the Johnson Amendment would open charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations to the demands for political endorsements, contributions, and other partisan electioneering activities. Dan Cardinelli, CEO of Independent Sector also identifies in his Blog posting about Civil Societies – https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_adaptive_challenge_of_restoring_trust_in_civil_society – other challenges, including the concentration of wealth in the top 1%, how we define community, and sharp increases in political and cultural polarization.
If you are reading this, and you are a nonprofit leader, I encourage you to follow these issues by reading VisionServe’s regular updates, looking at our website for news, and searching Google. Once you are up-to-date, contact your legislators to tell them NOT to repeal the Johnson Amendment, and then contact the IRS and ask them to clarify how the law should be interpreted because nonprofits are already expected to make payments on things like parking or transit passes and other fringe benefits. And finally, think about how you interact with your donor base – you must give them a reason to want to continue to donate to your organization even though most will no longer be able to itemize it on their income taxes.
Just as a diamond is generally cut as an inverted pyramid to create the greatest sparkle, management and workplace culture now is summoning that image when it comes to the organizational chart. The inverted pyramid flips the broad base into the position of the apex. Putting customers and employees at the top focuses light on quality of services. The people living with vision loss, and the direct service providers with whom they come in contact most closely, are at the apex of the organizational chart. In the business of Vision Rehabilitation, the diamonds among us are the certified professionals – CVRTs, COMS, CLVTs and CATIS – and other licensed highly skilled individuals essential to delivering comprehensive services.
However, we must be cognizant of an important difference between certified and licensed professionals. All States require licensure of certain occupations. They all do not require certification of vision rehabilitation practitioners. It is time to have a serious conversation about managing quality programs without the external stipulation.
Customers at the top: VisionServe Alliance members are the unique, expert providers of the specialized and individualized solutions required by blind or visually impaired consumers and their families. The message we need to convey to our customers is that they can safely take the leap of faith required to walk through our doors. Our promise is not restored sight, it is restored lives, and that promise has to be convincing.
Employees at the top: Riding on the shoulders of the people hired to provide services are the reputation of the organization, the success of its fundraising, the testimonials of excellent outcomes and even the relative cost-efficiency of service delivery. The sustainability of our organizations rests on the effectiveness of the employees.
Certification of direct service practitioners safeguards both the promise we make to our customers and the confidence of management that best practices are ensuring program quality. Certified Professionals = High Standards, Ethical Service, Commitment to Consumers, Stronger Program Outcomes.
With so much at stake, why are so many agencies not requiring certification as a condition of employment (within a certain time period after hiring), not supporting employees to pursue education to become certified, not requiring supervision by certified professionals? Is it time for every VisionServe agency to commit to this goal: ACVREP certification agency-wide, nation-wide?
Guest blog by Elly du Pré, DPA. Full disclosure: I am the Executive Director of Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, a consortium of the 18 nonprofits providing direct education and rehabilitation services to people who are blind or visually impaired. The State of Florida requires certification, and supervision by certified professionals in all contracts promulgated by the Division of Blind Services and in K – 12 schools. I also am the Treasurer of the Board of the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).