2015 Distinguished Service Award

  • Awarded
  • October 10, 2015

This year the National Federation of the Blind of Montana will inaugurate the Distinguished Service Award. This award will be presented to an individual or an entity who is not a member of our organization, but who has made a substantial contribution to improve the quality of life for the blind of Montana. This award will be given by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana at our annual state convention, but only as often as circumstances merit. This recognition represents the highest honor that can be given by our affiliate. The recipient of this award will be an individual or entity that we can regard as a true friend of the blind supportive of our progressive philosophy of blindness, instrumental in championing programs that will benefit the blind community of Montana, and dedicated to initiatives that will generate hope and promise for the blind of Montana in innumerable ways.

The National Federation of the Blind of Montana is pleased and proud to honor the Disability Employment and Transition Division (DET) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) with our first Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of its decision to provide continuing funding for NFB-Newsline in Montana.

What is NFB Newsline?

NFB-Newsline began in 1995 as a free electronic newspaper service available to people of all ages who are unable to read standard print due to visual, physical, or learning disabilities. Currently, NFB Newsline provides daily access to six Montana newspapers: The Billings Gazette, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, The Great Falls Tribune, The Missoulian, The Helena Independent Record, and the Montana Standard. In addition, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are also available on NFB-Newsline, along with over three hundred other newspapers and magazines nationwide, as well as job announcements, local TV listings, and other services. NFB-Newsline is available by telephone, email, on the web, or on IPhone or other mobile devices.

The original funding for NFB-Newsline in Montana was provided by the Montana Association for the Blind, the NFB of Montana affiliate at the time, and the Montana Talking Book Library. Then funding was provided by economic stimulus money through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. When those funds dried up, the national Federation of the Blind along with state affiliates carried the service. However, advocates for the service were desperate to find more permanent funding, and in the meantime, the lack of this funding nearly resulted in the loss of NFB-Newsline service in Montana.

Year after year, at annual town hall meetings and hearings, or through direct communications with Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services, Montanans made it abundantly clear that they wanted NFB-Newsline service to continue in Montana. The Disability Employment and Transition Division now funds NFB Newsline through their Services to Groups authority under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. The cost is approximately $32,000 per year. Montana became the 47th state to fund NFB-Newsline in this way.

Our First Distinguished Service Award

At our third annual convention in Great Falls, Montana, on October 10, 2015, the National Federation of the Blind of Montana takes great pleasure in awarding our first Distinguished Service Award to the Disability Employment and Transition Division of the Department of Health and Human Services, for its responsiveness to its constituents in providing ongoing funding for NFB-Newsline in Montana.