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Our Statement Endorsing the Open Letter of Apology from Mark Riccobono

Posted: December 24, 2020

Content warning: the following statement addresses sensitive topics regarding abuse.

In recent weeks, a number of brave survivors have shared stories about their experiences as members and/or participants in programs of the National Federation of the Blind, including the Colorado Center for the Blind and our other NFB training centers. We unequivocally pledge to listening and understanding the stories of those who have suffered harassment, abuse, and other violating experiences.

Meanwhile, you should know that we have already begun the process to do more than listen. We have already begun to review our policies, investigate whether they have been followed, update them as required, and create concrete procedures to ensure that we provide the most inclusive, welcoming, and safe and respectful environment possible for our students to grow and prosper.

In this process, we do not presume to have all of the knowledge necessary to bring about the transformation we want at our center but will invite outside consultants to help us. At the Colorado Center for the Blind, the safety and well-being of our students is priority one.

Our center board, staff, and executive team endorse the Open Letter of Apology from Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, that was published and widely distributed on December 16. We unwaveringly share in this apology. A link to President Riccobono’s letter is included here, and we ask that you read it since it represents both the commitment of the National Federation of the Blind and our NFB training centers, including the Colorado Center for the Blind, to address possible improprieties and do everything we can to avoid them in the future.

Because of its importance we reiterate that we are steadfastly committed to protecting our students and staff from harm while involved with our programs, including sexual misconduct or violence. As a highly successful structured discovery training center, we are listening with our hearts and are prepared to act.

We will move heaven and earth to see that the verifiable experiences we are reading and hearing about are used to build a safer and better program. We pledge to make the changes necessary so that we continue to be a high quality training facility which enables blind people to lead lives of independence and pride, and not to be artificially limited by our blindness.

— The Board of Directors of the Colorado Center for the Blind
Julie Deden, Executive Director

Diane McGeorge
Scott C. LaBarre
James Gashel
Gary Wunder
Michael Hingson
Maureen Nietfeld
Peter Slatin
Kevan Worley