GENERAL LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS

Chapter 6: Section 129. Massachusetts commission for the blind; composition; cooperation with federal agency; commissioner; advisory board.

Section 129. There shall be a commission for the blind, to be known as the Massachusetts commission for the blind, in this section and in sections one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive, called the commission, consisting of a commissioner of the blind and an advisory board of five members as hereinafter described. The commission shall cooperate with the United States Department of Education or its successors in the administration of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act and may expend such state, federal or other funds as are available for such purpose. The commissioner for the blind shall be appointed by the secretary of health and human services, with the approval of the governor for a term of five years and until his successor is duly appointed and qualified. The position of commissioner shall be classified in accordance with section forty-five of chapter thirty and the salary shall be determined in accordance with section forty-six C of said chapter thirty and he shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office during business hours.

The advisory board shall consist of five persons, qualified by training, experience, or demonstrated interest in the amelioration of the condition of the blind to be appointed by the secretary of health and human services, with the approval of the governor, for a term of five years. Upon expiration of the term of any member, his successor shall be appointed in like manner for a term of five years. Said members of the advisory board shall elect their chairman and shall meet at least once a month. They shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. If any member is absent from three regularly scheduled monthly meetings in any one calendar year, his office as a member of said board shall be deemed vacant. The chairman of the board shall forthwith notify the secretary of health and human services that such vacancy exists.

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Chapter 6: Section 130. Commissioner's duties and powers; supervisors; divisions and directors; assistance to blind persons; funeral expenses.

Section 130. The commissioner shall be the executive and administrative head of the commission. The commissioner shall have charge of the administration and enforcement of all laws which it is the duty of the commission to administer and enforce. The commissioner may appoint and remove supervisors. The compensation of such supervisors shall be determined by the personnel administrator in the division of personnel administration. The commissioner, subject to appropriation, may also appoint and remove such other agents, teachers and clerks as may be necessary but no person employed or appointed by him shall be a member of the advisory board.

The commissioner may establish divisions and appoint directors as he deems necessary and such assistants and consultants as may from time to time be necessary to enable him to perform his duties. The commissioner may ameliorate the condition of the blind by devising means to facilitate the circulation of books, by promoting visits among the aged or helpless blind in their homes, by aiding individual blind persons in accordance with sections one hundred and thirty-one to one hundred and thirty-one E, inclusive, or by other means as he may deem expedient.

The commission may, if no other means are available, pay for the expense of the funeral and burial of blind persons aided under this section, a sum not exceeding eleven hundred dollars, provided that the total expense of the funeral and burial does not exceed fifteen hundred dollars; and provided, further, that any payment made by said commission shall be reduced by whatever resources may exist in the estate of such deceased blind person. Payment under this section may be made directly to the person furnishing such service.

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Chapter 6: Section 131. Financial assistance program; eligibility, restriction; payment levels.

Section 131. The commission shall administer a program of financial assistance for blind persons who reside within the commonwealth. Such assistance, which shall be called state supplementary payments, shall be based on need and granted in supplementation of benefits granted by the federal government to blind individuals, under the provisions of title XVI of the federal Social Security Act and amendments thereto. Such assistance shall be granted to persons who, on account of blindness, qualify for supplemental security income granted pursuant to said title XVI and may, based on need, be granted to individuals who would, but for their income, be eligible for such supplemental security income.

No assistance under this section shall be granted to an applicant who, at any time within two years immediately prior to the filing of an application for such assistance, has made an assignment or transfer or who has mortgaged or otherwise encumbered property so as to render himself eligible for such assistance.

The commissioner shall establish, subject to the approval of the secretary of the executive office of human services, standard levels for state supplementary payments for the blind. Such payments may vary by marital status and by living arrangements to the extent allowed by said title XVI and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
No person receiving assistance under this section shall be prohibited from receiving benefits under the federal Food Stamp Act solely because of his status as a recipient of such assistance.

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Chapter 6: Section 131A. State supplementary payments; annual increases.

Section 131A. State supplementary payments for the blind shall be maintained at levels which increase annually at the same rate as state supplementary payments for the aged and disabled under section two of chapter one hundred and eighteen A.

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Chapter 6: Section 131B. Federal agreement.

Section 131B. The commissioner shall enter into an agreement with the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, under which said Secretary shall, on behalf of the commonwealth, administer the program of state supplementary payments for the blind authorized by section one hundred and thirty-one. Such agreement shall be in the form of and satisfy the requirements for the agreement which, under section three of chapter one hundred and eighteen A, the commissioner of public welfare shall execute for the administration of state supplementary payments for the aged and disabled.

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Chapter 6: Section 131C. Applications; eligibility for assistance.

Section 131C. An application to the Social Security Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services for supplemental security income benefits on account of blindness pursuant to title XVI of the federal Social Security Act shall be deemed an application for state supplementary payment provided for the blind. Eligibility for assistance under section one hundred and thirty-one of an individual or couple meeting federal qualifications for more than one category of assistance shall be determined in accordance with federal law.

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Chapter 6: Section 131D. Monthly advancements to health and human services; audit.

Section 131D. There shall be advanced from the state treasury to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services prior to the first day of each month an amount equal to said Secretary's estimate of state supplementary payments for the blind for such month. The commissioner shall conduct, once in each fiscal year, an audit of such payments made by said Secretary on behalf of the commonwealth.

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Chapter 6: Section 131E. Medical assistance program; eligibility.

Section 131E. The commission shall administer a program of medical assistance for blind persons who reside in the commonwealth which shall in all respects be consistent with title XIX of the federal Social Security Act and amendments thereto, and with chapter one hundred and eighteen E and the state medical care plan and regulations established thereunder. The benefits of the program shall be available to all persons eligible for supplemental security income payments on account of blindness under the provisions of title XVI of the federal Social Security Act or for assistance under section one hundred and thirty-one. Such benefits shall be available to all others who would be eligible for financial assistance under either of the foregoing provisions but for income or resources, provided they meet the requirements of financial eligibility established pursuant to said chapter one hundred and eighteen E.

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Chapter 6: Section 131F. Fraudulent procuring of payments; penalties.

Section 131F. Any person or institution which knowingly makes a false representation to the commissioner or his agents, for the purpose of causing any persons, including the person making such representations, to be supported in whole or in part by the commonwealth, or for the purpose of procuring a payment under this chapter, or by fraudulent means obtains any such payment, shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year.

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Chapter 6: Section 131G. Vouchers submitted by vendors.

Section 131G. All vouchers submitted by a vendor under the medical assistance program authorized by section one hundred and thirty-one E shall be signed under the penalties of perjury; provided, however, that an institution, as defined in clause (d) of section two of chapter one hundred and eighteen E, may, in lieu of this requirement, agree in writing with the commissioner that its books and records will be available for inspection at all reasonable times by the commissioner with respect to services rendered under said assistance program.

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Chapter 6: Section 131H. Violations by vendor; ineligibility period.

Section 131H. Any vendor procuring a payment under the medical assistance program authorized by section one hundred and thirty-one E who violates any of the provisions of section one hundred and thirty-one F shall be ineligible to participate further in the program for a period of three years next subsequent to the date of said violation. However, a vendor shall not be considered in violation of section one hundred and thirty-one F upon submission of proof, to the satisfaction of the commissioner, that such violation was due solely to a clerical or administrative error.

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Chapter 6: Section 131I. Return of payments by ineligible recipients or vendors required.

Section 131I. Any recipient or vendor who receives any payment under this chapter to which he is not entitled, shall return such payment to the commonwealth by paying the same to the state treasurer as soon as demand is made upon him.

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Chapter 6: Section 131J. Rules and regulations for administration of secs. 129-149.

Section 131J. The commissioner shall promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary or desirable for the administration of sections one hundred and twenty-nine to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive.

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Chapter 6: Section 132. Advances to commissioner.

Section 132. There may be advanced annually to the commissioner from the state treasury, from the amount appropriated for the maintenance of the industries established by the commissioner such sum, approved by the governor, as may be necessary to be used as a working capital for said industries. Said sum when drawn from the treasury shall be deposited in a national bank or trust company to the credit of the commissioner, who shall give a bond in such sum and with sureties as the governor may approve.

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Chapter 6: Section 133. Definitions applicable to secs. 133A-133F.

Section 133. The following words and phrases, wherever used in sections one hundred and thirty-three A to one hundred and thirty-three F, inclusive, shall unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context have the following meanings:

  1. (1) "Blind persons", a person who, after examination by a physician or by an optometrist, whichever such person shall select, has been determined to have
    • not more than 20/200 central visual acuity in the better eye with correcting lenses, or
    • an equally disabling loss of the visual field as evidenced by a limitation
      to the field of vision in the better eye to such a degree that its widest diameter subtends an angle of no greater than twenty per cent.
  2. "Commission", the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.
  3. "Commissioner", the commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.
  4. "Jurisdiction", the control of the maintenance, operation and protection of public buildings and property of the commonwealth.
  5. "Public buildings or property", any building, land, or other real property owned by any department or agency of the commonwealth, or any counties thereof, with the exception of any building, land, or other real property under the jurisdiction of any state college, state university, or state institution of higher learning.
  6. "Vending facility", snack bars, cart service, shelters, counters, and such other appropriate auxiliary equipment which may be operated by blind licensees and which is necessary for the sale of newspapers, periodicals, confections, tobacco products, foods, beverages, and other articles or services dispensed automatically or manually and prepared on or off the premises in accordance with all applicable health laws, and including the vending or exchange of chances for any lottery authorized by law, and conducted by any agency of the commonwealth.
  7. "Vendor", a blind person licensed by the commission for the blind to operate a vending facility under the terms of the Randolph-Shepard Act.
  8. "Randolph-Shepard Act", the Randolph-Shepard Vending Stand Act (Pub. L. 74-732) as amended by Pub. L. 83-565 and Pub. L. 93-516, 20 U. S. C. Ch. 6A, Sec. 107.
  9. "Randolph-Shepard Vending Facilities Program", the program for the operation of vending facilities by blind persons established by the Randolph-Shepard Act.
  10. "State licensing agency", the state agency designated by the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration under the regulations implementing the Randolph-Shepard Act to issue licenses to blind persons for the operation of vending facilities on federal and other property.

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Chapter 6: Section 133A. Duties of officers, boards or authorities in charge of state buildings or property.

Section 133A. The officer, board or other authority in charge of any buildings or property of the commonwealth, or any county thereof, with the exception of any building, land, or other real property under the jurisdiction of any state college, state university, or state institution of higher learning, notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary: (Amended by 1986, 557, Sec. 7.)

  1. Shall adopt such policies and take such actions as may be necessary to assure that blind persons licensed by the commission for the blind will be given preference in the establishment and operation of vending facilities on property under their jurisdiction.
  2. Shall cooperate with the commission in surveys of property and buildings under their control in order to find suitable locations for the operation of vending facilities by blind persons, and after it has been determined that there is need for a vending facility and after the commission has determined that such a facility may be properly and satisfactorily operated by a blind person, shall cooperate with the commission in the installation of such vending facility.
  3. Shall no later than December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and eighty-three, notify the commission in writing of any and all existing locations where vending facilities might be operated by the commission under the Randolph-Shepard Vending Facility Program.
  4. Shall no less than thirty days prior to the reactivation or licensing for the operation of any vending facility inform the commission of such contemplated action.

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Chapter 6: Section 133B. Powers and duties of commission.

Section 133B. In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the commission:

  1. Shall prescribe such regulations as are consistent with the Randolph-Shepard act and may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this act.
  2. Shall conduct surveys to find locations where vending facilities may be properly and satisfactorily operated by blind persons who are participants in the Randolph-Shepard Vending Facilities Program and shall establish vending facilities as it deems appropriate.
  3. Shall provide such management and supervisory services as it deems necessary to assure that each vending facility will be operated in the most effective and productive manner possible.
  4. Shall provide plans and specifications for proposed vending facilities and equipment to the appropriate officer, board or authority for approval prior to installation, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.
  5. Shall take any such other action as the commissioner may deem necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

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Chapter 6: Section 133C. New construction, remodeling, etc., of public buildings or properties, vending facilities.

Section 133C. To effectuate further the purposes of this act, when new construction, remodeling, leasing, acquisition or improvement of public buildings or properties with the exception of any building, land, or other real property under the jurisdiction of any state college, state university, or state institution of higher learning is authorized, the agency directing such construction, remodeling, leasing, acquisition or improvement, shall, when plans include provisions to dispense food products, make available suitable space and facilities for vending facilities to be operated therein by blind persons licensed by the commission for the blind pursuant to the provisions of this chapter

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Chapter 6: Section 133D. Rental or other charge for operation of vending facility.

Section 133D. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, no rental or other charge shall be demanded, assessed, exacted, required or received for the granting of authority to a vendor licensed by the commission for the blind to operate a vending facility pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

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Chapter 6: Section 133E. Existing vending facilities; removal or non-renewal of lease.

Section 133E. In buildings and properties where a vending facility now exists the present operator shall not be removed nor shall he be precluded in any way from exercising any renewal of his existing lease.

Chapter 6, Section 133F. Repealed, 1983, 636, Sec. 1.

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Chapter 6: Section 133G. Braille instruction for registrants; assessment.

Section 133G. The Massachusetts commission for the blind shall offer Braille instruction to its registrants; provided, however, that at a minimum such instruction shall be available at sufficient frequency and duration to afford such registrants an opportunity to learn Braille at the grade two Braille level. Vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs provided by the commission shall include within standard client evaluation a written assessment of the appropriateness of Braille instruction. Such assessment shall include:

  1. the person's efficiency in reading and writing print as compared with a person of similar intellectual ability;
  2. the person's stamina in using print before fatigue occurs; and
  3. the person's prognosis for further sight loss. For purposes of this section "grade two Braille" shall mean a system of Braille used by the Library of Congress for the production of Braille materials, in which short forms and contractions of words or groups of words are used regularly.

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Chapter 6: Section 134. Purchase of articles made by blind persons for use in state and other public institutions; release.

Section 134. The state purchasing agent, such officers in charge of state institutions as may be authorized by him to make purchases and officers in charge of other public institutions shall purchase brooms, mops and other supplies, other than products of prison labor, from the commission of the blind; provided, that the commission has the same for sale and that they were assembled, manufactured or otherwise produced by persons under the supervision of the commission or in industrial schools or workshops under its supervision. Said purchasing agent and officers shall, when employing persons for piano tuning, cane seating or mattress renovating, employ persons who are under the supervision of said commission or who work in any such industrial school or workshop. Any officer who willfully refuses or neglects to comply with any requirement of this section relative to the purchase of articles and employment of persons shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. The term "public institutions", as used in this section, shall include all offices, departments and institutions of the several counties, cities and towns. The commissioner may issue a release from the provisions of this section upon request of the purchasing officer of a county, city or town, when convenience or emergency requires it.

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Chapter 6: Section 135. Register of the blind; identification card; acceptance to verify identity; information displayed.

Section 135. The commissioner of the commission for the blind shall maintain a register of the blind in the commonwealth which shall describe therein the condition, cause of blindness and capacity for education and industrial training. Said register shall be maintained on a current basis so as to give information which will aid in planning improved facilities and services to the blind and restoration and conservation of sight. Any identification card issued by said commissioner providing that a blind person may receive free transportation shall not contain any statement requiring that the blind person shall be accompanied by a guide. The contents of the register shall be released only under such circumstances and conditions as the commissioner may establish by regulation.

Any person who accepts a motor vehicle operator's license to verify the identity of another person for the purpose of granting credit and, including but not limited to, the cashing of checks, shall extend the same acceptance to the identification card issued by the commission under this section to legally blind residents of the commonwealth. Identification cards issued by the commission under this section shall display, with the exception of class of operator, the same information as appears on a Massachusetts motor vehicle operator's license.

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Chapter 6: Section 136. Reports of medical authorities establishing blindness.

Section 136. Whenever, upon examination at a clinic, hospital or other institution, or elsewhere, by a physician or optometrist, the visual acuity of any person is found to be with correction 20/200 or less in the better eye, or the peripheral field of his vision to have contracted to the ten degrees radius or less regardless of visual acuity, the superintendent of such institution, or the physician, optometrist or other person who conducted or was in charge of the examination if it took place elsewhere than in such an institution, shall within thirty days report to the commissioner the result of the examination and that blindness of the person has been established. The failure to report to the commissioner within said thirty days shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars.

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Chapter 6: Section 137. Applicants for medical assistance who do not qualify for cash assistance under sec. 131; determination as "blind".

Section 137. Upon receipt of an application for medical assistance from a blind individual who does not qualify for cash assistance under the provisions of section one hundred and thirty-one, the commission shall determine whether said individual meets the definition of "blind" in title XVI of the federal Social Security Act and the regulations established thereunder.

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Chapter 6: Section 138. Solicitations for benefit of blind; license; appeal from refusal to issue.

Section 138. The commissioner, upon written application stating the purpose and manner of raising funds, the time during which it is proposed to solicit, and the time and place of any proposed entertainment or game, may issue licenses to raise funds for the benefit of the blind. He may order a hearing on any such application, and may require such public notice thereof to be given as he deems expedient. If the commissioner has reasonable grounds for believing that a violation of law is intended, or that the granting of the license will not be for the public interest, he may refuse to issue the same. Every such license shall contain the name of the applicant, the purpose for which it is granted, and the period, which shall not exceed one year, for which it is issued. Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the commissioner to issue such a license may appeal to the advisory board of the commission, whose decision shall be final.

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Chapter 6: Section 139. Prohibition on solicitation for benefit of blind without a license; statement and display of license.

Section 139. No person shall offer for sale tags, tickets, souvenirs, or other merchandise, or conduct an entertainment or game, or otherwise solicit funds, for the benefit of any blind person or group of blind persons, without a license under section one hundred and thirty-eight. Whoever receives such a license shall cause to appear upon every article sold thereunder, and shall post in a conspicuous place near the entrance of any building where an entertainment or game is to be held thereunder, a statement that such sale, entertainment or game has been duly licensed by the commissioner, and shall comply with all rules and regulations made by said commissioner under authority of section one hundred and forty.

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Chapter 6: Section 140. Rules and regulations relative to fund raising for blind; provision for penalties.

Section 140. The commissioner may make rules and regulations relative to the conduct of sales, entertainments, soliciting campaigns and other methods of raising funds for the benefit of blind persons, and may by such rules and regulations limit the amount of commissions and other compensation to be received by persons engaged in raising such funds. Such rules and regulations may provide penalties for the violation thereof not exceeding a fine of five hundred dollars for any particular offense.

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Chapter 6: Section 141. Penalty for violation of rules regulating solicitations for blind.

Section 141. Whoever violates any provision of section one hundred and thirty-nine shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than one year, or both. A conviction of any such violation shall be reported forthwith by the court or magistrate to the commissioner, who may revoke the license of any licensed person so convicted.

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Chapter 6: Section 142. Exemptions and inapplicability of sections governing solicitation for blind.

Section 142. Sections one hundred and thirty-eight to one hundred and forty-one, inclusive, shall not apply to Perkins School for the Blind, or to any organization incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth prior to January first, nineteen hundred and thirty-eight, and theretofore engaged in work for the blind; nor shall the provision of said sections restrict any blind person in the pursuit of a gainful occupation if he does not hold out his blindness as an inducement of patronage, or prohibit the featuring of blind artists at duly licensed places of amusements, or at entertainments for the benefit of charitable, benevolent or religious organizations not subject to said sections.

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Chapter 6: Section 143. Schools and workshops.

Section 143. The commissioner shall, with the approval of the governor, establish, equip and maintain schools for the industrial training of blind persons and workshops for their training and employment. He may pay suitable wages to the employees of such schools and workshops and may devise means for the sale and distribution of products of such schools and workshops.

The commissioner shall establish standards for the assignment and compensation of blind workers and trainees, for the closure of such workshops as he determines are incapable of becoming financially viable, and the transfer of blind workers to private nonprofit, or similar, workshops for the employment of handicapped persons. Any blind worker so transferred may elect, in lieu of accepting such transfer, to retire under the provisions of chapter six hundred and sixty-nine of the acts of nineteen hundred and fifty-seven and shall, regardless of age or years in employment, be regarded as meeting the eligibility requirements of that statute.

No blind worker or trainee shall be compensated according to a standard which results in that person receiving less than the minimum wage required by 29 USC 206.

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Chapter 6: Section 144. Support of workmen and pupils at workshops; pupils from other states.

Section 144. The commissioner may provide or pay for temporary lodgings and temporary support for workmen or pupils received at any industrial school or workshop and may contribute to the support of pupils from the commonwealth receiving instruction in institutions outside thereof. The commissioner, with the advice of the advisory board, may subsidize the earnings of blind employees in any such school or workshop. He may receive in schools established by the commission pupils from other states upon the payment of such fees as it may determine.

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Chapter 6: Section 145. Study of problems relating to blindness; investigations; contact with physicians and other qualified facilities.

Section 145.

  1. The commission shall continuously study the problems relating to blindness and make investigations, demonstrations and reports thereon, and shall establish and maintain contact with physicians and other qualified persons or facilities available to render competent services to the blind.
  2. The commission may establish and operate rehabilitation facilities and workshops for the blind, and make grants to public and contracts with private nonprofit organizations for such purposes and employ such other means as the commissioner may deem appropriate for the amelioration of the condition of blindness.
  3. The commission may supervise the operation of small business enterprises established to provide employment for blind persons. (d) The commission shall make an annual report.

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Chapter 6: Section 146. Commission divisions or bureaus; organizations and functions.

Section 146. There shall be in the commission such divisions or bureaus as the commissioner shall deem necessary to carry out the provisions of sections one hundred and twenty-nine to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive. The commissioner shall organize such divisions or bureaus and may assign to them such functions as he deems advisable.

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Chapter 6: Section 147. Cooperation with federal departments; development of state plans.

Section 147. In carrying out the provisions of section one hundred and twenty-nine to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive, the commission shall cooperate with the secretaries of the United States Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and shall develop state plans including such methods of administration as are found by said secretaries and the commission to be necessary for the proper and efficient operation of said sections one hundred and twenty-nine to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive, to assure that the benefits of all federal laws may be available to the commonwealth and its citizens.

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Chapter 6: Section 148. Acceptance and use of gifts.

Section 148. The commission is hereby authorized and empowered to accept and use gifts made unconditionally by will or otherwise for carrying out the provisions of sections one hundred and twenty-nine to one hundred and forty-nine, inclusive. Gifts made under such conditions as in the judgment of the commission are proper and consistent with said provisions may be so accepted and shall be held, invested, reinvested and the principal and interest may be used in accordance with the conditions of the gift and may be expended under the order or the approval of the commission without specific appropriation.

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Chapter 6: Section 149. Records concerning blind persons; custody, use and preservation.

Section 149. The commission shall have power to establish and to enforce reasonable rules and regulations governing the custody, use and preservation of the records, papers and files and communications of the commission concerning blind persons. No other department, bureau or agency of the commonwealth or of any political subdivision thereof, which, under any provision of law is furnished with the names of recipients of aid to the blind, shall permit the publication of lists of such names or make use thereof for purposes not directly connected with the administration of aid to the blind.

Chapter 6, Section 150. Repealed, 1973, 1210, Sec. 8.


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.