National Federation of the Blind

Resolutions for 2015

Resolution 2015-01

Regarding Proposed Department of Justice Regulations on Access to the Internet

WHEREAS, today access to the internet is critical for successful participation in education, employment, and other pursuits and in recognition of this reality the United States Department of Justice issued an advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on July 26, 2010, proposing to issue regulations applying the Americans with Disabilities Act to public accommodations that have a presence on the internet; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice took no further action on this rulemaking and later announced that a proposed rule would not be issued until March of 2015; and

WHEREAS, in June of 2015 no further action had taken place and the Department of Justice announced that the rulemaking will be further delayed until sometime after July of 2016, more than six years after the notice was first published: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization declare that the Obama administration’s failure to issue this critical rulemaking is inexcusable; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind demand that the Department of Justice immediately issue a robust regulation ensuring blind Americans’ full and equal access to the products and services of all public accommodations as defined by the ADA that are made available using the internet.

Resolution 2015-02

Regarding the Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled

WHEREAS, in June 2013 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) convened a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in order to deliberate on a treaty to address the book famine plaguing over three hundred million blind, low-vision, and print-disabled people across the globe, who are denied access to more than 95 percent of published works; and

WHEREAS, this grossly limited access to books is partly the result of a fragmented landscape of copyright laws, where one-third of the world’s nations have copyright exceptions to allow for the copying and distributing of books in accessible formats for the blind, like the Chaffee Amendment and Fair Use provision of the US Copyright Act, provisions which were adopted after significant advocacy by the National Federation of the Blind, while two-thirds of the world’s nations have no such exceptions; and

WHEREAS, this chaotic landscape has further exacerbated the lack of access to books by limiting cross-border exchanges between nations that have exceptions and those that do not, making possession of an accessible format copy illegal in the latter nations and also by limiting exchanges between nations that have exceptions because the laws are not consistent; and

WHEREAS, the document adopted on June 27, 2013, now known as the Marrakesh Treaty, calls for contracting parties to adopt copyright exceptions similar to the Chafee Amendment, creating a streamlined, global copyright apparatus through which each nation permits authorized entities to reproduce copyrighted materials in accessible formats, distribute those works to beneficiary persons, import accessible copies from other nations, and export copies to other nations; and 

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind was one of the key negotiators in Marrakesh, expressing strong support for the treaty, which was signed by the United States on October 2, 2013; and

WHEREAS, in order to ratify the treaty and for the United States to become a contracting party, the US Senate must support ratification with a two-thirds majority and the Congress as a whole must implement any legislation deemed necessary by the administration to bring US law fully into compliance with the treaty; and

WHEREAS, ratification can be jeopardized if the implementing legislation package is so unduly complex that it incites controversy amongst stakeholder groups and creates a partisan divide, an outcome that can be avoided if the administration sticks to its communicated plan to call only for “sleek and narrow” changes to US law or considers adopting the American Bar Association’s position that no changes to US law are necessary for ratification; and

WHEREAS, the treaty currently has eighty-one signatories and has been ratified by eight countries, a positive trend that the United States can both influence and should want to be a part of: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we urge the Obama administration and its interagency working group to complete and transmit without delay the ratification and implementing legislation package to the US Senate, calling for minimal or no changes to US law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the US Senate to ratify the treaty as quickly as possible, and help put an end to the book famine.

Resolution 2015-03

Regarding Amazon Whispercast and Kindle eBooks

WHEREAS, despite years of attempts by the National Federation of the Blind to assist and educate Amazon, it has repeatedly failed to make its Kindle ebook readers and platforms fully accessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, in 2012 Amazon announced an initiative to promote aggressively the placement of inaccessible Kindle ereaders in the hands of school children; and

WHEREAS, Amazon created a content delivery system that enables teachers more easily to distribute inaccessible content in the Kindle ebook format, further limiting the opportunities for blind people to participate in classroom instruction; and 

WHEREAS, in response to Amazon’s launch of Whispercast, this organization protested before Amazon’s headquarters and implored the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, to make Kindle ereaders and platforms accessible to blind students; and

WHEREAS, after Amazon failed to respond meaningfully to our concerns, the following year this organization wrote to the state superintendents of education in all fifty states to explain that Whispercast and Kindle ebooks are inaccessible to blind students and that adoption of Kindle ebooks in schools would place blind students at a significant disadvantage and violate the law; and

WHEREAS, despite these and other efforts by the National Federation of the Blind over many years, Amazon has failed to make Kindle ebooks fully accessible to the blind, particularly for academic reading, to the extent that some Kindle etextbooks are completely unreadable with text-to-speech or a refreshable Braille display; and

WHEREAS, in April 2015 Amazon announced the launch of Whispercast 3.0 and boasted that Whispercast is now used in more than 130 of the 250 largest school districts in the US and over 2,400 higher education organizations, including twenty-four of the thirty largest in the country; and

WHEREAS, the time is long past due for Amazon to stop ignoring the blind and to make its Kindle ebook readers and platforms accessible to the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore Amazon’s knowing, repeated, and reprehensible discrimination against the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge schools and universities to cease their use of Whispercast immediately and to refrain from offering Kindle ebooks to students.

Resolution 2015-04

Regarding Support for the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act

WHEREAS, Congressman Gregg Harper introduced the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act (H.R. 188) on January 7, 2015; and

WHEREAS, the TIME Act has the same goal as the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, which was introduced in the previous two congresses, namely to phase out the use of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has passed two resolutions that support the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, Resolution 2013-02 Regarding Ending Subminimum Wage Payments to Workers with Disabilities and Resolution 2012-01 Regarding Support for the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011, affirming our long-held goal to repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and to end the practice of paying people with disabilities subminimum wages; and

WHEREAS, as demonstrated by the states of Vermont, which has no entities that hold Section 14(c) certificates, and New Hampshire, which on May 7, 2015, signed a bill into law prohibiting entities from paying individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage, special wage certificates are no longer needed; and

WHEREAS, over eighty organizations support the repeal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, further illustrating the growing trend against this discriminatory practice: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Congressman Gregg Harper and all cosponsors of H.R. 188, the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act, for continuing to shepherd this legislation through this Congress and for having the courage to support a bill that will ensure that Americans with disabilities have access to integrated and meaningful employment opportunities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Education and Workforce Committee of the US House of Representatives to conduct an immediate hearing on H.R. 188 in order to facilitate informed debate and to learn the truth about the employment capacity of people with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the US Senate to introduce companion legislation to H.R. 188 immediately; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call for the immediate passage of the TIME Act by the US Congress and for the President of the United States to sign it into law.

Resolution 2015-05

Regarding Leader Dogs for the Blind's Accreditation by NAC

WHEREAS, in 1989 the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools for the Blind, later known as the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), was formed to create and promulgate standards for the operation and administration of guide dog training programs throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, the IGDF today has over eighty member guide dog training programs around the world, including thirteen in the United States; and

WHEREAS, US-member guide dog training programs include Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Seeing Eye, and Leader Dogs for the Blind, the three largest guide dog training programs in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the standards of the IGDF are well known as a solid model for guide dog training program operation and administration; and

WHEREAS, in January 2015 Leader Dogs for the Blind announced that it had received accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC), an organization formed in the 1960s supposedly to create and promulgate standards for the operation of agencies serving the blind but which, in fact, has never provided a good model for the operation and administration of any agency; and

WHEREAS, NAC has no expertise in the guide dog arena, and any attempt by NAC to accredit guide dog training programs can serve only to undermine the efforts of the IGDF; and

WHEREAS, in the past Leader Dogs for the Blind, recognizing the worthless nature of NAC’s alleged accreditation, resisted attempts by NAC to accredit it and stood with consumers in opposing the shoddy and irrelevant standards NAC attempted to use to gain credibility among the ranks of guide dog training programs and their consumers; and

WHEREAS, Leader Dogs’ past vigorous opposition to NAC accreditation was expressed in part through a letter from Harold L. Pocklington, then-executive director of Leader Dogs for the Blind, to NAC’s president, and published in the February 1986 issue of the Braille Monitor, which said: "We believe we can handle our own affairs. If the dog guide training programs don't respond to your suggestions, it may be they don't believe the method of accreditation can be done only by you. We believe we can be our own judge of operation, without any help from NAC or a committee NAC might appoint. We are not indifferent, unaware, or apathetic. We just believe if it ain't broke, don't fix it"; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of NAC has always been to undermine and thwart the right of the organized blind to speak on behalf of blind consumers and Leader Dogs’ affiliation with NAC has the same effect in seeking to minimize the voice of the blind; and 

WHEREAS, Leader Dogs receives a significant amount of its funding from Lions International and from individual Lions clubs; and

WHEREAS, any money spent by Leader Dogs in seeking and obtaining accreditation by NAC is a misuse of the support provided by its donors and can only encourage the efforts of an outdated and useless agency, NAC, to attempt to gain financial support from other guide dog training programs that it approaches in its attempts to convince them to accept its irrelevant and meaningless accreditation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore Leader Dogs for the Blind’s accreditation by and consequent support of NAC; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that Leader Dogs for the Blind take immediate steps to terminate its accreditation by NAC; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on Lions International and individual Lions clubs to cease their funding of Leader Dogs for the Blind until it terminates its accreditation by NAC; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all guide dog training programs to resist any attempts by NAC to accredit them and insist instead that all guide dog training programs in the United States support the legitimate standards and accreditation of the IGDF. 

Resolution 2015-06

Regarding Braille Access to Mobile Devices

WHEREAS, the use of mobile computing devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops has become increasingly important in business, education, and personal spheres; and

WHEREAS, Braille is essential in allowing blind people to work, learn, and play on an equal footing with their sighted counterparts; and

WHEREAS, with the growing prominence of mobile devices, mobile Braille displays have also become important tools for many blind users in all walks of life; and

WHEREAS, Apple has provided a very powerful example of how Braille displays can be used in mobile devices through its iOS platform, so that it is possible for deaf-blind people to use iPhones and iPads in nearly all the same ways that blind users using speech have available to them; and

WHEREAS, Windows phones and tablets do not contain any Braille support, and Android and Chromebook devices developed by Google have such deeply flawed Braille support that for many activities it is insufficient to control the device completely without using speech: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge Google and Microsoft to include robust Braille access to their mobile platforms, since it is necessary for Braille users, particularly those who are deaf-blind, to use their products and services with the same level of ease that they currently enjoy on traditional computing devices, as well as Apple’s iOS devices; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge these companies to work with the National Federation of the Blind, Braille display manufacturers, and deaf-blind users to ensure that this support is robust and follows standard conventions of Braille display support, including command structure, feature set, and comparative ease of use.

Resolution 2015-07

Regarding the Drafting and Introduction of the Stimulating the Market to Make Accessibility a Reality Today (SMART) Act

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States, has made access to all aspects of the educational experience for blind students a priority; and

WHEREAS, as a direct response to the first recommendation of a congressionally authorized report on the status of accessible materials in the college classroom, the National Federation of the Blind, in conjunction with the Association of American Publishers, drafted and urged the 113th Congress to introduce the Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act; and

WHEREAS, the TEACH Act authorized the creation of voluntary accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and information technology used in higher education and incentivized the use of these guidelines by providing a safe harbor from litigation for schools that used material conforming to those guidelines, making it easier for schools to adopt accessible technology and to achieve compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and with Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to advance this legislation, the National Federation of the Blind has initiated negotiations with the higher education lobby, one of the largest stakeholder groups on the matter and one of the only remaining factions that had not supported the creation of guidelines; and

WHEREAS, as a result of those negotiations, a consensus has been reached on what will now be called the Stimulating the Market to Make Accessibility a Reality Today Act, ( (SMART Act), a modified version of the TEACH Act which has full stakeholder support; and

WHEREAS, the SMART Act aims to accomplish the same goals for which the National Federation of the Blind has long advocated, including the creation of voluntary accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional material used in higher education by an independent commission drawn from stakeholder communities such as higher education leadership, developers of post-secondary electronic instructional materials, and people with disabilities and also the incentivizing of the use of such guidelines through a safe harbor mechanism; and

WHEREAS, support from the higher education lobby and industry associations will increase the likelihood of the SMART Act’s passage in Congress and its successful implementation by both institutions and developers; and

WHEREAS, when passed, the influence of this legislation will not only positively affect the postsecondary experience of blind students and other students with print disabilities, ensuring that students are truly provided equal access to educational opportunities, but also stimulate the market for materials that are designed for postsecondary use or use outside of higher education and increase awareness about accessibility throughout a vast network of developers and vendors: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we urge Congress to show support for students with disabilities and reaffirm the need for voluntary accessibility guidelines in postsecondary education by promptly introducing the Stimulating the Market to Make Accessibility a Reality Today (SMART) Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge higher education leadership to build upon the success of recent negotiations by continually and consistently demonstrating a willingness to resolve accessibility barriers for students with disabilities, by working with the National Federation of the Blind to pass this legislation, and by encouraging rapid adoption of the guidelines by colleges and universities across the United States once the commission completes its work.

Resolution 2015-08

Regarding the Accessibility of Kiosks

WHEREAS, kiosks are ubiquitous in airports, train stations, and other transportation hubs and are largely inaccessible to blind travelers; and

WHEREAS, kiosks are increasingly used in healthcare to conduct patient intake and to complete administrative tasks, with other functions slated to be added, and these kiosks also are almost universally inaccessible; and

WHEREAS, many restaurants and other establishments have similarly begun to use inaccessible kiosks for taking orders and payment; and

WHEREAS, kiosks that are not usable by the blind are also used for providing general information to visitors at visitor centers; and

WHEREAS, in entertainment facilities such as movie theaters and amusement parks, inaccessible kiosks are used for ticket sales, pick-up, and information; and 

WHEREAS, virtually all of the entities using these kiosks are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other antidiscrimination laws; and

WHEREAS, in many cases the operating systems running on these kiosks, such as Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS, have provided platforms that allow for accessible implementation of software which provides nonvisual access; and

WHEREAS, the hardware of these kiosks is often already configured for audio output and keyboard or touch-screen input and therefore poses no inherent barriers to accessibility; and

WHEREAS, there are no technological reasons why these kiosks cannot be made accessible to the blind, offering full equality of access: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the entities who are manufacturing and deploying inaccessible kiosks for completely overlooking the needs of many of their customers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist on a commitment from manufacturers, software developers, and service providers alike to ensure full accessibility of these increasingly common devices.

Resolution 2015-09

Regarding Cardtronics Accessibility Center of Excellence

WHEREAS, equal and independent access to banking and financial transactions is critical in today’s society; and

WHEREAS, Cardtronics, Inc. is the largest retail ATM owner in the world, with a fleet of over 100,000 ATMs in the United States; and

WHEREAS, Cardtronics has agreed to make its fleet of ATMs accessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, Cardtronics has established a Center of Excellence, whose mission is to deliver an industry-leading voice-guided user experience at Cardtronics-supported ATMs; and 

WHEREAS, through the Center of Excellence, Cardtronics will collaborate with the National Federation of the Blind to develop enhanced voice-guidance software that will provide a fully accessible and superior user experience for blind customers with its ATMs and help to ensure that future ATM innovation is also fully accessible to blind users; and

WHEREAS, Cardtronics’ agreement to collaborate with the National Federation of the Blind and the establishment of the Center of Excellence resolves a multi-year class action lawsuit with the National Federation of the Blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Cardtronics for partnering with the National Federation of the Blind to raise the quality of access for blind users to financial transactions and other services provided by ATM technology; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization applaud Cardtronics’ leadership and commitment to be at the forefront of innovation in ATM technology for the blind.

Resolution 2015-11

Regarding the 508 Refresh

WHEREAS, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities, including both employees of the federal government and members of the public; and

WHEREAS, the US Access Board is tasked with periodically updating the Section 508 guidelines that serve as a procurement guide and accessibility benchmark for the federal government as it seeks to comply with Section 508, and since 2008 the board has been engaged in a much-needed update, or “refresh,” that will ultimately bring the Section 508 regulations to a more robust and objective standard applicable to modern and future technologies for the first time since 2000; and

WHEREAS, seven years is far too long for the Access Board to have spent on this rulemaking, and, while we applaud Access Board chairperson Sachin Pavithran for releasing the long-overdue Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 18, 2015, and bringing the process to its penultimate stage, the federal government, the disability community, and developers of technology are frustrated with the delay of this critical refresh; and

WHEREAS, countless entities outside the federal government use the Section 508 accessibility standards as voluntary accessibility criteria, making it profoundly important for the Section 508 standards to be up-to-date to ensure stimulus of market-wide change that is favorable and effective: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that we urge the Access Board to build on the progress begun by Chairman Pavithran within the last year and rapidly bring this rulemaking to a conclusion, thereby ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to information made available to the public by the federal government, and that the purchasing power of the federal sector be harnessed to create an accessible technology marketplace.

Resolution 2015-12

Regarding Enforcement of the Voting Rights of Blind and Other Voters with Disabilities by the US Department of Justice

WHEREAS, passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 provides the blind and other voters with disabilities the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to cast a secret ballot by requiring at least one accessible voting system in each polling place for all federal elections; and

WHEREAS, HAVA does not provide a private right of action so that citizens can enforce its mandate of accessible federal elections, but instead charges the US Department of Justice with enforcement responsibility; and

WHEREAS, surveys of blind and low-vision voters conducted by the National Federation of the Blind following the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections indicate that 14 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of the voters surveyed who attempted to use an accessible voting system were not able to vote privately and independently, and a survey of voters with disabilities conducted by the National Council on Disability following the 2012 election found that 20 percent of the voters surveyed were prevented from casting a private and independent ballot; and

WHEREAS, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted in its January 2014 report, The American Voting Experience, that throughout its fact-finding work the Commission heard complaints from disability rights advocates that provisions relevant to voters with disabilities in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and HAVA are underenforced; and

WHEREAS, Resolution 113B, adopted by the American Bar Association House of Delegates in August 2014, urges governments “to use all appropriate means to improve enforcement of the voting rights for persons with disabilities”: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that the US Department of Justice increase its enforcement of the ADA and HAVA so that blind and other voters with disabilities can exercise the same fundamental right to cast a secret ballot that is enjoyed by other Americans.

Resolution 2015-13

Regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

WHEREAS, in response to the nationwide adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Race to the Top grants, several consortia of states emerged to develop assessments that would be used in K-12 to test students, measure their progress, and hold schools accountable to the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the largest of the consortia is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced), a collection of eighteen states and one territory that have supported the development of, plan to implement the use of, or have already begun administering, Smarter Balanced’s online assessment system; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind, learning that Smarter Balanced’s platform was not fully accessible to blind students and that the consortium’s accommodations policy denied access to read-aloud and text-to-speech accommodations for students in grades 3-5 who could not read print or Braille, convened an informal coalition of disability advocates to urge the consortium to make necessary modifications to its platform and policies to ensure equal access for blind K-12 students in the states and territory that are affiliated with the group; and

WHEREAS, Smarter Balanced initially resisted our advocacy but later reacted positively to our recommendations and made the necessary modifications, recognizing that denying a blind student equal access to the test platform or any accommodations necessary to take the test and demonstrate proficiency in certain skills was a violation of federal law, violations that would be compounded by the popular deployment of the Smarter Balanced test: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we commend Smarter Balanced for working with our organization and, after significant pressure, agreeing to make the necessary modifications to ensure equal access for blind students; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge Smarter Balanced to follow through with our agreement and continue rectifying identified access barriers and to make administrative changes to ensure that accessibility for students with disabilities is better, earlier, and more efficiently considered as the test is deployed in more and more states; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we warn states about the use of the Smarter Balanced assessment, which, until the access barriers for students with disabilities that are currently being addressed are totally resolved, will be a violation of several federal civil rights statutes and that we suggest policies and practices be put in place at the state level to ensure that assessments do not exclude or discriminate against students with disabilities.

Resolution 2015-14

Regarding Accessibility of Health Information Technology

WHEREAS, technology has transformed the healthcare industry, allowing healthcare providers to transition from paper-based medical records to electronic-based healthcare records, share critical medical data across offices and with patients, and perform other functions of their jobs through innovative health information technology (health IT) applications and programs; and

WHEREAS, far too many health IT applications and programs are inaccessible, blocking the blind from being able to enter, compete for, participate in, and successfully perform jobs in the healthcare industry and forcing blind and low-vision doctors, therapists, assistants, and other positions in the healthcare sector to endure discrimination that is not only unlawful but also profoundly unnecessary, considering that it can and often does escalate to the point of needless termination; and

WHEREAS, one of those inaccessible applications is a software suite known as Epic, which is designed for midsize and large medical groups, hospitals, and integrated healthcare organizations, but is growing in popularity and proliferating in the industry and beyond, despite its inherent inaccessibility; and

WHEREAS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) within the US Department of Health and Human Services has a certification program for health IT, a program that drives the way developers of Epic and other similar technology design their products so that the providers that ultimately use the technology can receive reimbursements for certain federal incentive programs; and

WHEREAS, last year ONC released a new, voluntary edition of this certification program and did not make accessibility a key component, a rulemaking that rightly sparked outrage among blind healthcare industry workers and provoked feedback from the National Federation of the Blind urging a revision of the criteria with consideration being given to the need for usability for the blind; and

WHEREAS, on March 30, 2015, ONC released a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking demonstrating that the office had internalized National Federation of the Blind’s concerns and proposing new criteria that called for some health IT functions to be compatible with text-to-speech software, a first step toward making change in the market and a move that validates the power of the National Federation of the Blind’s advocacy; and

WHEREAS, despite this positive step ONC overlooked the need to require all of the criteria, not just certain criteria, to be compatible with text-to-speech software and also overlooked the need for Braille capability, zoom, contrast, captions, and other accessibility features that would have been covered had ONC required conformity with a generally accepted, measurable accessibility standard like WCAG 2.0; and

WHEREAS, until ONC makes additional revisions, health IT will be the source of discrimination for blind workers in the healthcare industry, and countless providers that choose to deploy the inaccessible technology and collect money from federal incentive programs will be in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, a provision that prohibits the use of federal funds to discriminate on the basis of disability, both outcomes being avoidable if health IT is required to be and is made accessible: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we recognize ONC’s reception of our suggestion to consider accessibility, but we demand that the agency enhance the accessibility requirements within the criteria to drive the market further and stop discrimination against blind people in the healthcare industry; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we strongly urge developers of health IT to consider accessibility during the design phase of their products, lest they drive an entire population of people out of an industry that needs access to their talents, put their customers at risk for being in violation of federal civil rights laws, and undercut the promise of new technology.

Resolution 2015-15

Regarding Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Children

WHEREAS, skills in orientation and mobility (O&M) are essential for the successful transition of blind children, including children with low vision, to full and productive lives as adults; and 

WHEREAS, local and state laws recognize the use of the long white cane as a tool for both safety and independence for blind people, yet too many school systems nationwide do not promote the use of the white cane by blind students; and

WHEREAS, regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 300.34[c][7], Related Services, clearly define O&M as “services provided to blind or visually impaired children by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community”; and

WHEREAS, although IDEA clearly lists O&M as an essential service for blind and visually impaired children, too often these children are denied O&M instruction because the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team assumes that these children do not need this instruction; and

WHEREAS, another reason for denial of O&M instruction is insufficient evaluations, e.g., only examining a child’s movement in familiar areas, failing to consider environments in different lighting, not requesting input from parents, or not considering such factors as the child’s medically indicated expectation of further visual deterioration; and

WHEREAS, the IEP team should treat O&M instruction as a presumption for youth who have an IEP based on visual impairment, as it does with Braille, unless a proper assessment determines that O&M instruction is not necessary; and

WHEREAS, two states, Maryland and Texas, have incorporated the mobility presumption and stronger evaluation requirements into state law, which will ensure that more students who need O&M instruction in those states will receive it: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge every state in the Union, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, immediately to enact legislation that contains a presumption similar to the Braille presumption that explicitly states that all blind and visually impaired children need orientation and mobility instruction unless a proper evaluation demonstrates that such instruction is not appropriate for the child.

Resolution 2015-16

Regarding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

WHEREAS, on July 9, 2014, the US House of Representatives passed the US Senate-amended version of H.R. 803: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA, and on July 22, 2014, President Barack Obama signed WIOA into law; and

WHEREAS, one of the major objectives of WIOA, as demonstrated by Title IV, which amends and reauthorizes the Rehabilitation Act, is to ensure that all individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to obtain competitive, integrated employment, defined as employment that is typically found in the community and is compensated at wages that are “not less than the customary rate paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by other employees who are not individuals with disabilities”; and

WHEREAS, Section 511 of WIOA, Limitations on Use of Subminimum Wage, is one major avenue to achieve this objective because it will reduce the number of youth with disabilities tracked into subminimum wage “employment” by prohibiting youth with disabilities from being compensated at subminimum wages by Section 14(c)-certificate-holding entities unless they first have exhausted all resources available to them through vocational rehabilitation services such as establishing an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), working toward their IPE for a reasonable period of time, and receiving career counseling about job opportunities that reflect their IPE; and

WHEREAS, on April 16, 2015, the US Departments of Education and Labor released five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) proposing regulations for WIOA; and

WHEREAS, despite the fact that the US Department of Labor has authority over Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the US Department of Education has authority over regulations regarding the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, none of the NPRMs included any language regarding enforcement of Section 511; and

WHEREAS, without enforcement, entities that hold Section 14(c) certificates are likely to take a business-as-usual approach to employing youth with disabilities at subminimum wages unless there are penalties (such as fines or threat of 14(c) certificate revocation) to deter such behavior and incentivize them to change their practices as Section 511 obligates them to do: Now, therefore, 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we commend the US Congress and President Barack Obama for passing and signing into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; although the law is not perfect, we believe that Section 511 and other provisions significantly improve policies designed to create and enhance employment opportunities for American workers with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Education swiftly to propose additional regulations ensuring that Section 511 of WIOA is enforced so that the goal of reducing the number of youth tracked into subminimum wage employment will come to fruition. 

Resolution 2015-17

Regarding the Accessibility of Google Drive and the Google Docs Productivity Suite

WHEREAS, Google is one of the largest and most far-reaching companies on the internet today, with products that touch hardware, software, work, entertainment, education, and many other spheres of life; and

WHEREAS, some of the best-known and most heavily used of these products include Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides; and

WHEREAS, these products have been adopted by many businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions; and

WHEREAS, the use of these applications has become essential within these institutions and organizations to participate fully in employment and education; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind and Google have spent considerable time and resources in forging a partnership to improve the accessibility of this suite of applications; and

WHEREAS, blind people in these environments are increasingly able to use these products due to the increased accessibility of the suite arising from this partnership; and

WHEREAS, Google has created some truly innovative solutions allowing blind users to collaborate in real time with their peers; and

WHEREAS, the stability and usability of the suite with screen-access software has increased dramatically over the last three years, but some features required for full accessibility of the tool, including full Braille support, have yet to be fully implemented; for example, it is not possible to read spreadsheets with Braille or to move the cursor with a Braille keyboard in any of the Google Apps: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Google for the progress it has made in improving the accessibility of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we strongly urge Google to continue to maintain and improve the accessibility of this suite, particularly for Braille users, by continuing to partner with the National Federation of the Blind so that blind people can enjoy the benefits of these applications.

Resolution 2015-18

Regarding Social Security Disability Insurance for Blind Beneficiaries

WHEREAS, according to the 2014 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, published on July 28, 2014, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund will be insolvent as early as December 2016; and

WHEREAS, if the 114th Congress does not pass legislation either allocating money to the SSDI trust fund or reforming the entire SSDI system to make it more cost effective, there will be an across-the-board cut of approximately 19 percent for SSDI beneficiaries; and

WHEREAS, if this cut is made, the average SSDI benefit will be reduced from $1200 per month to just $972 per month, putting beneficiaries that live alone and rely exclusively on benefits for survival to live on an income that is below the federal poverty guideline as set by the Department of Health and Human Services; and

WHEREAS, blind SSDI beneficiaries are discouraged from reaching their full employment potential because the current earnings limit test results in a earnings cliff, meaning that benefits are cut off once a beneficiary earns more than the “substantial gainful activity” limit, making it more financially strategic for beneficiaries to work less and stay below the earning limit; and

WHEREAS, the transition periods that are designed to help SSDI beneficiaries return to work, such as the trial work period and extended period of eligibility, are confusing and do little to counteract the effects of the earnings cliff and to encourage beneficiaries to return to work; and

WHEREAS, the crisis facing the SSDI trust fund has stimulated action by Congress, providing an appropriate window for the National Federation of the Blind to advocate for our long-desired reforms that will create true work incentives for blind SSDI beneficiaries: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we urge the US Congress swiftly to pass legislation that will create real work incentives for blind SSDI beneficiaries, such as a gradual phase-out of benefits and a simplified system for administration that will actually encourage blind SSDI beneficiaries to return to work, reach their full employment potential, and ultimately save taxpayer money and help keep the system financially solvent.

Resolution 2015-19

Regarding Accessible Online Voter Registration

WHEREAS, most states currently use a paper voter registration form which is inaccessible to the blind and other persons with print disabilities; and

WHEREAS, election officials throughout the United States are implementing online voter registration because its use results in reduced administrative burdens, reduced costs, and more accurate data; and

WHEREAS, accessible online voter registration permits the blind and other qualified citizens with disabilities to register to vote conveniently, easily, and independently; and

WHEREAS, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in its January 2014 report, The American Voting Experience, recommended that states adopt online voter registration; and

WHEREAS, the American Civil Liberties Union in its January 2015 report, Access Denied: Barriers to Online Voter Registration for Citizens with Disabilities, found that of the twenty states that currently offer online voter registration, only California's is fully accessible and that the majority of the state online voter registration websites do not meet minimal accessibility standards; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires all state and local government entities to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to government programs and services and that the information communicated by government programs and services must be equally available to persons with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, an online voter registration system is a government program and service, and therefore the information it communicates must be equally available to persons with disabilities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that all states with inaccessible online voter registration immediately bring their online voter registration websites into compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge all states that do not currently offer online voter registration to implement online voter registration that complies with WCAG 2.0 AA so that the information communicated by the voter registration program and service is equally available to the blind and other qualified citizens with disabilities.

Resolution 2015-20

Regarding Accessibility of Employment-Related Technology

WHEREAS, technology has revolutionized the way our society functions, particularly in employment; and

WHEREAS, although technology in employment could open up countless opportunities for the blind, employment-related technology is instead, more often than not, a barrier to employment because it has been designed without accessibility; and

WHEREAS, the blind encounter inaccessible technology during all phases of employment, from the initial job search on inaccessible websites that require completing inaccessible online job applications, to inaccessible pre-employment tests, to inaccessible workplace software necessary to perform on the job; and

WHEREAS, inaccessible employment-related technology is endemic across industries, including federal and public sector employment and private employers of all sizes, as well as across occupations; and

WHEREAS, as a result of inaccessible employment-related technology, many blind people are excluded from employment or prohibited from performing to their capabilities in their professional occupations, sometimes leading to job termination or failure to be promoted; and

WHEREAS, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently sought input for retrospective regulatory review: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge the EEOC to update its rulemaking to ensure that employers and vendors of employment-related technology make their technology accessible at all stages of the employment process; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the EEOC to take swift and strong enforcement measures to protect the right of blind job seekers and employees to accessible employment technology.

Resolution 2015-21

Regarding the ABLE Act

WHEREAS, President Barack Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) into law on December 19, 2014; and

WHEREAS, prior to the signing of the ABLE Act, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries were subject to an asset limit of $2,000; and

WHEREAS, the ABLE Act allows an individual who became disabled before the age of twenty-six to open an “ABLE account,” a special account allowing such an individual to save for qualified disability expenses such as housing, employment, transportation, healthcare, and technology, which will not jeopardize the individual’s eligibility for SSI benefits, even if the ABLE account balance puts the individual’s assets over the $2,000 asset limit, as long as the ABLE account does not exceed $100,000; and

WHEREAS, SSI beneficiaries can open ABLE accounts only if states enact implementing legislation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we commend the US Congress for passing the ABLE Act, which will allow many blind and otherwise disabled individuals to achieve security and pay for critical expenses by saving money in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for SSI benefits; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we commend states that have already passed legislation implementing the ABLE Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge states that have not yet created an ABLE account program to do so immediately.

Resolution 2015-22

Regarding Accessibility in Higher Education

WHEREAS, technology has revolutionized information, course materials, recreation, interaction with administration, and other facets of student life in higher education; and

WHEREAS, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit colleges and universities from discriminating against persons with disabilities and mandate the provision of equal access to opportunities, using separate accommodations only when necessary for providing equivalent facilitation; and

WHEREAS, while colleges and universities may have been successful at complying with these mandates in the brick-and-mortar and print world, the vast majority of institutions of higher education are struggling to comply with these mandates as they apply in the digital world, routinely developing, procuring, or deploying inaccessible technology despite readily available solutions and continually providing separate and often inappropriate accommodations for blind students, an oversight that results in unequal access to opportunity, adverse effects on academic performance, and denial of full participation for blind students; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice has increased enforcement in cases regarding denial of equal access because of inaccessible technology and/or inadequate and inappropriate accommodations for students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, solutions exist to make technology accessible to blind students and faculty members, but until the higher education apparatus makes systemic change, a viable digital marketplace that includes accessible materials will never emerge and the promises of technology will never be realized; and

WHEREAS, blind students can no longer wait for developers of technology and institutions of higher education voluntarily to implement accessibility into their products and practices: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that we demand that colleges and universities make accessibility a top priority for their campus communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we demand that colleges and universities harness their purchasing power and compel developers of educational technology to make accessibility a component of their development framework, to consult with access technology experts, and to include blind and otherwise print-disabled people in their beta testing processes, ensuring that the market includes accessible options and that equal access for all students is the norm, not the exception.

Resolution 2015-23

Regarding the Accessibility of 3D Printing Software

WHEREAS, 3D printing is quickly becoming a major element in the creation of tactile graphics for the blind; and

WHEREAS, 3D design and printing software is not developed with accessibility in mind, preventing the blind user from performing even the most basic functions such as resizing an object or moving it; and

WHEREAS, even software that uses code to create 3D objects does not make that code available to the user of screen-access software; and

WHEREAS, it has been amply demonstrated that neither access to menus nor access to coding poses significant technological challenges; and

WHEREAS, the Windows and Mac default application menus are accessible; and

WHEREAS, many text editors used for coding, as well as more complete developer tools such as Microsoft’s Visual Studio, are entirely usable by the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge developers of 3D design and printing software to give blind users the ability to print and make menu-driven modifications to models independently.

Resolution 2015-24

Regarding the Accessibility of Social Security Administration Kiosks

WHEREAS, self-service kiosks are regularly used in Social Security Administration field offices to check in; and

WHEREAS, visitors are required to enter their full names, social security numbers, and reasons for visiting into kiosks prior to meeting with Social Security Administration personnel; and

WHEREAS, field office kiosks are not commonly outfitted with accessibility features such as audio output, Braille instructions, tactile keyboards, and jacks for the use of headphones; and

WHEREAS, blind visitors must rely on strangers for assistance with entering personal information into the field office kiosks or forego meeting with Social Security Administration personnel; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration expanded its public services in 2014 by implementing full-service Social Security Express kiosks in government building in which no social security office is located; and

WHEREAS, full-service Social Security Express kiosks allow users to substitute visiting Social Security Administration field offices by using the kiosks to create accounts, access benefits, change addresses, and participate in remote video teleconferencing with Social Security Administration personnel; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration’s 2014-2018 agency strategic plan calls for increased use of self-service kiosks in field offices and partnering external government agency buildings; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration is required to provide equal access to patrons with disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other antidiscrimination laws; and

WHEREAS, existing technology allows accessible features, including audio output, to be built into the operating systems used in kiosks; and

WHEREAS, numerous vendors offer kiosks preconfigured with fully accessible physical components, including tactile keyboards, headphone jacks, and Braille notation; and

WHEREAS, no software- or hardware-related reasons exist that prevent these kiosks from being made accessible to the blind, offering full and equal access: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the Social Security Administration’s practice of using kiosks that are not readily accessible to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist on a commitment from the Social Security Administration to purchase and use only kiosks that offer full and equal access.

Resolution 2015-25

Regarding Discriminatory Practices of Greyhound Lines Inc.

WHEREAS, the lack of access to public transportation is one of the greatest barriers preventing blind people from living the lives they want and from full participation in all aspects of community life; and

WHEREAS, according to Greyhound Lines Inc., it is the largest intercity bus transportation provider, serving more than 3,800 destinations in North America and 18 million passengers each year; and

WHEREAS, Greyhound should serve as a valuable asset to blind travelers but fails to do so because of its policies and practices that create barriers to using its services; and

WHEREAS, Greyhound’s website is generally inaccessible to blind passengers who use screen-access software to acquire information from desktop or mobile operating systems; and

WHEREAS, field labels for graphical icons are rarely present, making it all but impossible for blind people to retrieve current and frequently updated information posted on this website; and

WHEREAS, the Greyhound (US) app for iOS is not at all accessible with Apple’s VoiceOver, the gesture-based screen reader that has been developed for blind users; and

WHEREAS, buying a ticket online or through a phone app is now an impossible task for most blind passengers; and

WHEREAS, blind passengers, unlike their sighted peers, are denied the time-saving convenience of presenting a printed ticket at boarding and are forced to work with a ticket agent at the station; and

WHEREAS, fares from Greyhound’s automated phone booking system are $10 higher than fares from the inaccessible online booking system, and this $10 charge is not waived for blind passengers; and

WHEREAS, its website touts Greyhound’s services for persons with disabilities, yet fails even to mention nonvisual access to websites and apps: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that Greyhound Lines Inc. immediately end its discriminatory practices by making all of its online and mobile services accessible to blind passengers who use screen-access technology.

Resolution 2015-26

Regarding the Recent Addition of Audio Description to Netflix Content and the Continued Inaccessibility of Aspects of the Service

WHEREAS, Netflix is one of the leading services for watching movies and TV shows over the internet; and

WHEREAS, Netflix has recently made strides toward making its content more accessible by beginning to add audio description to some of its content, including its original programming; and

WHEREAS, despite this important step, many accessibility problems with the service exist across platforms, including the inability to turn on audio description and access playback controls in the web player on Windows and Mac computers; and

WHEREAS, other video streaming services do not have integrated audio description at all: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Netflix for the steps it has taken toward making its content fully and equally accessible and encourage it to continue in this process, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Netflix to improve the accessibility of its mobile and web platforms, enabling all users, regardless of device, to take advantage of audio description and other features of this popular service; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all similar streaming services to adopt audio description for their content and incorporate accessibility into their services.

Resolution 2015-27

Regarding the Corporation for National and Community Service Policies

WHEREAS, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its core programs—Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund—and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, “United We Serve”; and

WHEREAS, the mission of CNCS is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering by harnessing America’s most powerful resource—the energy and talents of our citizens—to solve problems and by believing that “everyone can make a difference and that all of us should try to do so,” thereby empowering Americans and fostering a lifetime of volunteer service from all Americans, from grade school through retirement; and

WHEREAS, CNCS does not model best practices for recruitment, engagement, and equal inclusion of the blind and other Americans with disabilities in all aspects of its programs despite nondiscrimination policies, public statements to the contrary, and legislation such as the Serve America Act of 2009, which expanded national service opportunities for all Americans; and

WHEREAS, research released by CNCS in June 2013 concluded that those who volunteer have a better likelihood of finding a job than those who do not and that this is generally the case for all volunteers regardless of gender, age, education, ethnicity, geographic area, or job market conditions; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is uniquely positioned to further the inclusiveness and equality of CNCS and to become a partner in facilitating change, both vocationally and socially within the framework of volunteerism; and

WHEREAS, participation in CNCS programs can expose the blind to career-, skill-, and resume-building opportunities; encourage lifelong volunteerism among the blind; raise expectations of the blind so that they see themselves as participants in society and not just as recipients of charity; serve as a valuable platform to display and enhance the skills the blind already possess; and help to reduce the over 70 percent unemployment rate among the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge the Corporation for National and Community Service, its board of directors, and its CEO to work with the National Federation of the Blind in order to ensure the full integration of the blind into all national service opportunities for participants, applicants, and prospective applicants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the CNCS to develop a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind to ensure that all policies and practices of CNCS comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to ensure the full accessibility of all websites, forms, and materials, including all equipment to be used by participants in CNCS programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly encourage the CNCS to establish a pipeline program that will engage members of the National Federation of the Blind in national service programs and match them to the programs and opportunities that fit their interests and desires best.

Resolution 2015-28

Regarding the Application of the Randolph-Sheppard Act to Military Dining Facilities

WHEREAS, in 1974 Congress expanded the priority for blind persons to operate vending facilities on federal property, including military dining halls; and

WHEREAS, in 2001 the Fourth Circuit, in NISH v. Cohen, ruled: “[t]he RS Act deals explicitly with the subject at issue, the operation of cafeterias, whereas the JWOD Act is a general procurement statute. Because the RS Act is a ‘specific statute closely applicable to the substance of the controversy at hand,’ it must control”; and

WHEREAS, Congress defined food service contract to include “full food services, mess attendant services, or services supporting the operation of all or any part of a military dining facility” as stated in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act; and

WHEREAS, the R-S Act charges the United States Department of Education, not the Department of Defense, with prescribing regulations, giving the Secretary of Education sole authority to determine whether any limitation on the placement or operation of a vending facility is justified; and

WHEREAS, in a conference report accompanying the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Department of Defense to enact food service regulations based on a 2006 Joint Policy Statement of the Departments of Education and Defense; and

WHEREAS, that policy statement was never implemented because of significant opposition by blind vendors and state vocational rehabilitation agencies and second thoughts by Department of Education staff; because implementation of that policy statement would have effectively eliminated the prior right of the blind set forth in the R-S Act to operate vending facilities on all federal property: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that the Department of Education stand up to the Department of Defense and make clear that regulations of the Department of Education pertaining to food services supersede those of any other federal department; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that the Department of Education clearly instruct the Department of Defense that the Department of Education’s regulations mean that a current non-blind operated contract for military dining services cannot be entered into or renewed unless a contract opportunity has been offered to the blind as provided by the R-S Act.

Resolution 2015-29

Regarding Unified English Braille and the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation

WHEREAS, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has voted that as of 2016 the official codes to be used in the United States are Unified English Braille (UEB), the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, the music Braille code, and the International Phonetic Alphabet code; and

WHEREAS, to reach the implementation goal, BANA announced as follows: "BANA is providing guidance on how to incorporate the Nemeth Code into UEB context with the intent that the Nemeth Code will continue to be integral to Braille in the United States"; and

WHEREAS, each state must create a customized plan for implementation of UEB; and 

WHEREAS, some states, acting under an impression that part of the implementation process involves setting, at the state level, the standard for how mathematics Braille will be produced and taught in that state, have indicated an intent to move to the use of only UEB symbols for the teaching and production of Braille math in their state; and

WHEREAS, Braille production does not occur in isolation within each state, but rather is done to a great extent by a nationally connected network of Braille transcribers and producers; and

WHEREAS, the strong support for the use of Nemeth Code for mathematics is based in Nemeth Code being a known quantity, used successfully for decades, and found to be efficient and agile for reading and working mathematics problems because of its use of lower numbers distinct from letters, its one-cell representations of many mathematical symbols, its compact spacing, and other features that make it especially suited to mathematics; and

WHEREAS, theories that abandoning the Nemeth Code in favor of the use of UEB symbols for technical contexts will improve Braille readers' access to and performance in math are unproven; and

WHEREAS, there exists in the US a well-established network of certified Nemeth code transcribers, but there is no training or credential to ensure the qualification of transcribers producing technical materials using UEB symbols only; and

WHEREAS, the differences between the presentation of mathematics in Nemeth Code and math using UEB symbols are so fundamental that a blind child moving to a state with a different math standard could find his or her math books and tests inaccessible even though they are in Braille; and

WHEREAS, it is sometimes difficult to find the resources to produce a math book or test in Braille, much less the resources to produce the very same math textbook or test in two different ways; and

WHEREAS, during the transition to Unified English Braille, some duplication of effort will be unavoidable to minimize disruption to the education of Braille readers, but to add a further variant to the standards for math would make the transition exponentially more chaotic, costly, and confusing for all concerned: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 2015, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon state departments of education to eliminate needless confusion and unnecessary cost by using the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, with BANA's guidance for Nemeth in UEB contexts, as the standard for math Braille; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Braille Authority of North America quickly to clarify that, although timelines and processes for UEB implementation are set at the state level, Braille code standards are not set by individual states; and to indicate unequivocally that the Nemeth Code, with the guidance for Nemeth in UEB contexts, is the standard for mathematics Braille in the United States.