Braille Monitor                                                 August/September 2010

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National Federation of the Blind Resolutions 2010

 

Resolution 2010-01
Regarding the Creation of a New Educational Model for Blind Students

WHEREAS, literacy rates among blind children remain unacceptably low as demonstrated by statistics showing that only 10 percent of today’s blind students under age twenty-two are being taught to read Braille, resulting in an unacceptably low (45 percent) high-school graduation rate for blind students; and

WHEREAS, approximately 70 percent of blind people nationwide are not employed, but of those blind people who are employed, 85 percent or more use Braille in the workplace, demonstrating a clear relationship among literacy, confidence, and success; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has been the leader in encouraging legislative reform, but, despite the improvement that gives Braille a stated priority in the delivery of educational services to a blind child, school administrators and the lawyers who represent them continue to find ways to avoid their responsibility to provide appropriate Braille literacy educational services, and the results of that legal process more often than not yield ineffective and inadequate remedies; and

WHEREAS, even in those infrequent cases in which a parent or advocate is successful in obtaining improved services for a blind child, the due process hearing does not improve educational services generally because the remedies, however beneficial, are limited to that child; and

WHEREAS, too many parents of blind children remain frustrated with the ineffective remedies provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) because, even if they file for a due process hearing, the due process hearing officer, following judicial precedent, finds that a blind child is receiving a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), even when “minimal educational benefit” results from the educational services to the blind child; and

WHEREAS, even with the presumption that Braille will be included in a child’s individualized education program (IEP) as required in current federal and most state laws, if a child is taught Braille, it often occurs after the child has no remaining vision or at best insufficient vision to read print, resulting in the child’s learning to read in the upper grades or later when the opportunity to establish real literacy skills is diminished or altogether past; and

WHEREAS, assessments performed by well-meaning but ill-informed professionals demonstrate that a child has enough vision to read print but do not take into consideration a diagnosis that inevitably portends the inability to read print, and reports from around the country indicate that blind children are still not getting their books on time despite the clear requirement in federal and state law that books be provided on time; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind convened a meeting of parents of blind children, lawyers, educators and teachers of blind children, elected leaders of the blind, and other blindness professionals for the purpose of discussing innovative and effective ways to improve the delivery of educational services, including the teaching of Braille; and

WHEREAS, the Braille Readers are Leaders initiative, established by the National Federation of the Blind in July 2008, has a primary goal of ensuring that the number of blind students able to read Braille will double by 2015; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is the leading force in the field of blindness, possesses the collective experience of thousands of blind people (an accumulated body of knowledge about blindness education) and has an unwavering will to improve educational opportunities for all blind students: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization pursue innovative and nontraditional models for teaching literacy and other blindness skills, including the investigation and establishment of a charter school for blind children and any other model at the discretion of the president and that the resources of this organization be used to establish models that will demonstrate the success achieved by high expectations and the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge teachers of blind students, state special education agencies, organizations of and for the blind, and others responsible for the education of blind children to take all other steps necessary to join the National Federation of the Blind in ensuring that the number of blind students who are able to read and write Braille competently doubles by 2015.

Resolution 2010-02
Regarding the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010

WHEREAS, on January 28, 2009, Congressmen Edolphus Towns of New York and Cliff Stearns of Florida introduced the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 734); and

WHEREAS, this legislation directs the secretary of transportation to issue a motor vehicle safety standard to address the dangers posed to blind and other pedestrians by silent hybrid and electric vehicles; and

WHEREAS, on April 21, 2009, Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduced companion legislation in the United States Senate (S. 841); and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has worked actively to gain cosponsor support for this important legislation to preserve the right to independent travel for blind pedestrians; and

WHEREAS, in September 2009 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report stating that hybrid and electric vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents as traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles when operating at low speed; and

WHEREAS, the United States Congress has recently introduced the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 (H.R. 5381 in the House of Representatives and S. 3302 in the Senate) to address safety concerns related to unintended rapid acceleration and sticky pedals in some automobiles; and

WHEREAS, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce unanimously agreed to Congressman Stearns’s amendment to include provisions of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 at the committee markup of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 on May 26, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation also included a similar amendment offered by Senator Kerry during its markup of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 on June 9, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on America’s roadways continues to increase; and

WHEREAS, passage of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 will mandate that regulations be promulgated by the Department of Transportation to provide that electric and hybrid vehicles sold in the United States must be equipped with an alert sound, which is recognizable as a motor vehicle, in order to allow blind pedestrians to maintain the right to safe and independent travel: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge Congress to pass the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 to ensure that regulations will be issued to protect the right to safe and independent travel for blind pedestrians; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend Congressmen Towns and Stearns and Senators Kerry and Specter for their leadership on this issue as demonstrated by their work to ensure that provisions of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 were included in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers for working with the National Federation of the Blind and for supporting the inclusion of provisions of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010.

Resolution 2010-03
Regarding Inaccessibility of Google Products and Services

WHEREAS, Google is the leading Internet search engine, used by both blind and sighted people in the United States and throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, in addition to its powerful search engine, Google, Inc., offers an ever-increasing number of digital and electronic products and services, including but not limited to Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Books, Google TV, Google Wave, and the Android operating system for smart phones; and

WHEREAS, while Google’s basic search function is accessible to and usable by the blind and Google has promised accessibility to some of its other products and services (especially Google Books, pending the approval of the legal settlement related to that product), many of its other services are either inaccessible or not fully accessible; and

WHEREAS, while Google provides a screen-access solution called Talkback for phones using the Android operating system, the company provides no customer support for users of Talkback except YouTube videos posted by one of its employees, and Talkback does not provide access to all the functions available in Android; and

WHEREAS, blind people find using Google Calendar difficult because among other things clickable regions of the screen are not always identified by screen-access software as clickable due to improper application coding; and

WHEREAS, when Google Maps data are embedded on third-party Websites, Google directs blind users seeking full access to those data to use an alternative, inferior accessibility interface through which they have difficulty accessing critical features of Google Maps such as turn-by-turn driving directions; and

WHEREAS, Google continues to roll out and announce the future availability of new services, but blind people too often find to their dismay that these services are not accessible; and

WHEREAS, apparently Google does not plan to make new services such as Google Wave and Google TV accessible; and

WHEREAS, Google’s corporate motto is “Don’t be evil,” but the company is certainly failing to do good consistently for its blind users: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that Google make a serious, identifiable commitment to accessibility in all of its products and services and avoid the future release of products and services that are inaccessible to its blind users.

Resolution 2010-04
Regarding Access to Mass Transit Information and Services

WHEREAS, public transportation can be a critical tool in helping blind people participate fully in the economic, political, and social life of their communities; and

WHEREAS, mass transit systems increasingly use technology to provide information and services to customers; and

WHEREAS, schedules, routing information, and reservations are examples of information and services available to customers on the Websites of mass transit systems; and

WHEREAS, customers are increasingly required to use electronic fare cards, but the machines that read them can often not be used independently by the blind; and

WHEREAS, mass transit systems are beginning to provide specific, up-to-the-minute location information about buses to customers at bus stops; and

WHEREAS, when designing Websites, fare cards, and other information technology and services, too many mass transit systems either totally overlook or provide minimal nonvisual access to their technology, ignoring the access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization insist that the U.S. Department of Transportation take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with access laws by mass transit systems; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transportation Association to work with the National Federation of the Blind to develop best practices that result in enhanced nonvisual access to mass transit system information technology and services.

Resolution 2010-05
Regarding Equal and Independent Participation in the Census for the Blind

WHEREAS, all Americans are required to provide census data under Title 13, United States Code, Sections 143 and 191; and

WHEREAS, data collected through the census are used for legislative redistricting as well as the allocation of over $400 billion in government funding to public projects such as schools, road and infrastructure construction, hospital and healthcare services, rehabilitation programs, and disaster preparedness projects, all of which affect the blind just as they do all other Americans; and

WHEREAS, the United States Census Bureau originally permitted 2010 Census participation only through the completion of a paper form that was mailed to American households, and the Census Bureau had not developed a strategy for obtaining such data by alternate means; and

WHEREAS, after learning that the original strategy for collecting census data barred meaningful and independent participation by the nation’s blind, the Census Bureau promptly recalibrated its strategy to permit blind individuals to complete the 2010 census form by calling a toll-free phone number or by requesting a census worker to conduct an in-person visit; and

WHEREAS, the Census Bureau administers the American Community Survey to a portion of American households annually by employing the same data-collection strategies as the decennial census; and

WHEREAS, these alternatives still preclude the blind from independently providing census data: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization strongly urge the United States Bureau of the Census to develop and implement mechanisms for blind Americans to submit decennial census data independently and participate in annual Community Surveys no later than April 2011; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist upon being involved in the development of such mechanisms or policies to ensure that the blind can comply with federal law and participate meaningfully and independently in the census.

Resolution 2010-06
Regarding the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind

WHEREAS, rapid advances in digital technology have led to the increased use of touch screens and interactive visual interfaces, replacing traditional controls such as knobs, switches, and buttons on consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and office equipment and technology; and

WHEREAS, this major shift in technology has rendered most consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and office equipment and technology inaccessible through nonvisual means, widening the digital divide between blind consumers and their sighted peers and threatening the employment, independence, and productivity of blind people; and

WHEREAS, methods (such as text-to-speech and sound cues) exist for manufacturers to make their products accessible; and

WHEREAS, accessibility is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement when it is incorporated into the design of a product from the outset; and

WHEREAS, Apple, Inc., has demonstrated the feasibility of incorporating access for blind consumers by incorporating text-to-speech technology in its entire line of touch-screen consumer electronic products, allowing blind consumers to use these products without the addition of third-party applications; and

WHEREAS, the ability to access and use all functions of consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and office equipment and technology independently is essential to a blind person’s independence, productivity, and employment; and

WHEREAS, on January 27, 2010, Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky of Illinois introduced the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind (H.R. 4533) to address the growing trend of inaccessible consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and office equipment and technology; and

WHEREAS, this legislation would establish an office within the Department of Commerce to conduct a study on how consumer products can be made accessible to the blind, and then establish minimum nonvisual access standards for consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and office equipment and technology: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the United States Congress to pass the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend Congresswoman Schakowsky for her introduction and championship of this initiative.

Resolution 2010-07
Regarding the Failure of the United States Postal Service
to Comply with the Randolph-Sheppard Act

WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act applies to all federal agencies, including the United States Postal Service; and

WHEREAS, the Postal Service has at best been inconsistent historically in honoring the Randolph-Sheppard priority, resulting in lost opportunities for blind entrepreneurs; and

WHEREAS, the Postal Service entered into a nationwide contract with a private entity to provide cafeteria and vending services that are covered by the Randolph-Sheppard priority without seeking the input of state licensing agencies (SLAs), the Rehabilitation Services Administration, or Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs; and

WHEREAS, the Postal Service has failed to ensure that this private contractor is following the procedures negotiated with the Randolph-Sheppard community to ensure that any food service opportunity is declined in writing by an SLA prior to turning it over to its contractor; and

WHEREAS, the Postal Service has refused to provide SLAs with complete lists of food service opportunities in each state to facilitate the independent determination of whether Postmasters and the national contractor are following the law; and

WHEREAS, under this nationwide contract both the Postal Service and the private contractor have a financial incentive not to comply with the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and

WHEREAS, the contractor has not consistently complied with the Randolph-Sheppard Act, resulting in the further denial of opportunities to blind entrepreneurs and imposing an additional obstacle to obtaining the Postal Service’s full compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore the continued failure of the United States Postal Service to comply with the Randolph-Sheppard Act and demand that the Postal Service cancel its nationwide cafeteria and vending contract so that these opportunities can be provided to blind entrepreneurs in accordance with the law.

Resolution 2010-08
Regarding Reading Rights for 2010

WHEREAS, the ability to read is critical to living a well-informed personal and professional life; and

WHEREAS, blindness and some other disabilities pose challenges to accessing all available written information fully and efficiently; and

WHEREAS, text-to-speech technology has helped to remove these access barriers for the approximately thirty million blind and otherwise print-disabled people living in the United States; and

WHEREAS, this heretofore untapped community of eager consumers promises to benefit publishers and authors; and

WHEREAS, while a few eReading applications and devices take advantage of text-to-speech technology to deliver the content of commercially available eBooks to the blind and others with print disabilities and other providers of eReading solutions are promising to provide access, many such devices and applications, such as the Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook, are still inaccessible to the blind and print-disabled, and some publishers are still resistant to allowing this population to access eBooks; and

WHEREAS, at least two major publishers, Random House and Simon and Schuster, are still preventing text-to-speech access to all of their titles available for the Amazon Kindle eReader; and

WHEREAS, despite repeated promises of access by Amazon, the Kindle eReader device and the Kindle applications for personal computers and other devices are still inaccessible to blind users, denying them access to even those eBooks that are available with text-to-speech; and

WHEREAS, the solutions employed by some publishers to provide access such as making their books available through third-party services like Bookshare.org, are ultimately inadequate because they do not serve all Americans with print disabilities and rely on the discredited logic of separate-but-equal access for the blind and print-disabled; and

WHEREAS, any attempt by authors or publishers to restrict text-to-speech access to eBooks that are not available as audiobooks violates the spirit of a joint statement agreed to by the Reading Rights Coalition (of which the National Federation of the Blind is a founding member), the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers, which states in part:

The Reading Rights Coalition, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers believe that the contents of books should be as accessible to individuals with print disabilities as they are to everyone else. To that end these groups agree to work together and through the communities they represent to ensure that, when the marketplace offers alternative formats to print books such as audio and electronic books, print-disabled consumers can access the contents of these alternative formats to the same extent as all other consumers; and

WHEREAS, civil rights laws and policies in the United States oppose and protect against acts that thwart equal access and equitable treatment of the blind and other people with print disabilities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization reaffirm its call for accessible eBooks and urge all government procurement agencies, schools, institutions of higher education, and libraries to exercise diligence in complying with technology-procurement requirements and state and federal disability nondiscrimination laws and to insist that mobile eBook readers and eBooks have accessible text-to-speech; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all eBook reader developers and content providers to allow equal access by the blind and others with print disabilities to the interfaces of their eReaders and to the content of eBooks; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend those providers of eBooks and eBook readers that have incorporated accessibility for the blind and others with print disabilities in their products and services.

Resolution 2010-09
Regarding a Statute of Limitations on Allegations of Overpayment by the
Social Security Administration

WHEREAS, many blind people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance find that, after receiving benefits for years, they are notified by letter that a review of their records indicates that they have been substantially overpaid; and

WHEREAS, it is not uncommon for the Social Security Administration to make a determination of overpayment more than twenty years after the fact, requiring that the recipient of benefits produce data showing they were indeed entitled to the benefits they received in order to appeal the determination; and

WHEREAS, the record-keeping requirements that this practice imposes on beneficiaries exceed even those of the Internal Revenue Service and often present an impossible challenge to the individual recipient, who often has limited space for filing records; and

WHEREAS, this practice also places an undue demand on former employers to supply records, a demand that they are often unable to meet: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the United States Congress to enact a statute of limitations, not to exceed seven years, in which the Social Security Administration can attempt to retrieve alleged overpayments; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Congress to require the Social Security Administration to share with the beneficiary such evidence as it has in arriving at its determination that an overpayment has been made.

Resolution 2010-10
Regarding the National Education Technology Plan for 2010

WHEREAS, on March 5, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) for 2010 entitled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology”; and

WHEREAS, although the NETP embraces principles of universal design, it addresses the specific issue of accessibility to the blind and others with disabilities in only a few paragraphs of its more than one hundred pages; and

WHEREAS, at present blind students are consigned to separate and unequal access to educational materials due to inaccessible technology or the failure to convert materials into an accessible format in a timely manner; and

WHEREAS, with twenty-first century technology, there is no reason why all educational materials cannot be made immediately accessible to blind students; and

WHEREAS, mainstream access for the print disabled occurs when it is demanded by educational institutions or by state or federal authorities, as evidenced by (1) the latest version of Blackboard’s becoming substantially more accessible after California State University refused to allow Blackboard to bid on a contract while its course management software was inaccessible; (2) iTunes U’s becoming fully accessible after the NFB and the Massachusetts Attorney General threatened Apple’s collegiate partners with lawsuits; and (3) Amazon’s announcing it would produce an accessible Kindle after the Department of Justice secured consent decrees from five colleges using the device in pilot projects to terminate those projects; and

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Education has an unprecedented opportunity to provide the leadership necessary to ensure that emerging educational technologies include equal access for the blind and others with disabilities in their design and that manufacturers view equal access as the expected standard: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization express our serious concern that the NETP fails to recognize the need for the United States Department of Education to provide concentrated leadership, in both policy and practice, in order to ensure that blind students and other students with disabilities can take full advantage of the opportunities offered by emerging educational technologies in America’s classrooms; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the Department of Education to recognize that accessibility of educational technology to the blind and other students with disabilities must play a more prominent role within and throughout the NETP; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Department of Education to conduct research in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind and other blindness and print-disability organizations to create standards for the development of accessible educational technologies and then to issue regulations requiring manufacturers of educational technology to adhere to such standards when producing new technologies, once such standards are published, ensuring that the nonvisual experience with technology is as rich as the visual experience and that there is equal ease of access to all functions of the technology, whether it is being used visually or nonvisually.

Resolution 2010-11
Regarding National Industries for the Blind and the Definition of “Employment Outcome” in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program

WHEREAS, blind people are capable of working with the sighted, playing with the sighted, and living with the sighted on terms of complete equality; and

WHEREAS, the blind seek the day when we no longer need to assert our civil rights to be given equal opportunities and to be treated on terms of equality with our sighted peers, but that day will only come if our lives are fully integrated with those of the sighted; and

WHEREAS, in enacting the Rehabilitation Act, Congress found that the blind have the right to enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of American society; and

WHEREAS, following congressional intent, in January 2001 the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) issued regulations that redefined the term “employment outcome” as an outcome in which an individual with a disability enters full or part-time competitive employment in an integrated setting; and

WHEREAS, before redefining what constitutes an employment outcome recognizable in the vocational rehabilitation program, many state vocational rehabilitation agencies limited their blind clients’ opportunities to sheltered, nonintegrated settings, relegating them to working in positions that pay less than their sighted counterparts receive in the competitive labor market, to poor opportunity for career advancement, and to work settings with little opportunity to work alongside their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has recently requested that RSA issue guidelines stating that an employment outcome recognizable by the vocational rehabilitation program include placement of individuals who are blind and are working in NIB’s AbilityOne network of agencies; and

WHEREAS, NIB’s primary purpose for requesting a change in the definition of “employment outcome” is to give state vocational rehabilitation agencies the ability to count placement in NIB programs as successful employment outcomes for purposes of meeting RSA’s mandatory standards and indicators; and

WHEREAS, although at present NIB’s policy is that the blind should be paid at least the minimum wage, several NIB workshops do not adhere to this policy, and NIB officials maintain that they cannot require the workshops to do so; and

WHEREAS, blind people must be allowed to determine for themselves whether an NIB program is their desired employment outcome and not be subjected to a vocational rehabilitation system incentivized to achieve easy placements: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore National Industries for the Blind’s campaign to change the definition of an “employment outcome”; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration to retain the current definition of “employment outcome,” which will continue to place the emphasis of rehabilitation on employment in integrated settings rather than on easy closure of cases or the support of National Industries for the Blind.

Resolution 2010-12
Regarding Developer Guidelines and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from Vendors of Screen-Access Software

WHEREAS, the ability of blind computer users to use fully the functions available in word processors, email clients, database programs, Web browsers, and other Windows-based applications requires screen-access software to have the information it needs to provide meaningful information in speech, refreshable Braille, or magnification; and

WHEREAS, despite a tremendous amount of information published by Microsoft about developing accessible applications, the accessibility guidelines and recommendations promulgated by the Worldwide Web Consortium through its Web Access Initiative, and the standards and guidelines implementing Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, not enough information is available for the well-intentioned Windows application developer who poses the question to the screen-access software developer, "What can I do to make my application accessible to the blind users of your program?"; and

WHEREAS, by contrast, developers of applications designed to run on Apple platforms such as the Macintosh and the iPhone are provided a rich set of guidelines and application programming interfaces designed to maximize accessibility to end users of Apple products who rely on access technology; and

WHEREAS, experience has shown that, from the perspective of the blind computer user of Windows software, the most accessible application is the one that can pass meaningful information directly to the screen-access program--either through a well-documented application programming interface or by painting the screen in a way that is calculated to generate meaningful output from the screen-access technology: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization call upon the manufacturers of Windows-based screen-access technology for the blind to do one or both of the following to enable application developers to maximize the accessibility of their software to the blind: (1) develop a well-documented application programming interface (API) through which application software can exchange meaningful information with screen-access technology; and (2) publish clear and definitive guidelines for application developers that will enable them to make their applications truly accessible to the blind end user.

Resolution 2010-13
Regarding Insurance Coverage of Accessible Equipment for Diabetics

WHEREAS, standard medical treatment for diabetics calls for the patient to monitor blood glucose levels so that he or she can make adjustments in the amount of insulin needed; and

WHEREAS, certain health insurance plans dictate what brand of diabetic equipment a member must use to comply with the treatment regimen, claiming that this strategy controls costs for both the insurer and the insured; and

WHEREAS, most insurance companies contract strictly with one manufacturer, who typically provides only inaccessible blood glucose meters and inaccessible insulin injection devices, presenting a serious obstacle to complying with the testing regimen for tens of thousands of blind people with diabetes; and

WHEREAS, the failure to place accessible blood glucose meters and accessible insulin injection devices on the insurers’ formulary lists not only is a barrier to independence for blind diabetics, but also adversely affects their quality of life because of the added difficulties they must confront in attempting to manage and control their diabetes; and

WHEREAS, the only way blind diabetics can acquire an accessible blood glucose meter or accessible insulin injection device is through a long and complicated process of submitting extensive medical documentation, and approval is not guaranteed; and

WHEREAS, blind people have the same right to health care as their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, insurance companies must no longer be allowed to discriminate against blind people because of their need for specialized equipment; and

WHEREAS, the denial of accessible equipment by insurance companies undermines the emphasis on preventive care set forth in the 2010 federal healthcare reform legislation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization strongly urge the secretary of health and human services to eliminate discrimination against the blind by requiring that Medicare, Medicaid, and all other medical insurance programs under the secretary’s jurisdiction cover accessible equipment for diabetics; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge state legislatures and regulators to eliminate discrimination against the blind by requiring private medical insurance companies to cover accessible equipment for diabetics.

Resolution 2010-14
Regarding Access by the Blind to Virtual Laboratory Experiences in the Sciences

WHEREAS, science classes have presented access barriers to the blind for decades; and

WHEREAS, these barriers have been created by a lack of accessible equipment and materials and by misconceptions held by science faculty and teachers of the blind about the capabilities of the blind in these curricula; and

WHEREAS, these misconceptions have contributed to a significantly lower percentage of blind students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and

WHEREAS, increasingly school districts across the United States have replaced hands-on science learning with online virtual laboratory experiences; and

WHEREAS, many of these virtual laboratory experiences are not accessible using the access technology employed by blind students, thereby denying them the experience of scientific exploration and discovery; and

WHEREAS, this lack of educational experience and opportunity will further decrease the number of blind students seeking to enter STEM professions; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is creating greater understanding among teachers by offering challenging STEM-related programs that serve as a demonstration of the techniques that can be used to integrate the blind into STEM courses: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the United States Department of Education to mandate that all hands-on and virtual laboratory learning experiences be accessible to blind students so that they can have the same educational opportunities as their sighted classmates; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization promote legislation as part of the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide parents and blind students with legal recourse provisions in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to require that a school provide a hands-on science learning experience if an accessible virtual one cannot be offered; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge technology companies to work with the National Federation of the Blind to eliminate the accessibility barriers to virtual laboratory learning experiences, making them more accessible to the blind of this nation.

Resolution 2010-15
Regarding Discrimination by Airlines Against Blind Passengers

WHEREAS, in an age in which the Internet increasingly dominates the way business is conducted, air carriers usually make their lowest fares and deepest discounts available only to those customers who book travel through airline Websites; and

WHEREAS, while booking air travel online can be convenient, blind passengers cannot always take advantage of this service because of accessibility barriers on airline Websites; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of this fact the Department of Transportation issued regulations requiring that, if a passenger with a disability cannot use an airline Website to book travel because it is inaccessible and instead calls the airline’s customer service number, the airline must offer the passenger the same air fares and discounts available on the Website over the telephone and must waive any fee for the use of the telephone service; and

WHEREAS, a recent study conducted by Dr. Jonathan Lazar, director of the Universal Usability Laboratory (UUL) at Towson University in Maryland, and some of his students found that Websites operated by four out of the ten U.S. airlines that were studied--Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways--contain accessibility barriers that prevent blind users from booking travel on these Websites; and

WHEREAS, this study, which will be published in Government Information Quarterly, further found that, when the call centers of these four airlines were contacted by study participants who identified themselves as blind people needing to book travel by telephone because they could not access the airline’s Website, the airlines did not always follow the Department of Transportation regulations requiring them to offer the same air fares to blind customers who call their customer service lines and to waive the fee for using their call center instead of their Website, even when specifically informed by the caller of these regulations; and

WHEREAS, the most egregious violators of these regulations were United Airlines and US Airways, which failed to follow one or both of these regulatory requirements in at least a third and as many as 46 percent of the calls placed to them; and

WHEREAS, the results of this study are a textbook example of why government agencies and businesses must not rely on a philosophy of separate-but-equal access for blind customers, since in reality separate is never equal; and

WHEREAS, the only way to ensure truly equal access by the blind and to prevent discrimination is to require air carriers to maintain accessible Websites that allow blind customers to perform all of the functions that sighted customers can perform, particularly the booking of air travel: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the secretary of transportation to issue regulations requiring all air carriers to maintain accessible Websites that allow blind customers to perform all of the functions available to sighted customers, including the booking of air travel; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the four airlines whose Websites were identified as having accessibility barriers take immediate steps to remove those barriers and allow blind customers full and equal access to their Websites and specifically to the ability to book air travel online.

Resolution 2010-16
Regarding the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the
Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled

WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act applies to all federal contracts and permits for cafeteria and food services on federal property; and

WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act takes priority over the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act in contracts for cafeteria and food services; and

WHEREAS, notwithstanding the Randolph-Sheppard Act’s priority, the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled routinely seeks to add cafeteria and food services to its procurement list without notice to the Rehabilitation Services Administration or the affected state licensing agencies; and

WHEREAS, the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled also routinely seeks to add mess-attendant or dining-facilities-attendant services to the procurement list without notice to the Rehabilitation Services Administration or the affected state licensing agencies and without providing information from which it can be determined whether the services fall under the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and

WHEREAS, the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled has refused to respond to requests for information about services proposed for addition to the procurement list: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore the actions of the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled in continuing to place on the procurement list services that fall under the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization condemn and deplore the refusal of the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled to follow appropriate, transparent, and accountable practices to determine which contracts should be placed on the procurement list; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled and other federal agencies to provide full details about the services proposed for addition to the procurement list so that all interested stakeholders can be assured that the addition complies with all applicable laws; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to take such actions as will require the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled to comply with the law.

Resolution 2010-17
Regarding Online Testing

WHEREAS, many school districts throughout the country are now using online test preparation sites, such as Study Island by CTB/McGraw-Hill, to aid their students in readying themselves for the assessments used in their states to determine progress in meeting the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act and other end-of-course requirements; and

WHEREAS, Study Island and other preparation and testing sites have failed to incorporate adequate accessibility features to allow blind or visually impaired students to access all of the needed information to prepare for and take pretests; and

WHEREAS, this inaccessibility is evidenced in designs that convey essential information to the student by using color, strike-throughs, unlabeled graphics, and split frames, all of which create barriers for the blind student; and

WHEREAS, these barriers result in blind test takers’ being evaluated more on the accessibility of the computer programs used to administer the pretests than on the content the test is intended to measure; and

WHEREAS, cooperation with organizations of and for the blind can result in software solutions that ensure equality of opportunity to blind students preparing for these all-important tests: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization call upon the United States Department of Education to ensure that any test preparation company receiving a contract to produce statewide or national tests or study materials build accessibility features into its software and make its Websites accessible to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until such time as electronically administered tests and study materials are as usable by the blind as they are by the sighted, this organization insist that all materials be made available in hard-copy Braille, large print, and such other alternative formats as may be necessary to ensure that preparation for and administration of tests are equally accessible to blind people.

Resolution 2010-18
Regarding the Blind Persons Return to Work Act of 2010

WHEREAS, on January 28, 2010, Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and John McCain of Arizona introduced the Blind Persons Return to Work Act of 2010 (S. 2962), the Senate companion to the Blind Persons Return to Work Act of 2009 (H.R. 886), introduced in the House last year by Congressman John Lewis of Georgia; and

WHEREAS, this legislation would encourage blind people to reach their full employment potential by reforming the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program so that blind beneficiaries will lose only one dollar of benefits for every three dollars earned over the monthly limit, instead of losing all benefits when they exceed this limit; and

WHEREAS, this legislation will also relieve administrative burdens for both the Social Security Administration and blind beneficiaries by changing the monthly earnings test to an annual test and by setting a fixed deduction for impairment-related work expenses; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has worked tirelessly for well over ten years to remove the disincentive to work in the SSDI program so that blind beneficiaries can transition from SSDI to the workforce without being penalized for doing so; and

WHEREAS, in 1999 Congress recognized this problem and passed Ticket to Work legislation that was supposed to establish a demonstration project to test the viability of a two-for-one earnings-to-benefit reduction program; and

WHEREAS, despite over ten years’ having elapsed, the demonstration project has yet to begin because of changes in leadership and disagreements among actuaries; and

WHEREAS, with a 70 percent rate of unemployment and underemployment for the blind, we cannot wait for the stalled demonstration project to begin; and

WHEREAS, the United States Senate is working on a jobs bill to address the high unemployment rate across America, which affects people with disabilities even more than the rest of the population: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the United States Senate to include provisions of the Blind Persons Return to Work Act of 2010 in the Senate jobs bill to ensure that blind people can successfully enter the workforce and reach their full employment potential; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this organization urge Congress to pass this jobs bill, thus passing the Blind Persons Return to Work Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this organization commend Congressman Lewis and Senators Dodd and McCain for their longtime championing of the Blind Persons Return to Work Act and loyalty to our cause.

Resolution 2010-19
Regarding NLS Restrictions on Foreign-Produced Materials

WHEREAS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS) has a long history of providing reading materials in Braille and recorded formats to its patrons; and

WHEREAS, NLS is able to produce only approximately 2,000 books per year, a mere fraction of the number of books published in the U.S. each year; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of the dearth of books available to its patrons, NLS has in the past offered materials recorded by libraries and producers outside the United States through interlibrary loan; and

WHEREAS, although NLS still permits patrons to borrow Braille materials from producers outside the U.S., in 2008 following the conversion to digital audio format and the development of the Braille and Audio Reading Download program, NLS discontinued interlibrary loan of digital audio materials from foreign producers; and

WHEREAS, one of the principal reasons for this discontinuation is the incompatibility of file formats with the NLS system, which requires features not available to international producers; and

WHEREAS, the expectation of greater access to materials created by the digitization of books is now being curtailed because of the new NLS policy on digital audio books from foreign producers: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge NLS immediately to work with foreign producers of digital audio materials to fulfill the real promise of access made possible by today’s advanced digital technology.

Resolution 2010-20
Regarding Refreshable Braille Notetaker Devices

WHEREAS, the advent of refreshable Braille technology has made Braille more portable; more flexible; and, best of all, more widely available than ever before; and

WHEREAS, refreshable-Braille technology is becoming increasingly necessary in educating blind children because a rapidly increasing portion of the reading material is available only in an on-screen format; and

WHEREAS, the failure to provide blind students with a Braille interface reduces their opportunity to acquire literacy skills because they are forced to listen to the material using computer speech output; and

WHEREAS, personal data assistants with refreshable Braille displays (more commonly known as electronic notetakers) include the ability for the user to handle word processing, email, and Web browsing, providing potential for seamless communication between those who use Braille and those who use print; and

WHEREAS, despite the advertised claims that these devices are compatible with mainstream word processors, the reality is that none of them allows a Braille user the security of knowing they can author, read, or collaborate with sighted peers who use current versions of today's popular applications, even though the Braille devices cost three to four times as much as the hardware and software used by the general public; and

WHEREAS, while all of these Braille notetakers advertise access to the Internet and feature some version of a browser, most do not allow communication with even the most basic Java scripts used to gain access at airports and hotels, and they are not compatible with Aria and other technologies currently being deployed by businesses, Internet providers, and even social-networking sites; and

WHEREAS, many of today's mainstream computers, phones, and PDAs can be accessed in Braille by connecting them to a type of refreshable Braille display that is not itself a notetaker, giving the user access to the power and integration of the mainstream device but sacrificing some of the convenience of an all-in-one device (as are the notetakers): Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the designers and manufacturers of notetakers with refreshable Braille displays to give top priority in their future development to providing better integration with mainstream devices, applications, and data; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly encourage school districts and others involved in the purchase of educational access technology to acquire refreshable Braille technology for blind students and to consider the need for integration with mainstream devices, applications, and data when choosing which devices to purchase.

Resolution 2010-21
Regarding Manufacture of Accessible Medical Devices

WHEREAS, diabetics must measure the level of glucose in their blood accurately and draw the correct amount of insulin in order to control their diabetes and to reduce the risk of diabetic complications; and

WHEREAS, tens of thousands of diabetics need nonvisual access to equipment such as blood glucose meters and insulin-injection and infusion devices because diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults of working age in the United States with thousands losing their vision each year; and

WHEREAS, the need for nonvisual access is even greater because many blind and visually impaired senior citizens become diabetic and many diabetic senior citizens lose vision either temporarily or permanently from causes other than diabetes; and

WHEREAS, nonvisual access means that a blind person can use all features, functions, and navigation aspects of a given device, and merely providing speech output does not constitute true accessibility; and

WHEREAS, some manufacturers of diabetic equipment incorporate true nonvisual access features in their devices, but more companies must be encouraged to follow this practice; and

WHEREAS, to meet the goal of emphasizing wellness programs in the 2010 healthcare reform legislation, the federal government should encourage manufacturers to ensure true nonvisual access to their devices; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is currently promulgating regulations for health information technology programs, but the scope of the regulations should be broadened to include medical devices as well: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization strongly urge the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to incorporate true nonvisual access requirements for the manufacture of diabetic devices in its health information technology regulations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that the secretary of health and human services create incentives that will lead to greater accessibility of current and future diabetic equipment.

Resolution 2010-22
Regarding Inaccessible Basic Cell Phones and Smartphones

WHEREAS, more and more manufacturers are introducing basic cell phones and smartphones with an ever increasing number of capabilities such as call management, contact management, text messaging, Internet browsing, and e-mail; and

WHEREAS, some of these phones even have the capability to function as social networking content aggregators for Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Windows Live; and

WHEREAS, despite the requirements of Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act and best industry practices, as demonstrated by Apple, for making cell phones accessible to the blind out of the box, too many manufacturers release cell phones without any way for blind users to access many of their features; and

WHEREAS, many companies advertise their commitment to accessibility but ignore our needs, despite the fact that blind consumers are now, and have been for many years, purchasers of basic cell phones and smartphones: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore the release of these inaccessible basic cell phones and smartphones by manufacturers in flagrant disregard of both their legal obligations and their obligation to provide equal access to their products for all consumers, including the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that manufacturers follow the lead of Apple and immediately take steps to provide equal access for the blind to all current and future basic cell phones and smartphones.

Resolution 2010-23
Regarding Sirius XM Radio, Inc.

WHEREAS, Sirius XM Radio, Inc., is the sole provider in the United States of radio programming delivered by satellite to paid subscribers using receivers specifically designed to receive these satellite transmissions; and

WHEREAS, the service provided by Sirius XM offers a wide variety of audio programming, including most genres of music, live sporting events, news, talk, comedy, and both classic and contemporary radio drama; and

WHEREAS, despite the fact that Sirius XM is a radio service, the units that subscribers must purchase in order to receive the service have visual displays to convey information to the listener such as the title and artist of the current song being played or the score of the sporting event to which the listener is tuned; and

WHEREAS, Sirius XM also transmits some information exclusively to the visual display such as the latest stock quotes and the current temperature and weather conditions when a user is tuned to its traffic and weather channels; and

WHEREAS, sighted users of the service can perform a number of tasks such as viewing the current time, date, signal reception, and battery status of the receiver; setting the receiver to record a scheduled program; viewing what is playing across the service without switching stations; organizing recorded music and programs; creating, organizing, and navigating a list of favorite channels; and much more, but these features are not available to blind users because they cannot read the visual display; and

WHEREAS, like many other consumer electronic products, Sirius XM radio receivers increasingly rely on touch screens and interactive visual interfaces to accomplish all tasks, rather than traditional buttons, switches, or knobs, making it difficult for blind users to access even the basic features of these receivers; and

WHEREAS, despite these barriers to full access to the Sirius XM satellite radio service, many blind Americans have purchased subscriptions to the service because of its wide variety of quality radio programming, and it is likely that many more would do so if Sirius XM were to make its radio receivers accessible; and

WHEREAS, the technology to make these receivers accessible already exists and has been implemented in other personal entertainment devices such as Apple’s iPod and iPhone product lines and the DICE ITR-100-A HD radio; and

WHEREAS, accessible Sirius XM receivers that allow users to access all functions nonvisually would not only benefit blind consumers, but would also be ideal for older Americans who are losing vision, for those with other disabilities that prevent them from reading print, and for the many subscribers who use the service in their cars, since they would be able to control their satellite radios with less distraction from driving: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge Sirius XM Radio, Inc., to make its receivers fully accessible to blind subscribers.

Resolution 2010-24
Regarding the Worldwide Reading Rights Campaign and the
Right to Get Accessible Texts from Throughout the World

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has led the way in advancing the rights of the blind to gain access to published works on the national and international levels; and

WHEREAS, the Federation’s national efforts resulted in passage of the Chafee Amendment to U.S. copyright law, which permits authorized entities to reproduce published works in accessible formats without permission from the copyright holder; and

WHEREAS, the vast majority of the countries of the world do not possess such laws or possess laws that are much weaker; and

WHEREAS, generally speaking, international copyright law does not currently permit the sharing of accessible texts across international borders, with the result that blind people in the United States cannot get access to hundreds of thousands of works in accessible formats produced in other countries, and blind people throughout the rest of the world cannot get access to the United States collection, creating a worldwide book famine, in which less than one percent of all published works are available to the blind in accessible formats; and

WHEREAS, this inability to share accessible books across borders and the international inconsistency in copyright law lead either to needless duplication in the conversion of published works into accessible formats or to no access at all; and

WHEREAS, to address this book famine, the National Federation of the Blind worked with the World Blind Union (WBU) to draft a proposed treaty that would legalize the cross-border sharing of accessible works and also harmonize copyright exceptions to create an atmosphere in which even greater numbers of accessible works can be produced; and

WHEREAS, in 2008 the WBU brought this proposed treaty before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an entity of the United Nations, through original sponsorship by Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay, and later by Mexico; and

WHEREAS, from June 21 through 24, 2010, WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright (SCCR) conducted its twentieth regular session (SCCR 20) in Geneva, where the WBU-proposed treaty and three other proposals on the same topic received extensive consideration; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind received official standing as an authorized non-governmental organization (NGO) and gave an intervention in favor of the WBU-proposed treaty and/or some other binding international legal instrument; and

WHEREAS, the SCCR cannot make recommendations unless all nations present agree; and

WHEREAS, after years of negotiation between governments and NGOs, it appeared that a proposal would go forward at SCCR 20 that would have led to binding international legal instruments within a definite time; and

WHEREAS, at the last minute, despite the Herculean efforts of the WBU community, the U.S. government delegation, and the Latin American block of countries, the African Union countries withdrew their support for the negotiated proposal, stating that one of their issues (gaining copyright exceptions for educational, research, and archive purposes) must proceed at the same pace as the issue affecting the blind, even though the African Union’s proposal addresses an entirely different subject and is not as well developed at this time: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization reaffirm its support for the World Blind Union’s proposed Treaty for the Visually Impaired; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express its great outrage and disappointment that the African Union chose to hijack the proposed WBU treaty and related proposals, an action needlessly delaying relief from the worldwide book famine for blind people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend the U.S. government delegation’s efforts in Geneva to keep the process moving forward; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the U.S. government to work closely with the National Federation of the Blind, the WBU, and other governments to find a way forward to the adoption of binding international norms and legal instruments that permit cross-border sharing of accessible works and harmonize copyright exceptions as part of the overall effort to secure the right of blind people to read published works on the same terms as the rest of the world population.

Resolution 2010-25
Regarding Civil Rights Protection of Blind People
and Their Service Animals in Public Accommodations

WHEREAS, the purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is “the removal of the legal, social, and economic barriers faced by the blind” so that we will achieve “full integration into society on terms of equality”; and

WHEREAS, discrimination by places of public accommodation is one of the barriers faced by the blind, especially among those who choose to use a guide dog as their mobility tool; and

WHEREAS, state laws vary in the protection from discrimination that they offer to their blind citizens; and

WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and offers greater protection against discrimination than many state laws; and

WHEREAS, many states have laws that contain provisions that are incongruent with the ADA such as requirements that service animals wear specific gear, provisions for muzzling, requirements for documentation, language concerning certifications that do not exist, and prohibitions of service animals in zoos, all of which are considered discriminatory under the ADA; and

WHEREAS, although the ADA has been in existence for twenty years, many states have not bothered to change their laws to conform to the ADA; and

WHEREAS, a large majority of states provide criminal penalties for discrimination on the basis of disability, allowing law enforcement to intervene, generally resulting in an immediate resolution of such access issues while providing appropriate penalties for more serious infractions; and

WHEREAS, criminal penalties allow a more expeditious resolution of such access issues (benefiting the disabled community in general and society as a whole) by addressing discrimination at the local level, while relieving individuals from the burden of costly litigation and prolonged civil processes: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2010, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization call upon state legislatures to examine their statutes for parity with the ADA, removing provisions that are not in conformity with this federal law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the remaining states that do not provide criminal penalties for discrimination against blind guide dog users to promote and protect the equal rights of their blind citizens more effectively by creating criminal penalties for acts of discrimination; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all states to protect the civil rights of the blind by vigorous enforcement of the law.


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