Braille Monitor                                                                  August-September 1985

(back)(contents)

Resolutions

The meeting of the Resolutions Committee is always one of the most spirited occasions to occur at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Louisville in 1985 was no exception. One resolution (85-101) was passed by the National Board of Directors. Twenty-nine resolutions were considered by the Resolutions Committee. Of these, twenty seven were adopted; one (85-19) was postponed for consideration next year; and one (85-18) was not considered by the convention. The reason 85-18 was not considered was that no one was present to speak for it when the Committee met. In such instances no action is taken.

85-101 provides that an individual may join a national division of the Federation and, thereby, become a member of the Federation without first joining a state affiliate. This resolution was adopted by the National Board in open session on Monday morning, July 1. It did not require action by the convention since the Board may deal with membership matters.

The resolutions which were adopted are:

85-01 seeks to include the disabled in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

85-02 supports bills prohibiting discrimination on the basis of blindness in the issuance of insurance.

85-03 deplores unreasonable and detrimental restrictions imposed by air carriers as a condition of transporting the blind.

85-04 supports bills in Congress to restore full coverage of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which was jeopardized by the Grove City decision.

85-05 urges Congress and the Administration not to tamper with any Social Security benefit programs affecting the blind and disabled.

85-06 urges all federal property management agencies to comply fully with both the letter and the spirit of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

85-07 urges the Internal Revenue Service to establish a greater commitment to career development and advancement for its blind employees.

85-08 urges the federal government's Office of Personnel Management to exempt all reader positions from agency personnel ceilings.

85-09 urges the Social Security Administration to provide blind representative payees with better guidance on accounting for the use of funds at the time the payee first begins receiving benefits for someone else.

85-10 calls upon all vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind to accept any person who receives Social Security benefits as eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

85-11 urges Congress to safeguard the special mailing rates and services now available to nonprofit organizations and the mailing of free reading matter and related equipment and aids to the blind.

85-12 calls upon the Department of Health and Human Services to require James Jeffers to surrender his position as Chairman of NAC's Commission on Standards so long as he is employed as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Department.

85-13 calls upon the Educational Testing Service to cease its discriminatory and unfair policy of refusing to provide test results to blind and other students who use special testing arrangements.

85-14 urges Congress and the Administration to spell out in existing rehabilitation and special education laws and regulations the right of blind children and adults to training in skills and attitudes which would enable them to compete fully and function competently in today's society.

85-15 seeks to expedite importation of assistive devices for the blind.

85-16 calls upon the armed forces of the United States to consider blind people for employment in non-combat positions on a nondiscriminatory basis.

85-17 calls upon the Internal Revenue Service to make available informational material for taxpayers in forms accessible to the blind.

85-20 calls upon the American Printing House for the Blind to continually update its catalog of textbooks.

85-21 calls upon the American Printing House for the Blind to increase the availability of Braille materials, including maps and atlases.

85-22 opposes the use of special parking spaces designated for the handicapped by blind persons who do not truly need them.

85-23 calls upon Congress to eliminate the American Printing House for the Blind as the sole supplier of aids and materials for blind students.

85-24 urges all educational institutions to make their computer facilities accessible to the blind.

85-25 urges the Urban Mass Transportation Administration to cease funding and promoting the design of special features for the blind on public transit systems.

85-26 calls for the replacement of the existing system for rehabilitation service delivery with a new system which would offer blind clients greater freedom of choice and influence over decisions affecting them.

85-27 calls upon Congress to appropriate $12 million for services to the older blind.

85-28 calls upon the Rehabilitation Services Administration to issue regulations which would prevent state rehabilitation agencies from conditioning services on the means test.

85-29 restates the readiness of the National Federation of the Blind to offer its support and assistance to any sheltered workshop wishing to enhance its productivity and become truly profitable.

RESOLUTION 85-101

WHEREAS, Section A of Article III of the Constitution of the National Federation of the Blind reads: "The membership of the National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates plus members at large. Members at large shall have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities in the National Federation of the Blind as those exercised by members of state affiliates. The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of members at large, determine how many classes of such members shall be established, and determine the annual dues to be paid by members of each class"; and

WHEREAS, it is desirable to make it possible for those who want to join the Federation to do so without undue complexity and formality; and

WHEREAS, the Federation is increasingly establishing special interest Divisions to deal with specific areas of concern to the blind; and

WHEREAS, many individuals have expressed a wish to join one or another of the Federation Divisions but have not at the time held membership in a state affiliate and have sometimes (because of the provisions of the constitution of the Division in question) been told that they could not join the Division without first applying for and receiving membership in^ state affiliate; and

WHEREAS, this practice seems unnecessarily cumbersome and bureaucratic and discourages people from joining the Federation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind in meeting assembled this first day of July, 1985, in Louisville, Kentucky, that membership in a Division shall not be conditioned upon membership in a state affiliate and that all members of Divisions are members of the National Federation of the Blind, with the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities possessed by members of state affiliates; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all provisions of Division constitutions which are in conflict with the provisions of this resolution are hereby repealed and declared null and void.

RESOLUTION 85-01

WHEREAS, the Honorable Joe Moakley has introduced H.R. 370 in the First Session of the 99th Congress; and WHEREAS, H.R. 370 continues the long-standing effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve the fullest possible protection of our nation's civil rights laws in order effectively to combat employment discrimination based on blindness or disability; and

WHEREAS, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, are currently the principal Federal statutes that address affirmative action in employment and discrimination based on handicap in general, but Federal court rulings have imposed severe limits on these provisions, often making them virtually useless to individuals having actual complaints of discrimination by employers or potential employers; and

WHEREAS, even in the absence of limiting court rulings, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act would cover only a fraction of the employers who are already required to follow a Federal nondiscrimination mandate with respect to race, color, creed, sex, national origin, and religion, but not yet with respect to blindness or other disabling conditions; and

WHEREAS, H.R. 3 70 would establish for the blind and disabled the same protection against employment discrimination now given other minorities pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS, on June 6, 1985, the Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities of the House Committee on Education and Labor held a public hearing on H.R. 370 to begin the process of considering and hopefully reporting this bill: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization express official thanks and commendation to Representative Moakley for continuing his vigorous leadership on behalf of legislation to uphold the principle that the blind and disabled deserve equal treatment under our nation's civil rights laws, including protection against employment discrimination now given to others under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Subcommittee on Employment Opportunities and the Committee on Education and Labor in the United States House of Representatives to report H.R. 370 to the House for its swift consideration during this session of Congress.

RESOLUTION 85-02

WHEREAS, Representative Jim Bates and Senator Charles Mathias have introduced companion bills in the First Session of the 99th Congress each entitled the Fair Insurance Coverage Act (H.R. 2741 by Mr. Bates in the House of Representatives and S. 1290 by Senator Mathias in the United States Senate); and

WHEREAS, the Bates-Mathias Fair Insurance Coverage Act is intended to establish a nationwide prohibition against insurance discrimination based on blindness or degree of blindness; and

WHEREAS, a national standard of nondiscrimination in insurance is essential to assure fair treatment for the blind since insurance discrimination on grounds of blindness has continued despite separate state laws in over half the states; and

WHEREAS, the Fair Insurance Coverage Act respects the traditional responsibility of the states to regulate the business of insurance while providing individual consumers with much needed supplemental protection in the event that state enforcement is not effective or timely or in the absence of a specific state law or regulation prohibiting insurance discrimination against the blind; and

WHEREAS, 1985 marks a twenty-year milestone in the struggle of the blind of the United States to obtain fair treatment in insurance, yet our will is strong to continue the battle until total victory over insurance discrimination based on blindness is finally achieved: Now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization commend and loudly applaud Representative Bates and Senator Mathias for standing tall in support of a national policy to prohibit insurance discrimination based on blindness ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the committees and subcommittees having jurisdiction over these bills in the Senate and the House promptly to hold hearings and report the Fair Insurance Coverage Act for consideration and enactment during the 99th Congress.

RESOLUTION 85-03

WHEREAS, travel by air has long since become a necessity for the blind and the sighted alike; and

WHEREAS, recent events, including arrests of blind passengers on board commercial aircraft, show a clear pattern of discrimination against the blind by some but not all carriers; and

WHEREAS, the arrests and related (albeit not as dramatic) acts of discrimination against blind people who fly are the shocking outgrowth of an attempt by the commercial aviation industry to accommodate air travel services to meet the needs of the handicapped, yet airline policy-makers generally do not understand the needs they are attempting to accommodate and specifically fail to recognize the different characteristics and limitations that exist from one disability to another and from one individual to another, no matter what the disability or lack thereof; and

WHEREAS, specific limitations on the use and enjoyment of air travel by individuals who are blind should not be imposed unless an air carrier can justify any such limits with substantial and reliable evidence, not belief or myth; and

WHEREAS, as in the case of all other passengers who do not have obvious physical conditions, blind people should be assumed capable of traveling independently and safely without unreasonable and detrimental restriction imposed as a condition of transporting the blind; and

WHEREAS, the Civil Aeronautics Board Sunset Act has given the Department of Transportation specific authority to develop and oversee a policy of nondiscrimination in the interest of protecting blind air travelers from unreasonable and unsupported limitations based on myths and misconceptions about blindness: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization deplore discriminatory seating and all other unreasonable and detrimental restrictions imposed by air carriers as a condition of transporting the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon all commercial air carriers to cooperate with the National Federation of the Blind in re-examining any limitations they may have on the use and enjoyment of air travel service by the blind and to make changes where there is no substantial or reliable evidence to support the limitations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation urge the Secretary of Transportation to order a departmental review of all air carrier regulations which have a potential of discrimination against the blind in order to insure that the procedures of each air carrier contain only such requirements as are rationally determined to be necessary on the basis of substantial and reliable evidence.

RESOLUTION 85-04

WHEREAS, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1985 (H.R. 700, introduced in the House of Representatives by the Honorable Augustus Hawkins and S. 431, introduced in the Senate by the Honorable Edward Kennedy) seeks to reinstate the long-standing civil rights policy of our nation that existed prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Grove City College vs. Bell; and

WHEREAS, before the Grove City decision, recipients of Federal funds were required to conduct all of their programs and activities in a manner free of discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, national origin, handicap, or age; and

WHEREAS, the Grove City ruling now threatens virtually to annihilate the civil rights obligation of Federally funded recipients in all but exceptional circumstances by declaring that only those specific programs and activities of a recipient that directly use Federal funds must comply with Federal civil rights mandates; and

WHEREAS, such a narrow application of civil rights requirements, if not reversed, will permit the Federal government to turn its back on provable discrimination, even while the known discriminators continue to benefit by their access to Federal funds: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization declare its full fledged support for the Civil Rights Restoration bills introduced in the First Session of the 99th Congress by Representative Augustus Hawkins and Senator Edward Kennedy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation urge all members of the 99th Congress, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, to cosponsor, actively support, and vote for passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act before this session of Congress adjourns.

RESOLUTION 85-05

WHEREAS, the vast majority of blind Americans who now receive Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act depend upon OASDI benefits for their principal source of income; and

WHEREAS, the legal and moral commitment of the Social Security system is to assure that the value of benefits that are paid will not be reduced due to inflation, hence a cost of living increase is paid by law annually beginning with the January Social Security checks; and

WHEREAS, in 1983, Congress enacted new legislation to assure that the Social Security system would remain sound and able to meet all promised financial obligations, including annual cost of living increases, for the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS, blind persons receiving Social Security benefits and those who expect to in the future have a right to know that the social insurance payments to which they are entitled, including scheduled increases, will not be diverted to show on paper a decreasing Federal deficit or a balanced Federal budget: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization urge Congress and the budget writers to adopt a hands-off policy with respect to Social Security benefits, including the cost of living increases that are to be paid in accordance with promises made in the law.

RESOLUTION 85-06

WHEREAS, Congress enacted the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its amendments of 1954 and 1974 to give blind persons a priority to operate vending facilities on all Federal property, including all property under the control of the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the United States Postal Service; and

WHEREAS, a primary goal of the 1974 amendments, strongly expressed in the statutory language as well as in the legislative history, was to expand the number and type of vending facilities to be operated by the blind so that the traditional cigarette and candy stand would no longer be the principal mainstay of the blind vendor program; and

WHEREAS, using the skills of blind vendors and the potential of the Randolph-Sheppard Program fully to meet the food service needs of Federal employees and the public is desirable and in accordance with the law, yet there is a growing trend among Federal property managing agencies to disregard or evade the priority for blind persons in favor of commercial bidding by national food chains and vending companies; and

WHEREAS, specific incidents that form this trend include:

(1) the aborted attempt by GSA to contract Federal space to a commercial fast-food chain;

(2) limitations normally imposed by the United States Postal Service to restrict the scope of blind vendor operations so that space and income is shared with commercial vendors and associations of postal employees;

(3) a current attempt by the Bureau of Prisons to claim an exemption from most provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act pertaining to collection and payment of vending machine income and attempting to charge blind vendors for the right to operate at Federal prison sites; and

(4) Defense Department contracts with the McDonald 's and Burger King Corporations which clearly include opportunities that could have been extended to blind vendors but were not; and WHEREAS, Federal property managing agencies have a responsibility to offer more and better business opportunities to blind vendors at Federal sites and must always avoid policies that frustrate growth of the blind vendor program: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization deplore any tactics that will or may be used by officials of Federal property managing agencies to avoid full compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we seek the cooperation of Federal property managing agencies to expand opportunities for blind vendors in ways that fully serve the needs of Federal employees and the public.

RESOLUTION 85-07

WHEREAS, the Internal Revenue Service of the United States has a notable record of employing blind persons as Taxpayer Service Representatives; and

WHEREAS, employing the blind in taxpayer service has been a commendable initiative by IRS, however, like so many other "special efforts", a stereotyped job for the blind with IRS has tended to emerge; and

WHEREAS, blind Taxpayer Service Representatives have expressed legitimate complaints that their perceived or real status as a "special class" of employees has deprived them of other employment opportunities at IRS and limits the likelihood that blind employees will be able to obtain promotions ; and

WHEREAS, many blind Taxpayer Service Representatives have become frustrated and disillusioned in their dead-end jobs as they remain passed over for promotions either because they have not received the requisite training opportunities to qualify for advancement or because of a pervasive attitude among the supervisors that the place for the blind is on the Taxpayer Service telephones only; and

WHEREAS, recent purchases of equipment for some IRS offices intended to help blind employees expand their work came only as a settlement of a lawsuit, yet there remains now a need for a comprehensive plan and a nationwide commitment by IRS management to insure an ever broadening range of employment opportunities for the blind throughout all divisions and units of IRS, and not just in Taxpayer Service: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization urge the IRS to establish a nationally directed public commitment aimed specifically at creating career development opportunities for blind persons who work at IRS presently or in the future; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation make available to the IRS the experiences and knowledge of a select working group of blind leaders capable of consulting on technology and job development issues; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation assistance shall continue so long as IRS makes a good faith effort with results that show measurable progress.

RESOLUTION 85-08

WHEREAS, Federal personnel management regulations implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, require agencies of the United States Government to make reasonable accommodation to any special employment needs of qualified handicapped individuals, including blind applicants for Federal employment and blind Federal employees; and

WHEREAS, blind employees who need to work with printed information not readily available to them in another form are entitled to reader assistance as a reasonable accommodation according to Federal Personnel Regulations and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978; and

WHEREAS, despite these reader accommodation requirements, Federal agencies are penalized when readers are hired for blind employees since under Office of Personnel Management directives, the position occupied by a reader is counted against the authorized personnel ceiling of each agency; and

WHEREAS, counting readers for blind employees under the agency personnel ceilings compromises the accommodation requirement and impairs expanded employment opportunities for blind people in the Federal Civil Service: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization make an official request to the Office of Personnel Management for a government-wide policy to be established insuring that all reader positions are exempt from agency personnel ceilings; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in the event a negative response is obtained on this issue from the Office of Personnel Management, we shall request consideration by Congress of an appropriate legislative remedy.

RESOLUTION 85-09

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has embarked upon an initiative designed to secure financial reports from blind individuals who receive Social Security benefits on behalf of someone else; and

WHEREAS, demands for information from such blind individuals, who are termed "representative payees", are being made without a clear explanation as to the purpose for such demands or the legal obligation of a "representative payee" to report on the use of funds received for another person's use; and

WHEREAS, blind people who wish to cooperate with the Social Security Administration in reporting on the use of funds they receive for someone else are not given sufficient guidance on the purposes for which funds may be used or the manner in which the funds must be accounted for, hence there is widespread confusion and resentment over what many regard as meddlesome and meaningless inquiries of the Social Security Administration: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that the Social Security Administration is hereby urged to provide blind "representative payees" with thorough guidance on accounting for the use of funds at the time the payee first begins receiving benefits for someone else; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express concern to the Social Security Administration that "representative payee" reports should be obtained only where circumstances indicate the need for a report and only after a complete explanation of the reporting requirements and the proper use of funds.

RESOLUTION 85-10

WHEREAS, blind Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries are expected to accept rehabilitation services in order to become gainfully employed; and

WHEREAS, provisions of the Social Security Act also extend financial incentives to vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind specifically encouraging such agencies to assist blind individuals to become gainfully employed; and

WHEREAS, rehabilitation funding for a blind disability beneficiary can mean the difference between a productive future on the one hand or continuing dependence on the other hand if a a rehabilitation agency will not cooperate in providing services that are paid for by Social Security funds; and

WHEREAS, current policies of the Social Security Beneficiary Rehabilitation Program give rehabilitation agencies the discretion to find blind beneficiaries ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services based on a finding that blindness for the individual in question is not a substantial handicap to employment; and

WHEREAS, it is ludicrous on the one hand to require blind beneficiaries to accept vocational rehabilitation services while on the other hand not requiring the vocational rehabilitation agencies who serve the blind to provide the services, leaving a blind beneficiary no choice but to continue to depend upon Social Security benefits, since training and employment services are denied: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization call upon all vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind to accept as having a substantial handicap to employment any blind person who receives Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Social Security Administration to adopt a policy in the beneficiary rehabilitation program requiring rehabilitation agencies that participate to honor the determination that SSDI beneficiaries who are blind have, by definition, a substantial handicap to employment.

RESOLUTION 85-11

WHEREAS, mass communication by mail is essential for nonprofit groups such as the National Federation of the Blind to spread our message and to obtain public support, including financial support and greater public understanding about blindness and what can be done to help the blind achieve social equality; and

WHEREAS, as a matter of long-standing public policy, our nation has assisted nonprofit groups (including this Federation) in using the mails to achieve socially beneficial purposes benefitting all taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, free mail service to provide reading matter and related equipment and aids for the blind is also available to bring special library services and educational programs to the blind in our homes and places of work; and

WHEREAS, a Federal appropriation to cover "revenue foregone" by the United States Postal Service for providing various special mailing rates and services to qualifying mailers continues to be the only method for assuring that these rates and special services will remain available, although Congress is also considering other funding alternatives ; and

WHEREAS, blind people and our families and friends are vitally affected by the policy debate over special postage rates and services and the consequences of even a temporary halt in funding of these services would be severe, to the point of destruction, for some programs now operating on behalf of the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization urge all members of Congress to pledge and actively support a policy of safeguarding special mailing rates and services now available to nonprofit groups and for bringing essential postage-free reading matter and related equipment and aids to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation support full funding to cover the postal service's "revenue foregone" by a direct appropriation until such time as Congress has approved and has in place a new funding source.

RESOLUTION 85-12

WHEREAS, the National Accreditation Council of Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) has announced that James Jeffers has been appointed Chairman of the NAC Commission on Standards; and

WHEREAS, James Jeffers is an official of the United States Government, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services; and

WHEREAS, NAC's survival depends upon bringing more agencies within its orbit and hanging on to those which have already joined up; and

WHEREAS, a long range strategy of NAC has been to forge an official or implied link between NAC accreditation of an agency and eligibility for Federal funds, either directly from Federal grants or as "pass through" support from state agencies; and

WHEREAS, the prominence of the Federal position of Mr. Jeffers coupled with his chairmanship of the NAC Commission on Standards implies a form of Federal support for NAC which actually does not exist as a matter of Federal policy; and

WHEREAS, the association of the Federal position of Mr. Jeffers with his NAC position raises serious questions of ethics and conflict of interest, regardless of how discrete Mr. Jeffers might be in meeting the obligations of both positions and attempting to separate the two: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization officially demand that James Jeffers be required to surrender his NAC position so long as he is employed in a responsible Federal position.

RESOLUTION 85-13

WHEREAS, it is universally recognized that education is the vehicle by which disadvantaged minorities attain first-class citizenship; and

WHEREAS, the blind, in most cases, are subjected to inferior primary and secondary educational experiences and limited opportunities; and

WHEREAS, those students, who complete their secondary education with the skills and ability required to pursue a higher education, need equal access and opportunity to participate in post secondary education; and

WHEREAS, opportunities to participate in post secondary education are based, in part, on the results of competitive examinations administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS); and

WHEREAS, it is the policy of ETS to provide test results and answer keys to their exams, to all students requesting these services, with the single exception of those students using special administration services; and

WHEREAS, the opportunity to study and scrutinize exam results can be a significant advantage to students competing for limited educational opportunities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization call upon the Educational Testing Service to cease its discriminatory and unfair policy of refusing to provide test results to blind, and other students, who are forced to use special administration services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind take the initiative to open lines of communication with ETS in order to correct this and other discriminatory policies.

RESOLUTION 85-14

WHEREAS, education and rehabilitation have always been a major concern of the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, despite the proliferation of legislation and special programs affecting the education and rehabilitation of the blind, blind children and adults are seldom provided with the mobility and communication skills and confidence necessary to participate fully in society; and

WHEREAS, this deplorable situation creates a self-fulfilling prophecy which remains the major source of societal misunderstanding and prejudice against the blind; and

WHEREAS, no where in the law or public policy is there a clear statement that blind people have the right to certain training and adjustment opportunities sufficient to achieve full equality in education and employment: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization declare that, with respect to education and rehabilitation, certain inalienable rights should be established in law and public policy, including but not limited to:

(1) independent mobility training to a level at which an individual is able to travel freely and safely;

(2) communication skills taught to a standard which equals that which is expected for sighted individuals and which allows the individual to communicate in both Braille and print at a level of competence which facilitates professional and social interactions; and

(3) an understanding of blindness as a characteristic which need not be a major limitation to daily living, professional aspirations, or interaction with others; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization seek changes in Federal and state legislation, regulations, and policies to achieve the expression of rights for the blind called for in this resolution.

RESOLUTION 85-15

WHEREAS, for many years the blind have easily been able to import assistive devices and equipment into the United States duty-free under Sections 826.10 through 826.20, entitled Articles for the Blind, of the Tariff Schedules United States Annotated (TSUSA); and

WHEREAS, the practice of the United States Customs Service has been to permit expeditious entry of articles for the blind by completion of a simple "informal entry" form (Customs Form 1015-73 5119-A) without the necessity of obtaining a bond against the value of the goods being imported; and

WHEREAS, in 1983, the United States became a signatory to the Nairobi Protocol of the Florence Convention--this treaty allowing for reciprocity between countries in the duty-free import and export of assistive devices and equipment for all handicapped people; and

WHEREAS, temporary Sections 960.10 through 960.12 have been added to the TSUSA which permit duty-free importation of assistive devices for all handicapped people; and

WHEREAS, the practice of the United States Customs Service has now changed to require a complex "formal entry" process including a surety bond for both articles for the blind and articles for the handicapped, thus causing unnecessary inconvenience and expense; and

WHEREAS, consideration is being given to unification of TSUSA regulations keeping Sections 960.10 through 960.12 and incorporating or nullifying Sections 82 6.10 through 826.20, Articles for the Blind, thus, creating one set of regulations covering the importation of articles for all handicapped people: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization demand that Sections 826.10 through 826.20, Articles for the Blind, of the TSUSA shall remain unchanged and not be amalgamated with Sections 960.10 through 960.12 of the TSUSA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization petition the Secretary of the Treasury and the United States Commissioner of Customs to direct that articles for the blind may be imported through the "informal entry" process without surety bond; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the United States Commissioner of Customs to work with the National Federation of the Blind in implementing this resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express its thanks to Robert Bykirk, Director of Customs, of the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, for his assistance with the expeditious clearance of aids and appliances imported by the National Federation of the Blind.

RESOLUTION 85-16

WHEREAS, blind people believe in serving our country just as our sighted peers serve; and

WHEREAS, this organization has twice gone on record (Resolutions 80-01 and 82-16) supporting the employment of the blind in the military services of the United States in duty assignments which will not be reclassified as combat assignments in the event of an emergency; and

WHEREAS, military services have consistently refused to allow blind persons to serve in the armed forces on the basis of equality in these positions: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization demand that the armed services of the United States accept blind persons into duty assignments which will not be reclassified as combat assignments in the event of an emergency.

RESOLUTION 85-17

WHEREAS, for the last several years, Federal Income Tax information and forms have been available to blind persons through a joint effort of the Internal Revenue Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; and

WHEREAS, for the 1984 Tax Year, only VersaBraille versions of these materials were available making them inaccessible to all but a few blind persons; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the Internal Revenue Service to promote voluntary compliance with the tax laws, and for the blind this goal can best be attained only if current taxpayer information and forms are available for mass distribution in hard copy Braille: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization express shock and outrage that current taxpayer information and forms are not now being distributed to the blind in a conveniently accessible media, including in hard copy, paper Braille; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we demand the resumption of taxpayer information and forms in a manner which meets the needs of the vast majority of blind Braille users.

RESOLUTION 85-20

WHEREAS, the catalog maintained by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to list Braille and taped textbooks produced and stored by various sources is the only nationwide resource in the United States for locating textbooks by America's blind students and teachers of the blind; and

WHEREAS, blind students are consequently dependent upon the catalog for timely information on availability of their texts in Braille and recorded media; and

WHEREAS, the information in the catalog must be up-to-date and accurate; and

WHEREAS, this important data base is inefficiently stored in a 3 x 5 card filing system, to which fewer and fewer APH person hours are being devoted; and

WHEREAS, the information on these cards is published once a year, though recent annual editions have omitted some of the information in the data base; and

WHEREAS, blind students, teachers of the blind, and librarians in Regional Libraries for the Blind have observed a diminution in the quality and timeliness of responses to specific requests for information from the card catalog, with delays of up to a year in revising the card version of the catalog; and

WHEREAS, blind college students find this lack of efficiency and timeliness a serious barrier to pursuit of their studies: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization call upon the American Printing House for the Blind to focus its resources in order to bring the catalog up-to-date so that blind students may have access to current information on texts needed in pursuit of their studies, including computerization of the data base for quick entry of and access to the data; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon APH to recognize the importance of maintaining the catalog hereafter so as to make current information available to blind students, educators, and librarians; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon producers of Braille and taped texts to notify APH promptly when they commence production of any Braille or taped textbook.

RESOLUTION 85-21

WHEREAS, Braille maps and atlases are an important part of a blind child's education; and

WHEREAS, until recently the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) offered an excellent set of Braille atlases, encompassing the entire world; and

WHEREAS, the 1984 edition of the APH catalog, Instructional Aids, no longer lists these atlases, and it appears that the only Braille maps now available from APH are those of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the nature and variety of catalogs and supplements from APH make it hard to be certain what is available; and

WHEREAS, APH staff have not replied to repeated inquiries from our members about Braille atlases; and

WHEREAS, no equivalent to these atlases is readily available: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that we call upon the American Printing House for the Blind to increase rather than decrease the availability of Braille materials, including maps and atlases; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon APH to improve the organization of catalogs and supplements and to reply promptly to inquiries.

RESOLUTION 85-22

WHEREAS, in our effort to establish forever the rightful claim of all blind persons to equality and first-class citizenship, we must ensure that the denials and exclusions that have blighted our lives are not compensated for by preferential treatment based on the same misconceptions about blindness that have caused those denials and exclusions in the first place; and

WHEREAS, special parking spaces designated for use by handicapped individuals have been made available by many jurisdictions to blind persons solely on the basis of blindness; and

WHEREAS, blindness, in and of itself, is not a mobility impairment; and

WHEREAS, the problems that blind persons generally face with respect to mobility result from a lack of good travel training and can not be remedied by making available parking spaces for the handicapped; and

WHEREAS, the needless use of such parking spaces by ambulatory blind persons results in unavailable parking spaces to mobility-impaired persons (blind or not) who truly need the special parking spaces; and

WHEREAS, the unnecessary use of such parking spaces by blind persons casts doubt on our assertion that blindness does not render us helpless and immobile: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization oppose the use of special parking spaces designated for the handicapped by blind persons who do not truly need them; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work to prevent the enactment or promulgation of statutory or regulatory provisions permitting the use of such parking spaces solely by reason of blindness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work for the repeal of those statutory or regulatory provisions currently in existence.

RESOLUTION 85-23

WHEREAS, Congress has for many years provided an annual appropriation to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) for distribution of educational materials and aids under a quota system to educational and training agencies serving the blind; and

WHEREAS, present funding allows for an allotment of slightly over $100 per year per blind student or trainee, and is not being increased; and

WHEREAS, prices at APH, a nonprofit agency, are not only rising sharply, but are considerably higher than those charged by profit and nonprofit agencies supplying the same materials: for example, exceeding by approximately five cents per page the Brailling prices charged by Associated Services for the Blind, another nonprofit Brailling facility, and APH's charge per cassette tape is higher than that of any other profit or nonprofit agency, except the American Foundation for the Blind; and

WHEREAS, APH not only charges higher prices for the same products, but discriminates in employment against the very people it purports to serve, to the extent that it has been singled out and instructed by the Appropriations Committee of the United States House of Representatives to hire more blind people at all levels; and

WHEREAS, there are companies and organizations which can produce the same books and supplies but have a better record of employing blind people at all levels; and

WHEREAS, the present APH quota system is a monopoly and serves to subsidize inefficiency and discrimination while denying educational and training programs the opportunity to shop for better prices elsewhere, which would increase the spending power of the Federal dollars appropriated; and

WHEREAS, this monopolistic system benefits only the American Printing House for the Blind as a corporation to the detriment of the Federal government, the taxpayers, and the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization call upon the Congress of the United States to eliminate the American Printing House for the Blind as the sole supplier under the quota, by granting directly to each state educational agency an allotment of funds sufficient to meet student and trainee needs for educational aids and materials for the blind in a manner which encourages purchase at the best available price.

RESOLUTION 85-24

WHEREAS, Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and Section 504 of Public Law 93112, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, were adopted by Congress with the intent to make all educational programs available to and accessible by the blind; and

WHEREAS, we live at a time that has been called "the information age" because a majority of goods and services involve the storage, processing, and transmission of information; and

WHEREAS, central to this age is the computer with its ability to process information with greater speed, volume, and accuracy than ever before; and

WHEREAS, educational institutions on all levels--elementary, secondary, and post-secondary--are providing increased instruction in computer science and computer skills; and

WHEREAS, educational institutions generally do not have computer facilities that are accessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, this situation means a lack of equal educational opportunity for the blind, thus violating the intent of Congress: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this Federation urge educational institutions of all levels--elementary, secondary, and post-secondary--to make their computer facilities accessible to the blind.

RESOLUTION 85-25

WHEREAS, one of the tenets of the Reagan Administration has been and continues to be the reform of restrictive or unnecessary Federal regulations ; and

WHEREAS, in the interest of reducing the Federal deficit the Reagan Administration has proposed budget cuts in many Federal Assistance Programs for Fiscal Year 1986; and

WHEREAS, one of these programs provides Federal Operating and Capital Assistance to transit systems, under the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA) of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT); and

WHEREAS, over the past ten years, Federal transit regulations relating to the handicapped, including the blind, have brought about installation of such features in transit equipment and facilities as bells on bus doors, beepers on train doors, and contrasting textured areas along platform edges, as well as research on talking signs and tactile pathways; and

WHEREAS, these modifications promote the false notion that blind people can not travel safely unless public places are adapted specifically for the blind; and

WHEREAS, given proper training and opportunity, blind people can and do travel as competently as their sighted counterparts without modification of equipment and facilities; and

WHEREAS, monies squandered on designing transit specifically for the blind should be allocated to operating and capital programs benefiting all transit passengers, including the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization strongly urge the Urban Mass Transportation Administration to revise its regulations deleting requirements and suggestions regarding design specifications pertaining particularly to the blind, and not to fund those portions of grant applications containing such specifications; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the American Public Transit Association (APTA) to support and assist the Federation in this effort.

RESOLUTION 85-26

WHEREAS, with proper training and real opportunity, the average blind person can compete successfully with the average sighted person; and

WHEREAS, proper training and real opportunity including training in positive attitudes, needs skills, and such other essential services as readers and assistive devices; and

WHEREAS, state bureaucracies are the center point of the public and private rehabilitation system purporting to serve the blind of our country; and

WHEREAS, the blind clients for whom the rehabilitation system was established in the first place should be the center point of the system instead of being subjects dominated by it; and

WHEREAS, the rehabilitation bureaucracy has a mandate to provide adequate training for blind clients to achieve equal opportunity but that mission is not being accomplished; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the usual and customary rehabilitation services that should be available to blind persons, some continuing services such as assistance with the purchase or loan of aids, reader services, and other expenses which occur due to blindness alone, should also be provided; and

WHEREAS, a widening variety of public and private rehabilitation and related service agencies are developing and the proliferation of such agencies has occurred to such an extent that more efficient and more responsive services could better be provided to the blind through a free market system, which would place the priority on individual services rather than arbitrary agency decisions: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization declare that the current rehabilitation service delivery system for blind persons, while generously funded by Congress and the taxpayers, is bankrupt in the sense that it fails to provide those needed services for which the rehabilitation system was established; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization declare that this bankrupt rehabilitation system must be replaced with an alternative service delivery system which places the blind person and not the public bureaucracy at the center point of the system, giving each blind person a choice among the many service providers who can offer relevant services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization develop and present a workable plan for a free market alternative service delivery system by the opening of the Second Session of the 99th Congress.

RESOLUTION 85-27

WHEREAS, Congress passed legislation in 1978 to establish programs to serve older blind persons, but has never appropriated funds for these services; and

WHEREAS, in testimony before the United States House Select Committee on Aging, it was recommended by several organizations of and agencies for the blind that Congress appropriates twelve million dollars for funding of independent living services for the older blind; and

WHEREAS, identifiable Federally funded independent living services for the blind are available in only 14 states; and

WHEREAS, without a vocational goal the majority of older blind persons are ineligible for federal/state vocational rehabilitation services; and

WHEREAS, without independent living skills older blind individuals are much more likely to be needlessly institutionalized in nursing homes in which they often lose their vitality and desire for independence; and

WHEREAS, the teaching of alternative techniques, including cane travel, cooking, and other skills to 1.25 million blind and visually impaired individuals age 65 or older is essential for their full participation in society: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that we call upon the members of Congress to appropriate twelve million dollars in funding of Title VII, Part C of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the officers and members of this organization take any and all actions necessary to insure funding for these most needed programs.

RESOLUTION 85-28

WHEREAS, it is the practice of some, but not all, agencies which serve the blind to require applicants for services to provide personal financial information and to condition certain services upon the financial need of the individual ; and

WHEREAS, financial needs tests are permitted by Federal Rehabilitation Administration Regulations; and

WHEREAS, the means test invades the privacy and diminishes the dignity of blind people seeking rehabilitation services; and

WHEREAS, this practice serves to give agencies explicit and/or implied control over the lives of the blind people they are to serve: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization urge the Rehabilitation Services Administration to adopt regulations prohibiting state agencies serving the blind from conditioning services on the means test; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the private agencies serving the blind to eliminate the means test.

RESOLUTION 85-29

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind does not endorse the concept of placing the average blind person in employment in a sheltered workshop, but recognizes the reality that such shops currently exist and will exist for some time; and

WHEREAS, it is generally accepted that sheltered workshops, if properly run, can provide gainful employment for the blind; and

WHEREAS, many workshops pay sub minimum wages to their blind workers; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has the expertise and technical know-how to assist sheltered workshops in their transition from "sweat shop" to profit oriented business: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1985, in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, that this organization provide its technical assistance and any other such support that the Board of Directors deems appropriate to any sheltered workshop that wishes to venture into the private business sector.