Braille Monitor                                                                           October 1986

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Constitution of the National Federation of the Blind as Amended 1986

ARTICLE I. NAME

The name of this organization is The National Federation of the Blind.

ARTICLE II. PURPOSE

The purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is to serve as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation; to function as a mechanism through which the blind and interested sighted persons can come together in local, state, and national meetings to plan and carry out programs to improve the quality of life for the blind; to provide a means of collective action for parents of blind children; to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind.

ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP

Section A. The membership of The National Federation of the Blind shall consist of the members of the state affiliates, the members of divisions, and members at large. Members of divisions and members at large shall have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities in The National Federation of the Blind as members of state affiliates.

The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for admission of divisions and shall determine the structure of divisions. The divisions shall, with the approval of the Board, adopt constitutions and determine their membership policies. Membership in divisions shall not be conditioned upon membership in 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.

Section B. Each state or territorial possession of the United States, including the District of Columbia, having an affiliate shall have one vote at the National Convention. These organizations shall be referred to as state affiliates.

Section C. State affiliates shall be organizations of the blind controlled by the blind. No organization shall be recognized as an "organization of the blind controlled by the blind" unless at least a majority of its voting members and a majority of the voting members of each of its local chapters are blind.

Section D. The Board of Directors shall establish procedures for the admission of state affiliates. There shall be only one state affiliate in each state.

Section E. Any member, local chapter, state affiliate, or division of this organization may be suspended, expelled, or otherwise disciplined for misconduct or for activity unbecoming to a member or affiliate of this organization by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors or by a simple majority of the states present and voting at a National Convention. If the action is to be taken by the Board, there must be good cause, and a good faith effort must have been made to try to resolve the problem by discussion and negotiation. If the action is to be taken by the Convention, notice must be given on the preceding day at an open Board meeting or a session of the Convention. If a dispute arises as to whether there was "good cause," or whether the Board made a "good faith effort," the National Convention (acting in its capacity as the supreme authority of the Federation) shall have the power to make final disposition of the matter; but until or unless the Board's action is reversed by the National Convention, the ruling of the Board shall continue in effect.

ARTICLE IV.
OFFICERS, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD

Section A. The officers of The National Federation of the Blind shall be: (1) President, (2) First Vice President, (3) Second Vice President, (4) Secretary, and (5) Treasurer. They shall be elected biennially.

Section B. The officers shall be elected by majority vote of the state affiliates present and voting at a National Convention.

Section C. The National Federation of the Blind shall have a Board of Directors, which shall be composed of the five officers and twelve additional members, six of whom shall be elected at the Annual Convention during even numbered years and six of whom shall be elected at the Annual Convention during odd numbered years. The members of the Board of Directors shall serve for two year terms.

Section D. The Board of Directors may, in its discretion, create a National Advisory Board and determine the duties, and qualifications of the members of the National Advisory Board.

ARTICLE V.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE CONVENTION, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND THE PRESIDENT

Section A. Powers and Duties of the Convention. The Convention is the supreme authority of the Federation. It is the legislature of the Federation. As such, it has final authority with respect to all issues of policy. Its decisions shall be made after opportunity has been afforded for full and fair discussion. Delegates and members in attendance may participate in all Convention discussions as a matter of right. Any member of the Federation may make or second motions, propose nominations, and serve on committees; and is eligible for election to office, except that only blind members may be elected to the National Board. Voting and making motions by proxy are prohibited. Consistent with the democratic character of the Federation, Convention meetings shall be so conducted as to prevent parliamentary maneuvers which would have the effect of interfering with the expression of the will of the majority on any question, or with the rights of the minority to full and fair presentation of their views. The Convention is not merely a gathering of representatives of separate state organizations. It is a meeting of the Federation at the national level in its character as a national organization. Committees of the Federation are committees of the national organization. The nominating committee shall consist of one member from each state affiliate represented at the Convention, and each state affiliate shall appoint its member to the committee. From among the members of the committee, the President shall appoint a chairperson.

Section B. Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors. The function of the Board of Directors as the governing body of the Federation between Conventions is to make policies when necessary and not in conflict with the policies adopted by the Convention. Policy decisions which can reasonably be postponed until the next meeting of the National Convention shall not be made by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall serve as a credentials committee. It shall have the power to deal with organizational problems presented to it by any member, local chapter, state affiliate, or division; shall decide appeals regarding the validity of elections in local chapters, state affiliates, or divisions; and shall certify the credentials of delegates when questions regarding the validity of such credentials arise. By a two-thirds vote the Board may suspend one of its members for violation of a policy of the organization or for other action unbecoming to a member of the Federation. By a two-thirds vote the Board may reorganize any local chapter, state affiliate, or division. The Board may not suspend one of its own members or reorganize a local chapter, state affiliate, or division except for good cause and after a good faith effort has been made to try to resolve the problem by discussion and negotiation. If a dispute arises as to whether there was "good cause" or whether the Board made a "good faith effort," the National Convention (acting in its capacity as the supreme authority of the Federation) shall have the power to make final disposition of the matter; but until or unless the Board's action is reversed by the National Convention, the ruling of the Board shall continue in effect. There shall be a standing subcommittee of the Board of Directors which shall consist of three members. The committee shall be known as the Subcommittee on Budget and Finance. It shall, whenever it deems necessary, recommend to the Board of Directors principles of budgeting, accounting procedures, and methods of financing the Federation program; and shall consult with the President on major expenditures.

The Board of Directors shall meet at the time of each National Convention. It shall hold other meetings on the call of the President or on the written request of any five members.

Section C. Powers and Duties of the President. The President is the principal administrative officer of the Federation. In this capacity his or her duties consist of: carrying out the policies adopted by the Convention; conducting the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Federation; authorizing expenditures from the Federation treasury in accordance with and in implementation of the policies established by the Convention; appointing all committees of the Federation except the Nominating Committee; coordinating all activities of the Federation, including the work of other officers and of committees; hiring, supervising, and dismissing staff members and other employees of the Federation, and determining their numbers and compensation; taking all administrative actions necessary and proper to put into effect the programs and accomplish the purposes of the Federation.

The implementation and administration of the interim policies adopted by the Board of Directors are the responsibility of the President as principal administrative officer of the Federation.

ARTICLE VI. STATE AFFILIATES

Any organized group desiring to become a state affiliate of The National Federation of the Blind shall apply for affiliation by submitting to the President of The National Federation of the Blind a copy of its constitution and a list of the names and addresses of its elected officers. Under procedures to be established by the Board of Directors, action shall be taken on the application. If the action is affirmative, The National Federation of the Blind shall issue to the organization a charter of affiliation. Upon request of the National President the state affiliate shall provide to the National President the names and addresses of its members. Copies of all amendments to the constitution and/or bylaws of an affiliate shall be sent without delay to the National President. No organization shall be accepted as an affiliate and no organization shall remain an affiliate unless at least a majority of its voting members are blind. The president, vice president (or vice-presidents), and at least a majority of the executive committee or board of directors of the state affiliate and of all of its local chapters must be blind. Affiliates must not merely be social organizations but must formulate programs and actively work to promote the economic and social betterment of the blind. Affiliates and their local chapters must comply with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federation. Policy decisions of the Federation are binding upon all affiliates and local chapters, and the affiliate and its local chapters must participate affirmatively in carrying out such policy decisions. The name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof is the property of The National Federation of the Blind; and any affiliate, or local chapter of an affiliate, which ceases to be part of The National Federation of the Blind (for whatever reason) shall forthwith forfeit the right to use the name National Federation of the Blind, Federation of the Blind, or any variant thereof.

A general convention of the membership of an affiliate or of the elected delegates of the membership must be held and its principal executive officers must be elected at least once every two years. There can be no closed membership. Proxy voting is prohibited in state affiliates and local chapters. Each affiliate must have a written constitution or bylaws setting forth its structure, the authority of its officers, and the basic procedures which it will follow. No publicly contributed funds may be divided among the membership of an affiliate or local chapter on the basis of membership, and (upon request from the National Office) an affiliate or local chapter must present an accounting of all of its receipts and expenditures. An affiliate or local chapter must not indulge in attacks upon the officers, Board members, leaders, or members of the Federation or upon the organization itself outside of the organization, and must not allow its officers or members to indulge in such attacks. This requirement shall not be interpreted to interfere with the right of an affiliate or local chapter, or its officers or members, to carry on a political campaign inside the Federation for election to office or to achieve policy changes. However, the organization will not sanction or permit deliberate, sustained campaigns of internal organizational destruction by state affiliates, local chapters, or members. No affiliate or local chapter may join or support, or allow its officers or members to join or support, any temporary or permanent organization inside the Federation which has not received the sanction and approval of the Federation.

ARTICLE VII. DISSOLUTION

In the event of dissolution, all assets of the organization shall be given to an organization with similar purposes which has received a 501(c)(3) certification by the Internal Revenue Service.

ARTICLE VIII. AMENDMENTS

This Constitution may be amended at any regular Annual Convention of the Federation by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the state affiliates registered, present, and voting; provided that the proposed amendment shall have been signed by five state affiliates in good standing and that it shall have been presented to the President the day before final action by the Convention.

RESOLUTIONS

A total of 35 resolutions were considered and acted upon before the 1986 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Two of them were withdrawn by their sponsors, and two were defeated by vote of the convention. Here is a summary of the resolutions followed by the complete text of those which were adopted.

86-01: recognizes the importance of effective and affordable public mass transit services for the blind and notes the growing use of paratransit services especially designed for the handicapped. The resolution encourages mass transit providers to serve the blind in the same way as other passengers and asks that the blind not be burdened with special requirements or unwanted services. The resolution takes the position that para- transit service should be offered to blind persons who have a demonstrated need for such services.

86-02: "condemns and deplores" proposed legislation promoted in Congress by the managers of sheltered workshops seeking to obtain Federal government small business set-aside contracts without providing for minimum wage and other requirements that apply to all other employers who receive such contracts. 86-03: expresses opposition to a bill in Congress which attempts to relax current legal requirements which sheltered workshops must meet to obtain permission to pay sub-minimum wages to the blind.

86-04: deals with the recent withdrawal of two states (Wyoming and Montana) from the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Program. It urges Congress to enact safeguard legislation to discourage other states from withdrawing from the Program.

86-05: commends Senator Ted Stevens (senior United States Senator from Alaska) for his efforts on behalf of the blind in a recent controversy involving fast-food chains and the General Services Administration (GSA.) Due to Senator Stevens' efforts, GSA has now adopted a policy which truly gives blind vendors a priority for the operation of cafeterias in Federal buildings.

86-06: calls for adoption of pending legislation in Congress to improve the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, together with an amendment to restore the value of SSI's earned income exemptions first adopted by Congress in 1972.

86-07: notes the growing need of some blind individuals to obtain immunosuppressive drug therapy necessary to prevent rejection of certain organ transplants, such as kidney transplants in the case of blind diabetics. The resolution expresses support for a bill now pending in Congress aimed at providing grants to states for immunosuppressive drug therapy.

86-08: deplores the exclusive use that Federal agencies make of approval of Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and counselors prior to hiring the blind for non-competitive appointment to Federal jobs. Federal agencies are urged not to give Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and counselors "veto power" over jobs and hiring decisions affecting the blind.

86-09: urges Congress to enact a bill sponsored by Representative Patricia Schroeder seeking to exempt readers for blind Federal employees from agency personnel ceilings and to make other improvements designed to promote increased hiring of blind persons in the Federal work force. Mrs. Schroeder's legislation resulted from meetings with leaders of the National Federation of the Blind at our 1985 convention.

86-10: addresses the growing difficulties that blind people have in traveling on commercial airlines. The resolution identifies the source of the problem as being the procedures that airlines have developed to identify the blind as handicapped, helpless, and unsafe. The resolution urges all airlines to change any such procedures under which the blind have been erroneously classified.

86-11: explains the effect of the United States Supreme Court's decision in United States Department of Transportation v. Paralyzed Veterans of America. In this case, the Court decided that commercial airlines are not generally recipients of Federal financial assistance. As the resolution states: The Court's decision "...actually changes nothing insofar as the blind are concerned. Prior to that decision, the airlines were not legally permitted to discriminate against blind air travelers, and there is no law or interpretation of law that says they may do so now."

86-12: condemns and deplores a policy of the State of Hawaii which subjects blind persons using dog guides to a quarantine procedure upon their arrival in Hawaii. The resolution identifies modern medical techniques which are capable of detecting the presence of active or dormant rabies, thus removing the only justification which officials of the State of Hawaii have had for imposing the quarantine.

86-13: opposes the establishment of a national standard for installed environmental travel aids for the blind, such as audible traffic signals and pathfinder tiles, and further opposes the frivolous and harmful expenditure of public funds for the installation of these undesirable devices and aids.

86-14: calls for a principle of "equal access to print information" to be adopted in all post-secondary education programs.

86-15: opposes a trend toward lowering admission and academic standards for blind students attending post secondary education institutions and urges administrators of higher education programs to resist the lowering of any standards on grounds of blindness.

86-16: addresses a problem which has already developed in the administration of aptitude tests by the United States Employment Service and state job service agencies, urging all such agencies to work with Job Opportunities for the Blind to eliminate discrimination in aptitude testing.

86-17: addresses the problems confronted by blind persons who travel on airlines, noting that: "...for nearly ten years the airline industry, with few exceptions, has taken the attitude that blind people should be subjected to special rules not applicable to the general public..."

86-18: asks the United States Postal Service and Congress to cooperate in the issuance of a commemorative, fiftieth anniversary postage stamp to honor the life and accomplishments of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and the National Federation of the Blind.

86-19: seeks the wider distribution of recorded material on parenting, and urges the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to provide at least one distributed periodical on this subject.

86-20: asks the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) to provide the annual "Fortune 500" listing in Braille, and to make copies available to any blind person through the NLS network of regional and subregional libraries.

86-21: identifies as harmful to the image of the blind certain information and fundraising campaign materials distributed by the Easter Seal Society. The resolution urges the Easter Seal Society immediately to withdraw these materials from circulation and to work with the National Federation of the Blind in order to distribute accurate and positive materials which advance the cause of the blind.

86-22: opposes legislation now pending in Congress seeking to impose a royalty tax on the purchase of recording devices and media (including tape cassettes) designed and intended for home use.

86-23: calls attention to certain misleading notices sent to Social Security beneficiaries each year advising them of the earnings which they are allowed to make without penalty during the following year. The notices imply that blind beneficiaries are not allowed or encouraged to work, and the resolution asks the Social Security Administration to include specific information to avoid this rnisimpression.

86-24: This resolution, concerning blind vendors' holding valid drivers' licenses, was withdrawn by request of its sponsors.

86-25: urges Recording for the Blind to drop its affiliation with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) and to work more closely with blind consumers through the National Federation of the Blind in order to assure high quality service.

86-26: This resolution, concerning the teaching of the Nemeth Code, was withdrawn by request of its sponsor.

86-27: identifies the problems encountered by some blind parents in confronting public agencies who seek to remove a child or children from their custody. The resolution recommends adoption of model legislation prepared and enacted in the state of California to deal with this problem.

86-28: demands that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confine itself to matters of safety by issuing a policy that the FAA will accept no procedures filed by commercial airlines that contain non-safety related provisions and requiring that every section of each such procedure include written justification for its needs as to safety, based on available and objective evidence.

86-29: expresses opposition to a conference on special needs of the blind in public mass transit being planned by the American Foundation for the Blind in cooperation with the American Transit Association and the Urban Mass Transit Administration.

86-30: urges all dog guide schools to hire blind persons as trainers and instructors and offers assistance to dog guide schools in locating blind persons who desire positions as dog guide trainers and instructors.

86-31: This resolution, concerning distribution of PLAYBOY magazine by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, was defeated by the convention.

86-32: calls for the immediate termination of the ABC television series entitled "Mr. Sunshine" on the basis that the series has portrayed an inaccurate, negative, and harmful image of the blind.

86-33: This resolution, concerning abortion, was defeated by the convention.

86-101: confirms the role and function of the National Office of the Federation in the establishment of all contracts involving fundraising, requiring that no local chapter or state affiliate may enter into any agreement concerning fundraising with any person, group of persons, corporation, or other entity without receiving prior written approval from the President or Board of the National Federation of the Blind.

86-1001: establishes transition arrangements for the presidency of the National Federation of the Blind, naming Kenneth Jernigan "Advisor to the President, Officers, and Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind," and providing Dr. Jernigan with necessary access to office and support services, books, records, and materials in order that he may continue to serve the movement throughout the transition and beyond.