At the 1992 convention the Resolutions Committee consisted of fifty-two Federationists, who considered thirty resolutions. Twenty-five were brought to the floor of the convention. All of them passed and are printed below. Five resolutions were withdrawn by their authors.
Resolution 92-01 opposes the establishment of the Study Commission on Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Background: At the time of the convention a proposal to establish such a commission had been made in the Committee on Education and Labor in the House of Representatives. Members worked throughout the convention to help Congress understand the problems which this commission would cause.
Resolution 92-02 supports statutory linkage between the earnings exemptions for blind people and for retirees under Social Security.
Background: For some years benefits for blind people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance have been paid according to the same formula as the one used for computing benefits for retirees who are sixty-five or older. The NFB has worked to maintain these similar benefits.
Resolution 92-03 calls upon Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander to terminate his Department's inclusion of the National Accreditation Council on the Department of Education's list of approved accrediting bodies.
Resolution 92-04 commends Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana for sponsoring legislation to strengthen the right of choice for individuals receiving Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and it encourages other Congressmen and Senators to join with Mr. Jefferson in this effort.
Resolution 92-05 calls upon employers and software developers to help make Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) accessible to the blind.
Resolution 92-06 is an updated statement of NFB policy regarding audible traffic signals.
Background: Audible traffic signals have been installed in some cities, purportedly to assist blind individuals at street crossings. The National Federation of the Blind is on record opposing audible traffic signals. For the most part this position has not changed. However, it is important, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, that representatives of the National Federation of the Blind be consulted by city and county governments considering the installation of audible traffic signals. Further, newly developed audible traffic signals which can be activated by pedestrians and used only when they choose to do so may require study and testing.
Resolution 92-07 opposes research on detectable warnings for the blind in architecture, on sidewalks, etc.
Background: The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board adopted regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring installation of truncated domed tiles as a warning to the blind of the proximity of certain allegedly dangerous areas. For example, a strip could be used between a sidewalk and a parking lot if there is no curb. The blind have argued that bumpy tiles are more dangerous than helpful and tend to lead others to the false conclusion that the blind are incapable of gathering information when, in fact, they are.
Resolution 92-08 calls upon rehabilitation agencies to provide instruction for blind clients in the use of city buses and trains even if special Dial-A-Ride services for the handicapped are available.
Resolution 92-09 calls upon officials in the Department of Justice to support the arbitration process provided for by the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
Resolution 92-10 seeks to avoid competition between Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities and the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped.
Resolution 92-11 opposes North Carolina legislation regarding vending facilities.
Background: A piece of legislation was introduced in the North Carolina Legislature which seriously damages opportunities for vendors in that state. At the time of the convention in Charlotte, this bill was being debated.
Resolution 92-12 calls upon the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to offer all its tests for blind proofreaders in Braille.
Resolution 92-13 calls upon the Small Business Administration to award contracts to the disabled and to define disability as a presumed social and economic disadvantage.
Resolution 92-14 joins the voice of the Federation with that of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in requesting that federal agencies eliminate special awards for the disabled.
Background: Many federal agencies have long had the practice of presenting disabled employees with awards which are different from--and often in addition to--awards presented to their other employees. If these awards were ever desirable, there seems to be general agreement among the disabled that that time has passed.
Resolution 92-15 calls upon the Social Security Administration to develop improved reporting procedures for disabled persons who are working.
Resolution 92-16 calls upon the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights to treat blind applicants for Child Care Certification in the same way as it treats sighted applicants.
Resolution 92-17 declares that parents should have primary decision-making responsibility about whether a blind child should attend a residential school or a public school and calls upon school officials to furnish parents with relevant information.
Resolution 92-18 takes the position that guide dog schools do not have the right to stipulate the kinds of employment in which their graduates may engage.
Background: The National Federation of the Blind has worked hard to reduce the number of blind persons who engage in begging. The image of the blind beggar is one of the most destructive stereotypes which puts us down and keeps us out. We have worked to improve training and job opportunities and to broaden public understanding of blindness. We have also fought to increase welfare and Social Security benefits for the blind. Further, the NFB has gone on record repeatedly as believing that demeaning activities (such as begging) carried on by some blind individuals reflect poorly on all members of the blind community. Nevertheless, the convention took the position that no guide dog school should have the power to deny any blind person appropriate training and a dog on the basis of the individual's occupation.
Resolutions 92-19 and 92-20 were withdrawn by their authors.
Resolution 92-21 calls upon all guide dog schools to transfer ownership of dogs to the blind people who use them.
Resolutions 92-22 and 92-23 were withdrawn by their authors.
Resolution 92-24 calls upon those exploring the installation of audible traffic signals to consider the problems these signals may cause for deaf-blind people and to consult them when considering such installations.
Resolution 92-25 requests exploration of the purchase and circulation in this country of Braille books produced in Great Britain.
Resolution 92-26 calls upon the Association for Handicapped Students Services Programs in Postsecondary Education to consult with the NFB to develop a policy on blindness that does not lump blind students with all other disabled students.
Resolution 92-27 demands that the Educational Testing Service comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Resolution 92-28 calls upon the General Services Administration to amend its rules so as to exempt blind federal employees from mandatory special requirements regarding building evacuations.
Resolution 92-29 calls upon the Internal Revenue Service to do local hiring and training of blind people.
Resolution 92-30 was withdrawn by its author.
The following are the complete texts of the resolutions adopted by the 1992 convention of the National Federation of the Blind:
WHEREAS, Congress is considering legislation to amend and extend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and
WHEREAS, provisions in a bill before the Committee on Education and Labor of the United States House of Representatives call for the establishment of a "Commission on Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired"; and
WHEREAS, the stated purpose for this commission is to conduct an eighteen-month study of programs and needs in areas such as the adequacy of mobility instruction and the need for improved instructor training programs, Braille literacy, specialized versus generic services, the Randolph- Sheppard program, physical accessibility, advancements in technology, specialized services for children and youth, assistance to older blind individuals, and more; and
WHEREAS, the proposition that a special commission should be appointed to examine the needs of the blind and then interpret them to the President and the Congress has the air of paternalism in that the commission if created would lead policymakers to the false belief that individuals employed to serve the blind or appointed to study the blind are the legitimate representatives of the blind; and
WHEREAS, since 1940, with the formation of the National Federation of the Blind, blind people in the United States have had a vehicle for self-expression and a means of explaining our needs to local, state, and federal policy- makers; and
WHEREAS, the desire to have a special commission on blindness, which is principally supported by the trade association of blind service agency employees, is, in fact, a reaction to the effectiveness of the consumer movement; and
WHEREAS, members of Congress and officials of the Bush Administration should adopt a consumer-empowerment stance by rejecting the commission on blindness as a ploy by blind service workers to speak for the blind through the auspices of a specially-appointed body whose members will not be accountable to anyone, including the blind, the President, or the Congress: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization strongly oppose legislation to establish a "Commission on Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired" because the structure and purposes of such a commission have been designed to quash methods of effective advocacy by blind consumers; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all members of Congress and responsible officials of the Bush Administration are urged to stand up for an independent voice for blind consumers by calling for, and if necessary by voting for, removal of the commission on blindness provisions from the Rehabilitation Act reauthorization bill.
WHEREAS, on June 11, 1992, the Committee on Finance of the United States Senate approved legislation to amend the Social Security Act, including provisions to raise the ceiling on earnings exempt from benefit-offset requirements for retired persons who have attained age sixty-five; and
WHEREAS, the House of Representatives has already approved similar legislation to raise the age-sixty-five earnings ceiling in staged increases beyond the normal annual adjustments currently required; and
WHEREAS, these plans to increase the basic exempt earnings amount under Social Security would retain an earnings ceiling but would more than double the amount of $10,200 annually (or $850 monthly) presently permitted without penalty; and
WHEREAS, earnings of blind individuals evaluated under Social Security to measure "substantial gainful activity" in the disability insurance program are linked by statute to the basic exempt amount for retirees age sixty-five to sixty-nine; and
WHEREAS, this statutory linkage between the exempt earnings amounts for retirees, on the one hand, and blind beneficiaries, on the other, would be broken by the legislation now being considered; and
WHEREAS, there is no rational basis for breaking the relationship between these earnings exemptions, since both blindness, as a disability, and age sixty-five, as retirement age, are clearly defined conditions, neither of which is measured by earnings; and
WHEREAS, from 1978 through 1982, when substantial increases were made in the earnings exemption for retirees, precisely the same increases were allowed for blind people by law; and
WHEREAS, raising the earnings ceiling for blind people, just as for seniors, is supported by evidence of the need for work incentives among people who qualify for Social Security benefits: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon all members of Congress to endorse the policy of maintaining the statutory linkage between the earnings exemptions for blind people and for retirees under Social Security.
WHEREAS, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) is seeking continued recognition by the United States Secretary of Education; and
WHEREAS, the Secretary of Education has official criteria that are used to evaluate all accrediting agencies applying for recognition; and
WHEREAS, the criteria for recognition include having sufficient personnel and financial resources to conduct ongoing accreditation activities, including regular reviews of accredited agencies at stated intervals; and
WHEREAS, another criterion is widespread recognition and acceptance of the accreditation agency in the field in which it operates; and
WHEREAS, still another criterion states that the recognized accrediting agency must operate in a field where accreditation is necessary for postsecondary programs or students to be eligible for federal assistance; and
WHEREAS, a substantial body of evidence submitted to the Secretary of Education shows that NAC fails to meet these criteria in that (1) federal funding for any program or student of an agency serving the blind at the postsecondary level does not depend upon accreditation by NAC or by any other agency; (2) NAC is not generally accepted by agencies and blind people; and (3) NAC consistently postpones the announced re-evaluation of its member agencies and in many instances automatically extends the accreditation of agencies well beyond their five-year term; and
WHEREAS, the ultimate purpose for the Secretary to place an accreditation agency on the recognized list is that the accreditation agency is a reliable authority on the quality of the postsecondary programs in its field, something which NAC certainly is not; and
WHEREAS, the extensive documentation of NAC'S failure to meet the Secretary of Education's criteria presents a solid basis for the Secretary to use in withdrawing the recognition at this time: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this Federation urge Lamar Alexander, Secretary of Education, to remove NAC from the list of recognized accrediting agencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we invite Secretary Alexander to join with the blind in finding that, in twenty- five years of trying to establish its legitimacy as an accreditation agency, NAC has failed.
WHEREAS, "empowerment" is becoming a guiding theme in designing programs and services for people with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, placing fundamental decisions squarely in the hands of eligible individuals, rather than solely in the hands of their counselors, is essential for empowerment to be more than an empty promise; and
WHEREAS, choosing the provider of each vocational rehabilitation service is a fundamental decision to be made in the vocational rehabilitation program, just as the choice of an institution of higher education is one of the most crucial career planning decisions for any student, disabled or not; and
WHEREAS, current practices in vocational rehabilitation favor counselor decisions over client decisions, especially in the selection of agencies to provide rehabilitation services; and WHEREAS, Congressman William Jefferson has introduced legislation (H.R. 4259), which says that the client, not the counselor, will have the final say in the actual selection of each service-providing agency to be used in the client's vocational rehabilitation program; and
WHEREAS, Congress is presently considering amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and, therefore, this would be an appropriate time to add Mr. Jefferson's amendment (or language with a similar purpose) to the law: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization express official commendation to Congressman William Jefferson for standing tall in favor of true empowerment for blind consumers of vocational rehabilitation services; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all members of Congress to join with Mr. Jefferson in calling for the enactment of legislation to strengthen the right of individual choice in the design of services and in the selection of agencies used in the vocational rehabilitation program.
WHEREAS, Windows and other computer programs incorporating the Graphical User Interface (GUI) are being used by public and private employers; and
WHEREAS, these programs cannot be accessed by blind people using current screen access products: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that we call upon public and private employers to provide equal access for the blind to all computer programs using the Graphical User Interface with the understanding that equal access may vary for different programs and applications; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we request all commercial software developers to work with the organized blind and with developers of screen-access technology to insure that all Graphical User Interface applications are accessible to the blind.
WHEREAS, one of the unfortunate negative effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been a renewed interest in the installation of audible traffic signals for use by blind pedestrians; and
WHEREAS, the intent of the ADA is not the wholesale redesign and reconstruction of the environment to satisfy every whim and wish of disabled persons, but only to require the essential accommodations which would permit them to live and work on terms of equality; and
WHEREAS, the ADA also grants disabled persons the right to refuse to accept specific accommodations; and
WHEREAS, long experience has repeatedly demonstrated that, with proper mobility training, blind persons can competently and safely negotiate a wide variety of traffic conditions--rendering the installation of audible traffic signals an unnecessary expense; and
WHEREAS, it is particularly damaging to blind persons for audible traffic signals to be installed at intersections located near facilities serving the blind such as schools, rehabilitation centers, and workshops; and
WHEREAS, in rare instances there may exist an intersection with complicated traffic sequencing and road patterns at which an audible traffic signal might be helpful to some blind persons; and
WHEREAS, the only appropriate audible traffic signals are those which are strictly pedestrian-activated and which do not interfere with the sounds of traffic; and
WHEREAS, in comprehensive traffic design as well as work on individual intersections, ADA mandates that public officials seek and include participation of blind consumers in decision-making: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization reaffirm its long-standing policy against wholesale and routine installation of audible traffic signals; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that, where audible traffic signals are being considered, public officials comply with the mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act by including representatives of the National Federation of the Blind in their decisionmaking.
WHEREAS, the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board is considering priorities for research activities to be undertaken during fiscal year 1993; and
WHEREAS, some of the priorities suggested by the Board in an official notice have merit, such as methods for making automatic teller machines accessible to blind people; and
WHEREAS, detectable warnings are also listed as a research priority, even though the overwhelming sentiment among blind people is that the truncated domes used for such warnings may be hazardous to all pedestrians and can interfere with the ability of blind people to travel effectively; and
WHEREAS, the Board's considerations and research activities have focused exclusively on the technical aspects of detectable warnings, including their color, shape, size, and placement, ignoring the often-expressed objections of the blind; and
WHEREAS, continuing to research the technical aspects of detectable warnings begs the real question, which the Board itself must settle--that is, should detectable warnings of any color, size, or shape be permitted or required at all; and
WHEREAS, the experience of thousands of blind people in traveling each day testifies to their ability to travel safely without truncated domes and argues further that placement of these warnings without a documented need discriminates against blind people by fostering false notions that the blind must have modified environments: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this Federation strongly oppose all further research on the color, size, shape, and placement of detectable warnings, since such research itself leads to the false conclusion that such warnings serve a legitimate purpose, which they do not.
WHEREAS, for years, the National Federation of the Blind has proven that most blind persons can master the skills of independent travel, including the use of fixed- route transportation; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind operates orientation and adjustment centers in which cane travel programs emphasize the use of fixed-route transportation (buses, trains, etc.), thus requiring students to use these forms of public transportation; and
WHEREAS, despite such programs that foster greater independence among the blind, some vocational rehabilitation agencies emphasize the use of paratransit as a primary means of transportation for blind people, believing that traveling by paratransit is a safer alternative for blind clients and that they cannot master the skills needed to travel on fixed-route transportation; and
WHEREAS, the decision to use paratransit or fixed-route transportation can be made objectively by a blind person only if he or she receives adequate training in the use of all forms of public transportation: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization demand that all state vocational rehabilitation agencies instruct blind clients in the use of fixed-route transportation and promote this mode of travel as the primary means of transportation for blind clients.
WHEREAS, the concept and use of binding arbitration as a mechanism to resolve disputes arising in the administration and operation of the Randolph-Sheppard program is sound and fair for blind vendors, state licensing agencies, and federal property-managing agencies; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind was the principal architect of and proponent for the arbitration provisions which were enacted by Congress and signed by the President of the United States as part of the Randolph- Sheppard Act amendments of 1974; and
WHEREAS, arbitration is an orderly process for resolving legitimate differences, and by the very nature of arbitration the positions taken by contending parties may be upheld, altered, or lost altogether, which is a risk taken by any party entering into a process of this kind; and
WHEREAS, the Justice Department of the United States, in appealing an arbitration decision (which found in favor of the Mississippi state licensing agency and against the federal government), argued to the court that the arbitration provisions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act are unconstitutional; and
WHEREAS, although the court in the Mississippi case has now rejected the government's challenge to the constitutionality of arbitrations in the blind vendor program, future assaults upon the arbitration law can be expected as long as federal officials feel free to attack the process when the outcome of a case is unfavorable to their position: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this Federation deplore the attack by the Department of Justice upon the arbitration process in the Randolph-Sheppard program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that policy-making officials of the Department of Education (who are responsible for administering the law) and policy-making officials of the Department of Justice (who are sworn to defend and uphold the law) are hereby urged to commit publicly to the arbitration process and to honor the integrity of this process just as all other parties must, whether they win or lose.
WHEREAS, a priority for blind persons to operate vending facilities on federal property has been established by the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and
WHEREAS, the officials responsible for conducting each government activity are required by the Act to cooperate with the Secretary of Education and the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in assuring that one or more vending facilities are established for operation by blind persons at each federal site; and
WHEREAS, the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and other Severely Handicapped has added services of the type provided by blind vendors to the "procurement list," which it publishes for federal agencies to use in purchasing products and services from nonprofit agencies for the blind and other severely handicapped; and
WHEREAS, placement of vending facility services on the "procurement list" is an action which causes direct competition between the priority for blind vendors in the Randolph-Sheppard program, on the one hand, and the non- competitive purchase of services from nonprofit agencies for the severely handicapped, on the other; and
WHEREAS, the fundamental nature of the Randolph- Sheppard program is to promote individual responsibility and entrepreneurship among blind people by providing them with business opportunities involving management and supervisory skills, including the opportunity for upward mobility in the conduct of complex food service operations; and
WHEREAS, contracting with nonprofit agencies for the purpose of employing severely handicapped persons in food service operations conducted at federal sites will inevitably diminish business opportunities for blind vendors and is inconsistent with the statutory objectives of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the goals set by Congress for this program; and
WHEREAS, even without competition from nonprofit agencies that employ persons with severe handicaps, the Randolph-Sheppard program already faces stiff obstacles in establishing large-scale food service businesses on federal property; and
WHEREAS, rather than fostering and endorsing competition between federally sponsored programs which provide opportunities and jobs for blind and severely handicapped individuals, the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped should respect and promote opportunities for persons who are blind, as well as using its procurement policies in other areas to provide jobs for persons who are severely handicapped: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization register its fervent opposition to placement of vending facility services on the procurement list of the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped to adopt a formal policy of noncompetition with the Randolph- Sheppard program and with other programs which provide employment opportunities to blind people and to persons with other disabilities as well.
WHEREAS, the North Carolina Department of Human Resources is seeking the enactment of state legislation that would radically alter the fundamental relationship between the state licensing agency and the licensed blind vendors in the state; and
WHEREAS, the assignment of vendors for indefinite periods would end in North Carolina if this legislation is enacted; and
WHEREAS, strict income limits would also be placed on vendors in the state, with the imposition of a 50 percent tax (called a set aside charge) on all income over $56,000 this year and a 75 percent tax on proceeds above $74,000; and WHEREAS, these policies, if enacted by the legislature of the state of North Carolina, would defeat the declared purposes of the federal Randolph-Sheppard program by threatening vendors with the loss of their businesses every two years and by penalizing those who successfully build their businesses as anticipated by the federal law; and
WHEREAS, these policies are being forced upon the vendors of North Carolina under circumstances in which many of the vendors feel that they have no choice but to go along with the state's decisions; and
WHEREAS, the potential passage of this legislation in the state of North Carolina makes a statement that the right to fair treatment of blind people everywhere may be threatened by government officials virtually at their whim-- a condition which blind people throughout the United states cannot and should not accept; and
WHEREAS, officials of the Department of Human Resources are fully aware of the powerful relationship which they have over the vendors and have not failed to flex their muscles in getting most of the vendors to knuckle under to the policy changes now being sought: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this first day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization deplore the shameful tactics used by the state officials in North Carolina who have bullied many of the blind vendors into accepting policies which will make them even more vulnerable to agency demands in the future, not to mention the inequitable fees that would be imposed; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be dispatched immediately to every member of the legislature of the State of North Carolina with the urgent request that this proposed legislation be stopped in its tracks in fairness to blind people in this state and throughout this country.
WHEREAS, for many years, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has offered courses in literary Braille transcription and literary Braille proofreading; and
WHEREAS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is currently developing courses in the Braille Music Code and the Braille Mathematics (Nemeth) Code for blind proofreaders; and
WHEREAS, the Hadley School for the Blind also offers courses in both the music and the mathematics Braille codes; and
WHEREAS, by using material on audio cassettes as well as material printed in Braille, Hadley has designed these courses so that all aspects, including test taking, can be performed without the need for a sighted reader or copy holder; and
WHEREAS, in 1991 the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped began offering a test in the Mathematics Braille Code to blind proofreaders; and
WHEREAS, currently, this test can be taken by a blind proofreader only if he or she has access to a sighted reader, who follows along with a printed version of the test; and
WHEREAS, some blind persons do not have ready access to sighted persons who can read music and other specialized materials; and
WHEREAS, providing this material to the blind proofreader on audio cassette would eliminate the need for a sighted reader, thus allowing the blind proofreader to complete the tests independently: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization strongly urge the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to furnish to its blind proofreaders both Braille and cassette versions of proofreading tests for specialized Braille codes; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped work closely with the National Federation of the Blind and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) in designing these courses and tests so that they are accessible to all blind proofreaders.
WHEREAS, socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses may receive assistance from the United States Small Business Administration under section 8(a) of the Small Business Act; and
WHEREAS, the assistance provided to businesses that qualify as socially and economically disadvantaged includes government contracts assigned without competition and technical assistance in managing the business as well; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has found that the current regulations of the Small Business Administration tend to screen out applicants who are blind, unless the applicant is also identified as a member of a recognized racial or ethnic minority group; and
WHEREAS, members of recognized racial and ethnic minority groups are presumed to be socially disadvantaged under the application criteria for the Section 8(a) program, but blind people (or persons with other severe disabilities) are not given the same presumption, forcing each new applicant to prove individually that he or she has in fact been socially disadvantaged; and
WHEREAS, regardless of the ongoing and significant efforts being made by public and private agencies, as well as by blind individuals and organizations, to increase employment opportunities, it is still estimated that more than 70 percent of employable blind people are either unemployed or underemployed; and
WHEREAS, the rate of unemployment among blind people far exceeds that of any of the recognized minority groups, yet they are presumed to be socially disadvantaged and the blind are not; and
WHEREAS, the findings made by Congress as the basis for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provide the Small Business Administration with all of the authority and evidence needed to classify blind people and others with severe disabilities as having a presumed social disadvantage, thus making it easier to qualify for assistance through the section 8(a) program: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this first day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that we urge the small business Administration to amend its regulations for the Section 8(a) program by declaring that a presumed status of social disadvantage exists for persons who are members of disability minority groups as well as for persons who are members of racial and ethnic minorities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, beyond taking this action to smooth the way for the prompt consideration of applications by persons with disabilities, the Small Business Administration is hereby urged to adopt affirmative action policies designed to ensure that future section 8(a) contracts are actually distributed to firms that are owned and controlled by persons who are blind.
WHEREAS, while the Federal government claims to be a model employer of the disabled, blind and disabled people are significantly underrepresented in the Federal work force; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has long recognized that prejudice derived from negative public attitudes is the principal barrier which blind people face in securing employment opportunities; and
WHEREAS, Federal agency disabled-employee-of-the-year awards and similar special awards for the disabled tell Federal managers and the public that blind and disabled workers should be held to a different and lesser standard of performance; and
WHEREAS, such awards also promote the misconception that blind and disabled employees who do good work are exceptional; and
WHEREAS, Evan Kemp, Chairman of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has called for the elimination of special awards for disabled Federal employees as inconsistent with the objective of promoting equality for the disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization recognize that disabled employee-of-the-year awards are harmful relics of paternalism and strongly endorse the efforts of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairman Evan Kemp to eliminate these and other similar awards for the disabled.
WHEREAS, regulations and public statements from the Social Security Administration encourage blind disability insurance beneficiaries to work or attempt to work; and
WHEREAS, beneficiaries who respond to these work incentive provisions by performing work activity will often find that they are charged by the Social Security Administration with substantial overpayments, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars; and
WHEREAS, in many of these cases beneficiaries have fully reported their work activity but are told by claims representatives not to worry since their cases will be evaluated at periodic intervals; and
WHEREAS, lack of due diligence by Social Security personnel and the procedures they use tend to be the most common reason for substantial overpayments, leaving beneficiaries who work almost always at risk of incurring a debt to the Social Security Administration which they cannot ever hope to repay; and
WHEREAS, the procedures for evaluating work activity appear to be based on the expectation that most beneficiaries will not work, and therefore a frequent and simple reporting system is not being used for beneficiaries who do work; and
WHEREAS, persons who receive Social Security retirement benefits while working file annual reports so that their earnings and benefit status can be reviewed; and
WHEREAS, the use of a similar annual work reporting system in the disability insurance program, used solely for the purpose of evaluating earnings, could lead to a reduction in the number of sizable overpayments and would give beneficiaries more certainty about their status with Social Security while working: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization ask the Social Security Administration to institute a frequent and simple work reporting system for disability insurance beneficiaries in recognition of the fact that increasing numbers of beneficiaries want to work but are concerned about how their earnings will affect their benefits; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Social Security Administration to design a work reporting system in consultation with beneficiary representatives, including leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, to the end that work activity is encouraged and beneficiaries who attempt to work are protected from threatening overpayment allegations and the consequences resulting from substantial and unpayable debts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Social Security Administration to establish a policy that, once the annual work activity and earnings evaluation is completed by SSA and accepted by the beneficiary, that work period is closed and shall not be reopened for further evaluation absent good cause.
WHEREAS, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with respect to recipients of Federal funds distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services; and
WHEREAS, in ruling on and reviewing a complaint filed against the Massachusetts Office for Children, the HHS Civil Rights Office has determined that it is not unlawful discrimination under Section 504 to subject blind people to extra scrutiny in deciding on their suitability for licensing as childcare workers; and
WHEREAS, it is an established fact that blind people are capable of caring for children to the same extent that sighted people are; and
WHEREAS, just as race, ethnicity, or national origin cannot be used as reasons for extra scrutiny in childcare licensing, neither should blindness be used to permit extra scrutiny:
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this second day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization demand that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights reverse its policy of using extra scrutiny when blind people apply for child care licenses from public agencies.
WHEREAS, the skills of blindness and an understanding of blindness within society are two components of education which distinguish the education of blind children from that of other children; and
WHEREAS, the emphasis required in each of these areas will vary from child to child and from time to time during each child's school years; and
WHEREAS, without the skills and understanding of blindness, the ability of the blind child to integrate into society and to compete on the basis of equality as a blind adult is seriously compromised; and
WHEREAS, both residential and public school programs can meet the special education needs of blind children, but the two programs offer distinctly different advantages and are therefore not interchangeable for any child at any given time; and
WHEREAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Public Law 94-142 were intended to open up more educational opportunities for disabled children and greater participation by parents in educational planning; and
WHEREAS, blind children have a unique educational history in this country and specific educational needs which are not addressed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Public Law 94-142, an omnibus act covering all disabilities; and
WHEREAS, education officials have their own reasons, which may have little or nothing to do with the best interests of the child, for placing blind students in one setting or another; and
WHEREAS, parents have no vested interest in one educational program over another, but are concerned only with what is best for their child: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this third day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that the decision of whether a blind student shall attend a public or a residential school for the blind should rest primarily with the parents of the blind student; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the administrators of educational programs in each state to provide to parents of blind children complete information about alternative educational placements.
WHEREAS, guide dog schools, alone among agencies for the blind, have historically refused to provide training and guide dogs to blind persons who are street musicians or beggars; and
WHEREAS, graduating students are required by most schools to sign a contract agreeing not to engage in activities which the schools define as begging, even when such activities are clearly within the law; and
WHEREAS, guide dog schools have used this contact provision to take guide dogs away from blind persons; and
WHEREAS, conditioning the training and provision of guide dogs on the behavior of students which is unrelated to the use of the dog, even if that behavior is considered demeaning to the image of blind persons and guide dogs, constitutes unwarranted interference and intimidation: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon all guide dog schools to provide their services to all eligible blind persons regardless of the past, present, or future occupation of those persons; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that any and all references to begging be removed from student contracts and applicant literature used by guide dog schools.
WHEREAS, the goal of the National Federation of the Blind is the integration of blind citizens into society on terms of equality; and
WHEREAS, participation of blind citizens in society is linked to independent mobility; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has always supported the use of guide dogs as a mobility choice for blind Americans; and
WHEREAS, ownership of guide dogs by blind individuals promotes individual responsibility and independence; and
WHEREAS, for decades a leading guide dog program has given the right of guide dog ownership to those completing the training program while maintaining a commitment to blind person/guide dog teams; and
WHEREAS, another leading guide dog program recently recognized the advantages of permitting guide dog users to own their dogs by announcing its own new ownership program; and
WHEREAS, the policy of retaining guide dog ownership by many other training schools is based on paternalism and fosters a sense of dependence: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization commend guide dog training schools that provide the full right of ownership to those completing training programs, whether by long-standing tradition or recent enlightenment; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we again call upon all guide dog training programs to adopt without further delay similar progressive ownership policies.
WHEREAS, the installation of audible traffic signals is an issue which is widely debated in communities throughout the nation; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has accumulated documentation which indicates that audible traffic signals are often a nuisance to the general populace and an unwelcome distraction to pedestrians who are blind; and
WHEREAS, audible traffic signals tend to be confusing and dangerous for blind pedestrians who are hard of hearing since these signals block and distort traffic sounds; and
WHEREAS, audible traffic signals constitute an additional hazard to deaf-blind pedestrians because a driver seeing a deaf-blind pedestrian using a white cane or guide dog at an intersection where there is an audible traffic signal assumes that the deaf-blind pedestrian can hear the signal; thus the driver may not exercise appropriate care: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon those exploring the installation of audible traffic signals to consider the problems these signals may cause for deaf-blind people.
WHEREAS, the production in Braille of current fiction titles by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and private agencies tends to lag far behind the production of similar materials in recorded form; and
WHEREAS, the Scottish Braille Press and the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom regularly produce additional fiction titles in English Braille; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is committed to the promotion of literacy for the blind through the use of Braille; and
WHEREAS, there is inadequate leisure reading material available in Braille in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the availability of additional fiction titles in Braille would be welcomed by many blind and deaf-blind consumers: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this Federation review the availability of fiction titles produced in English Braille in other countries which are unduplicated in America; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization investigate the feasibility of importing, developing, and circulating such a collection of titles within this country.
WHEREAS, every blind student, like every other student, can use the college years to learn to manage time, resources, and personal and professional relationships on the way to becoming employable; and
WHEREAS, many college and university offices providing services to disabled students attempt to perform these functions for blind students under the misguided assumption that blind students cannot perform these functions for themselves; and
WHEREAS, examples of this misguided assumption include controlling the terms of reader services, controlling the circumstances of testing, controlling communication of every kind between the blind student and everyone else at the institution, and compelling blind students to undergo psychological testing merely because they are blind; and
WHEREAS, it is counterproductive to provide or require these services for students during the years when they need to learn to manage these matters for themselves; and
WHEREAS, the Association for Handicapped Students Services Programs in Postsecondary Education (AHSSPPE) is a nationwide organization for university and college administrators in offices which serve students with disabilities: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon the Association for Handicapped Students Services Programs in Postsecondary Education to work with representatives of the National Federation of the Blind to develop a policy on blindness, providing guidance to AHSSPPE members on campuses of postsecondary institutions across the country; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon AHSSPPE to refrain from lumping blind students with other groups of disabled students or requiring that blind students receive special services, but rather that its members encourage independence for blind students, including independence from offices for disabled students.
WHEREAS, testing agencies routinely eliminate questions from the Braille versions of tests on the grounds that pictorial information integral to the question is too visual to transcribe when they could allow a live reader to accompany the blind test taker to describe such untranscribed information; and
WHEREAS, testing agencies routinely require blind test takers to accept any reader assigned by the testing site administrator even though most of these readers are untrained and unqualified so that their incompetence diminishes the blind person's test score; and
WHEREAS, those testing agencies which allow a blind test taker to bring his or her own reader routinely require notification of the identity of the reader long before the actual test, even though the test itself is fully proctored, causing some blind test takers to be denied testing until the next testing cycle if the planned reader cannot attend; and
WHEREAS, testing agencies sometimes require blind persons to apply to take the test at an earlier date than their sighted peers, causing confusion about when the application must be made and resulting in blind persons' being denied testing until the next cycle; and
WHEREAS, many testing agencies provide tests in some alternative media while providing no preparatory material in the same media; and
WHEREAS, the validity of standardized test results for blind persons is undermined by many of the practices of standardized testing agencies which inhibit the blind test taker; and
WHEREAS, each of the practices listed above can diminish the performance of the blind test taker due to the testing agencies' reaction to blindness rather than due to the competence of the blind person, a practice which violates the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
WHEREAS, the results of standardized tests are the gateway to college, graduate school, and many of the professions for blind as well as sighted persons; and
WHEREAS, standardized tests should be provided in Braille, on cassette tape, in large print, and in standard print accessed with a live reader: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization demand that the Educational Testing Service and other testing agencies cease their unfair and illegal practices; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the Educational Testing Service and other standardized testing agencies meet with elected representatives of blind students to address these issues and to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
WHEREAS, blind persons have demonstrated that they are able to compete on terms of equality as federal employees; and
WHEREAS, evacuation plans developed for times of emergency in federal facilities often require that disabled employees have an individual assigned to them to insure safe evacuation; and
WHEREAS, persons with disabilities are often required to wait in elevator lobbies instead of using stairs to evacuate the building while persons who are not disabled use stairs; and
WHEREAS, blind persons are often lumped with all other disabled persons with regard to these requirements and there have been instances where blind federal employees have been formally reprimanded for walking down stairs during evacuations; and
WHEREAS, discussions with federal safety officials held to explain that blind persons do not present an increased safety risk to themselves or others during building evacuations are often fruitless because the officials point to General Service Administration rules which state that employees with disabilities must remain in elevator lobbies during emergency evacuations and have an assistant assigned to them; and
WHEREAS, the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that safety is a consideration in treatment of persons with disabilities only where significant increases in risk can be shown; and
WHEREAS, the ADA also mandates that individual differences in disabilities must be recognized in making policy decisions; and
WHEREAS, we know of no instances where blind persons have been at higher risk to themselves or others during emergency evacuations from federal buildings; and WHEREAS, the GSA requirements are but another instance of the time-worn prejudice against blind persons based on the myth of the helpless blind: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon the General Services Administration to amend its rules to exempt blind federal employees from mandatory special requirements regarding building evacuation of disabled persons.
WHEREAS, the Internal Revenue Service has a long history of hiring blind persons, who have proven their ability successfully to compete on the job; and
WHEREAS, the Internal Revenue Service has followed a practice of requiring blind persons to be trained separately from its own ongoing training classes; and
WHEREAS, such practices prevent blind persons from establishing initial equipment needs and peer contacts with those who will be co-workers; and
WHEREAS, in several instances in which local hiring and training have occurred, blind persons have proven they are able to participate in local training classes, gaining all of the benefits of such classes and being successfully employed: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 1992, in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that this organization call upon the Internal Revenue Service to take all necessary steps to bring about the local training and hiring of blind IRS employees.