I wish to thank publicly members of the Resolutions Committee and others who worked on these NFB policy statements. The 1993 NFB Resolutions which were passed are as follows: Resolution 93-01 discusses the use of the word "blind" and other words and phrases which mean "blind" and states the policy of the NFB pertaining to these terms.
Resolution 93-02 commends government agencies for abandoning their support of detectable tactile warnings in traffic and architecture in favor of further study and expresses the view of the NFB that such warnings are not helpful to the blind and may be harmful to everyone. The resolution raises no objection, however, to the efforts made by some transit authorities to use differences in textured surfaces to indicate the various areas in transit stations. The NFB's objection is to the specially applied detectable warning tiles.
Resolution 93-03 calls upon vocational rehabilitation agencies for the blind to adopt policies pursuant to the 1992 amendments of the Rehabilitation Act and lists areas to be included in these policies.
Resolution 93-04 reiterates the Federation's ability to represent the blind and states a goal of discouraging other national organizations which may seek to speak for both blind persons and groups of persons with other disabilities.
Resolution 93-05 calls upon the Social Security Administration to adopt and implement a thirty-day standard for the approval or denial of a Plan to Achieve Self Support.
Resolution 93-06 urges President Clinton and the U.S. Congress to take steps to modernize Supplemental Security Income in accordance with recommendation of the SSI Modernization Project.
Resolution 93-07 seeks instruction for blind children whose parents wish it in Nemeth Code and the Braille Music Code in addition to instruction in standard Grade II Braille, and it seeks instruction for Braille students in the Unified Braille Code when it is adopted.
Resolution 93-08 calls upon the Rehabilitation Services Administration to adopt a policy of presumed eligibility of blind persons for rehabilitation services, especially those receiving SSI and SSDI.
Resolution 93-09 The Randolph-Sheppard Act gives a priority to a designated licensing agency in each state to establish vending facilities to be operated by the blind in Federal buildings. These facilities may be vending machines, of which part of the income is paid to blind operators. Recently the U.S. Department of Education ruled that NASA did not need to pay these fees in a case in Mississippi. This resolution opposes the position of the Department of Education in the NASA case and calls upon the department to review its findings and policies and not take a similar position in the future.
Resolution 93-10 calls upon the Clinton Administration to reverse the new and regressive policy of the General Services Administration to award cafeterias in Federal buildings by contract bids instead of by permit to State Licensing Agencies as allowed by the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
Resolution 93-11 calls upon Attorney General Janet Reno to see that the U.S. Department of Justice defends the Randolph-Sheppard Act, not the governmental agencies that violate it.
Resolution 93-12 condemns the policy of the Federal Communications Commission which excludes blind persons from being volunteer examiners and calls upon the FCC to adopt a policy affirming the ability of blind persons to do this and other functions.
Resolution 93-13 supports reauthorization of the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 and urges improvements in the act.
Resolution 93-14 states that the NFB wishes to be consulted about and evaluate assistive technology for the blind.
Resolution 93-15 opposes employment of blind workers at less than the Federal minimum wage and requests procurement policies prohibiting the government from purchasing products produced by blind persons who are paid less than the minimum wage.
Resolution 93-16 urges the Social Security Administration to provide to beneficiaries upon request a clear statement of their individualized work incentives status.
Resolution 93-17 urges the Clinton Administration and the U.S. Congress to provide findings and personnel to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Resolution 93-18 commends Congressman Jim Ramstad for the introduction of H.R. 794 and urges Congress to hold hearings without delay and pass the bill.
Resolution 93-19 calls upon Congress to amend the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act to provide that blind persons operating for-profit businesses may apply for and receive government contracts under the same terms that now apply to sheltered workshops.
Resolution 93-20 commends the American National Standards Institute for reflecting the true needs of Blind Americans by excluding any reference to detectable warnings in its published standards.
There you have the summaries of this year's twenty resolutions. Here are the texts of those resolutions:
WHEREAS, the word blind accurately and clearly describes the condition of being unable to see, as well as the condition of having such limited eyesight that alternative techniques are required to do efficiently the ordinary tasks of daily living that are performed visually by those having good eyesight; and
WHEREAS, there is increasing pressure in certain circles to use a variety of euphemisms in referring to blindness or blind persons■euphemisms such as hard of seeing, visually challenged, sightless, visually impaired, people with blindness, people who are blind, and the like; and
WHEREAS, a differentiation must be made among these euphemisms: some (such as hard of seeing, visually challenged, and people with blindness) being totally unacceptable and deserving only ridicule because of their strained and ludicrous attempt to avoid such straightforward, respectable words as blindness, blind, the blind, blind person, or blind persons; others (such as visually impaired, and visually limited) being undesirable when used to avoid the word blind, and acceptable only to the extent that they are reasonably employed to distinguish between those having a certain amount of eyesight and those having none; still others (such as sightless) being awkward and serving no useful purpose; and still others (such as people who are blind or persons who are blind) being harmless and not objectionable when used in occasional and ordinary speech but being totally unacceptable and pernicious when used as a form of political correctness to imply that the word persons must invariably precede the word blind to emphasize the fact that a blind person is first and foremost a person; and
WHEREAS, this euphemism concerning people or persons who are blind■when used in its recent trendy, politically correct form■does the exact opposite of what it purports to do since it is overly defensive, implies shame instead of true equality, and portrays the blind as touchy and belligerent; and
WHEREAS, just as an intelligent person is willing to be so designated and does not insist upon being called a person who is intelligent and a group of bankers are happy to be called bankers and have no concern that they be referred to as persons who are in the banking business, so it is with the blind■the only difference being that some people (blind and sighted alike) continue to cling to the outmoded notion that blindness along with everything associated with it) connotes inferiority and lack of status: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that the following statement of policy be adopted:
We believe that it is respectable to be blind, and although we have no particular pride in the fact of our blindness, neither do we have any shame in it. To the extent that euphemisms are used to convey any other concept or image, we deplore such use. We can make our own way in the world on equal terms with others, and we intend to do it.
WHEREAS, in Resolution 92-07 the National Federation of the Blind strongly opposed all further research on the color, size, shape, and placement of detectable warnings, insisting instead that, if further studies are made, the question whether such warnings are needed or desirable should first be resolved; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board have now suspended application of detectable warning requirements and guidelines pending further study; and
WHEREAS, studies to be made on the question of detectable warnings must not assume that such warnings are needed and should fully examine the hazards which the warnings create for blind people and others, including persons with disabilities: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization commend the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board for suspending application of the detectable warnings rules and guidelines, pending further study; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that studies on matters pertaining to detectable warnings should critically examine the presumed justification for such warnings rather than assuming that blind people cannot travel safely without them; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that while the responsible government entities are studying the need for detectable warnings, it is the experience of this organization that the installation of such warnings is not justified by any facts known to the blind and that detectable warnings as a concept should be abandoned altogether.
WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 were passed and signed into law at the end of the second session of the 102nd Congress; and
WHEREAS, consumer empowerment is the dominant theme of this legislation, stating policies such as the following: ■respect for individual dignity, personal responsibility, self-determination, and pursuit of meaningful careers based on the informed choice of individuals with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, consistent with this policy, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has instructed each state vocational rehabilitation agency to revise its state plan and in doing so to specify among other things: ■how clients are given choice and increased control in determining their vocational goals and objectives, the vocational rehabilitation services they receive, the providers of those services, and methods to provide or secure services■; and
WHEREAS, both the law and RSA's instructions have placed state vocational rehabilitation agencies and their personnel on notice that meaningful and informed choices by clients are expected to become the normal way of doing business in rehabilitation, and the days of counselor or agency mandates which disregard the clients' expressed views and wishes are over: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization call upon all state vocational rehabilitation agencies serving the blind to adopt a consumer empowerment philosophy and policies consistent with the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that among the consumer empowerment standards to be followed by state agencies, we strongly urge the following: (1) elimination of restrictive rules that could be and have been used to impair client choice; (2) directing counselors to become pro-active in assuring that clients assigned to them are given choice and increased control over decisions made in developing and carrying out individualized rehabilitation programs; (3) mandatory disclosure of known sources for the provision of service, such as adjustment-to-blindness services, whether or not such sources are located within the state's borders; and (4) referral of clients to known consumer groups from which they may receive advice and advocacy assistance.
WHEREAS, the needs and characteristics of certain groups of persons with disabilities are diverse and often even conflicting; and
WHEREAS, there is far too much confusion about the needs and characteristics of various groups of the disabled; and
WHEREAS, there is some real desire to include disabled persons in the mainstream of society as evidenced by the passage through Congress of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
WHEREAS, persons with disabilities bear a large share of the responsibility for helping the rest of society learn about their needs and characteristics; and
WHEREAS, there has recently been a push toward the formation of a national organization of persons with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the existence and activities of such an organization would inevitably cause increased confusion about the differences in needs and characteristics among persons with different types of disabilities; and
WHEREAS, improvements and changes for disabled persons are best accomplished when they are sought by an organization dealing primarily with one disability such as blindness; and
WHEREAS, in the event that a combined effort is needed on behalf of persons with several different types of disabilities, there already exists a coalition of citizens with disabilities: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that, as the largest organization of blind persons in the country, this Federation continue representing the needs of the blind and taking leadership in making changes for the blind and continue in its endeavors to advocate for and represent the blind of the nation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind actively resist and discourage the formation of any national organization of disabled persons which claims to speak for or represent all disabled persons or all types of disabilities.
WHEREAS, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program includes procedures which an applicant or recipient may use to acquire, save, and spend income or resources to carry out an approved Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS); and
WHEREAS, use of a PASS can be critical for some individuals in establishing or retaining SSI eligibility or in protecting benefit rights, including the amount of the benefit entitlement; and
WHEREAS, approval of a PASS by the Social Security Administration is required before the income and resources to be devoted to the PASS are excluded by the Administration in determining SSI eligibility and payment amounts; and
WHEREAS, since applicants or recipients who submit PASS applications seldom have control over the time schedule which must be met in training programs or schooling involved in the PASS, a prompt response by the Social Security Administration to approve, amend, or deny a PASS application is almost always essential; and
WHEREAS, the length of time taken by the Social Security Administration bears no apparent relationship to critical time schedules involved in implementing the PASS, but rather, once a PASS is submitted there is often a lengthy wait and a period of uncertainty before the applicant or recipient learns that a decision has finally been made, and by then the decision may in fact be too late; and
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is joined by the panel of experts in the SSI Modernization Project who have also recommended a prompt determination standard for PASS applications: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization insist upon a thirty-day prompt determination standard to be met by the Social Security Administration, with approval by presumption to occur if a decision has not been made during the thirty-day period following the Administration's receipt of the application for a PASS; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we ask the Social Security Administration to implement the prompt determination standard specified in this resolution, without the necessity for remedial legislation.
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has undertaken a project to modernize the Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (SSI) program; and
WHEREAS, a panel of experts, including Sharon Gold from the National Federation of the Blind, was used to review the program and develop recommendations for updating the SSI law, regulations, and policies; and
WHEREAS, among several other changes proposed, the panel of experts has recommended the following: (1) increasing the Federal benefit rate so that the standard for an individual would not be less than twenty percent above the poverty line with equivalent raises to be made in the SSI couples' benefit rate as well; (2) raising the resource limits from $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples to $7,000 and $10,500 respectively; (3) increasing the monthly general income exclusion from $20 to $30 and applying it to unearned income only; (4) increasing the monthly earned income exclusion from $65 to $200 plus two thirds of earned income over $200; and (5) eliminating reductions in SSI benefits caused by living with families or friends or by the receipt of in-kind support and maintenance; and
WHEREAS, these recommendations respond forthrightly to the need for SSI modernization, recognizing that many of the program's most significant features, such as the basic resource and income disregards, have not been updated in twenty years, since they were placed in the original law; and
WHEREAS, a continuing national commitment is essential to preserve and update the SSI program in light of economic and social changes which have occurred and will occur: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Clinton Administration to give priority to Supplemental Security Income modernization in developing the President's next budget; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation inform members of Congress of the need for a continuing national commitment to maintain the SSI program as a critical income-support mechanism for blind people in this country; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the members of the 103rd Congress to take prompt action to enact legislation designed to update the SSI program in accordance with the recommendations made by the modernization project.
WHEREAS, blind and sighted persons who possess a comprehensive education have greater opportunities for employment and career advancement; and
WHEREAS, literacy, mathematics, and various other areas of study such as music, the arts, and the physical sciences are integral parts of a full and complete education for both blind and sighted persons; and
WHEREAS, specialized Braille and print codes exist that enable both blind and sighted students to acquire a thorough education; and
WHEREAS, a unified Braille code, making Braille mathematics an extension of literary Braille, would facilitate the learning and use of Braille by establishing a common standard that would prevent the confusing duplication of symbols: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization work to ensure that all blind students pursuing an academic course of study receive instruction in Grade II literary Braille; the Nemeth Code of Braille Mathematics; and any other Braille codes, such as the Braille Music Code, the student and/or the student's parents deem necessary for a full and complete education; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work to ensure that a unified Braille code is adopted and that all blind students pursuing an academic course of study receive instruction in the unified Braille code, when it is adopted, and any other Braille codes, such as the Braille Music Code, the student and/or the student's parents deem necessary for a full and complete education.
WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will soon propose regulations to implement the client choice and other provisions of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992; and
WHEREAS, new provisions for determining eligibility in the program include a presumption that an individual's blindness or disability is a substantial impediment to employment if the individual is eligible to receive disability insurance or SSI benefits paid under the Social Security Act; and
WHEREAS, the receipt of such benefits should be evidence that in most cases the applicant is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, particularly with respect to blind individuals; and
WHEREAS, regardless of the new presumption favoring eligibility of blind or disabled Social Security or SSI beneficiaries, state agencies have argued that eligibility for any services whatsoever can still be refused if it is decided that employment can be achieved without services; and
WHEREAS, restrictive interpretations of the law such as this have been used in the past to deny needed services, leading Congress to include in the amendments a strong presumption in favor of eligibility: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization register its most vigorous opposition to efforts by state vocational rehabilitation agencies to undercut the presumption that Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are to be found eligible for vocational rehabilitation services in all but the most unusual of circumstances; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Rehabilitation Services Administration to issue clear rules and guidelines designed to enforce a presumed eligibility policy, particularly in the case of beneficiaries.
WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act is administered by the United States Department of Education, through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, for the purpose of assuring that all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States give priority to blind persons in the operation of vending facilities on Federal property; and
WHEREAS, the priority granted to blind persons under the law is absolute and is not conditioned upon the ability or willingness of blind persons to pay proceeds from the vending facility for the support of Federal employee morale, welfare, or recreation activities; and
WHEREAS, in a dramatic departure from this policy and the law itself the United States Department of Education provided a legal opinion to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), informing that agency that it could insist upon payment of sales commissions from facilities operated under the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and
WHEREAS, this opinion was issued during the course of an appeal by NASA of a decision by an arbitration panel, directing NASA to approve an application for a vending facility permit filed by Mississippi Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind; and
WHEREAS, the opinion, which was fortunately rejected by the Federal District Court, actually supported NASA in a position taken against the blind vendor program in Mississippi in contravention of the Department of Education's legal mandate to provide policy and administrative leadership on behalf of blind vendors: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization express firm opposition to the legal position taken by the Department of Education in regard to the payment of vending facility proceeds for morale, welfare, and recreation activities of Federal employees; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation demand a review by the Department of Education of the position taken in the NASA case to the end that a similar opinion will not be issued in the future.
WHEREAS, the General Services Administration (GSA) controls and manages buildings in which most of the civilian agencies of the United States government are housed; and
WHEREAS, GSA has often been cited as a leader among federal property-managing agencies in giving priority to blind persons in the operation of vending facilities as prescribed by the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act; and
WHEREAS, GSA'S positive record in awarding vending facilities for operation by blind vendors is actually quite mixed in regard to assigning cafeterias, following a policy that is either variable or variably applied, sometimes favoring the assignment of cafeterias for operation under the Randolph-Sheppard Act and sometimes not; and
WHEREAS, in its most recent actions to award cafeteria contracts GSA has returned to an old and once-abandoned policy of requiring state licensing agencies to submit extensive bids which are judged in competition with those of commercial firms; and
WHEREAS, the bidding policy currently applied has never been announced through any official form of communication with state licensing agencies, with the National Federation of the Blind, or in any other way, but it has occurred nonetheless during a time of change-over in administrations, when bureaucrats, lacking accountability, could presume to make decisions on their own; and
WHEREAS, returning to the policy of competitive bidding for federal cafeterias is not justified and should not be allowed by regulations governing the vending facilities program: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization express outrage over the General Services Administration's return to the use of competitive bidding procedures, which circumvent the goals of improving business opportunities for blind people promised through the priority granted by the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that responsible officials of the Clinton Administration who are given the authority to do so shall be urged to review and reverse GSA'S policy change without delay.
WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act specifies that the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is to be the lead agency in issuing regulations and in coordinating compliance with the Act by all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the specification of a lead agency for administration of the Act was necessary to ensure that priority for blind vendors to operate vending facilities would be uniformly applied throughout the Federal government; and
WHEREAS, the lead agency designation under the law means that RSA's interpretations of the law should receive deference over opposing interpretations by other Federal agencies; and
WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice has demonstrated a pattern of vigorously defending Federal agencies whose actions or positions are inconsistent with the goals and requirements of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, not to mention being inconsistent with RSA's interpretations of the law; and
WHEREAS, this pattern of failing to uphold the Randolph-Sheppard Act is exemplified by the Department of Veterans Affairs versus the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Training and Dennis Groshel appeal, in which the Department of Justice is challenging the constitutionality of the arbitration process which is used under the Act to resolve disputes; and
WHEREAS, continued assaults upon the Randolph-Sheppard Act by the Department of Justice are deplorable and cannot be tolerated: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Attorney General, Janet Reno, to rein in her Department and insist upon vigorous defense of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, not the agencies that violate it.
WHEREAS, examinations to qualify for amateur radio operator licenses are administered by volunteer examiners authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); and
WHEREAS, the FCC regulations governing the amateur radio service state that a volunteer examiner must be present for and observe the entire examination; and
WHEREAS, the Chief of the FCC's Private Radio Bureau has issued an official opinion that individuals who are blind cannot properly observe examinations because of their blindness; and
WHEREAS, despite this official opinion, many blind radio amateurs have already successfully completed the duties of a volunteer examiner; and
WHEREAS, because blind teachers, professors, instructors, and volunteer examiners have clearly demonstrated that blind individuals can competently and effectively administer all types of examinations, the FCC's current policy amounts to officially sanctioned and blatant discrimination against the blind: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization condemn and deplore the discriminatory policy of the Federal Communications Commission which excludes blind persons from serving as volunteer examiners; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the FCC to adopt a policy and issue an opinion which affirmatively confirms the ability of blind individuals to administer licensing examinations and carry out any other function under the amateur radio service.
WHEREAS, Congress enacted the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 to ensure that individuals with disabilities would have greater access to assistive technology devices and services; and
WHEREAS, the Congress is currently considering legislation to reauthorize this Act; and
WHEREAS, the reauthorization proposal holds promise for improving the Act in several important ways, especially by emphasizing consumer empowerment; and
WHEREAS, with few exceptions technology assistance and services designed to meet the needs of blind individuals have so far received short shrift in the implementation of this Act, a situation which can best be remedied by including in the reauthorization bill an option for states receiving grants under the Act to designate an agency specializing in services to the blind in a manner similar to the designation of agencies under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and
WHEREAS, further strengthening of the Act should be made by adding provisions stating that grants to programs serving specialized disability needs, such as the needs of blind individuals, are both authorized and encouraged: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization support legislation to reauthorize the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act and applaud proposals being made to improve consumer-responsiveness and self-determination in programs funded under the Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the Congress to make further improvements in the Reauthorization legislation, such as those specified in this resolution, which will better ensure that the technology needs of blind individuals are met.
WHEREAS, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) has stimulated development of new assistive technology with the intent of accommodations for blind persons and other individuals with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, one such area has to do with audible signage; and
WHEREAS, such assistive technology may be developed in a vacuum and subsequently be presented by well-meaning people as the ultimate solution; and
WHEREAS, an accommodation must be practical in its intended use while not demeaning the user; and
WHEREAS, overselling and exploitation of assistive technology may occur where consumer input is absent or ignored; and
WHEREAS, assistive devices should be unobtrusive and user-controlled, and enhance a public image of ability not disability: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization is eager to consult with people and organizations seeking to develop, market, and utilize assistive technologies and to participate in the informal and formal evaluation of said technologies.
WHEREAS, the federal minimum wage has been established under the Fair Labor Standards Act to set a floor-level pay standard for American workers; and
WHEREAS, blind people who work in special industrial programs, generally referred to as ■sheltered workshops,■ produce products bought by the United States Government and valued at over $200 million annually, and still these workers are not guaranteed at least the minimum wage for their labor in producing these products purchased by the government; and
WHEREAS, it is ironic but true that employers in the competitive labor force routinely pay their blind employees at least the minimum wage and more, if for no other reason than because they fear being charged with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by virtue of having a double pay standard; and
WHEREAS, purchasing policies of the Federal government, including price determinations made by the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, are a major contributing factor to common practices of sheltered workshops that exploit blind people by paying them subminimum wages; and
WHEREAS, rather than contributing to or even causing practices that lead to pay exploitation, the Federal government should be a model and set an example by refusing to purchase items from employers, including sheltered workshops, that do not pay their workers at least the Federal minimum wage: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization oppose as a matter of principle the employment of blind workers at pay rates that are less than the Federal minimum wage; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we request the cooperation and leadership of responsible members of the Congress to adopt federal procurement policies which prohibit rates of pay below the minimum wage for the production of products or services bought by the United States government.
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has regulations and announced policies to promote incentives to work for beneficiaries in the disability insurance program; and WHEREAS, uncertainty about how the work incentive provisions apply at particular times and in particular circumstances is a major if not the major factor which discourages work attempts; and
WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has made efforts to inform beneficiaries about their benefit rights when they work, but beyond a point this general information is not sufficient to overcome the uncertainty and fear of adverse consequences which may result from work; and
WHEREAS, this apparent policy not to emphasize careful tracking of vital work incentive information, such as trial work or extended eligibility months used and available, leads to overpayment disputes and ultimately defeats the work incentive goals: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Social Security Administration to institute procedures for supplying beneficiaries, upon their request, with clear, understandable, individualized, and written work incentive status reports including at a minimum (1) a listing of the specific trial work months already used, (2) a statement of the number (if any) of trial work months remaining and a reminder about the earnings and services criteria used to determine trial work; (3) if the trial work period has ended, information on when the extended eligibility period began and when it will end; and (4) a reminder about earnings allowed while receiving benefits during any month of extended eligibility.
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was enacted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, transportation, and public accommodations; and
WHEREAS, enforcement of the ADA's civil rights provisions is primarily the responsibility of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Transportation, and the United States Department of Justice; and
WHEREAS, the new legal rights provided for people with disabilities under the ADA will have very little practical meaning unless these government agencies are equipped with the personnel and financial resources necessary to investigate and prosecute complaints; and
WHEREAS, the resources currently devoted to ADA technical assistance and enforcement are woefully inadequate, even to the point where those affected by the Act cannot obtain needed information in response to written or telephone inquiries because staffing is not sufficient to meet the demand; and
WHEREAS, the history of civil rights enforcement in this country amply demonstrates that covered entities will comply based largely on their perception of the government's commitment to enforce the law, a commitment which is currently in doubt with respect to the ADA: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation urge the Clinton Administration to give priority to vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act both in funding and assignment of personnel under the present budget and in its future budget proposals presented to the Congress; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Congress to place a high priority on providing resources for ADA enforcement through appropriate provisions in relevant spending and authorization bills.
WHEREAS, blind persons have traditionally had few opportunities to become employed and even fewer opportunities to establish and maintain their own businesses; and
WHEREAS, Sections 8(a) and 7(j) of the Small Business Act establish a Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development Program to be conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA); and
WHEREAS, this program is intended in part to foster business ownership by individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged and to promote the competitive viability of businesses owned and operated by them; and
WHEREAS, participants eligible for the program by definition include members of racial and ethnic minorities, but exclude persons with disabilities (including blind persons) unless, on an individual basis, applicants can prove social disadvantage under criteria not clearly specified; and
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Business Development Act (H.R. 794) has been introduced in the 103rd Congress by Representative Jim Ramstad specifically to include persons with disabilities as a recognized minority group having the presumed status of social disadvantage for purposes of the minority small business program: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation commend Congressman Ramstad for standing tall with the blind of America in his introduction of H.R. 794; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the Congress through the Small Business Committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate to hold hearings on this legislation and take further action to bring it to a vote and have this bill enacted as soon as possible.
WHEREAS, Congress enacted the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (originally the Wagner-O'Day Act) in 1938 to promote employment opportunities for blind people through the manufacturing of products purchased by the federal government; and
WHEREAS, non-profit agencies that employ blind people or others with severe disabilities in their manufacturing operations can qualify to sell products or services to the federal government on non-competitive terms; and
WHEREAS, since 1938 federal employment policy regarding the blind has changed dramatically from an emphasis on sheltered employment to the goal of competitive employment in integrated work settings; and
WHEREAS, full participation in the economic life of our society involves performing work that is far more complex and challenging than the assembly line jobs in non-profit agencies currently supported by contracts under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act; and
WHEREAS, the operation of small, for-profit businesses by blind persons could be stimulated through the use of federal contracts if the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act allowed such contracts to be offered to businesses owned and operated by blind individuals: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, 1993, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Congress to enact amendments to the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act which will permit for-profit businesses owned and operated by blind individuals to be awarded federal contracts under essentially the same procedures and terms that now apply exclusively to sheltered workshops.
WHEREAS, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the recognized authority in setting building and construction standards for private-sector facilities in the United States; and
WHEREAS, in the latest revision of its standards, ANSI considered including guidelines for detectable warnings but rejected the guidelines altogether after learning of the experience and considered views of blind people; and
WHEREAS, ANSI's decision not to include detectable warnings in its guidelines represents a constructive philosophy and an enlightened view about the true needs of blind people: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this ninth day of July, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization commend the American National Standards Institute for reflecting the true needs of blind Americans by excluding any reference to detectable warnings in its published standards.