Resolution 95-01 seeks to preserve the linkage between blind and seniors aged sixty-five to sixty-nine with regard to the amount of money that can be earned by Social Security beneficiaries without losing benefits.
Resolution 95-02 commends Secretary of Education Richard Riley for removing the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped from the list of accrediting boards recognized by the Department of Education.
Resolution 95-03 calls upon Congress to amend the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act to provide that sheltered workshops for the blind assist blind persons in preparing for competitive work for private and public employers and to provide that agencies' eligibility for government support largely depend on their effectiveness in this area.
Resolution 95-04 condemns and deplores the attempt of representatives of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) to seek legislation in various states for the certification of mobility instructors.
Resolution 95-05 reiterates the position of the NFB that separate identifiable agencies generally provide the best service to the blind and rejects the cross-disability approach.
Resolution 95-06 calls upon producers of television programs to confer with NFB representatives about when to read aloud printed contact information.
Resolution 95-07 urges the Social Security Administration to encourage college students to get work experience without being penalized.
Resolution 95-08 urges Congress to pass legislation to eliminate copyright difficulties when material is being produced in alternative formats for the blind.
Resolution 95-09 opposes the application of the Javits- Wagner-O'Day Act to the procurement of specialized materials for the blind by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), now or in the future.
Resolution 95-10 requests the Social Security Administration to develop a clear and simple benefits- reporting system which beneficiaries can follow when moving from inactivity to work activity.
Resolution 95-11 calls upon agencies having responsibility for guidelines, regulations, or enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to eliminate requirements for detectable warnings.
Resolution 95-12 advocates the preservation of identifiable rehabilitation programs based on the principle of consumer choice and control and with federal funding available.
Resolution 95-13 calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice to support actively decisions of arbitration panels in the Randolph-Sheppard program.
Resolution 95-14 seeks equal access for the blind in using telecommunications services and systems.
Resolution 95-15 urges manufacturers of computer hardware and software to make manuals available in Braille when requested by the blind and the deaf-blind.
WHEREAS, the Social Security Disability Insurance program includes an exempt earnings provision for blind people so that work is encouraged with no financial penalty applied to the extent that earnings do not exceed the exempt amount for seniors in the age range of sixty-five to seventy; and
WHEREAS, proposals which are pending in Congress would raise the current earnings exemption threshold in five annual adjustments from $11,280 currently to reach $30,000 beginning in the year 2000; and
WHEREAS, a version of the earnings exemption changes which was passed by the House of Representatives as part of the "Contract with America" legislation would apply the higher threshold amounts to age sixty-five to seventy retirees but not to blind people, leaving blind people with an earnings exemption of $11,280; and
WHEREAS, the objective of the earnings limit changes-- to promote work incentives for beneficiaries--is equally valid for blind people and senior citizens: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization call upon the Congress to make changes in the earnings exemption threshold which apply to blind people to the same extent that they apply to seniors.
WHEREAS, the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) appeared for many years on the Secretary of Education's list of officially recognized accrediting agencies; and
WHEREAS, the recognition of NAC by the Secretary of Education was obtained from the beginning on the basis of politics and not on the merits of NAC'S program; and
WHEREAS, throughout its history NAC has severely damaged the quality of services to the blind by attempting to force itself upon the field in a way that was calculated from the beginning to overpower the views of blind consumers; and
WHEREAS, the Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, decided to remove NAC from the list after reviewing information supplied by the National Federation of the Blind in which it was clearly demonstrated to him that NAC was no longer eligible for recognition: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization applaud and commend Secretary Riley for acting forthrightly to remove NAC from the list of officially recognized accrediting agencies.
WHEREAS, the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, originally known as the Wagner-O'Day Act, became law in 1938, for the purpose of giving a non-competitive priority in federal purchasing to favor items made by blind people at non-profit agencies called sheltered workshops; and
WHEREAS, the jobs made possible by virtue of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act are not in the competitive labor force and, in the vast majority of instances, never lead to jobs that are in the open labor market; and
WHEREAS, in its operation of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act in the manner just described, the federal government is overseeing and financing a system of segregated employment settings for blind and disabled people, directly contravening the policy of the United States, declared in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in integrated settings: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization urge the Congress to enact legislation which will reshape and reform the Javits-Wagner-O'Day program into an instrument of job training and transitional work opportunities for blind people, providing for each person employed in the program a plan with specifically identified goals and time schedules to obtain competitive employment; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that eligibility for agencies to participate in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day program be based to a considerable extent on each agency's consistent demonstration of its ability to enable blind people to achieve competitive employment outcomes.
WHEREAS, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) is promoting legislation for enactment in the states and seeking to create a state-administered regulatory scheme for certification of mobility instructors; and
WHEREAS, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where legislation of this type has been proposed most recently, the certification standards, examination policies, and other related matters would all be regulated by a board to be known as the "State Board of Examiners in Orientation and Mobility;" and
WHEREAS, according to the legislation, the board would consist of nine members appointed by the governor, seven of whom "shall be engaged in rendering professional services in orientation and mobility, one shall be engaged in rendering professional services in ophthalmology or optometry, and one who is legally blind shall represent consumer interests"; and
WHEREAS, the make-up of the proposed board alone reveals AER's real purpose, to control the practice of orientation and mobility teaching by having the certification and examination standards shaped to fulfill its own narrow objectives; and
WHEREAS, it is a grandiose and false notion in the extreme to think that teaching independent travel methods to the blind is so intellectually challenging and technically difficult that state-level certification is warranted to assure appropriate expertise when such has never been demonstrated at any time or in any state: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization reject AER's proposed orientation and mobility instructor certification legislation and vigorously oppose this legislation in every state in which the legislation is introduced; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we condemn and deplore the efforts of AER to use state certification legislation as the means of seizing control over mobility instruction for the blind.
WHEREAS, on more than one occasion during the past several months the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has issued official position statements to the effect that all programs which receive federal funds for serving people with disabilities should be "cross-disability programs," meaning that they should serve anyone with any disability and not be specialized in their approach; and
WHEREAS, the statements made by NCIL have had particular reference to services for the blind provided through specialized agencies, such as separate state agencies for the blind, which at the option of the states are permitted to receive direct federal funding under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and
WHEREAS, the attempt to enforce a cross-disability mold upon all programs and services is undesirable and not workable in that individuals often have particular disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, or other specific conditions; and
WHEREAS, the notion that everyone must conform to a generalist view of disability is an attempt to strong-arm the entire service-delivery system to fit a particular view of disability, not the particular needs of individuals: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization firmly and forcefully reject use of the cross-disability approach in the organization, planning, and delivery of training, adjustment, and supportive services; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we reaffirm the long- standing policy of this organization to preserve and create wherever possible a specialized approach to services for the blind provided by identifiable and consumer-responsive agencies.
WHEREAS, many informational programs and commercials are aired on television and cable channels that make use of silently displayed contact information such as toll-free telephone numbers; and
WHEREAS, persons who are blind cannot easily obtain this information from these broadcasts: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization call upon television networks, local stations, cable companies, and producers of programs for the above throughout this country to confer with representatives of the National Federation of the Blind regarding the verbalization of essential telephone numbers and similar information.
WHEREAS, blind students in postsecondary education programs should be encouraged to obtain work experience through activities such as internships, work study, and similar programs; and
WHEREAS, students who participate in these programs are often challenged by the Social Security Administration on the assumption that the income which they have received or will receive will likely affect entitlement to cash benefits; and
WHEREAS, policies and regulations of the Social Security Administration should, to the maximum extent possible, encourage work activity by beneficiaries and should particularly avoid penalizing students who are performing useful work as a means of acquiring experience and skills needed for obtaining and retaining employment; and
WHEREAS, it is particularly important that, in the case of full-time students who are disability insurance beneficiaries, months of trial work should not be counted for income received and services provided under virtually any foreseeable circumstance, and, in the case of full-time students who are SSI recipients, arrangements should be made to exempt income and resources through expedited approval of Plans for Achieving Self Support or other procedures: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the city of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization urge the Social Security Administration to issue revised and clear guidelines especially designed to promote work experience for students; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the guidelines called for in this resolution be designed to enable students who are beneficiaries to obtain work experience without penalty so that they are encouraged to view work as the most attractive option available.
WHEREAS, revision of copyright laws is under review in Congress in part as the result of the burgeoning capacity for electronic publishing and distribution of information; and
WHEREAS, copyright clearance is often the major obstacle to the timely conversion of printed matter into Braille or sound- recorded formats designed for use by the blind; and
WHEREAS, any delay in obtaining copyright permission to reproduce printed matter in formats that are exclusively useful to blind and visually impaired persons cannot be justified on the basis of protecting intellectual property or financial interest since the material is already published and available to sighted readers: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization urge the Congress to enact statutory provisions which will assure that copyrighted works may be reproduced at any time if the purpose for the reproduction, as indicated by the format used, is to provide blind and visually impaired persons with direct access to the work in question.
WHEREAS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is responsible under federal law for providing reading matter in Braille and sound- recorded formats; and
WHEREAS, in order to make this service possible, the NLS relies principally upon specialized, nonprofit production facilities which supply specified quantities of books and magazines under contract; and
WHEREAS, a competitive process is used by NLS to obtain the greatest amount of suitable material from the few suppliers available at the most favorable price possible; and
WHEREAS, efforts have been made to require NLS to alter this approach, at least in certain instances, by giving a non-competitive priority to programs operating under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act; and
WHEREAS, application of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act to materials procurement by NLS has distinct programmatic and financial disadvantages and is not in the ultimate best interest of the vast majority of blind and visually impaired readers: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization oppose application of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act to the procurement of specialized materials for the blind by NLS; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in the event of future efforts to restrict procurement activities of NLS by entities in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day program, this organization, to the extent necessary, seek appropriate exemption legislation.
WHEREAS, senior officials of the Social Security Administration speak with great conviction of their desire to reduce the work disincentives in the cash benefits and medical assistance programs; and
WHEREAS, in order to achieve this objective, the policies and procedures of the Social Security Administration at all levels, but particularly in local offices, should reinforce the view that work activity for beneficiaries is preferred over inactivity and, in fact, is the expected norm; and
WHEREAS, work activity among blind people could best be promoted by presenting beneficiaries with current, individualized reports with sufficient detail for them to know the current information on file concerning the months of trial work used and available, the beginning and ending dates for an extended period of eligibility, the amount of time remaining (if any) for Medicare part A coverage to continue without charge, and other matters relating to the anticipated effect that work may have on benefit eligibility; and
WHEREAS, the current procedures for handling claims nullify the pro-work stance of the Social Security Administration by failing to anticipate work of beneficiaries and, as a consequence, not giving them a user- friendly and simple way to submit work reports routinely; and
WHEREAS, the unintended consequence of the present reporting and data-tracking procedures relating to work activity is that a punitive "got-ya" approach appears to be the principal method used to monitor work, with virtually all of the consequences being disclosed as after-the-fact penalties, not before-the-fact advantages: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization reassert to the Social Security Administration its request for the design and implementation of a user-friendly work and benefit status reporting system; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the principal objective of this system should be to provide a path of clarity and simplicity for beneficiaries to follow in going from inactivity to work activity.
WHEREAS, the need for and usefulness of so-called detectable warnings has now been studied extensively by groups of professional researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the Battelle Memorial Institute; and
WHEREAS, the findings of both studies confirm the everyday experience of blind people, that safe travel from place to place does not depend upon having strips of truncated domes installed to surround features of the built environment such as streets and drop-offs; and
WHEREAS, the research also shows that the strips of truncated domes do not make a unique or even significant contribution to safe and effective mobility for blind people in moving about through the public streets and in using transit stations; and
WHEREAS, truncated domes are a potential hazard to everyone; and
WHEREAS, in light of the research results and the substantial body of evidence that blind people neither want nor need detectable warnings, the guidelines and regulations requiring them cannot be supported and should not be enforced: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization urge all agencies having responsibility for guidelines, regulations, or enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act to remove all references to and abandon all requirements for detectable warnings; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express as a matter of policy its commitment to assist entities covered by the ADA in efforts to defend themselves against enforcement of requirements for detectable warnings.
WHEREAS, Congress is considering bills to consolidate laws and programs relating to education, training, and employment for youth and adults; and
WHEREAS, the impetus for the consolidation approach is to move responsibility for program leadership from the federal government to state or local governments and to reduce federal spending in the process; and
WHEREAS, both original and redrafted versions of the various consolidation measures contain plans to merge the vocational rehabilitation program with the delivery of job- training and employment services for the general non- disabled and unemployed population, but the more recent proposals, particularly the bill being considered in the Senate, have called for maintaining vocational rehabilitation as a distinctive state-administered program with a significant continuing federal role in both funding and policy leadership; and
WHEREAS, reforming the vocational rehabilitation program so that consumer responsiveness and client choice can prevail over claims of bureaucratic necessity is long overdue, but submerging the program into the generic job training system would not achieve this goal and would sacrifice the identifiable service delivery system in the process: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization continue to serve as a vigorous advocate for an identifiable vocational rehabilitation service-delivery system which is based on the principles of choice and consumer control over individualized service decisions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Congress to reaffirm the commitment to specialized services which is best expressed by maintaining leadership within the federal government over statewide and identifiable public vocational rehabilitation agencies and with adequate funding provided for services chosen to meet individual needs.
WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act contains an arbitration procedure, which can be used by state licensing agencies to challenge violations of the law by federal property-managing departments, agencies, and instrumentalities; and
WHEREAS, according to the Randolph-Sheppard Act the decision of an arbitration panel in a proceeding such as this is binding, and the head of the property managing agency is obliged to cause any violation found to cease; and
WHEREAS, resistance to, rather than compliance with, the decisions of arbitration panels has become the normal response of federal property managers (most notably the Department of Veterans Affairs in recent cases) who act as though the decision of a Randolph-Sheppard arbitration panel means nothing; and
WHEREAS, it has become the expected practice of the Department of Justice to join with federal agencies and officials in resisting, and in fact disregarding, arbitration panel decisions: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization call upon the Department of Justice to cease and desist from assisting with or promoting resistance to arbitration decisions issued pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation request cooperation by the Department of Justice in assuring that decisions of Randolph-Sheppard panels are given the substantial deference and weight they deserve as official rulings in the administration of the Randolph-Sheppard Program.
WHEREAS, bills now pending in Congress offer the possibility of removing legal obstacles to rapid expansion of our nation's telecommunications capacity and the variety of services available; and
WHEREAS, the proposed changes in the law underscore the necessity for a highly developed telecommunications infrastructure to support the needs of our society, including the needs of people who are blind, in the information age; and
WHEREAS, in order for blind people to compete and interact on equal terms with others, it is essential that the efficient and effective use of telecommunications equipment and services not become dependent upon the ability to see; and
WHEREAS, access provisions for persons with disabilities, including the blind, have been included in somewhat different forms in both House and Senate versions of the telecommunications reform legislation: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization urge the Congress promptly to complete action on a comprehensive telecommunications reform measure which includes the strongest possible affirmative statement that access for people who are blind is required; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that upon the enactment of the telecommunications reform legislation this Federation will do all in its power to seek approval of regulations and standards which will assure that efficient and effective equal access methods are available for blind people in using telecommunications equipment and services.
WHEREAS, accessibility to computer hardware and software results in more job opportunities, broader academic pursuits, and a higher level of independence for blind and deaf-blind consumers; and
WHEREAS, this accessibility is often contingent upon the availability of user's manuals in Braille; and
WHEREAS, the availability of user's manuals in Braille is virtually non-existent: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 1995, in the City of Chicago, Illinois, that this organization actively advocate for the provision of Braille editions of manuals for users of computer hardware and software and that these manuals be available on request from the manufacturers of these products.