National Federation of the Blind Demands that Policymakers Protect and Assist Blind Students during COVID-19 Emergency
Washington, DC (March 20, 2020): The National Federation of the Blind, America’s civil rights organization of the blind, today expressed its absolute opposition to any proposal in COVID-19 emergency legislation, or any other legislative or regulatory action, that would undermine the rights of blind students and other students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other applicable laws during the crisis.
“Congress is considering actions that would threaten the educational rights of blind students like my two daughters and jeopardize the provision of accessible textbooks and course materials, Braille instruction, and much more – all at a time when blind students need these services the most given that many public schools are closed and they, like their peers, are expected to learn at home,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We all recognize the national COVID-19 emergency, but it does not justify discrimination against the blind or other students with disabilities. Instead of cruelly undermining the rights of the blind and others, Congress should provide additional resources to school systems so that they can better meet the needs of students with disabilities during this crisis. Lawmakers should not relegate disabled students to second-class status by undermining our rights while providing relief and assistance to other groups and industries affected by this emergency. The National Federation of the Blind will remain vigilant and continue to vigorously oppose any provision or action that erodes the fundamental right of blind students to an equal education.”
What You Can Do
Call or email your two senators today and ask them to vote against this proposal. Currently offices are swamped with phone calls, so it may be better to email your two senators and advocate against any legislation that could undermine the rights of people with disabilities.
When you call or email, you might say something like the following:
"Hello, my name is [your name] and I am a constituent of [your senator]. I live in [city, state]. I am calling to urge [your senator] to advocate against any legislation that could undermine the rights of people with disabilities. While the COVID-19 outbreak has placed a tremendous and unprecedented strain on schools and districts, it is imperative that we work together to find solutions that allow children to receive equal access to an education and the services that support them without undoing all of their civil and educational rights. I am writing as a concerned (parent, teacher, blind person, etc.) to urge you to reject any provision that would negatively impact the civil rights of people with disabilities. Please support your constituents with disabilities in achieving equality, opportunity, and security during this critical time America.
You can contact your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard and asking for the office in question. The number is 202-224-3121. If you email your senators, please copy Stephanie Flynt at [email protected]. Your calls and emails do make a difference.
It is best to call or email the relevant education staffer in your member of Congress's office. If you need the name and email of the appropriate staff person for any Senate office, please email Jesa Medders at [email protected].
- Blind Americans Encountering Discrimination by Restaurants and Other Services During COVID-19 Crisis, April 3, 2020
- National Federation of the Blind Urges Governors to Issue Accessible Executive Orders Regarding COVID-19, March 23, 2020
- COVID-19 Information Available in Braille and Audio, March 20, 2020
- National Federation of the Blind COVID-19 Policy Relating to Public Events, March 13, 2020
- National Federation of the Blind Response to COVID-19, March 12, 2020
- COVID-19 Resources
- Distance Education Resources
- AccessibleNow Campaign
- "Don’t Be a Barrier: Be Accessible NOW" Blog Post, March 16, 2020
- "Coming Together During COVID-19: Concerns and Connections" Blog Post, March 23, 2020
- NFB Events Calendar
- National Convention
- State Affiliate Convention List
- Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium
- Nonvisual Access Conference