National Federation of the Blind 2018 Resolutions

These resolutions were passed by the convention on July 7, 2018 in Orlando.

Resolution 2018-01

Regarding a Recent Letter from 103 Members of Congress to the US Department of Justice Addressing Website Accessibility

WHEREAS, for nearly twenty-eight years the Americans with Disabilities Act has required that public accommodations make their communications with the public accessible; and

WHEREAS, the ADA standard for accessible communication requires that all communications be equally effective for persons with and without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, communicating through websites is now the most commonly used method employed by public accommodations to interact with the public, a form of communication which must meet the ADA’s effective communication requirement; and

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice has not issued regulations setting out a specific accessibility standard for websites or for any particular type of communication, thus allowing public accommodations to use any available standard as long as that standard achieves effective communication for people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, for years many public accommodations have advocated against the Department of Justice issuing website accessibility standards; and

WHEREAS, in spite of the fact that the ADA provides an effective communication standard that offers businesses flexibility in how they make their websites accessible, some public accommodations have argued in court that requiring them to make their websites accessible at all violates their due process rights; and

WHEREAS, every court to consider the issue has rejected these public accommodations’ due process arguments except one, and that opinion is currently on appeal; and

WHEREAS, on June 20, 2018, 103 Members of Congress wrote a letter asking the Department of Justice to issue guidance indicating that courts cannot require public accommodations to make their websites accessible because, they argued, such requirements violate due process rights: now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the action of 103 members of Congress who have asked the Department of Justice to exempt public accommodations from their obligations under the ADA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon these members of Congress to withdraw their signatures from the letter immediately; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization request that the Department of Justice confirm, as it has consistently made clear in briefs, technical assistance, and its own enforcement, that websites of public accommodations must comply with the effective communication requirement of Title III of the ADA and that due process does not restrict enforcement of that requirement.

Resolution 2018-02

Regarding the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the AER Accreditation Council

WHEREAS, beginning in 1967 and for approximately thirty-five years thereafter, an organization known as the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) sought to control education and rehabilitation services provided to the blind by means of so-called standards leading to so-called accreditation; and

WHEREAS, NAC was the offspring of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), created by AFB in direct response to the growing effectiveness of the organized blind movement; and

WHEREAS, as opposition to NAC by the National Federation of the Blind and others gained strength, the federal government, state agencies, schools for the blind, and even the AFB itself withdrew their former support, financial and otherwise, leading the AFB executive director to exclaim in speaking to the NAC board in 2002 “What part of no more NAC don’t you understand?”; and

WHEREAS, although the dreams of NAC to hold dominance over the blind have lived on in to the present decade, the independent voice of the blind has been heard and respected and has prevailed; and

WHEREAS, NAC died, and on June 30, 2017, transferred all of its remaining assets--$85,554--to AER; and

WHEREAS, AER has recently offered NFB a single seat on its National Accreditation Council, only after repeated attempts by NFB to communicate with AER about NAC; and

WHEREAS, this half-hearted offer of a single seat is the kind of tokenism that doomed the original NAC to utter and complete failure and which, unless altered, will eventually threaten the viability and very existence of AER itself: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore AER'S insulting gesture of tokenism toward the blind in the formation of its National Accreditation Council; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as stated in our convention resolution 71-03 and repeated on many occasions since, it be made clear that: we do not oppose proper accreditation properly done; we will be happy to participate in and cooperate with any appropriately organized and democratically constituted accrediting activity; and if the time should come that a genuine accreditation system is created along democratic lines and blind people have more than token representation in the governance of the accreditation system and throughout the accreditation process, the National Federation of the Blind pledges its willingness to work with AER and other organizations truly to make services for the blind more relevant and responsive to the needs of the blind than ever before.

Resolution 2018-03

Regarding the Lifeline Program and the Free Cellphone Service for Seniors and Those with Low Income

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has created the Lifeline program for low-vision seniors and others with low income to provide a free cellphone with free calling, texting, and some data services; and

WHEREAS, this service is funded through the universal access fee paid by all phone subscribers; and

WHEREAS, the service providers are typically mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), smaller third-party mobile phone service providers who resell access to the networks of the major carriers; and

WHEREAS, proof of residence and proof of disability or eligibility for other assistance (e.g., Medicaid, SSI, etc.) are required to participate in this program; and

WHEREAS, the phones provided by the MVNOs vary widely from a basic flip phone with tactile buttons which provides only calling services and possibly some limited text-to-speech functionality to a low-end Android smartphone with touchscreen that would require basic technology training for the newly blind or seniors, regardless of their level of vision; and

WHEREAS, many MVNOs require navigation of a complex list of menu options on the phone and long wait times to speak with a representative about specific needs and company options; and

WHEREAS, all companies surveyed by the National Federation of the Blind were modest operations with varying procedures, making the process of obtaining the free service complex and time consuming: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon the FCC to establish guidelines for the MVNOs that provide the Lifeline service to make available accessible devices and documentation and to establish a minimum standard for support to low-income citizens and seniors with vision loss.

Resolution 2018-04

Regarding the Inaccessibility of Epic Corporation Systems Software

WHEREAS, Epic Systems Corporation (Epic) is a leader in the electronic health records (EHR) industry and has developed a suite of health information software used nationwide by more than three hundred hospital and health clinic customers; and

WHEREAS, Epic has failed to conform the employee-facing side of its software to industry standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA, despite Epic’s proven ability to incorporate accessibility features in its patient-facing software; and

WHEREAS, blind professionals working in the healthcare field who are otherwise qualified for the work they have been hired to perform are unable to engage in basic functions of their jobs because of Epic’s inaccessible software design and have suffered from this lack of access, including the likelihood of being overlooked for promotions and raises or terminated from their positions entirely; and

WHEREAS, blind healthcare professionals are now forced to advocate for their protections under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and must engage in interactive dialogue with their employers to request accommodations that will give them access to Epic’s software; and

WHEREAS, Epic’s practice of selling software that it knows to be inaccessible has put its customer base at risk of violating federal law and has forced healthcare employers to rely on code scripting solutions that work only until a platform is updated, at which point the scripts break and must be rewritten; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has insisted that Epic remediate its employee-facing software and legal action has been filed against Epic demanding that it do so; and

WHEREAS, despite these actions, Epic has failed to commit publicly to including accessibility features in all facets of its healthcare software: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore Epic for incorporating gratuitous accessibility barriers in its health information software, for failing to commit to resolving these access barriers, and for perpetuating discrimination against blind healthcare employees; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that Epic take immediate action to remediate access barriers within its health information software so that it conforms with WCAG 2.1 AA and is fully and equally accessible to blind healthcare employees, removing this fundamental barrier to employment for the blind in the healthcare field.

Resolution 2018-05

Regarding Accessible Ballot-Marking Devices and the Ability to Cast a Secret Ballot

WHEREAS, the ability to cast a secret and anonymous ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy that enables citizens to vote their conscience without fear; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that voters with disabilities be afforded an opportunity to exercise their right to vote equivalent to the opportunity afforded to voters without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, election technology developers, such as Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Dominion Voting Systems, and Unisyn Voting Solutions have designed accessible ballot-marking devices (BMDs) that produce ballots that are different in size and/or content from the ballot that is hand-marked by the majority of voters; and

WHEREAS, because the BMD ballots cast by voters with disabilities are different in size and/or content from the hand-marked ballots cast by the majority of voters, the BMD ballots can be identified as having been cast by a voter with a disability and are, as a result, not secret ballots; and

WHEREAS, a state or local board of elections is in violation of Title II of the ADA when it does not provide voters with disabilities the same opportunity to cast a secret ballot that it provides voters without disabilities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that election technology developers design and manufacture BMDs that produce ballots which are the same size and have the same content as hand-marked ballots; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that state and local boards of elections that have procured BMDs which produce ballots that are different in size and content from hand-marked ballots implement procedures that will ensure voters with disabilities have the same opportunity to cast a secret ballot as voters without disabilities.

Resolution 2018-06

Regarding the Consideration of H.R. 620 or Similar Legislation by the United States Senate

WHEREAS, H.R. 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” would fundamentally weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act by shifting the burden of compliance onto the backs of people with disabilities through the imposition of an oppressive “notice and cure” provision; and

WHEREAS, despite strong opposition from the National Federation of the Blind and the rest of the disability and civil rights communities, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 620 on February 15, 2018, by a vote of 225 to 192; and

WHEREAS, the proponents of H.R. 620 continue to advocate for its adoption in the United States Senate by flooding members of the Senate with letters and phone calls; and

WHEREAS, if opponents of H.R. 620 and similar legislation do not continue to fight this effort in the Senate, the prospects for its ultimate passage will increase: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the passage of H.R. 620 by the United States House of Representatives; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Senate to oppose H.R. 620 or any similar legislation.

Resolution 2018-07

Regarding the Creation of Government Documents and Forms in HTML5

WHEREAS, for many years blind citizens have been unable to obtain most forms and other government documents in an accessible format; and

WHEREAS, many documents sent to blind people from federal agencies are time-sensitive and have severe consequences attached to a missed deadline; and

WHEREAS, PDF documents are often inaccessible to the blind, and the remediation of these documents is both costly and time consuming; and

WHEREAS, PDF documents cannot be completed on mobile devices using screen-access software nor be made compliant with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA; and

WHEREAS, HTML5-based formats render all documents accessible regardless of device; and

WHEREAS, all citizens benefit from documents that are properly formatted and easy to read on any device: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that we call upon all federal agencies to adopt policies requiring that all documents and forms be produced in HTML5-based formats by December 31, 2019; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon these agencies to replace or convert all currently used forms or documents to the HTML5-based format and that this replacement or conversion process commence on or before January 1, 2020.

Resolution 2018-08

Regarding Recent Updates to the Case Processing Manual in the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education

WHEREAS, the mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the United States Department of Education is to “ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools”; and

WHEREAS, for many blind people filing complaints with the Office for Civil Rights has been the only way to rectify instances of discrimination experienced at public schools, institutions of higher education, and other recipients of federal financial assistance through the US Department of Education; and

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice intervened in several cases and reached significant settlement agreements with institutions of higher education as a result of OCR complaints filed by NFB members; and

WHEREAS, on March 5, 2018, without any public notice and without affording interested stakeholders the opportunity to provide comments, the department issued a new “U. S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Case Processing Manual,” which replaced the 2015 Case Processing Manual and made substantial changes to the processes investigators must follow when attempting to evaluate, resolve, and dismiss complaints; and

WHEREAS, some of these changes include the automatic dismissal of an allegation or a complaint entirely if a complaint is a continuation of a pattern of complaints previously filed with OCR by an individual or group against multiple recipients or if a complaint is filed for the first time against multiple recipients that, viewed as a whole, places an unreasonable burden on OCR’s resources; and

WHEREAS, in addition to setting out broad criteria by which complaints can be automatically dismissed, the 2018 “U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Case Processing Manual” eliminated complainants’ right to appeal OCR findings of insufficient evidence; and

WHEREAS, these three changes substantially restrict the ability of blind Americans to exert our rights under existing disability law and will serve only to exacerbate the discrimination blind students, blind parents, parents of blind children, and advocates confront in K-12 and higher education settings nationwide; and

WHEREAS, on May 31, 2018, in response to these actions, the National Federation of the Blind, along with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed suit against the US Department of Education seeking declaratory and injunctive relief: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization condemn and deplore the actions of the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Ken Marcus immediately halt the implementation of the changes to the “U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Case Processing Manual,” and strongly urge them to consult with the blind and other stakeholders before making drastic changes in the enforcement of civil rights laws.

Resolution 2018-09

Regarding the Accessibility of Pollbooks

WHEREAS, universal suffrage, the hard won right of every citizen to vote freely and secretly, is the bedrock upon which our democracy functions; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that voters with disabilities be provided the opportunity to exercise the right to vote that is equal to the opportunity provided voters without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, great progress has been made in the development and use of accessible voting machines that allow blind voters to cast their ballots; and

WHEREAS, the voter pollbooks, the official registers of voters deemed eligible to vote, remain inaccessible to us, a clear violation of the spirit of the ADA; and

WHEREAS, to confirm or verify an individual’s voting status, he or she must have access to the pollbook for his or her voting area; and

WHEREAS, the VOTEC Corporation is leading the industry in developing the first fully accessible election pollbook; and

WHEREAS, if state and local boards of elections have electronic pollbooks, they should install accessible pollbooks as required under the ADA: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand all election jurisdictions that plan to use or are already using electronic pollbooks to purchase accessible election pollbooks as soon as they become available; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend the VOTEC Corporation for its leadership in developing an accessible pollbook system; and,/p>

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge other manufacturers of voting technology to follow the leadership of the VOTEC Corporation in implementing nonvisually accessible pollbooks.

Resolution 2018-10

Regarding Guide Dogs in Air Travel

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest consumer organization of blind people in the United States, and the National Association of Guide Dog Users is its special interest division consisting of guide dog users and those interested in issues related to the use of guide dogs; and

WHEREAS, this organization has been working with the airline industry and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop sound, specific, and objective policies, practices, procedures, and regulations that effectively support the civil rights of airline passengers who use trained service animals; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently released an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) concerning the carriage of trained service animals and untrained emotional support animals; and

WHEREAS, some of the proposed rules concerning service animals are vague and open to interpretation that could lead to discriminatory actions, such as referring to the safety concerns posed by a large animal; and

WHEREAS, the current implementing regulations of the ADA provide effective regulations and guidance concerning service animals which, if adopted by the DOT, would adequately secure the civil rights of disabled passengers accompanied by service animals while ensuring safety to all passengers and airline staff; and

WHEREAS, the ACAA does not currently provide for a private right of action, thus limiting the remedies available to disabled passengers when facing discrimination: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization urge all airlines to work with the National Federation of the Blind to adopt policies concerning the carriage of service animals that respect the dignity of the individual and protect our civil rights while ensuring safety for all passengers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the United States Department of Transportation to promulgate regulations that are harmonized with the Americans with Disabilities Act and are sufficiently detailed so that they are not open to subjective interpretation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the United States Congress to amend the Air Carrier Access Act to include a private right of action for violation of this law.

Resolution 2018-11

Regarding First-Party Braille Support

WHEREAS, Microsoft, Apple, and Google have Braille display support built in to their operating systems; and

WHEREAS, this support is a central component of access for blind and deaf-blind users alike; and

WHEREAS, each implementation still has room for improvement in both features and stability; and

WHEREAS, Braille support in Android has been stagnant for more than two years, severely limiting its usability for Braille users: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization recognize that Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all made efforts to create a robust user experience for Braille readers without the need for third-party screen readers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we strongly urge these companies to increase the priority given to developments in Braille access, and to ensure that updates to their operating systems do not result in regression for Braille users; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon Google to demonstrate measurable and significant progress in the implementation of Braille in the Android platform by July 1, 2019.

Resolution 2018-12

Regarding the Consideration of the American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act, S. 1885) by the United States Senate

WHEREAS, blind people face challenges related to inadequate public transportation systems, insufficient paratransit networks, and inaccessible rural and suburban transportation options; and

WHEREAS, innovations in autonomous vehicle technology represent a potentially valuable new resource that will help blind people grapple with transportation challenges and gain greater independence; and

WHEREAS, private industry stakeholders are already designing, developing, and deploying autonomous vehicles on roads and highways across the country; and

WHEREAS, twenty-nine states have already enacted autonomous vehicle legislation, with more states introducing such legislation every year; and

WHEREAS, on September 6, 2017, the United States House of Representatives passed the SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3388), a bill to create a federal regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles; and

WHEREAS, on September 28, 2017, Senator John Thune (Republican, South Dakota) and Senator Gary Peters (Democrat, Michigan) introduced the AV START Act (S. 1885) in the United States Senate; and

WHEREAS, the AV START Act would prohibit states from imposing discriminatory licensing requirements, require manufacturers to provide information on their human-machine interface technology in their safety reports, and create a working group specifically tasked with promulgating recommendations on accessibility issues for people with disabilities: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that we urge the United States Senate to act expeditiously to pass the AV START Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon automobile manufacturers, technology companies, and all other stakeholders involved in designing, developing, and deploying autonomous vehicles to make their vehicles fully accessible to the blind.

Resolution 2018-13

Regarding Accessible Vote by Mail

WHEREAS, vote by mail is a voting system in which local boards of elections mail a paper ballot to every registered voter and consolidate local polling places into remote voting centers; and

WHEREAS, the trend of states converting from the traditional system of voting at a local polling place to all vote by mail has continued in 2018 with Hawaii joining Oregon, Washington, and Colorado as an all vote by mail state starting in 2020; and

WHEREAS, local jurisdictions that use vote by mail include twenty-seven of twenty-nine counties in Utah, thirty-one of fifty-three counties in North Dakota, five counties in California, and the city of Anchorage, Alaska; and

WHEREAS, the reduced costs to local boards of elections, increased convenience to voters, and increased voter turnout that result when a state or local jurisdiction changes its voting system to all vote by mail will likely mean that the trend of states converting to all vote by mail will continue; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that jurisdictions that implement vote by mail must provide voters with print disabilities an opportunity to mark their ballot privately and independently at home that is equal to the opportunity provided voters without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, accessible electronic ballot delivery systems that comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA would enable blind, low vision, deaf-blind, or other print-disabled voters to mark their ballot privately and independently at home or work using a computer and their own access technology: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that states and local jurisdictions include an accessible electronic ballot delivery system that conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA) when they convert to all vote by mail so that voters with print disabilities can mark their ballot privately and independently at home with the same convenience afforded voters without disabilities.

Resolution 2018-14

Regarding the Absence of EPUB Creation Options in Common Document Creation Tools

WHEREAS, PDF documents are ubiquitous because most major authoring tools including Word, Pages, and Google Docs will save or print to PDF; and

WHEREAS, PDF documents do not reflow, making them difficult to use on some platforms with screen-access software and difficult to read on phones, tablets, or with magnification; and

WHEREAS, EPUB 3 documents are reflowable, making them easier to use on small screens with or without magnification; and

WHEREAS, EPUB 3 is a superior format for content written or edited on the computer, having many well documented and implemented open standards, including HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript; and

WHEREAS, the specification itself was planned with accessibility in its core structure so that making it accessible is easier than PDF; and

WHEREAS, accessible EPUB is being adopted as the preferred standard in digital publishing by professional publishers; and

WHEREAS, end-user tools do not provide a mechanism for direct conversion as simple as the “Save as PDF” mechanism in Word, preventing its widespread adoption by individual content creators; and

WHEREAS, many end-user tools that do create EPUB documents do not create well-formed accessible EPUB documents, even when the original content is built with accessibility in mind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend Apple for its robust implementation of “Save as EPUB” in Pages; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon Microsoft to provide a robust “Save as EPUB” tool for the Microsoft Office Suite; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon Google to develop further the “Save as EPUB” option for GSuite; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon other major authoring tool developers to include, improve, or simplify the creation of EPUB 3 documents in current and future updates.

Resolution 2018-15

Regarding Inaccessible eLearning Opportunities

WHEREAS, success in K-12 and higher education is a critical indicator of career readiness, and traditional K-12 and higher education classrooms are being replaced in part by eLearning opportunities; and

WHEREAS, eLearning offers options for flexible learning schedules, the ability to complete coursework at home or other remote locations, and opportunities for taking coursework not available within a student’s physical school; and

WHEREAS, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit schools from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and ultimately require that schools provide effective communication and equal and integrated access to programs and activities; and

WHEREAS, technology exists to render electronic text nonvisually and thereby provide blind students with access to eLearning opportunities using screen-access software; and

WHEREAS, blind students nationwide have encountered eLearning technologies that fail to conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA and are incompatible with screen access software; and

WHEREAS, education technology vendors continue to sell eLearning platforms, ebooks, and online tools that are knowingly inaccessible to blind students, and K-12 schools, colleges, and universities continue to purchase such inaccessible eLearning technology; and

WHEREAS, blind students in K-12 and higher education have been discouraged from enrolling in courses and activities that rely on eLearning materials, have been urged to alter their preferred subject track or major, or have been advised to withdraw as online students entirely because of perceived or actual accessibility barriers with eLearning software: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand eLearning technology vendors take immediate action to incorporate accessibility into their products and development roadmaps; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that schools and local education agencies put in place procurement policies that will prohibit acquisition of eLearning technology that does not conform with WCAG 2.1 AA; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that these schools and local education agencies require educational technology vendors to confirm the accessibility of their products prior to purchase and to assume cost and liability for any technology found to be inaccessible after purchase.

Resolution 2018-16

Regarding the US Department of Education’s Responsibility to Support the Randolph-Sheppard Program

WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard Act is the only federal legislation that solely focuses on promoting entrepreneurship for blind people in the United States, with the goals of “providing blind persons with remunerative employment, enlarging the economic opportunities of the blind, and stimulating the blind to greater efforts in striving to make themselves self-supporting”; and

WHEREAS, to assist in achieving these goals, Congress tasked the United States Department of Education with oversight responsibility of this program through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), which is required to review and approve rules, regulations, policies, or procedures to be used in the administration of the program at the local level by state agencies for the blind, but to date, approximately eight states are currently awaiting approval from RSA, and some approvals have been pending for as long as eighteen months; and

WHEREAS, The Randolph-Sheppard Act also requires the Department of Education to convene arbitration panels to resolve disputes between blind entrepreneurs and state licensing agencies, as well as between state licensing agencies and federal entities that are alleged to be out of compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act; and

WHEREAS, at least a dozen pending arbitration cases are currently awaiting action by the Department of Education, when a simple convening letter is all that is required; however, despite pleas from the National Association of Blind Merchants, individual blind entrepreneurs, and individual states, the convening letters remain stuck in an unwieldy bureaucracy; and

WHEREAS, multiple arbitration panels hear the same complaint, and many of the issues being disputed are exactly the same, so the vast majority of such arbitration cases could be avoided if the US Department of Education would fulfill its responsibility to interpret the Randolph-Sheppard Act and issue policy guidance on these recurring issues: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon the US Department of Education to complete the review and approval process for all pending rules, regulations, policies, or procedures pertaining to the administration of the Randolph-Sheppard Program without further delay, as well as immediately to issue convening letters for all pending arbitration cases; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the US Department of Education promptly issue policy guidance regarding recurring issues confronting the Randolph-Shepard Program in order to prevent similar backlogs and delays from occurring in the future.

Resolution 2018-17

Regarding Audio Description of Live Television Programming

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently required a substantial increase in the amount of audio-described programming; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind, in collaboration with NBC-Universal, worked to create a potential waiver for broadcasters that would establish alternative measures, satisfactory to all parties, that could be used to satisfy the requirements of the FCC’s new rule; and

WHEREAS, neither the FCC rule nor the waiver requires live television programming to be audio-described because it would create a conflict on the single secondary audio programming (SAP) channel used to broadcast live events in other languages; and

WHEREAS, other accessible technology exists in the live broadcast arena, such as the Gala Pro Application for smartphone devices; and

WHEREAS, Comcast and NBC-Universal have set a precedent by providing audio description for the Olympics, Paralympics, and musical productions: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization demand that the FCC and the broadcasters work together to create additional SAP channels so that both foreign language speakers and the blind are able to enjoy the same programming; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the FCC require audio description on live programming of all types.

Resolution 2018-18

Regarding Web Browser Accessibility

WHEREAS, web browser manufacturers have historically introduced new browsers or updates to existing browsers to the market without ensuring accessibility prior to release; and

WHEREAS, prior to the release of Firefox Quantum, Mozilla Firefox was the most used browser by the blind because of its focus on accessibility; and

WHEREAS, users of screen readers other than JAWS 2018 have been advised to change or update their screen readers to JAWS 2018, change browsers, or avoid the latest versions of Firefox; and

WHEREAS, JAWS is used by less than half of screen reader users, many of whom are not using the latest version; and

WHEREAS, controls and functions can vary widely between screen readers, and changing to JAWS 2018 may require extensive retraining; and

WHEREAS, upgrading or switching to JAWS 2018 is often prohibitive in both cost and time; and

WHEREAS, accessibility features and screen-reader compatibility do not function uniformly across browsers, making a sudden browser change problematic; and

WHEREAS, blind people must have equal access to the web in order to be productive citizens and responsible members of the community; and

WHEREAS, the failure of web browsers to work efficiently with third-party screen readers can cost the blind money and time and significantly affect productivity; and

WHEREAS, browser developers should give as much priority to accessibility as they give to usability for non-disabled users: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Mozilla to make future versions of Firefox compatible with all widely used screen readers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all web browser manufacturers to work closely with screen reader producers such as Freedom Scientific and NVAccess to ensure that new browsers or updates to browsers are not released unless they are fully accessible.

Resolution 2018-19

Regarding the Inaccessibility of the Informed Delivery Service Operated by the United States Postal Service

WHEREAS, the United States Postal Service's (USPS) Informed Delivery Service is a free and convenient notification tool that gives residential consumers the ability to preview incoming letter-sized mail and manage packages digitally; and

WHEREAS, informed delivery service has replaced My USPS as the avenue for tracking and managing incoming mail; and

WHEREAS, at present the service displays the status of mail only en route by an image, which is totally inaccessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, the technology exists to make the service accessible to those who are blind; and

WHEREAS, the USPS, as an independent agency of the executive branch, is subject to accessibility laws, including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

WHEREAS, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) used or procured by the USPS be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, the USPS not only operates its Informed Delivery Service without regard to accessibility in violation of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, but also discriminates against the blind by depriving us of a service offered to the rest of the public: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the United States Postal Service quickly to make the Informed Delivery Service accessible to those who are blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the USPS to work with the National Federation of the Blind to implement protocols that prevent deployment of inaccessible services in the future.

Resolution 2018-20

Regarding Commending CBS for its Portrayal of Blindness on NCIS

WHEREAS, the mainstream media rarely portrays people with disabilities in movies and television shows, and when it does, the portrayal is frequently negative and/or inaccurate; and

WHEREAS, one reason for the stereotypical portrayals of blind people in the media is that blind characters are hardly ever played by blind actors; and

WHEREAS, CBS produces a television series called Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which is an American action procedural series revolving around a team of special agents who investigate crimes involving the US Navy and Marine Corps; and

WHEREAS, NCIS episode number 350, entitled “Sight Unseen,” which aired on April 17, 2018, featured acclaimed blind stage actress Marilee Talkington as a key witness to a crime; and

WHEREAS, CBS consulted the National Federation of the Blind prior to casting Marilee Talkington in this episode and solicited feedback on portions of the script; and

WHEREAS, according to the Sacramento Bee, Marilee’s character, Annie Barth, was “written as emotionally complex, humorous, and powerful”; and

WHEREAS, Marilee also joined the CBS cast on a new television pilot, “In the Dark,” in a recurring guest role as a blind character; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2018, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization commend CBS for promoting diversity among its characters, plots, and actors by casting blind actors as blind characters; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend CBS for consulting with the organized blind about the most authentic way to portray the character of Annie Barth on its episode of NCIS; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the entertainment industry to promote the inclusion of blind actors and characters in its television shows and movies, to portray blind characters in a positive and accurate light, and to consult the National Federation of the Blind when doing so.