The National Federation of the Blind recently helped secure the right of a blind person to sue when the federal government fails to follow federal laws and uses inaccessible software. While that is an important victory, litigation is usually not the systemic answer to inaccessible technology, apps, and web pages. Collaboration—helping businesses, government, and educational institutions understand that accessibility benefits all—will generally succeed more effectively.
We can assist employers to understand that the pool of candidates is greater when applications are accessible, and they don’t shut out the blind with arbitrary criteria that declare vision is a requirement for success. An accessible, private, and independently fillable ballot in elections—whether blind people choose to vote in-person or in our homes—encourages voter turnout. That’s why we have worked with more than thirty states to help develop accessible voting options. Together with partners, we are creating a future where websites and mobile applications are built for all of us fully to participate in the workforce, education, public information, and commerce.
While it feels like so many people in our society are divided, the blind are unified in our agenda and committed to the future we want for ourselves. The blind have decided that equal access to information, services, and commerce must be an important part of our agenda. We recognize that collaboration is preferred, but when working together fails, we are prepared to use other methods to gain equality, opportunity, and security.
You can join us in the work we do to encourage accessibility along with other initiatives in Houston in July at the 2023 National Federation of the Blind National Convention. I invite you to register now and to book your hotel room to attend the largest gathering of the blind this year. Together our community will continue our crucial work to ensure that dreams turn into reality.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
Because we know that collaboration yields results, the National Federation of the Blind operates the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA). CENA is a concentrated center of expertise, best practices, and resources that enables businesses, government, and educational institutions to provide accessible information and services more effectively to the blind community.
Founded by the National Federation of the Blind in 2014, CENA works to:
- Share the considerable knowledge that the NFB and its partners have of web accessibility and access technology to bring about greater accessibility in government, education, and business
- Promote best practices nationwide
- Increase awareness of accessibility and the tools available to blind users
Inaccessibility affects blind people every day, and we frequently hear similar stories from our members.
“Two days ago, I attempted to purchase a bus ticket from Springfield to Champaign. I quickly discovered it is impossible to enter departure or destination information on the website using a screen reader! Since it is now impossible to purchase at the bus station in many cities including Springfield because there is no bus station, this is beyond frustrating! I spent more than an hour and still do not have a ticket.” — Bill Reif, member
“I worry about having to divulge my private healthcare information because the medical system web portal forms are inaccessible. The fact that I am forced to seek assistance means that my medical information lacks full confidentiality. I just want the same privacy as everyone else enjoys.” — Dan Tevelde, member
The National Federation of the Blind works every day to overcome these barriers and increase access for blind people. You can learn more about our collaborative efforts by visiting the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access page.
Three Bills Introduced in Three Days with Bipartisan Support
The Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 1328) was introduced in the House by Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois on March 1. The bill was introduced with thirty-two original, bipartisan cosponsors. The work of National Federation of the Blind members from around the country in late January served as a catalyst for the bill’s introduction. The bill will require all Class II and Class III medical devices with a digital interface to be accessible and will go into effect three years after it is signed into law. This legislation will allow blind Americans to monitor their health safely and independently.
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (S. 533) in the Senate on Monday, February 27, with Senator Steve Daines of Montana as the lead cosponsor. On Tuesday, February 28, Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia introduced the companion bill (H.B. 1263) in the House, with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington as the lead cosponsor. This bill will phase-out and sunset Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, eliminating subminimum wages for people with disabilities. This legislation will stop the unfair practice of paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
2023 National Convention Registration Open
The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is the largest gathering of blind people in the world. It is the premier event for training, support, and information for the blind community. It also serves as a governing body, democratically electing our leadership and establishing each year's organizational priorities. Join us for the largest event of the year, July 1 through July 6. Our empowering convention is fast-paced, fascinating, and fun. Register now for #NFB23.
Blind Intelligence Analyst Wins Major Victory
Joe Orozco, a blind man who sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice with the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind because he is required to use inaccessible technology in his job as an FBI intelligence analyst, won a major victory on February 17, 2023. The appellate court ruled that a lower court erred in throwing out Mr. Orozco’s lawsuit.
The opinion stated, “Orozco … wants his employer to use available software that is accessible to blind employees like himself. Both parties agree that Section 794d of the Rehabilitation Act generally requires federal agencies, including the FBI, to use technology that is accessible to employees with disabilities. But the district court dismissed Orozco’s action on the ground that the Rehabilitation Act does not give him any right to bring a lawsuit against the FBI to enforce that obligation. We reverse. The plain text of Section 794d extends a private right of action to all persons with disabilities who file administrative complaints requesting accessible technology and who seek only injunctive and declaratory relief.” Read more about Joe Orozco's victory.
NFB One of Only Thirteen Charities Featured in the Lyft Round Up Program
We are one of only thirteen nonprofits participating in the Lyft Round-Up program. You can add the National Federation of the Blind as an option to receive contributions every time you ride—a great option for our friends and family. Please share the following blurb to help encourage people to participate.
An exciting and easy giving option for everyone: the organized blind movement has joined the Lyft Round Up program, so you can contribute every time you ride with Lyft. The program will round up the cost of your ride to the nearest dollar and donate the difference. In the Lyft app, simply go to the menu, navigate to donate, and choose National Federation of the Blind.
Throughout our local chapters and state affiliates to our national headquarters and diverse committees, the National Federation of the Blind is an organization of collective action. Here’s what you can do to get involved this month.
- Read the latest Braille Monitor issue remembering Scott C. LaBarre.
- Register now for the 2023 National Convention in July and book your hotel room in Houston.
- Encourage your local media stations to air our Public Service Announcements.
- Learn about the features, services, and accessibility of Cash App from Karl Belanger, nonvisual access specialist, in our Voice of the Nation’s Blind Blog post, “Accessible Payments and Banking with Cash App.”
We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, workshops, and deadlines.
- March 22, 2023: Google Workspace Seminar, via Zoom
- March 23, 2023: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, Baltimore, MD
- March 31, 2023: Scholarship application deadline
- April 4, 2023: Presidential Release live, 8:00 p.m. eastern, CC and Spanish translation available
- April 15, 2023: Jacob Bolotin Award nominations due
- June 14, 2023: Smart Cities Seminar, via Zoom
- July 1-6, 2023: 2023 National Convention, Houston, TX