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The Braille Monitor,  August/September 2001 EditionThis is a line.

National Federation of the Blind 2001 Resolutions

Resolution 2001

01

WHEREAS, the purpose of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is to assist individuals with disabilities to obtain high-quality employment in the integrated and competitive labor market; and

WHEREAS, Congressional emphasis in the Rehabilitation Act on integrated and competitive employment is well founded since its opposite, sheltered employment, has consistently fallen short in providing individuals with career choices and social integration while in contrast integrated competitive employment is more likely to provide better pay, better career and advancement opportunities, and the chance to participate directly in the social mainstream; and

 WHEREAS, on June 26, 2000, the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the United States Department of Education, then administered by Dr. Frederic K. Schroeder, proposed a change to the definition of employment outcome in the Vocational Rehabilitation program; and

WHEREAS, under the proposed rule state vocational rehabilitation agencies could no longer close the case of a person placed in a sheltered workshop, thus concluding services to that person, because sheltered employment could no longer be counted as an "Employment Outcome"; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind enthusiastically supported the proposed rule because it would assure continued eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services for individuals who choose to work in sheltered workshops until they obtain employment in the competitive labor force; and

WHEREAS, operators of sheltered workshops fought the proposed rule with a vehemence that could be motivated only by a significant financial stake in keeping their workers sheltered for the long term, going so far as to describe the proposed rule inaccurately to their sheltered workers by telling them that they would no longer be allowed to work in a sheltered setting should the rule be adopted; and

WHEREAS, the Honorable Roderick R. Paige, Secretary of Education, has announced that the Bush Administration endorses the new employment outcome regulation over continued protests from sheltered-workshop operators, and the regulation will become effective on October 1, 2001: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOlVED, by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization commend Secretary Paige for upholding the rule that redefines an employment outcome in the vocational rehabilitation program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization applaud Dr. Frederick K. Schroeder for his leadership in developing the new regulation on employment outcome in the vocational rehabilitation program and thank Dr. Schroeder for his dedication to improving the lives of all blind people in America.

Resolution 2001

02

WHEREAS, over six million Americans aged fifty-five and older have severely impaired vision and more than half of all blind people are sixty-five or older, a population figure that doubled within the last thirty years and will double again in the next thirty; and

WHEREAS, the increasing number of blind seniors creates an overwhelming demand for rehabilitation services, which are critical to quality of life and independence, thus permitting older blind Americans to continue living independent and active lives; and

WHEREAS, these rehabilitation services are grossly underfunded, serving a mere 2 percent of seniors, and no long-range plans exist to remedy this intolerable situation; and

WHEREAS, the void in quality rehabilitation services for the older blind creates huge costs, such as those reported by the Alliance on Aging Research, which disclosed that visual impairment is one of the top four reasons why seniors lose their independence, contributing to medical and long term care costs of $26 billion annually; and

WHEREAS, the Medicare program Title XVIII of the Social Security Act provides health insurance coverage paying for reasonable and necessary services consistent with the goals of rehabilitation services for older blind Americans, but does not cover rehabilitation services for blind individuals such as learning safe travel, daily living skills, and use of adaptive aids and devices; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act provides grants to designated state agencies to provide independent living services for the older blind, a well established and accountable system for the delivery of rehabilitation services; and

WHEREAS, this independent living program for the older blind is sorely under funded at its current allocation of $20 million, an amount which funds services to less than 5 percent of those who could benefit from these rehabilitation services; and

WHEREAS, Congressmen Towns and Frost have announced their intention to introduce legislation which amends Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include Medicare coverage for rehabilitation services provided to older individuals who are blind and which defines rehabilitation services as those services furnished or supervised by a designated state vocational rehabilitation agency to an older blind individual under Chapter 2 of Title VII of The Rehabilitation Act; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Capuano announced his intention to re-introduce legislation amending Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include Medicare coverage of rehabilitation service for the blind or "vision rehabilitation services," when such services are provided or supervised by a physician, thereby allowing medical practitioners to assert jurisdiction in the field of rehabilitation, which is far beyond the scope of medical training; and

WHEREAS, although the ability of medical doctors, ophthalmologists, and optometrists to help maintain, enhance, or restore sight is a component necessary in treating an individual's physical condition, learning to live as a blind person is not a medical condition but a confluence of skills and attitudes best learned from other blind people and qualified experts in rehabilitation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization commend Congressmen Towns and Frost for their leadership in promoting legislation that will authorize Medicare to fund rehabilitation services through qualified state agencies designated under the Rehabilitation Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Congress and the Bush Administration to adopt this legislation during the current session of Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Congressman Capuano to refrain from introducing his bill and instead lend his support to the consumer-supported Towns/Frost approach; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization vigorously oppose Congressman Capuano's proposal and promptly advise Congress that this legislation represents an ill-conceived and unacceptable approach.

Resolution 2001

03 was withdrawn by the sponsor.

Resolution 2001

04

WHEREAS, state and local political jurisdictions are increasingly updating their antiquated voting machines with electronic, computer based voting systems; and

WHEREAS, the standards individual states develop and apply to approve or certify voting systems rarely address the needs of blind voters; and

WHEREAS, as a result virtually all electronic voting technology is unusable by as many as eight million people who are blind or cannot use a print ballot; and

WHEREAS, inaccessible voting machines and other traditional voting methods (such as paper ballots and mechanical lever machines) preclude blind voters from casting a secret ballot and independently confirming their vote; and

WHEREAS, in the wake of the 2000 Election many Members of Congress have introduced bills which seek to establish a federal grants program to modernize voting systems used in federal elections, and state legislators across the country are likewise considering various proposals to reform voting systems and procedures; and

WHEREAS, many of these bills include language requiring nonvisual access to voting technology purchased with the appropriated funds, thereby eliminating many of the barriers which discourage blind people from exercising the most fundamental right of citizenship -the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, without requirements for nonvisual access specifically stated in applicable laws, many states and local jurisdictions will likely purchase inaccessible voting technology despite the availability of technology which provides for both visual and nonvisual output, a result that has already occurred in numerous jurisdictions such as the city of Philadelphia and the state of Florida: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization call upon the 107th Congress to require that voting technology provide for both visual and nonvisual output as a condition for the receipt of any federal funds appropriated for the purchase of such technology; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon state legislators quickly to enact legislation requiring that voting technology purchased within the state be accessible to blind and sighted voters alike.

Resolution 2001

05

WHEREAS, The National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving Blind and Visually Impaired Persons (NAC) was founded in the 1960's with great huzzahs from the professionals in the field of work with the blind and claims of intention to accredit the universe of agencies serving the blind numbering more than 500; and

WHEREAS, NAC was ballyhooed as the entity that would bring professionalism and high standards to the field of work with the blind, and many generous donors were duped into financially supporting NAC, even though for the blind NAC was really a wolf in sheep's clothing; and

WHEREAS, the organized blind have known all along that NAC was actually founded as a way for some professionals to validate one another in order to avoid listening to blind consumers and considering changes in services to the blind, which, in order to protect their professional positions, they saw as unacceptable alternatives; and

WHEREAS, thirty-four years after its founding, NAC has shrunk to the point that it accredits agencies in only twenty-three states while twenty-nine states are NAC free, and nearly one quarter of all accredited agencies are small city or county based agencies in Florida; and

WHEREAS, no one has ever heard of an agency's failing to meet NAC's standards and being unaccredited for that reason, even though during NAC's existence there have been numerous instances of poor service to the blind far beyond reasonable and tolerable exceptions, including several findings of professional and criminal misconduct resulting from high profile investigations of agencies accredited by NAC; and

WHEREAS, NAC's standards seem largely to consist of an agency's willingness to pay NAC's high membership fees although numerous instances exist of accredited agencies' ceasing their payment of dues and remaining accredited, leading to the question whether anything at all will cause NAC to unaccredit an agency since neither discreditable behavior nor nonpayment of dues appears to do so; and

WHEREAS, none of the state vocational rehabilitation agencies is accredited by NAC because the agencies choose not to associate themselves with NAC; and

WHEREAS, of the seventy-one schools for the blind, only eleven (15 percent) are accredited, and the rest choose not to affiliate with NAC; and

WHEREAS, of the eighty sheltered workshops for the blind, only thirteen (16 percent) are accredited, and the rest choose not to affiliate with NAC; and

WHEREAS, ninety agencies once affiliated with NAC have now terminated this relationship, leading to the absurd situation that twice as many agencies as are now accredited have affiliated and then voluntarily disaffiliated from NAC and to the preposterous condition that, thirty-four years into its existence, NAC accredits less than 10 percent of the universe it so proudly defined for itself at its inception; and

WHEREAS, despite this ludicrous list of failures and dismal performance NAC struggles on, continuing to pretend to its few adherents that they are getting something for the high fees they pay while over 90 percent of the field does not think of NAC from one year's end to the next and, when reminded, usually asks: "NAC? Are they still around?": Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization declare NAC to be an artifact of the past and not relevant to the needs of the blind in the twenty-first century; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this declaration -"no more NAC" -be proclaimed throughout the field of work with the blind since NAC now exists on life support only and provides no value whatsoever to the blind or the agencies that serve the blind anywhere in the United States.

Resolution 2001

06

WHEREAS, successful vocational rehabilitation of blind people in most cases includes pre vocational training in adjustment to blindness, including the alternative techniques and positive attitudes which are essential for achievement by capable blind people; and

WHEREAS, this pre vocational training can be provided by a state agency serving the blind as one of the many services offered by the agency or the same training can be purchased by the state agency from another program often known as a third party provider but, in either case, quality service costs the same, including the costs of administering the program; and

WHEREAS, blind people served by state vocational rehabilitation agencies are empowered by law to choose among providers available, but the exercise of a free choice can be inhibited if costs are computed differently for services provided by the state agency and by third party providers; and

WHEREAS, when beneficiaries who receive disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits become employed and leave the rolls, the Social Security Administration can reimburse state vocational rehabilitation agencies for the cost of services provided, but the policies used can result in excluding some of a state agency's administrative costs from the reimbursement; and

WHEREAS, a common basis for comparing both direct and indirect costs of all providers of adjustment services is needed in order to support the choice requirements and also to assure that state agencies can obtain full reimbursement for the cost of services from the Social Security Administration: Now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization call upon the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to develop policies and guidelines to assure that reimbursement for the cost of vocational rehabilitation services is fully paid to state agencies without regard to the individual's choice of a provider.

Resolution 2001

07

WHEREAS, insurance policies designed to pay long term care expenses for seniors have become a popular form of insurance protection in the United States; and

WHEREAS, long term care insurance is becoming more and more essential as life expectancy increases and the costs of care continue to rise, leaving far too many seniors financially destitute during the later years of life; and

WHEREAS, long term care insurance is needed by blind people for the same reasons that sighted people purchase this coverage, but outright refusal to sell this form of insurance to blind people is entirely too common throughout the insurance industry; and

WHEREAS, approximately thirty-four states have enacted laws or regulations intended to prohibit discrimination against the blind in insurance, including prohibitions on refusing to sell life and health insurance to blind people and prohibiting higher rates for this coverage; and

WHEREAS, these laws and regulations are based on a model fair trade practice regulation adopted more than twenty years ago by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in a collaborative effort with the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, regardless of the policy of prohibiting discrimination based on blindness in insurance, some state regulators have failed to compel insurance companies to sell long term care coverage to blind people, thus allowing the industry to practice discrimination against the blind in this particular area: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization condemn and deplore the practice of insurance companies' refusing to sell long term care coverage to blind people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization bring this growing form of discrimination to the attention of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners with the request that NAIC and the states take prompt and effective action to prohibit discrimination against the blind in obtaining any form of insurance coverage, whether for long term care or otherwise.

Resolution 2001

08 was voted down by the committee.

Resolution 2001

09

WHEREAS, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) established the Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) to consider and propose new regulations to define the building and re building of these rights of way such as streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor public areas so that individuals with disabilities can access them; and

WHEREAS, PROWAAC has issued its recommendations to the ATBCB in a final report called "Building a True Community"; and

WHEREAS, this report includes a definition and also a set of requirements for installation of detectable warnings, raised truncated domes in a strip two feet wide in the direction a person is walking and as wide as the curb ramp or the adjacent sidewalk and painted bright yellow (or some other color highly contrasting with the surroundings of the domes); and

WHEREAS, these raised truncated domes are thought by some to give the blind pedestrian a tactile warning underfoot that something hazardous lies ahead; and

WHEREAS, a majority of the PROWAAC members voted to recommend a standard calling for the installation of these bright yellow truncated domes at all intersections, alleyways, hazardous vehicular ways (whatever those are), and reflecting pools in America; and

WHEREAS, creation of a rule to require installation of these domes everywhere must rest on proof that blind people need and must have these truncated domes universally installed in order to use the public rights of way, rendering their compelled installation a civil right for blind people; and

WHEREAS, The majority vote for universal installation of truncated domes was cast in the belief that all public rights of way without such brightly colored tactile markings are unsafe for blind people and that taxpayer dollars must be devoted to universal installation of such colored domes; and

WHEREAS, blind people in America now use the public rights of way without difficulty most of the time, rendering the report's recommendation both wrong, as unnecessary, and grossly expensive, as out of proportion to the need which could bring the entire regulation, if enacted, under fire in the courts and city halls of America; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind filed a minority report advocating that detectable warnings be placed only at intersections at which the approach to the street is at a slope of one inch downward for every fifteen inches of sidewalk, commonly called a slope of 1:15 or flatter; and

WHEREAS, intersections with an approach to the street of 1:15 are virtually flat and are places where it is therefore difficult for a blind person to determine when the sidewalk ends and the street begins; and

WHEREAS, intersections with street approaches which slope at an angle steeper than 1:15 are readily detectable underfoot whether the blind person is using a cane, a dog, or no mobility tool whatsoever, and therefore do not require the installation of expensive truncated dome strips to insure that blind people detect the street; and

WHEREAS, the PROWAAC final report is not an enforceable regulation and will never be one unless the ATBCB and the United States Department of Justice choose to enact it or parts of it as a regulation; and

WHEREAS, the PROWAAC committee members are now drafting technical guidance documents as if the report had been adopted into final regulation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization urge the ATBCB to reject the majority's position on truncated domes in the PROWAC report as unnecessary and therefore not required by law and to adopt the minority report filed by the National Federation of the Blind as its regulation with respect to detectable warnings; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the ATBCB order the PROWAAC to halt the drafting of technical guidance until final regulations have been promulgated.

Resolution 2001

10

WHEREAS, Congress established the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program to serve as the primary vehicle to assist individuals with disabilities to obtain high-quality employment in the integrated labor market; and

WHEREAS, ticket to work, welfare to work, work force investment, and other federal programs aimed at transitioning individuals with disabilities into the labor market have placed increased demands on VR programs; and

WHEREAS, other demands on the VR program such as assistive technology used to obtain and maintain employment, the dramatic rise in the cost of college tuition, and the higher expectations among individuals with disabilities to be gainfully employed have stretched current VR dollars beyond capacity; and

WHEREAS, the basic funding formula for the federal state vocational rehabilitation partnership is quite complex and sensitive to changing conditions including population and state per capita income; and

WHEREAS, Congress added what was intended to be a cost-of-living increase to the vocational rehabilitation program, but population and income changes have resulted in bizarre unintended consequences when the formula is applied to the annual appropriation, such as some states receiving less than the specified cost-of-living increases while others get a windfall and also resulting in some states receiving less in actual dollars than they received in the previous fiscal year while other states receive windfall funds that go far beyond the cost living adjustment; and

WHEREAS, without adequate funding, including Congressionally intended cost-of-living adjustments, vocational rehabilitation agencies cannot serve all the individuals with disabilities who want to work; and

WHEREAS, thirteen state directors of vocational rehabilitation have formed the Coalition on Federal Funding Issues dedicated to securing the federal dollars necessary to carry out the purposes of vocational rehabilitation; and

WHEREAS, when properly supported, the vocational rehabilitation program can result in work productivity, higher tax revenues, lower public assistance costs, and enhanced quality of life for people with disabilities; Now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization support the efforts of the Coalition on Federal Funding Issues by calling upon Congress to ensure that no state loses actual federal dollars for vocational rehabilitation from one year to the next by implementing a "hold harmless" protection policy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Congress to provide a full cost-of-living adjustment to all state vocational rehabilitation programs and state agencies for the blind in future fiscal years and appropriate an additional 10 percent above the cost of living for fiscal year 2002 in order to support new and needed VR services.

Resolution 2001

11

WHEREAS, work with the blind in America is in urgent need of high quality blindness specialists who can inspire and empower all blind people, a need graphically demonstrated by the fact that between 70 and 80 percent of working age blind Americans are unemployed; and

WHEREAS, certification of blindness specialists by AER (the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually impaired) has been the only certification program available to blindness specialists throughout the United States; and

WHEREAS, the certification function conducted by AER has now been shifted to the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Educational Professionals (the Academy), which has replaced AER certification in name but not in substance, being nothing more than AER warmed over; and

WHEREAS, regardless of the name of the certifying body, the oppressive nature it represents has had a long history of practicing blatant discrimination against qualified blind O & M instructors- until recently, AER refused outright to certify any blind person as an O & M specialist, and most of those so far considered for certification still primarily rely upon visual methods for instruction, making the Academy a meaningless certification for aspiring blind teachers who personally use the alternative techniques of blindness and would teach those techniques to their students; and

WHEREAS, since AER was the only certifying body in work with the blind for many years, it must accept the responsibility (as it would surely take the credit if the numbers were different) for the high unemployment rate among the blind since, if its certification truly signaled high quality outcomes, the unemployment rate for blind people would be considerably lower; and

WHEREAS, despite the undistinguished record chalked up by AER certification and its equally long record of discriminating against the blind, AER has been successful in convincing some state education and rehabilitation agencies to require certification by AER and now the Academy as a condition of employment; and

WHEREAS, a need has long been felt in work with the blind for certification that does not have a record of discrimination and that does emphasize the capabilities of the blind to teach the blind so that they can be employed at the same rate as their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, to offer a positive and progressive alternative to AER/Academy certification, a new certifying body, the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB), has been established and will begin by certifying O & M specialists who have passed a performance based certification examination, including two additional exams designed to demonstrate the candidate's positive philosophy of blindness and grasp of the professional body of knowledge in the field of O & M; and

WHEREAS, high quality specialists with National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC) will automatically be barred from employment in programs which specify AER/Academy certification as the only acceptable certification: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization continue its long-standing support for professionals in the field of work with the blind who have a commitment to excellence in outcomes, regardless of whether these professionals are certified; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all state education and rehabilitation agencies that rely upon nationally recognized certification to accept the principle that high quality service to blind people demands acceptance of all nationally recognized certifying authorities, particularly the performance based NBPCB, rather than continuing to rely exclusively on the AER/Academy process, which has distinguished itself by a dismal record of accomplishment for which its certified professionals are accountable.

Resolution 2001

12

WHEREAS, recognizing that the efficient use of technology is absolutely critical for employment and full participation by America's citizens in what has come to be called the Information Age, Congress enacted section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1998 to require that all technology purchased, developed, or maintained by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities, including the blind, and

WHEREAS, this landmark legislation changes the previous emphasis in federal law from the separate-but-equal mentality embodied in providing alternatives to the blind without necessarily modifying the technology or programs so that they are directly useable, to recognizing that true equality in the information age means purchasing equipment and services designed for use by everyone, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, regulations to implement section 508 became effective on June 21, 2001, covering electronic and information technology purchased, developed, or maintained by federal agencies on or after that date; and

WHEREAS, in keeping with the spirit of these regulations many federal agencies are now not only updating their procurement procedures for new equipment but also making their Web sites and other information resources accessible even though some of these actions may not actually be covered in view of the effective date of section 508; and

WHEREAS, the enforcement and implementation of this Act are the responsibility of all departments and agencies of the federal government, with leadership, coordination, and technical assistance provided by the General Services Administration, the Department of Justice, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board; and

WHEREAS, the lack of centralized implementation and enforcement creates the very real possibility of widely varying standards and enforcement within the federal government with the potential to undermine both the intent and the implementation of the law: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization commend those agencies undertaking significant efforts to implement section 508 both in letter and in spirit and encourage all agencies to do so, not only in complying with mandated procurement changes, but also in updating their electronic and information technology so that it is equally accessible to the blind and the sighted; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Congress and the Bush Administration to demand the cooperation of all departments and agencies of the federal government in adopting policies and procedures to ensure the fair and uniform government wide application of this important law.

Resolution 2001

13

WHEREAS, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) established the Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) to consider and propose new regulations to define the building and re building of rights of way such as streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor public areas so that individuals with disabilities can access them; and

WHEREAS, PROWAAC has issued its recommendations to the ATBCB in a final report called "Building a True Community"; and

WHEREAS, this report addresses the issue of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS's), which are electronic devices that alert the blind pedestrian in an audible or vibro tactile manner when the traffic signal has changed so that it is safe to walk; and

WHEREAS, a majority of the PROWAAC recommended a standard which would, in effect, call for the installation of APS's at every intersection where a traffic-control device provides visual information when a pedestrian may safely cross; and

WHEREAS, according to the majority standard each APS will be placed on a separate pole and will have a locator tone; and

WHEREAS, at a standard four-way intersection eight new poles and eight electronic devices will emit a high pitched tone into the intersection; and

WHEREAS, the Federation filed a minority report urging that the ATBCB adopt a much narrower policy defining when APS's should be mandated; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has passed two recent resolutions addressing the question of when APS's should be mandated; and

WHEREAS, in summary Federation policy states that APS's should be installed only when the built environment does not provide sufficient nonvisual clues to allow a blind pedestrian to know when to cross safely and that APS's should be vibro tactile only so that extra, unneeded noise will not be introduced into the environment: and

WHEREAS, creation of a rule to require installation of these accessible pedestrian signals everywhere must rest on proof that such devices must be universally installed in order for blind people to use the public rights of way, rendering compelled installation a civil right for blind people; and

WHEREAS, the majority vote for universal installation of accessible pedestrian signals was cast in the belief that all public rights of way without such signals are unsafe for blind people and that taxpayer dollars must be devoted to universal installation of such devices; and

WHEREAS, blind Americans now use the public rights of way without difficulty most of the time, rendering the report's recommendation both wrong as unnecessary and grossly expensive ($4,000 for a standard intersection) as out of proportion to the need, which could bring the entire regulation, if enacted, under fire in the courts and city halls of America; and

WHEREAS, the PROWAAC final report is not an enforceable regulation and will never be one unless the ATBCB and the United States Department of Justice choose to enact it or parts of it as a regulation; and

WHEREAS, PROWAAC committee members are now drafting technical guidance documents as if the report had been adopted into final regulation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization urge the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to adopt the minority report filed by the National Federation of the Blind as its regulation about when and how accessible pedestrian signals should be mandated; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the ATBCB to order PROWAAC to cease and desist the drafting of any technical guidance until actual regulations have been adopted.

Resolution 2001

14

WHEREAS, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) purports to speak for persons with disabilities in Washington and attempts to portray itself as the representative voice of everyone with disabilities, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, contrary to this publicly assumed persona, the CCD does not actually represent disabled Americans at all and adopts its positions without regard to the views of people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the CCD is composed of service providers and employers of disabled people, a worthy and socially functional role but not the same as representing disabled people any more than the executives of large car companies can claim to represent the workers at auto companies; and

WHEREAS, in expressly deciding to oppose legislation to prohibit subminimum wage payments to the blind, the CCD has demonstrated its true loyalty to service-providing agencies, including sheltered workshops, rather than being a strong advocate for blind people; and

WHEREAS, the CCD cannot fairly represent the views of disabled people when none of its leaders have been elected by the disabled and most of them are not disabled and are not legally or actually accountable to people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, it is not reasonable to think that a single organization purporting to speak for the disabled can simultaneously represent the views of the providers and employers of disabled people while at the same time fairly and vigorously representing the views and concerns of disabled people themselves: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization condemn and deplore opposition by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to the legislative priorities promoted by blind Americans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly advise Congress that the policies and opinions of the CCD do not in any way represent those of the organized blind who, as demonstrated by this resolution, form our own policies and opinions in convention assembled--in fact, the opinions and policies of the CCD can be and in some cases are detrimental to the interests of the blind, as in the case of the subminimum wage.

Resolution 2001

15

WHEREAS, two broad categories of unspoken information are presented on television screens; and

WHEREAS, the first category includes essential facts such as health information in advertisements, identities of speakers in news broadcasts, and emergency weather and evacuation information; and

WHEREAS, the second category includes entertainment such as plot action, scenery, and costumes; and

WHEREAS, while the National Federation of the Blind has never opposed and does not now oppose described entertainment on television--maintaining only that the information beneficial to the safety, health, and well being of blind people is of greater importance; and

WHEREAS, virtually all the informational text, including emergency announcements appearing on television screens, is created by a video character generator, a device (used by every producer of television material and every television broadcasting entity) which receives text from a personal computer; and

WHEREAS, with development of appropriate hardware and software, a personal computer could automatically and simultaneously send text to the video character generator for display on the television screen and the synthetic speech equivalent of that text to the secondary audio program (SAP) channel; and

WHEREAS, because providing information beneficial to the safety, health, and well being of blind people is of greater importance than descriptions of entertainment, the National Federation of the Blind, the nation's largest organization of blind people, has sought a federal requirement that television stations broadcast spoken versions of emergency information and all other text information printed to the television screen; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of the urgent importance of the health, safety, and civic information printed to television screens, the National Federation of the Blind, while not opposing voluntary description of entertainment, has twice adopted resolutions opposing a federal mandate for described entertainment, seeking instead a federal mandate to voice described information such as the health, safety, and civic information printed to television screens; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission regrettably failed to consider the health, safety, and civic interests of blind people more important than described entertainment and adopted a rule requiring networks and large cable companies to provide approximately four hours per week of described entertainment on the SAP channel by April of 2002; and

WHEREAS, while considerable private and governmental funding has been available for the description of entertainment on television, none has been provided for nonvisual access to vital information printed to television screens; and

WHEREAS, resources to provide nonvisual access to vital informational text displayed on television screens will not be brought to bear without either a federal mandate or voluntary industry wide compliance: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization call upon the Federal Communications Commission, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the U.S. Department of Education, and the broadcast industry to recognize the vital nature of the health, safety, and civic information printed to television screens and to work with the National Federation of the Blind to develop a simple and cost effective process for voicing all health, safety, and civic information printed to television screens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Federal Communications Commission to engage in rule making which gives priority to and strengthens the mandate for nonvisual access to vital health, safety, and civic information printed to television screens.

Resolution 2001

16

WHEREAS, entities that produce Braille versions of musical scores and other material comprised in whole or in part of musical scores are required to seek copyright permission from publishers before transcribing such material into Braille and other specialized formats; and

WHEREAS, section 121 of the Copyright Act permits reproduction of nondramatic literary works in specialized formats without permission from publishers, but this policy does not apply to musical scores; and

WHEREAS, because of the copyright permission requirement, blind students and musicians report frequent delays in receiving needed material if they receive it at all; and

WHEREAS, music publishers maintain that copyright protection is essential to prevent piracy; and

WHEREAS, in a manner analogous to section 121 of the Copyright Act, the transcription into Braille of musical scores and related material containing musical scores can be accomplished in a way that also protects the interests of the copyright owners to the same extent that the publishers of non dramatic literary works are protected, even though transcription into specialized formats is allowed: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization request support and assistance from the National Music Publishers Association and other organizations and members of the music publishing industry in order to secure a means of expedited approval whenever Braille transcription of musical scores is needed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express its intent to secure further amendments to section 121 of the Copyright Act in the event that delays in the transcription of musical scores into Braille cannot be resolved by other means.

Resolution 2001

17

WHEREAS, through proper and effective training, the guide dog has provided blind people with a reliable means of mobility for more than 72 years; and

 WHEREAS, using a guide dog, a blind person can move anywhere in pursuit of education, employment, or a better way of life; and

 WHEREAS, at present guide dogs are the only animals that can be appropriately trained to meet the diverse travel and social needs of blind people; and

WHEREAS, in the past year at least one organization, the Guide Horse Foundation located in Kittrell, North Carolina, has proposed the use of miniature horses as an alternative to guide dogs; and

 WHEREAS, guide animals must be able to function acceptably in diverse urban and rural settings, and the inability of guide horses to do so will necessarily limit the mobility of any blind user; and

WHEREAS, the Guide Horse Foundation maintains that an advantage of the guide horse over the guide dog is its 30 year life span, but to benefit from this so called advantage, the blind owner would be restricted to a limited environment, suited to the needs of a horse and not to the needs of a person; and

WHEREAS, the whole idea of an inappropriate animal like a horse being used as a guide animal threatens the universal applicability of access laws to protect the civil rights of blind people in public accommodations, including hotels, restaurants, busses and airplanes; and

WHEREAS, the organized blind have fought long and hard to secure access to public accommodations by blind people using properly trained guide dogs, and this investment must not now be squandered by the use of inappropriate animals: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization oppose the use of guide animals that cannot meet the diverse travel and social needs of the blind in the twenty-first century; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we reaffirm the fundamental right of blind people to use properly trained guide dogs and oppose any efforts, such as the use of inappropriate animals, which would degrade this right.

Resolution 2001

18

WHEREAS, during the second session of the 106th Congress, the National Federation of the Blind called for enactment of federal legislation to improve access to instructional materials for blind children in elementary and secondary schools; and

WHEREAS, this proposal called upon textbook publishers to provide their products in the form of electronic text which could then be readily converted into Braille and other specialized formats allowed under the Copyright Act; and

WHEREAS, the Association of American Publishers, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, RFB and D, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and other agencies responsible for preparing instructional materials in specialized formats all expressed interest in this proposal and joined in serious negotiations to achieve broad consensus on the specific language of the legislation; and

WHEREAS, this effort has now resulted in a draft bill entitled the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act of 2001, which is ready for submission to the Congress, including a commitment by publishers to place electronic copies of all textbooks and related instructional materials on file with a National Instructional Materials Access Center to be established by this legislation; and

WHEREAS, by creating a process which will lead to establishment of a national format to be used by both publishers and producers of specialized books for the blind, this historic agreement can also serve as a catalyst to promote greater access for the blind to all forms of published information far beyond materials used in the classroom: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization express high praise and commendation to the Association of American Publishers, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, RFB and D, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for their particularly strong and sustained efforts in working constructively with the National Federation of the Blind to develop the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act, which should now be enacted by Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the Congress to acknowledge the need for improved methods of providing instructional materials to America's blind students by enacting the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act before this session of Congress adjourns; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we invite the organizations principally responsible for this legislation to continue this effort by working on other arrangements for access to electronic copies of books and other information published for general circulation.

Resolution 2001-19 was withdrawn by the sponsor

with the permission of the Convention.

RESOLUTION 2001

20

WHEREAS, Congress is planning to consider legislation to offset the costs of prescription drugs needed by senior citizens; and

WHEREAS, if this legislation is enacted, the federal government will assume significant new responsibilities for health-care policy and coverage; and

WHEREAS, labels on prescription drugs prepared at the pharmacy counter are in print only and do not provide blind people with access to essential information such as identification information in order to tell one prescription from another and the directions needed for proper use of the medication; and

WHEREAS, microchip technology and synthetic speech can now be used to create audio access to labels, including specific directions for use of the medicine, and such technology is available for distribution on a large scale at a reasonable cost; and

WHEREAS, federal involvement in meeting prescription drug costs should include requirements for accessible information since doing so would meet an important need and would not impose unreasonable costs on providers or consumers: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this seventh day of July, 2001, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that this organization endorse and insist upon accessible prescription labeling to be included as a requirement in federal legislation to offset the costs of prescription drugs for seniors.

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