Braille Monitor                                                                                                 August/September 2004

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2004 Resolutions of the
National Federation of the Blind

RESOLUTION 2004-01

Regarding: Maintaining Accessible Voting for Blind People

WHEREAS, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is the first federal law in history to recognize the right of the blind to vote privately and independently by requiring nonvisual access for the blind through the use of electronic voting machines, known as Direct Recording Equipment (DRE), to be in place throughout the United States by 2006; and

WHEREAS, concerns about the security of such machines have arisen in recent months, resulting in calls for their production of paper ballots so that voters can verify the accuracy of the votes they cast; and

WHEREAS, some have called for this voter-verified paper trail to be in place in time for the November 2004 presidential election, even though no voter verification systems are currently certified; and

WHEREAS, there is pressure in some states to return to paper ballots until an electronic voting system with a voter-verified paper trail is certified, thus denying blind people the right to cast independent, secret ballots as guaranteed by the HAVA; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind recognizes that voting security is vital to the public interest, but so too is the mandate to provide nonvisual access to the ballot box to America's blind citizens, who have never had the right to cast secret, independent votes: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization reaffirm its commitment to the provisions of HAVA, requiring nonvisual access, presently achievable only through the use of DREs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call for implementation of voter-verified paper trails only so long as they also include nonvisual means of voting and verification; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call on Congress and state and local government elections officials to uphold the law and preserve nonvisual access and to avoid any hasty changes in the name of security that would compromise the right of the blind to vote independently and privately by the time fixed in the law and thereafter.

RESOLUTION 2004-02

Regarding: Instructional Materials Accessibility Provisions in the Reauthorization of IDEA

WHEREAS, timely access to textbooks and other learning materials is fundamental to the academic success of blind children who must receive their books in alternative formats to ensure equal and appropriate education; and

WHEREAS, no federal law specifically mandates procedures to assist school districts in making books and other educational materials available in appropriate alternative media to blind students in a timely manner, leaving many blind elementary and secondary students without appropriate instructional materials and textbooks for much or all of the academic year, causing them to struggle to keep up and frequently to fall behind their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, school districts must currently obtain or produce materials for their blind students on a case-by-case basis and therefore are wasting precious educational resources on costly, time-intensive, single-copy transcription; and

WHEREAS, modern technology would make local production of Braille books simple and cost-effective if an electronic version of a book were made available by the publishers in a standardized file format and held in a central repository from which all United States school districts could order their materials; and

WHEREAS, the establishment of a National Instructional Materials Access Center to serve as such a repository for all educational materials is supported by the nation's publishers as the preferred solution to the current patchwork of varying state requirements and mandates: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization strongly urge Congress to enact the Senate version of the provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (H.R. 1350) that will make instructional materials available to blind and print-disabled students at the same time they are available to other students; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the House members of the House-Senate conference on IDEA to accept the provision for the National Instructional Materials Access Center and the other provisions of the Senate's version of H.R. 1350 concerning instructional materials for blind students.

RESOLUTION 2004-03

Regarding: Readers for Study in Higher Education

WHEREAS, federal law requires higher education institutions to provide auxiliary aids and services to blind students, including readers, who constitute a primary tool for blind college students to access academic programs on an equal footing with their sighted peers because technology and alternative formats alone do not create a level playing field; and

WHEREAS, 34 Code of Regulations, Section 104.44(d) regarding personal services, makes sense because personal service bears no relevance to accessing academic programs, but the regulations do not distinguish between study of a personal nature and study required to learn and to pass a college course; and

WHEREAS, higher education institutions are denying or limiting the use of readers because these offices believe the disability support office is better suited to control services than are blind students and because they contend that alternative formats and technology make readers obsolete; and

WHEREAS, many state vocational rehabilitation agencies that have previously covered the cost of reader services for blind students now mistakenly believe that they are no longer required to pay for such services because institutions of higher education take care of auxiliary aids and services through their mandate for accessibility; and

WHEREAS, blind college students are being disadvantaged by the denial of readers for study directly linked to academic success by a lack of decision-making control over the types of auxiliary aids and services available to them and a loss of funding to pay for the vital services needed to ensure complete access to a program of higher learning: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization call upon the United States Congress and the Department of Education to eliminate the loophole that permits colleges and universities to deny readers to blind students for study; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon disability support offices to develop best-practice models that embrace blind-student-directed reader services for study; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon state vocational rehabilitation agencies to pay for readers as a routine rehabilitative service.

RESOLUTION 2004-04

Regarding: Access to Controls on Appliances

WHEREAS, independence for blind people is grounded upon our ability to develop alternative ways to do what others do with vision; and

WHEREAS, home appliances, consumer electronic devices, and point-of-sale machines that have traditionally relied on knobs, buttons, and switches that blind people can touch, memorize, and use are increasingly being produced with touch pads and displays that can only be read visually, thus reducing the blind to dependency as older appliances wear out and must be replaced and as completely new devices are invented; and

WHEREAS, technological solutions exist with controls that can be detected and operated and status information that can be heard or read using Braille or audio output; and

WHEREAS, independent access to this equipment by the blind and the creation of new equipment that better meets the needs of all the buying public can best be addressed through a cooperative relationship between the organized blind, who understand the challenge of achieving and maintaining independence, and the manufacturers, who design, build, and sell quality products to American consumers: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization urge the United States Department of Commerce to convene a conference as the first step in an ongoing dialogue between the National Federation of the Blind and representatives of the home appliance and consumer electronics industries with the express goal of working together to make these life-enhancing products accessible to blind consumers.

RESOLUTION 2004-05

Regarding: Access to Electronic Devices

WHEREAS, electronic devices are becoming ever more essential in the lives of all citizens, including the lives of blind people; and

WHEREAS, these devices include toys, telephones, kitchen appliances, heating and cooling controls, PDAs, home audio equipment, home video equipment (including cable TV and satellite TV systems), security systems, laundry equipment (including laundromats), health care devices, electronic test equipment in all professions, and many, many more; and

WHEREAS, modern electronic devices are growing more complex in operation as each new model is introduced with additional features; and

WHEREAS, many of the controls on modern electronic devices have multiple functions, requiring the user to read a display visually in order to use the device at all, let alone to take advantage of its many functions; and

WHEREAS, virtually all of these modern electronic devices are impossible or at best very difficult  for the blind and large numbers of others in the general population to use because of lack of access to information on the visual displays; and

WHEREAS, the technology is readily available and the cost of adding speech output to inform the user of what is being shown on the visual display is very inexpensive today and would be beneficial to the general public and the blind alike; and

WHEREAS, it is no longer acceptable for the blind to be denied access to home electronic devices, be denied access to electronic devices at work sites (resulting in unemployment), and be denied equal access to all other electronics as they go about their communities and their lives; and

WHEREAS, there is a high priority today at all levels of government, especially at the Federal level, for equal access and equality for all citizens, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, no single site exists where the blind can work with the electronics manufacturers directly to persuade them to build devices fully usable by everyone, and working with thousands of manufacturers individually is an impossible undertaking: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization seek Federal legislation mandating equal and total access to all modern electronic devices by all consumers, including the blind, if voluntary efforts fail.

RESOLUTION 2004-06

Regarding: Opportunities for Blind Businesspeople to Provide Troop Dining Services

WHEREAS, the Randolph-Sheppard program is aimed at creating entrepreneurial opportunities for blind people through management of small business enterprises, described as vending facilities, for which the blind have a priority on federal property; and

WHEREAS, provision of troop dining services at military installations in the United States fulfills the goal of the Randolph-Sheppard Act to assist blind people in achieving their maximum vocational potential; and

WHEREAS, in the last several years proponents of direct-labor employment for people with disabilities under the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Act have attempted to block application of the Randolph-Sheppard Act to military dining services, but the courts have upheld the Randolph-Sheppard Act as having a stronger priority, specifically relating to food service; and

WHEREAS, failing to win in the courts, NISH, the umbrella organization for nonprofit employers of people with disabilities, has taken its vendetta against the Randolph-Sheppard program to Congress, trying to exclude blind entrepreneurs from troop dining opportunities altogether; and

WHEREAS, seeking to resolve this conflict in Congress, representatives of the NFB and NISH negotiated an agreement which would continue to recognize the priority for blind vendors while not contesting troop dining contracts already awarded to NISH and its affiliates; and

WHEREAS, Senator John Ensign of Nevada announced support for this agreement and prepared an amendment to enact it as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005, but opposition from the Department of Defense led to lack of support by other Senators, preventing the amendment from being offered on the floor; and

WHEREAS, the conflict over military dining contracts will now be considered by a Senate/House conference committee, with an outcome expected to be negotiated this summer: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization declare its unwavering commitment to preserve and strengthen opportunities for blind people to provide troop dining services at military installations throughout the United States; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2005 to join with the nation's blind in upholding the value of the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act to provide blind people opportunities to achieve their maximum vocational potential.

RESOLUTION 2004-07

Regarding: 24/7 Reference, a Library Ready-Reference Service via the Internet

WHEREAS, 24/7 Reference is an innovative reference service offered throughout the country in partnership with many state public libraries, public university libraries, and several private universities, providing real time Internet chat-based access to a librarian for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is optimistic that the opportunity for equal access to information which this system is able to deliver can be realized by the blind as well as by our sighted neighbors; and

WHEREAS, at this time in its development and implementation 24/7 Reference falls woefully short of its tremendous potential for providing equal access because of inaccessible design and site-construction techniques; and

WHEREAS, federal accessibility requirements including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, have been in place for several years, providing reasonable guidelines for making products accessible, resulting in the development and promulgation of materials and tools that effectively and easily address requirements for accessibility; and

WHEREAS, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs; and

WHEREAS, the initial development of the technology behind 24/7 Reference was predominantly funded through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act Grants; and

WHEREAS, librarians and library service systems have an historic record of leading the advancement of access to information by all, and must surely share our disappointment that 24/7 Reference retreats from the pattern of equal access to information that library professionals traditionally demonstrate; and

WHEREAS, claims by the software developer regarding design issues or having to postpone accessibility remediation until the next version of the product is available are unsatisfactory excuses for lack of access: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization call upon the Institute of Museum and Library Services to cooperate with the National Federation of the Blind in bringing the inaccessibility of this service to the attention of state and local libraries throughout the United States; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Office of Library Services to live up to its obligation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to ensure that any 24/7 Reference subscription is as useful for the blind as it is for the sighted; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all publicly funded libraries to withdraw their subscriptions to this service if these accessibility issues cannot be resolved in a timely manner.

RESOLUTION 2004-08

Regarding: Unjust Benefit Withholding by the Social Security Administration

WHEREAS, blind people lacking a work history and having limited income and assets are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), while those who have worked, but are not currently performing substantial gainful activity, are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, once they have acquired the needed quarters of coverage; and

WHEREAS, the Supplemental Security Income program requires recipients to apply for any other benefits for which they are eligible in order to reduce the cost burden of that program, a requirement that remains in place while the individual receives assistance, meaning that changing circumstances each month can render the person eligible, ineligible, or worse; and

WHEREAS, a working blind Supplemental Security Income recipient will inevitably become eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance after working the minimum number of quarters needed by that person, reducing or eliminating the individual's Supplemental Security Income benefit; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has the entirely unreasonable expectation that individuals could possibly know and then must inform the programs that they have become eligible for Social Security benefits; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration places individuals in limbo (referred to as a "special disability workload"), where neither Social Security benefits nor Supplemental Security Income benefits are provided for a period lasting two or more years, once the Social Security Administration discovers that the individual has, at some point in the past, become eligible for Social Security benefits; and

WHEREAS, this policy results in more than a half million disabled and blind individuals, most of whom because of their desire to work, eventually learn that they are in this limbo and receive no help and no benefits while they wait for the Social Security Administration to figure out when they became eligible for Social Security and perform the administrative offsets to balance the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration is in no hurry to resolve these cases because, while these individuals are in limbo, no benefits are provided: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization call upon the Social Security Administration to continue to make SSI payments to eligible individuals until the matter of dual benefit eligibility is resolved in each case or, if necessary, to seek authority from the Congress to do so.

RESOLUTION 2004-09

Regarding: Nonvisual Access to Real Estate Multiple Listing Services

WHEREAS, the rate of unemployment and underemployment among the working age blind is a deplorable 70 percent; and

WHEREAS, with proper training and opportunity to work, blind people can perform most of the same tasks as well as their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, the real estate industry is a lucrative field of employment in society today; and

WHEREAS, the multiple listing service is the major source of information available to real estate brokers; and

WHEREAS, while moving from a paper environment to an electronic environment should have improved access to the information for blind people, blind individuals report that these multiple-listing service Web sites are inaccessible because of poor construction and design; and

WHEREAS, the knowledge and tools to provide nonvisual access have been available for several years and many corporations have not only made their Web sites accessible but have also obtained accessibility certification from the National Federation of the Blind; and

WHEREAS, the National Association of Realtors, whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois, exerts influence on the activities of state and local boards of realtors: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization strongly recommend that the National Association of Realtors encourage its members to purchase only accessible multiple-listing services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge developers of multiple-listing service software to obtain certification from the National Federation of the Blind to ensure nonvisual access.

RESOLUTION 2004-10

Regarding: Student Responsibility in Higher Education

WHEREAS, the right of blind students to be admitted to institutions of higher education was established by the Higher Education Act amendments of 1972; and

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 require that blind students receive an education on equal terms with the sighted; and

WHEREAS, blind students often begin college without many of the life-coping skills needed to succeed in a higher education environment including the experience of getting their own books and arranging their own classes, tasks that are made even harder by the necessity to gain access to information, tests, and handouts using alternative means in order to accomplish the same objectives as their sighted peers; and

WHEREAS, in all too many cases Disabled Student Services Offices plan, organize, and control accessibility accommodations for blind students using a one-size-fits-all approach to serving students with multiple disabilities rather than responding to the specific needs of blind students, thus encouraging dependency rather than fostering independence and responsibility in the nation's blind students; and

WHEREAS, it is essential for blind students to gain the life-coping skills of self-advocacy and independence through their college years just as their sighted peers are doing in order to ensure future success in the workplace: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization urge Congress to amend the Higher Education Act to improve opportunities for blind people by promoting the self-reliance that gives them responsibility to control blindness-related services and ensuring the original intent of federal laws, which was to provide equal opportunity to participate in educational programs and courses; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization support an amendment that ensures that institutions of higher education have procedures to encourage responsibility and self-reliance, make certain that students (not institutions) have ultimate control over accommodations, and guarantee that decisions about modifications of courses and programs shall not be made unless requested by students.

RESOLUTION 2004-11

Regarding: Inadequate Staffing in the Randolph-Sheppard Employment Program

WHEREAS, for over sixty years our nation's single most effective employment program for the blind has been the Randolph-Sheppard program, a federal-state partnership providing self-employment opportunities for blind people to provide food service in public buildings and facilities; and

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the United States Department of Education provides significant funding for the program and has commensurate authority for oversight, an authority which protects the rights of blind vendors and is also essential in spurring state partners to obey the federal law and to apply it creatively to the advantage of their blind clients; and

WHEREAS, for the past two years the Rehabilitation Services Administration has not had sufficient staff to administer the program, resulting in diminished opportunities for blind people to reap the full benefits of the law and in destabilizing several state programs that are desperately in need of the steadying hand of the federal government, which should monitor compliance and spur growth in lucrative new sales and marketing trends in the fast-changing food-service industry; and

WHEREAS, as long as this understaffing persists at the federal level, the Randolph-Sheppard program nationwide is threatened with stagnation due to lack of leadership: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization call upon the Secretary of the United States Department of Education to remedy this weakness in the Randolph-Sheppard program before irreparable damage is done to the program in the several states by ensuring that the program will be fully staffed at the Rehabilitation Services Administration central offices and better staffed, region by region, to the end that opportunities for the blind of this nation will be protected and fostered instead of ignored and missed.

RESOLUTION 2004-12

Regarding: Nonvisual Identification of Dollar Coins

WHEREAS, the United States Dollar Coin Act of 1997 mandates that the dollar coin be golden in color and have a distinctive edge with tactile and visual features making it readily discernible, leading in January of 2000 to the introduction of the Sacagawea dollar--a coin which is nonvisually identifiable but, for a variety of reasons, has not achieved widespread use; and

WHEREAS, with the goal of increasing the circulation of the dollar coin, Representative Michael Castle of Delaware has introduced H.R. 3916, which would create a series of one-dollar coins featuring the presidents of the United States; and

WHEREAS, prior to moving forward with this legislation, Representative Castle along with Representative Bob Ney of Ohio consulted the National Federation of the Blind to discuss the statutory standards that should be included to ensure that any newly designed dollar coins would be identifiable by blind people using nonvisual means; and

WHEREAS, this legislation calls for edge-incusing, the placing of inscriptions such as mottos and emblems, the inscription of the year, and the mint marks, on the edge of coins, which allows larger and more dramatic artwork to appear on the faces of the coins, reminiscent of the Golden Age of coinage in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century; and

WHEREAS, coins can be edge-incused in a manner which preserves the nonvisual distinctiveness necessary for them to be identifiable by the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization urge Congress to apply the provisions for nonvisual identification in the Dollar Coin Act of 1997 to the series of coins created by H.R. 3916; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend Representatives Michael Castle and Bob Ney for soliciting recommendations from the National Federation of the Blind prior to passing legislation which specifically affects blind people.

RESOLUTION 2004-13

Regarding Air Travel to Britain with Guide Dogs

WHEREAS, on February 28, 2000, the United Kingdom launched the Pet Travel Scheme, a program that permits pets, including guide dogs from certain countries and territories, to enter the United Kingdom without undergoing a six-month quarantine, a requirement in place since 1901; and

WHEREAS, under the Pet Travel Scheme all cats and dogs, including guide dogs, entering the United Kingdom from long-haul countries such as the United States were required to fly directly to the United Kingdom from their country of origin and could be transported only in a sealed container in the cargo hold of the plane, thereby damaging the relationship of some teams and resulting in the injury and deaths of some guide dogs; and

WHEREAS, new amendments to the United Kingdom's Rabies Legislation that took effect on April 13, 2004, removed the requirement that all dogs and cats from long-haul countries be transported as manifest cargo in sealed containers, making it legal for airlines to permit guide dogs to accompany their blind owners in the passenger cabin and allowing the animals to enter the United Kingdom via qualifying Pet-Travel-Scheme countries other than their country of origin; and

WHEREAS, airlines wishing to transport guide dogs with their owners in the passenger cabin of the plane to the United Kingdom must establish a contract with the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to secure a permit to do so, but to date no U.S. or the United Kingdom carrier operating passenger service from the U.S. to the United Kingdom has begun transporting guide dog teams together in the passenger cabin: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization commend the British Parliament for amending the United Kingdom's Rabies Legislation and the Pet Travel Scheme to permit the legal transportation of guide dog teams to the United Kingdom in the passenger cabin; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all major airlines operating routes to the United Kingdom from the United States to secure contracts from the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to permit transportation of guide dogs with their owners in their airplane cabins.

RESOLUTION 2004-14

Regarding: Reform of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act

WHEREAS, the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) Act was originally conceived to provide production jobs for the blind and for people with severe disabilities by requiring federal agencies to purchase goods and services from a network of agencies associated with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) or NISH (formerly known as National Industries for the Severely Handicapped)--two central nonprofit agencies designated to perform certain responsibilities under the Act; and

WHEREAS, since the inception of the JWOD program, member organizations have used their status as sheltered workshops to deny blind and disabled people, the very people whom they were designed to help, the rights and privileges that are taken for granted by workers employed in private industries; and

WHEREAS, the most flagrant example of the denial of basic rights and privileges is illustrated by the continued practice by some sheltered workshops of paying blind workers less than the federal minimum wage; and

WHEREAS, NIB, NISH, and their member agencies have often used their nonprofit status to hide from public scrutiny even though both organizations are essentially federal agencies with huge multimillion-dollar budgets; and

WHEREAS, the JWOD Act conditions sales of products to the federal government on a workshop's employing blind or disabled workers for at least 75 percent of the direct-labor hours worked at the facility, but the Act is silent about any employment of blind or disabled people in management positions, a practice which remains as a paternalistic holdover from the past in which able-bodied persons were seen as taking care of the blind and disabled; and

WHEREAS, the requirement for production jobs and the silence about management jobs together reflect an outdated assumption that blind and disabled people should be employed primarily in direct labor as opposed to management and leadership positions that are more lucrative to employees and are more in keeping with the state of today's workforce; and

WHEREAS, the JWOD Act currently prevents for-profit entities from participating in the program even though such entities could conceivably meet a federal standard for hiring blind and disabled workers and offer the federal government products at more competitive prices than the prices offered by the NIB/NISH member agencies: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization urge the United States Congress to bring the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act into the twenty-first century by enacting reforms based on modern-day principles regarding blindness and disability; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization adopt the position that the following provisions are essential to any positive reform of the JWOD Act:

1. Blind or disabled people must be employed in at least 51 percent of all full-time and part-time positions and receive at least 51 percent of all pay and fringe benefits resulting from the sale of products or services;

2. Participation in the JWOD program should be open to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria;

3. Eligibility criteria must include required procedures to ensure promotion and upward mobility for blind and disabled people;

4. Eligibility criteria should require compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and acceptance of jurisdiction under the National Labor Relations Act as conditions for any nonprofit or for-profit employer to participate in the program; and

5. Eligibility criteria should mandate full disclosure of hiring and promotion records to enable program administrators, lawmakers, and the public to determine that the objectives of the program to employ blind and disabled people are being met.

RESOLUTION 2004-15

Regarding: Social Security Self-Employment Eligibility Determinations

WHEREAS, the federal Randolph-Sheppard program, a program involving food service vending, creates the context for the single greatest concentration of viable self-employment opportunities for blind people in this country; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Disability Insurance program offers special deductions for self-employed beneficiaries, but due to a lack of training and appropriate instructional materials about self-employment in general and of the deductions available to blind people self-employed under the Randolph-Sheppard program in particular, Social Security staff, who determine continuing eligibility for benefits, initially deny these deductions; and

WHEREAS, upon appeal, these denials are routinely overturned, thanks to a significant investment of time, energy, and resources on the part of the individual involved and the National Federation of the Blind, which represents many blind self-employed individuals in these appeals--resources that could be better used if Social Security staff received proper training--leading to far fewer denials being issued in the first place; and

WHEREAS, many taxpayer dollars could also be saved by reducing the number of cases in which appeals are necessary: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2004, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, that this organization call on the Social Security Administration to add to relevant sections of its Program Operation Manual Systems examples that actually apply to blind self-employed vendors under the Randolph-Sheppard program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this organization offer its expertise to assist the Social Security Administration in crafting examples to assist its claims staff in gaining the needed understanding of the Randolph-Sheppard program and the deductions that are commonly used by blind self-employed vendors in that program.

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