Braille Monitor                                                March 2013

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Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans: Priorities for the 113th Congress, First Session

Michael Hingson, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Brian Buhrow, Mary Willows, and Jennifer Holloway, a group from the NFB of California, visit about the issues important to the blind and leave their Congressman with our legislative agenda and factsheets.The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the nation’s oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people. As the voice of the nation’s blind, we represent the collective views of blind people throughout society. All of our leaders and the vast majority of our members are blind, but anyone can participate in our movement. There are an estimated 1.3 million blind people in the United States, and every year approximately 75,000 Americans become blind.

The NFB’s three legislative initiatives for 2013 are:

This legislation phases out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to pay disabled workers subminimum wages. If Congress ends this exploitative practice, disabled Americans will receive equal protection under the law to earn at least the federal minimum wage and reach their full employment potential.

Electronic instructional materials and related technology have replaced traditional methods of learning in postsecondary settings. Although it would be inexpensive to create e-books, courseware, applications, and other educational devices and materials in accessible formats, the overwhelming majority of these materials are inaccessible to disabled students. This bill calls for minimum accessibility standards for instructional materials, ending the “separate-but-equal” approach to learning.

The Space Available Program allows active-duty military, Red Cross employees, and retired members of the armed services to travel on military aircraft if space is available. HR 164 reverses the exclusion of 100 percent service-disabled veterans who were discharged before retirement and entitles them to the program’s privileges.

The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight; it is the misunderstanding and lack of information that exist. Given the proper training and opportunity, blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance. Blind Americans need your help to achieve these goals and reach economic security and full integration into society. Supporting these measures will benefit more than just the blind because promoting our economic welfare increases the tax base. We urge Congress to hear our demands for equality and support these legislative initiatives.

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