Braille Monitor                  January 2022

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Access Tech, Medical Devices, Websites, and Subminimum Wages

by John Paré

John ParéJanuary can mean many things for many people. For most, it marks the opportunity to look back on the previous year and have a fresh start for the coming year. In fact, it’s no coincidence that the month is named after the Roman god Janus, who possessed two faces: one for looking toward the past, and the other for looking toward the future. For me, January means that Washington Seminar, an event I look forward to every year, is just around the corner, and this year, because we’re doing things a little differently, we thought we would take this opportunity to tell you about the plans for the 2022 Washington Seminar.

Dates and Logistics

Let’s start with the basics. The 2022 Washington Seminar will take place from Monday, February 7, through Thursday, February 10, 2022. As is tradition, the Great Gathering-In will take place that Monday, February 7, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. EST, and meetings with your members of Congress will take place the following Tuesday, Wednesday, and for the states with more Representatives, Thursday.

For the 2022 Washington Seminar, we are back at the Holiday Inn Washington Capitol–National Mall. This is the same, familiar location at 550 C St., SW, Washington, DC, that we’ve been going to for decades. This year, due to social distancing requirements, we are allotting only a limited number of participants from each state affiliate, so please speak with your affiliate president regarding your attendance at the 2022 Washington Seminar.

On that topic, this year’s Washington Seminar will be a little different from what veterans of previous Washington Seminars are used to. For 2022, we will be conducting a hybrid Washington Seminar.

Here is how it will work. We recommend that you have two sets of teams: an in-person team and a virtual team. The in-person team or teams would travel to Washington, DC, and conduct the in-person meetings. The virtual team or teams would conduct meetings over Zoom similar to the 2021 Washington Seminar.

As previously mentioned, we will be asking affiliates to limit the number of people that they send to Washington DC. We are asking most affiliates to limit their in-person delegation to two people.

Under the current Congressional rules, visitors must have an appointment to enter any of the Capitol office buildings. Someone from the office you are visiting must escort you from the building entrance to the meeting. After the meeting, you will be escorted out of the building or to another office that is willing to accept the transfer. Congressional rules limit the size of the meeting to a maximum of five visitors, but we are recommending that we limit the size to two people. Of course, virtual meetings can be much larger.

When making appointments, it will be important to keep the escort rules in mind. If you are unable to chain two meetings together (i.e. have one Congressional office escort you to another Congressional office that is willing to accept the transfer), you will have to leave the building and will most likely need to return to the hotel.

Please note: We are not recommending that individual Congressional meetings be conducted as hybrid meetings. By this, I mean that you should not plan to conduct any Congressional meetings where both in-person and virtual attendees are at the same meeting. Whether in-person or virtual, the way you meet with your member of Congress is equally important, and we are not valuing any method above the other. This plan will allow us to benefit from in-person meetings when appropriate and at the same time provide for the safety and flexibility to have virtual meetings when necessary.

The Issues

For the 2022 Washington Seminar, we are taking four issues to Capitol Hill:

Access Technology Affordability Act (H.R. 431/S. 212)
Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 4853)
Twenty-First Century Website and Application Accessibility Act
Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (H.R. 2373/S. 3238)

Just because we have determined that these will be the 2022 Washington Seminar issues does not mean that you should stop advocating for them until February. On the contrary, it is essential that we continue to build cosponsor support for all of our bills, especially the Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA). The more cosponsors ATAA has, the greater the likelihood that it will be included in one of the larger vehicles that are currently moving through Congress.

That’s all we have for now, but please continue to monitor the Washington Seminar page on our website to ensure you remain up-to-date with any developments. We know this year will be a little different, but we are still looking forward to seeing all of you (either in person or virtually) next month.

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