Convention Resolutions 1990

The policies of the National Federation of the Blind are established by resolutions adopted by the national convention. Each year the Resolutions Committee meets early during the convention in the presence of hundreds of Federationists, many of whom speak concerning the matters under consideration. Resolutions are discussed, revised, and ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the full convention.

Here is a summary of the resolutions presented at the 1990 convention in Dallas, followed by the full text of the resolutions which were adopted. The Fiftieth annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind adopted twenty-two resolutions, and a twenty-third was voted down by the Resolutions Committee. Following is a brief summary of the twenty-two resolutions:

90-01: Addresses efforts to save the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.

Background: Several years ago at the urging of the National Federation of the Blind, Congresswoman Kennelly introduced legislation which established a highway vending program to give blind persons a preference in the operation of such highway facilities. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is currently tampering with the legal preference given to the blind.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind take all possible steps to prevent the evisceration of the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.

90-02: Designates the blind as a minority for small business purposes.

Background: A Small Business Administration program offers business advantages to small contractors who are members of designated minorities. The Small Business Administration decides which groups qualify as minorities which will receive the special contractual advantages, but it has never identified the blind as such a protected minority.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Small Business Administration to have the blind designated as a minority for business contract purposes.

90-03: Urges National Federation of the Blind involvement with publishers of special education textbooks.

Background: Frequently special education textbooks present inaccurate and damaging information about blindness and the blind. This harmful situation could be remedied if the National Federation of the Blind were able to work out an arrangement with publishers so that materials could be previewed and corrected before actual publication.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work toward the establishment of a mechanism through which the blind could review and propose changes in future publications of special education books.

90-04: Commends Senator Hollings of South Carolina for his efforts to pass the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act.

Background: The blind continue to experience discrimination in air travel. Senator Hollings has worked with the Federation for the passage of S. 341 to eliminate the problem.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend Senator Hollings for his outstanding work and that we reaffirm the commitment of this Federation to obtain a clear national policy against discrimination on ground of blindness in air travel.

90-05: Supports continuation of AMTRAK service and funding.

Background: Legislation to eliminate federal funding for AMTRAK has been introduced.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work for continued funding of AMTRAK so that blind travelers can take advantage of rail service.

90-06: Calls for clear and accurate regulations issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Background: In Resolution 89-01 the Federation took the position that it would support passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act only if it were amended to make certain that the blind would not be forced to accept unneeded and unwanted accommodations. The Federation was successful in securing such an amendment. As soon as President Bush signs the bill into law, federal agencies will begin to develop rules and regulations.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the various federal agencies to make certain that the proposed rules and regulations include clear language about the right of every individual to accept or reject any accommodation.

90-07: Urges direct sales companies to make their sales materials available to the blind.

Background: Many blind persons have chosen careers in the field of direct sales. Historically the companies have not provided sales materials in a form accessible to the blind.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with direct sales companies to encourage them to make training and sales materials available on cassette or in Braille.

90-08: Calls for a change in the Department of Labor's policy against compensation for attorneys' fees.

Background: Blind employees who are being paid subminimum wages need legal representation when they are challenging the level of wages being paid. However, the Department of Labor has declared that compensation for legal expenses and attorneys' fees cannot be ordered on behalf of individuals who successfully pursue subminimum wage complaints.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Department of Labor and Congress for changes so that legal expenses and attorneys' fees in subminimum wage cases can be ordered.

90-09: Urges that improper state policies be altered in order to protect the IWRP rights of clients.

Background: Under the current Rehabilitation Act, each blind rehabilitation client is entitled to participation in the development of an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP), which sets forth the steps by which the client will achieve his or her vocational objective.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work to make certain that clients' rehabilitation options are not taken away by state rules and policies.

90-10: Condemns the negative portrayal of the blind by NBC and its program, "Empty Nest."

Background: In a February, 1990, episode of "Empty Nest," NBC portrayed the blind in a negative and demeaning manner. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge NBC to eliminate this specific episode of "Empty Nest" from its library of materials.

90-11: Calls for protection of adequate funding for revenue forgone.

Background: The Federation must be able to do its outreach and educational mailings under reduced postal rates. These reduced rates are funded by revenue forgone. A current proposal would significantly reduce this postal subsidy.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work with the Congress to fund revenue forgone adequately to insure affordable postage rates for the NFB and similar organizations.

90-12: Recommends proposals for SSI modernization.

Background: The Social Security Administration is planning to modernize the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The National Federation of the Blind has proposed several items for inclusion in the plan.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge all responsible officials and members of Congress to include the NFB proposals in the modernization.

90-13: Demands that dog guide schools stop asking applicants about their organizational affiliations.

Background: Some dog guide schools have begun to question the organizational affiliations of blind persons during the application process. This practice has the possibility of leading to discrimination based upon an applicant's organizational affiliation.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind demand that dog guide schools eliminate questions about organizational affiliation from the application process.

90-14: Calls for privacy of information about dog guide school applicants.

Background: Dog guide training schools have established a Council of Guide Dog Schools purportedly to develop standards of training. However, recent reports suggest that, through this new council, dog guide training schools have been sharing personal information about blind applicants without their permission.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind demand that the Council develop a release of information form which must be signed by the applicant before personal information may be shared among schools.

90-15: Condemns and deplores the use of waiver-of-liability forms by instructors of cane travel.

Background: An employee of the Texas Commission for the Blind recently demanded that a blind client sign a waiver of liability releasing the Texas Commission from responsibility if the client were injured either during orientation and mobility training or in independent travel upon the completion of training.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind condemn and deplore the use of liability waivers by orientation and mobility specialists.

90-16: Urges that the Department of Labor require sheltered workshops to develop affirmative action programs.

Background: Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, sheltered workshops for the blind are required to develop and implement meaningful affirmative action programs. However, nothing has been done.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind insist that the Department of Labor take a get tough stand to make sheltered shops promote affirmative action for the blind.

90-17: Advocates choices in rehabilitation training paid for by Social Security.

Background: Many state agencies for the blind offer little or no training to help the newly blinded individual adjust to his or her blindness. Even so, under existing law, the newly blinded individual who is being rehabilitated with Social Security funds is frequently limited to services in the state where he or she resides, even when those services are inadequate or nonexistent. This situation places many Social Security beneficiaries at an extreme disadvantage.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind work actively with the Social Security Administration and the Congress to establish the right of the blind client to choose where he or she will receive rehabilitation training.

90-18: Commends the United States Department of State.

Background: In resolution 89-04, the National Federation of the Blind condemned the State Department because of its flagrant discrimination against blind applicants for foreign service positions. Because of Federation pressure, the State Department has changed its position and will consider the applications of qualified blind persons.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend the State Department for the nondiscriminatory position which it is now taking.

90-19: Urges funding for public transportation.

Background: Many blind persons use public transportation. A move has been made to decrease federal funding significantly for these services. Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind urge continued federal support for public transportation programs.

90-20: Calls for the abolition of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) marriage penalty.

Background: If two single blind SSI recipients decide to marry, their combined SSI benefits will be reduced substantially.

Resolved: That the Federation urge an end to the SSI marriage penalty.

90-21: Commends Recording for the Blind for disassociating itself with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

Background: Only the poorest agencies for the blind continue to seek NAC accreditation (or reaccreditation) in the hope that accreditation will cover up their inadequacies. In the past Recording for the Blind sought and received accreditation. However, it has announced that it will not seek reaccreditation when its current accreditation runs out.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind commend Recording for the Blind for disassociating from NAC.

90-22: Calls for improvement in services to older blind Americans.

Background: As a result of Federation efforts, programs for older blind persons have become a reality. However, these are not always as good as they should be sometimes because of inadequate funding.

Resolved: That the National Federation of the Blind support an expansion of funding for services to older blind Americans along with the development of quality assurance criteria.

90-23: Was withdrawn by its author.

RESOLUTION 90-01

WHEREAS, the Kennelly Highway Vending Program (Section 111 of Public Law 97-424) provides employment opportunity for blind entrepreneurs and also provides a valuable non-tax source for blindness programs; and

WHEREAS, Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly worked willingly and enthusiastically with the National Federation of the Blind in securing this important legislation and the resulting opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a trade association comprised of State highway officials who are charged with the responsibility of establishing rest areas on Interstate highways; and

WHEREAS, AASHTO looks covetously at the Kennelly Highway Vending Program and the income it produces as a potential funding source for the completion of their charge; and

WHEREAS, AASHTO has developed a detailed proposal for its membership (see AASHTO report titled Report of Task Force on the Commercialization of Interstate Highway Rest Areas, dated October 19, 1989) wherein the Kennelly Highway Vending Program would be at worst nullified, and/or would be at least deleteriously curtailed; and

WHEREAS, AASHTO is willing to sacrifice the Kennelly Highway Vending Program and the blind people and programs it serves on the basis that rest areas can thereby be built with private, not public funds by commercializing these rest areas; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Highway Trust Fund has a current positive balance of more than 10.6 billion dollars; and

WHEREAS, the AASHTO report itself acknowledges that there is popular taxpayer support for the establishment of rest areas: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization, its officers, and members take every action necessary to prevent this attempted evisceration of the Kennelly Highway Vending Program.

RESOLUTION 90-02

WHEREAS, the Minority Small Business Capital Ownership and Development Section 8(a) Program is a federally funded program to assist socially and economically disadvantaged small business contractors into the mainstream of business through government contracting; and

WHEREAS, there is clear and convincing evidence that the blind of the nation are a minority group in the negative and destructive sense of the word, as evidenced by the fact that the blind face massive social and economic discrimination in the same way as do other specified minorities, and, even more damning, over seventy percent of all employable blind persons are either totally unemployed or severely under-employed because of this minority status; and

WHEREAS, the Section 8(a) Program has not been extended to include the blind as an identified and eligible minority in an affirmative effort to overcome both past and present discrimination; and

WHEREAS, the Small Business Administration has actually ruled that a small business owner's blindness does not establish minority status: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Small Business Administration and the Congress of the United States to include the blind as an identified and eligible minority with equal opportunity, equal protection, and equal participation under the Minority Small Business Capital Ownership and Development Section 8(a) Program.

RESOLUTION 90-03

WHEREAS, more than 16,000 people are graduated annually from special education programs conducted by hundreds of colleges and universities across this nation; and

WHEREAS, thousands of additional college students take introductory courses in special education; and

WHEREAS, the vastness of the nation's involvement in special education is demonstrated by an expenditure of more than 15 billion dollars each year; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of college textbooks are published which purport to introduce students to the various facets of special education; and

WHEREAS, many of these authors are not familiar with blindness and visual impairment, and as a predictable result introductory textbooks in special education generally contain misleading, inaccurate, and custodial statements about blindness and blind people, such as:

1. Braille is harder to learn and slower to read than print,

2. the slate and stylus are less practical than the Brailler because, when using them, it is necessary to make indentations in the paper,

3. blind students should be taught to use the continental method of holding silverware when eating because it is simpler and neater, and

4. blind people cannot use tools effectively and must be protected from themselves when using such items as knives; and

WHEREAS, such obviously untrue and custodial statements, which appear in several editions of textbooks, perpetuate myths and misunderstandings about blindness and make a powerfully negative impact on the lives of blind people; and

WHEREAS, one way to change what it means to be blind and to enhance the education and rehabilitation of the blind is to publish more accurate and favorable textbooks; and

WHEREAS, two sets of textbook authors and editors, using advice and literature from the National Federation of the Blind as a basis for change, have already improved such texts: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization initiate a nationwide project to eliminate inaccuracy and custodialism regarding the blind and visually impaired in special education literature, especially introductory textbooks.

RESOLUTION 90-04

WHEREAS, the United States Senate has considered the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act (S. 341 and H.R. 563) but has failed to invoke cloture by a vote of 56 yeas to 44 nays; and

WHEREAS, the vote on the cloture petition itself shows that a clear majority exists in the Senate to pass the Air Travel Rights for Blind Individuals Act, when considered strictly on its merits; and

WHEREAS, the Air Travel Rights for the Blind bill represents the struggle of the blind to be understood as competent and to gain social acceptance as equal members of society; and

WHEREAS, Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina has worked diligently in the Senate to steer this bill through his committee and has ably managed the bill on the floor; and

WHEREAS, Senator Hollings has shown meritorious political leadership in bringing the issue of discrimination against the blind to a national focus: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation express official thanks and commendation to Senator Ernest F. Hollings for standing tall as a national leader on behalf of equal rights for all blind people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in praising Senator Hollings for his historic efforts on behalf of the blind, we reaffirm the commitment of this Federation to obtain a clear national policy against discrimination on grounds of blindness in air travel.

RESOLUTION 90-05

WHEREAS, public transportation is essential for blind persons to lead normal, active, productive lives; and

WHEREAS, AMTRAK is the nationwide passenger rail system; and

WHEREAS, Congress is reconsidering legislation authorizing and funding continued operation of AMTRAK, following a Presidential veto; and

WHEREAS, state and local involvement and support are important components of AMTRAK's service: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization and its affiliates call upon the Bush Administration, the United States Congress, and state and local authorities to support the continuation and expansion of AMTRAK service.

RESOLUTION 90-06

WHEREAS, several agencies of the Federal government are now preparing to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act, designed to expand significantly the civil rights of persons with disabilities, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, the Act requires that reasonable accommodations be made for the disabled in employment and that accommodations for the disabled also be made by agencies providing public services, hotels, restaurants, recreational facilities, and providers of public transportation; and

WHEREAS, accommodations even well-intentioned ones can become discriminatory when they limit individual exercise of the various forms of freedom that the law seeks to provide; and

WHEREAS, the right of each individual to accept or reject any accommodation is a fundamental civil rights principle for blind persons, and federal regulations and standards must now assure that this right is observed and enforced: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the right of any individual to accept or reject any accommodation be stated prominently and clearly in all regulations and standards developed to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization consult with agencies and officials at all levels of government and in the private sector to assure that individual choice in accepting or rejecting any accommodation is clearly identified as one of the basic nondiscriminatory rights provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

RESOLUTION 90-07

WHEREAS, some blind persons have chosen careers in the field of direct sales; and

WHEREAS, many direct selling companies provide sales and training literature to their distributors; and

WHEREAS, blind persons have found it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain such literature on cassette or in Braille; and

WHEREAS, the literature that is available is often of no use to the blind direct-seller because it is out-of-date and inaccurate; and

WHEREAS, Braille and tape production facilities have sometimes refused to put literature in appropriate media for blind distributors, stating that it is "too difficult" or "too tedious" to transcribe; and

WHEREAS, the best solution to this dilemma is for direct-selling companies to make literature available to their blind distributors in media useful to them; and

WHEREAS, many direct-selling companies have shown very little interest in putting their literature into media accessible to the blind, citing a low demand for it, but at the same time, have shown more interest in accommodating other disability groups (e.g., closed-caption videos for the deaf and translating sales literature into foreign languages); and

WHEREAS, making sales and training literature available in Braille and on cassette would enable blind distributors to conduct their businesses more efficiently and would enhance recruitment opportunities for new blind distributors in the direct sales field: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization encourage direct-selling companies to make sales and training literature available in media accessible to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization, through the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, stand ready to assist direct selling companies in finding the best arrangement for achieving this goal.

RESOLUTION 90-08

WHEREAS, workers being paid subminimum wages are entitled to challenge their employers' wage determinations through hearings to be provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and

WHEREAS, legal representation is essential for the proper presentation of cases in hearings on wage determinations; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Labor has stated that compensation for legal expenses and attorney fees cannot be ordered on behalf of individuals who successfully pursue subminimum wage complaints; and

WHEREAS, this position is insensitive to the need for legal representation of blind persons whose subminimum wages force them to live at the poverty level while challenging their well- financed sheltered workshop employers and their handsomely-paid attorneys; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Labor's position against attorney fees in subminimum wage cases is contrary to the policy of the Fair Labor Standards Act: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization deplore the policy of withholding compensation for legal and attorney fees in subminimum wage complaints filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Federation enlist the cooperation of the Department of Labor and the Congress, if necessary, to obtain changes in the regulations (or the law) so that legal expenses and attorney fees in subminimum wage cases can be ordered.

RESOLUTION 90-09

WHEREAS, individualized planning to meet the needs of each client is a cornerstone of the Rehabilitation Act and an obligation of each state vocational rehabilitation agency; and

WHEREAS, the promise of an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program for each eligible blind person is substantially undermined by state agency policies which apply to all clients in virtually all cases, regardless of circumstances; and

WHEREAS, examples of agency policies which violate the individualized planning principle include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) inflexible ceilings on funds for reader service,

(2) prohibitions on using readers for educationally-related research and study activities outside of specific course work,

(3) refusal to pay for even a portion of the costs of higher education services from private institutions,

(4) refusal to pay for services obtained beyond state boundaries in all but exceptional circumstances,

(5) prescribed evaluation procedures and training programs for almost all clients regardless of individual need, ability, or expressed preference,

(6) refusal to pay for graduate education, and

(7) refusal to establish eligibility and pay for costs of study and equipment for career enhancement and promotion; and

WHEREAS, the erosion of individualized planning for clients of rehabilitation should be reversed by statutory and policy changes to be considered when the Vocational Rehabilitation Program is reauthorized: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the right of each client to an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program be upheld and strengthened as a matter of law and federal policy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon responsible federal policy-makers and the Congress to assure that policies of state vocational rehabilitation agencies do not obstruct individualized planning in the provision of rehabilitation services to the blind.

RESOLUTION 90-10

WHEREAS, it is the mark of a responsible media corporation that it refrains from perpetuating negative stereotypes which denigrate any identifiable group within society, including the blind; and

WHEREAS, on Saturday, February 24, 1990, the National Broadcasting Company, Incorporated (NBC), aired on television an episode of the comedy series "Empty Nest" which fostered demeaning attitudes about blindness by giving the viewing public the impression that blind people are insecure and dependent; and

WHEREAS, the characters in the episode treated the blind man as though he were helpless and stupid, which was intended to elicit laughter from the studio audience directed at the blind; and

WHEREAS, such ridicule of blind persons has long-term negative consequences including prejudice and discrimination against the blind in employment opportunities and denial of first-class citizenship to the blind; and

WHEREAS, further damage to the blind through redissemination of this offensive portrayal of the blind can be prevented by elimination of the February 24, 1990, episode of "Empty Nest" from the library of material available for any type of redistribution; and

WHEREAS, on the same evening as the broadcast of the offensive "Empty Nest" episode, another NBC program called "Golden Girls" also referred to a blind person in a degrading fashion, demonstrating once again what the blind have long known-- that NBC has a low corporate opinion of the abilities and achievements of blind persons: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the National Broadcasting Company, Incorporated (NBC) eliminate the February 24, 1990, episode of "Empty Nest" from its library of materials; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Brandon Tartikoff, President of the National Broadcasting Company, to take the initiative to work in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind to create standards for handling blind characters and references to the blind so that an accurate image is conveyed when NBC produces or selects television programs which portray blind persons.

RESOLUTION 90-11

WHEREAS, stable and affordable postage rates are essential to provide outreach and public information programs on behalf of all blind persons in the United States; and

WHEREAS, such efforts are supported in part through federally subsidized postage rates under an annual appropriation of funds to the United States Postal Service for revenues forgone on free and reduced-rate mailings; and

WHEREAS, the Postal Service has announced plans for rate increases which could amount to a 33 percent higher postage cost for the National Federation of the Blind beginning in February, 1991; and

WHEREAS, the President's budget request for $485 million for fiscal year 1991 will not provide sufficient funds for revenue forgone, and the resulting postal rate increases for the National Federation of the Blind would then be much greater than 33 percent; and

WHEREAS, it is false economy to force groups such as the National Federation of the Blind to absorb substantially higher postage costs since support for direct services must drop as the postage bills climb; and

WHEREAS, the tax-supported subsidy of certain postage rates makes possible many essential services provided by private sector groups, thereby decreasing the general tax burden for providing the same services by government agencies: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the Congress to reject the President's budget for revenue forgone and act decisively to support stable and affordable postal rates directly affected by the revenue forgone appropriation.

RESOLUTION 90-12

WHEREAS, Gwendolyn S. King, Commissioner of Social Security, has appointed a panel of 26 experts to review the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program and to develop proposals for its modernization; and

WHEREAS, based on policies adopted by this organization, the National Federation of the Blind has submitted an agenda of modernization proposals, including:

(1) adjustment of income and resource limits to reflect inflationary changes since 1974,

(2) annual adjustment of income and resource limits indexed to cost-of-living increases,

(3) prompt approval of plans to achieve self-support,

(4) outreach activities to explain SSI blindness rules,

(5) flexibility for recipients in the choice of obtaining rehabilitation services,

(6) limit of time on the Social Security Administration for recovery of overpayments, and

(7) work incentive counseling to be available upon request; and

WHEREAS, these proposals raise serious policy and administrative issues that must be faced in any meaningful attempt to modernize the SSI Program: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this Federation salute the Social Security Commissioner and her staff for initiating an SSI modernization; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge all responsible officials and members of Congress to endorse the proposals submitted by the National Federation of the Blind in order that needed improvements can be made.

RESOLUTION 90-13

WHEREAS, there are established and recognized residential training schools throughout the United States which train dog guides for use by the blind; and

WHEREAS, a growing number of these schools now include in their application process questions intended to elicit information about the applicant's affiliation with consumer organizations of the blind; and

WHEREAS, some of the dog guide training schools ask a question concerning organizational affiliation both on the application form and during the oral interview, and at least one school has extended this question to third parties by including a question about the organizational affiliation of the applicant on the character reference questionnaire, which must be completed by a third party for the application to be fully processed; and

WHEREAS, since the sole purpose of a dog guide training school is to train the dog guide and the blind person to function as a unit, the only possible purpose for attaining the information concerning organizational affiliation is to prejudice the student/staff relationship; and

WHEREAS, a blind person's organizational affiliation has no bearing on his or her performance while in training with the dog guide or the ability successfully to use the dog guide following training; and

WHEREAS, the right of association is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the eliciting of information about the organizational affiliation of a student violates the precepts of the Constitution and statutory law: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization abhor the inclusion of any question by dog guide schools that elicits from the applicant any information about the organizational affiliation of the applicant; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that each and every dog guide training school review its application process and eliminate any and all questions which may elicit any information from the applicant about his or her affiliation with any organization, especially consumer organizations of the blind.

RESOLUTION 90-14

WHEREAS, dog guide training schools in the United States recently formed the Council of Guide Dog Schools; and

WHEREAS, the establishment of this Council is alleged to have been for the purpose of developing standards for the training of dog guides; and

WHEREAS, although there may be an intent to develop standards for training dog guides, it is reported that dog guide schools are using this Council to share personal information about applicants who may wish to apply to a different school when seeking a replacement dog; and

WHEREAS, this sharing of information extends to those applicants who, for whatever reason, have been unsuccessful in the completion of the training program in one school and thus wish to enroll in another; and

WHEREAS, such an exchange of personal information may be helpful in the training of persons with dog guides; and

WHEREAS, although this exchange of information may be helpful, such information may also prejudice the dog guide training school against the blind person; and

WHEREAS, this personal information is currently being shared without the knowledge or consent of applicants--an action by the Council of Guide Dog Training Schools and its member schools which flies in the face of all decency; and

WHEREAS, in almost every instance, the contents of the file maintained by the school are unknown to the applicant and unavailable for review and inclusion of rebuttal to negative evaluations: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization demand that the Council of Guide Dog Schools develop an appropriate Request and Authorization for Release of Information form specific to the sharing of information between dog guide training schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Request and Authorization for Release of Information form be signed by the student/applicant prior to the interschool sharing of any personal information from the student's file; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon each school to make progress and training files available for review by individual students during the training period and by each graduate; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that each blind person be afforded the opportunity to place in his or her file any letter of rebuttal he or she considers appropriate to refute information contained in that file.

RESOLUTION 90-15

WHEREAS, the primary means of independent travel for the blind is through the use of the long white cane; and

WHEREAS, some blind persons who want to learn cane travel are told by orientation and mobility specialists or by other vocational rehabilitation workers that they are "unsafe travelers," even after these persons have demonstrated their ability to travel; and

WHEREAS, recently, in the State of Texas a blind woman demanding proper cane travel instruction was told that she and her husband must sign a waiver of liability, releasing the Texas Commission for the Blind and the orientation and mobility instructor from any possible damage suits which might result from an accident or injury to her, both during training and after its completion; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind operates orientation and adjustment centers which have proven that many, if not all, blind persons can learn to travel safely and independently, when taught by a competent instructor who believes in the capabilities of blind persons, thereby diminishing the concern for liability; and

WHEREAS, liability waivers are just one more hurdle that blind clients must cross in order to obtain quality orientation and mobility training; and

WHEREAS, travel training provided by many state vocational rehabilitation agencies is inefficient and inadequate and is taught by incompetent instructors exhibiting negative attitudes about blindness and blind people: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization deplore and condemn the use of liability waivers by orientation and mobility instructors and state rehabilitation agencies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that such vocational rehabilitation agencies employ competent orientation and mobility instructors, who possess a positive philosophy about blindness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the practice by rehabilitation agencies of requiring clients to sign liability waivers continues, this organization shall work with state legislatures to pass laws prohibiting the use of such documents.

RESOLUTION 90-16

WHEREAS, all sheltered workshops in the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Program are federal contractors or subcontractors and thereby subject to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and

WHEREAS, Section 503 requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified handicapped individuals; and

WHEREAS, this affirmative action mandate has existed for almost two decades, but hiring practices of workshops still have not changed blind persons are hired for direct labor, and sighted persons are hired for management and supervisory positions; and

WHEREAS, promotion of blind people into management or supervision receives little more than lip-service from the workshops; and

WHEREAS, by historically failing to enforce the affirmative action obligation in workshops, the Department of Labor has turned its back on blind workers, relegating them to subminimum wages and dead-end jobs: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization insist upon a get-tough stand by the Department of Labor to promote affirmative action in sheltered workshops so that meaningful progress can be made toward ending the pay inequities and job discrimination against the blind in sheltered workshops.

RESOLUTION 90-17

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration has expressed an increasingly strong interest in promoting work incentives in the Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Programs; and

WHEREAS, effective adjustment-to-blindness services are essential to give blind persons the skills and attitudes necessary to achieve self-support; and

WHEREAS, the Social Security Administration is required by law to provide funds for successful rehabilitation efforts but can do so only if the services are obtained from a state vocational rehabilitation agency; and

WHEREAS, this limitation restricts both the Social Security Administration and its beneficiaries from obtaining the best services possible, whether from a state agency or otherwise; and

WHEREAS, alternative referral and funding arrangements could improve access to quality services for beneficiaries and would be cost effective: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization affirm its strong support for choices in rehabilitation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work actively with the Social Security Administration and the Congress to enact legislative changes to improve access to rehabilitation and productive employment opportunities for the blind.

RESOLUTION 90-18

WHEREAS, in Resolution 89-04, the National Federation of the Blind condemned and deplored the State Department's refusal to work constructively with the blind to develop an affirmative action program and actively to recruit blind persons for positions in the Foreign Service; and

WHEREAS, State Department officials have since advised the Congress, the media, and the National Federation of the Blind that the policy of denying Foreign Service appointments to blind persons has been rescinded and positive steps will be taken to recruit the blind into the Foreign Service; and

WHEREAS, the State Department's announced new policy is a complete retraction of its former stand, which must now be matched by the actual hiring of blind persons and their assignment to posts in foreign lands: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization acknowledge the progress represented by the State Department's new policy on employment of the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in the spirit of cooperation and goodwill for the State Department's new-found understanding we invite officials of the Foreign Service to work with this Federation in their efforts to recruit and employ qualified persons who are blind.

RESOLUTION 90-19

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has time after time supported a strong public transportation system; and

WHEREAS, the National Administration is suggesting that Federal support for public transportation be reduced or eliminated and that state and local government take up the Federal portion of the cost; and

WHEREAS, many state and local governments do not have a commitment to public transportation: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization go on record as urging the continued support by the Federal government of public transportation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the non-driving public, of which the blind are a segment, has a right to move from point to point in this country with ease and reasonable cost.

RESOLUTION 90-20

WHEREAS, individuals, including blind individuals who are married or unmarried, have certain basic minimum economic needs; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program is to meet these needs by providing a standard federal payment amount with states having the option to supplement this amount; and

WHEREAS, both members of an SSI couple are by law each eligible for benefits as individuals in their own right; and

WHEREAS, two single individuals living alone have a combined presumed minimum need of $772 ($386 each), but two married individuals in an SSI couple are presumed to need only $579; and

WHEREAS, this difference in treatment between individuals and couples under SSI is a marriage penalty for which there is no rational or economic justification: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization support an end to the marriage penalty in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program and urge the United States Congress to recognize that all individuals have the same presumed minimum need, regardless of their marital status.

RESOLUTION 90-21

WHEREAS, Recording for the Blind (RFB) has had a long-time relationship with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC); and

WHEREAS, John Kelly, Director of Library and Borrower Services of Recording for the Blind, attended the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind during which he disclosed to NFB officials that Recording for the Blind has decided to sever its relationship with NAC and not seek reaccreditation upon the conclusion of its current period of accreditation: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization commend Recording for the Blind for making the decision not to reaccredit with the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

RESOLUTION 90-22

WHEREAS, the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program was established in order to provide services to those individuals who by reason of age or other circumstances are not eligible for vocational rehabilitation services; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind developed and presented to Congress the original legislative proposals which resulted in a special program of grants for services to older blind persons; and

WHEREAS, state administrators of services for the blind have claimed that improved services to older blind persons will result from placing the older blind program on a formula grant basis and substantially increasing the available funding; and

WHEREAS, services to older blind individuals should be expanded but not merely through the wider distribution of increased funds; and WHEREAS, older blind persons deserve quality services; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind is prepared to support increased funding for older blind services available by formula grant to every state, provided that the agencies are willing to establish and adhere to quality-assurance criteria to be developed in partnership with the blind: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this sixth day of July, 1990, in the City of Dallas, Texas, that this organization support an expansion of funding for services to older blind Americans along with the development of quality-assurance criteria; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization invite the representatives of agencies serving the blind to join with us in a combined effort to create the standards by which quality services to this important population will be assured and expanded.