National Federation of the Blind Urges Smarter Balanced to Fix Accessibility Barriers and Policies Before Launch of K-12 Assessments

The National Federation of the Blind, along with seven national disability advocacy and technology organizations, sent a letter on January 23, 2015, to the governing board of Smarter Balanced, a consortium of twenty-one member states that will administer Common Core assessment tests to K-12 students starting this spring. The letter advises the board to take immediate action to fix outstanding accessibility barriers and policies before the tests are launched. The letter identifies five issues that, if left unresolved, will prevent students who are blind or have other disabilities from participating equally in the tests, and from receiving necessary accommodations, as required by federal law.

The TIME Act: Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act

When you are reading through the legislative agenda for the National Federation of the Blind Washington Seminar next month, do not be alarmed when you do not see the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2015. Our effort to responsibly repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act will still be a huge priority this year at Washington Seminar, and Congressman Harper has already agreed to once again champion this effort with us.  Although the content of the bill is exactly the same, the title of the fair wages bill has simply changed to Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act or TIME Act.

Access to Absentee Ballots for Maryland Voters with Disabilities

On September 4, Judge Richard D. Bennett of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland issued a historic ruling requiring the Maryland Board of Elections to make its online ballot-marking tool available to voters with disabilities in the November election. The ruling in National Federation of the Blind et al. vs. Linda H. Lamone et al. means that Maryland voters with disabilities will be able to mark absentee ballots online for print out and mailing to the Board of Elections. 

However, before you can use the online ballot marking tool, you must first request that the ballot be delivered to you by email.

Following are steps to request email delivery of your absentee ballot:

The Next Steps on the Road to Equal Opportunity: ADA Celebration or Motivation for Action

Earlier this week I had the honor of representing the National Federation of the Blind at a White House ceremony where President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This new law represents a significant milestone for American workers with disabilities, because it provides, for the first time, real limitations on the circumstances under which people with disabilities can be placed in subminimum-wage jobs. The law will reduce the number of youth with disabilities who are tracked into subminimum-wage employment by requiring that they enter the vocational rehabilitation system—enabling them to be trained for, and placed in, competitive integrated employment.

Comments on Apple and NFB Resolution 2014-12

At the recently concluded annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, there was much discussion about Resolution 2014-12, regarding the accessibility of apps for the Apple iPhone and other iOS devices. The issues raised in the resolution are not new. They have been discussed by members of the Federation for a number of years and the proposed resolution clearly reflected influence from prior debates. Although opposition to the resolution was expressed both at the meeting of the Resolutions Committee and on the convention floor, the resolution was passed by the convention and is now the policy of the National Federation of the Blind. The debate, however, has not ended. It is continuing on the internet and social media.

This is Not Acceptable for Workers with Disabilities

The abhorrent practice of employing workers with disabilities at subminimum wages, which stems from the poor public policy codified in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), has unfortunately been imbedded in disability service models and promoted as a viable alternative for people with disabilities who have significant challenges to employment.  As a result, we needlessly tolerate the counterproductive, sheltered subminimum-wage work environments that attempt to justify low expectations for the vocational potential of workers with disabilities, instead of providing encouragement and support for these same individuals to obtain real jobs at real wages.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Support the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act (H.R. 831)

More than four-hundred thousand people with disabilities are being paid subminimum wages—and it’s legal! Under current law, Special Wage Certificates are granted to nonprofit agencies that run “sheltered workshops” to employ people with disabilities. The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (HR 831) will phase out the practice of paying people with disabilities subminimum wages over a three-year period.  The top ten reasons why you (and your member of Congress) should support the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act are:

Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act: 100 Percent Wrong

In a recent article, "Goodwill faces criticism over pay for disabled workers," PolitiFact Georgia attempts to evaluate the truthfulness of the National Federation of the Blind’s claims in our call for the repeal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a provision that allows employers, like Goodwill Industries, to obtain a Special Wage Certificate from the U.S.

A Ridiculous Question

So you go to work tomorrow, and it is pay day. You receive a paycheck for $15.00 for two weeks of work. You speak to your supervisor, and you are informed that the company has switched to a new payroll model based on a new law, Section D (9) (u), that calculates wages based on a new commensurate wage formula. This new formula is only used to calculate the wages paid to you and others like you. Although you are as productive as the other employees, no one else but you and others like you are subjected to this new wage formula, especially not management or the company executives. In fact, the executives are now receiving six-figure salaries as a result of the cost savings created by the new wage structure for workers like you. You complain, to no avail.

All Charitable Contributions Sustain Exploitive Services

ACCSES, the American Congress of Community Supports and Employment Services, is the name of an nonprofit “charitable” organization that claims to represent disability service providers across the country and professes to be the voice of disability service providers speaking for people with disabilities.

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