2019 Resolutions

The official policies of the National Federation of the Blind are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the national convention

Resolution 2019-01: Regarding Diversity, Intersectionality, and Blindness

WHEREAS, since 1940 the National Federation of the Blind has served as a vehicle for collective action for the nation’s blind, working to expand equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; and

WHEREAS, for over seventy-eight years the Federation has served as the voice of the nation’s blind, has changed attitudes and public perceptions and has developed authentic expertise regarding topics affecting the lives of blind people; and

WHEREAS, consistent with the National Federation of the Blind’s code of conduct and reflective of the Federation’s members, the Federation does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, marital and/or socioeconomic status, age, genetic information, disability, and any other characteristic or intersectionality of characteristics; and

WHEREAS, these differing characteristics and life experiences are tied together by the common bond of blindness, and many of those intersecting identities are also subject to inequalities, public misconceptions, and injustices; and

WHEREAS, the Federation has actively worked to influence and improve public policy through self-advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels and has fostered relationships within industries to protect the rights of the blind; and

WHEREAS, in June of 2018, as an expression of our common interest with other organizations, the Federation jointly filed suit with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates against the United States Department of Education to prevent the erosion of civil rights enforcement regulations; and

WHEREAS, advocacy organizations such as the National Organization for Women, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Unidos US, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Human Rights Campaign, and many others who advocate on behalf of issues that affect a cross-section of Federationists and who have resources, including websites, programs, and activities that are inaccessible to interested blind people; and

WHEREAS, these advocacy organizations can benefit from the collective expertise on blindness and unique perspectives that a diverse group of members of the Federation have gained through their participation in the organized blind movement: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge the National Organization for Women, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Unidos US, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Human Rights Campaign, and other advocacy organizations to ensure that their resources including websites, programs, and activities are fully accessible to blind people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge these advocacy organizations to include blind people in their policy and program discussions to reflect better the intersectional priorities of blind people; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind pledge its willingness to partner with advocacy organizations to provide the authentic expertise of the blind and to connect blind members of these advocacy organizations with the resources and expertise of the Federation.

Resolution 2019-02: Regarding the Continued Exploitation of Workers with Disabilities under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind believes in the capacity of the blind to be fully participating members of society, able to compete on equal terms with the sighted; and

WHEREAS, we oppose the unfair, discriminatory, and immoral provision found in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) (29 U.S.C. § 214(c)), that allows the United States Secretary of Labor to grant special wage certificates to employers, permitting them to pay their workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage; and

WHEREAS, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that people with significant disabilities who receive the proper training and support can also engage in competitive, integrated employment, making the use of subminimum wages unnecessary and exploitative; and

WHEREAS, although previously outspoken about the need for Section 14(c), the AbilityOne Commission and its two central nonprofit agencies, National Industries for the Blind and SourceAmerica, have finally begun to implement the proven strategies that led to the competitive, integrated employment of individuals who were historically placed in segregated subminimum wage environments; and

WHEREAS, many employers who have been informed about these successful training and employment strategies have abandoned their 14(c) certificates in favor of a model that creates competitive integrated employment opportunities and better futures for the people they serve; and

WHEREAS, employers who continue to advocate for the use of Section 14(c) may feel they are doing the right thing through their caretaker model of services but fail to acknowledge the detrimental impact this model has on the futures of the people they employ; and

WHEREAS, rather than using their resources to develop competitive integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities, these employers use funding to actively lobby against the repeal of Section 14(c); and

WHEREAS, employers continue to manipulate the thinking of the parents and guardians of the individuals with disabilities to the point where they are convinced that their children have reached their full potential through a legal provision that allows any entity lacking the talent, expertise, or desire to create better opportunities for people with disabilities to exploit these individuals through the payment of subminimum wages: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization condemn and deplore all entities that use special wage certificates under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all entities that continue to exploit workers with disabilities through the payment of subminimum wages immediately to develop and implement models to transition all of  their disabled workers to competitive, integrated employment.

Resolution 2019-03: Regarding Mobile Phones for Blind Seniors

WHEREAS, the number of blind or low-vision seniors continues to increase, and the number of basic accessible phones available through the main mobile phone carriers continues to decrease; and

WHEREAS, Jitterbug is a manufacturer of phones designed for seniors and GreatCall is a cell service and medical alert provider whose products are primarily intended for use by seniors; and

WHEREAS, the Jitterbug Flip and Smart2 are the two phones offered by GreatCall; and

WHEREAS, the Jitterbug Flip, while offering limited font and contrast options for low-vision users, has no accessibility features for blind users; and

WHEREAS, the Smart2 includes Google Talkback but does not offer any opportunity to configure accessibility settings during phone setup and requires the use of a printed activation number that is not available in a nonvisual format; and

WHEREAS, GreatCall lacks information regarding accessibility features in any of its product documentation: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge Jitterbug to add nonvisual access features including menu and message readout to the Jitterbug Flip; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Jitterbug to make available the ability to enable Talkback or other accessibility options at the initial stage of setup and provide documentation for all features of its products in an accessible format; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge GreatCall to provide an accessible activation method, describe the accessibility features of its phones in the Product-Support section of its website, and train customer service staff on all accessibility features. 

Resolution 2019-04: Regarding Informed Choice for Consumers in Selecting Blindness Training Programs

WHEREAS, comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training is often essential for blind people to succeed in education, employment, and full integration into society; and

WHEREAS, this training is frequently recommended and obtained under an individualized plan for employment with assistance provided by a state vocational rehabilitation agency; and

WHEREAS, providers of comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training include both state and private agencies, which, although following a general pattern of service and training curricula, often produce varying outcomes for students and graduates; and

WHEREAS, the law provides blind consumers the right to exercise informed choice in selecting among providers of comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training, but this right is often denied due to the lack of sufficient information for consumers to compare programs and expected outcomes; and

WHEREAS, the federal vocational rehabilitation regulations, 34 CFR § 361.52, “Informed Choice,” and RSA Policy Directive RSA-PD01-03, “Implementation of Informed Choice,” require state agency personnel to assist individuals to obtain information sufficient to exercise their right of informed choice, but this obligation is often not fulfilled: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization call upon all state vocational rehabilitation agencies to review implementation of their informed -choice policies with particular reference to selection among comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training centers, including documentation of public participation by blind individuals and organizations in those reviews; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that at a minimum the outcome of such reviews must ensure that each state vocational rehabilitation agency will obtain and maintain current descriptions and data supplied by each known training center (updated annually), regardless of whether the center is a currently approved agency contractor, and regardless of the location of the center within the United States; and1111

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all current and up-to-date descriptions and data, including contact information supplied to a state vocational rehabilitation agency by any public or private provider of comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training, whether they are or ever  have been  a contractor and whether located in-state or out-of-state, must be  provided to all individuals considering such training,  to allow them  to evaluate the relevance and quality of any center’s program  for their desired employment outcome; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization request the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University to with its expertise and experience to collaborate in the development and publication of consumer guidelines for selection among adjustment-to-blindness training centers as a reference for individuals to use in their exercise of informed choice.

Resolution 2019-05: Regarding the Use of Accessible Ballot-Marking Devices as the Primary Ballot Marking Tool

WHEREAS, the ability to cast a secret ballot independently is a cornerstone of our democracy that enables citizens to vote their conscience without fear; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that voters with disabilities be afforded an opportunity to exercise the right to vote that is equivalent to the opportunity afforded to voters without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the majority of state and local elections are conducted using paper ballots with the accessible ballot marking device (BMD) limited to voters with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, election technology developers, such as Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Dominion Voting Systems, and Unisyn Voting Solutions, have designed accessible BMDs that produce ballots that are different in size and/or content from the ballot that is hand marked by the majority of voters; and

WHEREAS, because the BMD ballots cast by voters with disabilities are different in size and/or content from the hand-marked ballots cast by the majority of voters, the BMD ballots can be identified as having been cast by a voter with a disability and are, as a result, not secret ballots; and

WHEREAS, a state or local board of elections may be in violation of Title II of the ADA when it does not provide voters with disabilities the same opportunity to cast a secret ballot that it provides voters without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, BMDs are the superior method for marking ballots because they prevent the stray marks and over-votes that can result when ballots are hand marked; and

WHEREAS, the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act, introduced in the United States Senate on May 15, 2019, mandates a hand-marked paper ballot, limits the use of BMDs to voters with disabilities, and provides state and local governments with enough funds to purchase only one BMD per polling place, thus denying voters with disabilities a secret ballot: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that the Senate amend the PAVE Act to make BMDs the primary method for ballot-marking and provide sufficient funds to state and local governments to purchase the required number of BMDs for use by the majority of voters; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that state and local governments implement the legislation and election procedures necessary to make the use of BMDs the primary method of ballot-marking for the majority of voters, thus ensuring that voters with disabilities have a secret ballot.

Resolution 2019-06: Regarding Support for the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act of 2019

WHEREAS, since its founding in 1940, the National Federation of the Blind has fought to repeal the unfair, discriminatory, and immoral provision found in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), which allows the secretary of labor to grant special wage certificates to employers permitting them to pay their workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage; and

WHEREAS, Section 14(c) of the FLSA is a statutory codification of the negative attitudes and erroneous stereotypes that perpetuate the unemployment and exacerbate the underemployment of people with disabilities based on the fallacious argument that they cannot be productive and therefore deserve to be paid less than nondisabled employees; and

WHEREAS, segregated subminimum-wage work environments are not transitional job-training service providers for workers with disabilities, and research conducted by Dr. Robert Cimera of Kent State University found that work habits learned in a segregated work environment must be unlearned in order for workers with disabilities to become competitively employed; and

WHEREAS, it has become evident that subminimum-wage employers who conceal their vested financial interest in the continuation of this exploitative subminimum-wage business model are actively lobbying against the repeal of Section 14(c); and

WHEREAS, data from the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division published on April 1, 2019, shows that 1,743 exploitive work environments continue to employ 106,339 workers with disabilities at wages lower than the federal minimum wage; and

WHEREAS, on January 29, 2019, Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced S. 260, the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act of 2019, which will sunset Section 14(c) of the FLSA over a six-year period and award grants to states and providers to assist with their successful transition to competitive integrated employment; and

WHEREAS, on January 30, 2019, the Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, along with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, introduced identical companion legislation in the House, H.R. 873; and

WHEREAS, on May 21, 2019, the United States House Committee on Education and Labor held a full committee hearing entitled “Eliminating Barriers to Employment: Opening Doors to Opportunities” to learn more about the successful transition of workers with disabilities from segregated subminimum-wage employment to competitive integrated employment: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization commend Representatives Bobby Scott and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senators Robert Casey and Chris Van Hollen as well as all cosponsors of H.R. 873 and S. 260, the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act of 2019, for their leadership and bipartisan efforts to end the discrimination against people with disabilities and their belief in the capacity of people with disabilities to obtain competitive integrated employment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the United States Congress to take up consideration of this legislation without delay, sunsetting Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, thereby permanently unlocking the doors to competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend those entities who have voluntarily transitioned their business models away from subminimum wage employment and into competitive integrated employment.

Resolution 2019-07: Regarding American Chemical Society Examinations

WHEREAS, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute produces and distributes more than fifty different chemistry examinations for use in high school, collegiate, and graduate-level chemistry courses nationwide; and

WHEREAS, ACS promotes its tests as nationally normed and standardized, and many schools use ACS tests as required placement tests, qualifying assessments, or final exams; and

WHEREAS, ACS does not make its full suite of tests available in Braille, but instead requires schools to transcribe and emboss ACS tests for blind students individually, thus compromising the standardized assessments; and

WHEREAS, electronic versions of ACS tests and study materials are not presented with corresponding tactile graphics, do not conform with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 or 2.1 AA, and are therefore not accessible to blind students who use screen-access software; and

WHEREAS, blind students have been pushed out of their chemistry studies and given failing grades on tests because of access barriers and lack of Braille in ACS products; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind in December of 2018 urged the country’s top fifty chemistry programs to stop using ACS products; and

WHEREAS, after meeting with the National Federation of the Blind in March of 2019, ACS committed to adopting an accessibility statement, but has not yet made such a statement public: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that ACS Exams promptly adopt and post publicly a robust accessibility policy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute implement a process by which schools can request and receive pre-embossed Braille versions of any ACS test; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that ACS audit and remediate electronic versions of its suite of assessments and study materials so that they conform with WCAG 2.1 AA and are fully accessible to blind students who use screen-access software.

Resolution 2019-08: Regarding the Accessibility of State-Administered Benefits Programs

WHEREAS, state-administered benefits programs include critical programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, workforce development, and low-income housing vouchers; and

WHEREAS, eligibility requirements are often streamlined so that ineligibility for one program results in ineligibility for multiple programs; and

WHEREAS, blind people are often unable to apply independently for or renew their eligibility for many state-administered benefit programs because the web-based eligibility forms do not conform with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 or 2.1 AA and are therefore inaccessible using screen-access software; and

WHEREAS, blind people have been denied program communications in Braille or other alternative formats or have otherwise failed to receive communication that is as effective as communication provided to nondisabled beneficiaries; and

WHEREAS, blind people have been deemed ineligible for state-administered benefits solely because they were unable to complete required eligibility forms, resulting in immediate, unnecessary, and discriminatory hardship; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits state-administered benefits programs from discrimination against and disparate treatment of people with disabilities and thus mandates the provision of equally effective communication and equal access to services for such persons: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that all state-administered benefits programs honor requests for alternative format communications and equal access to programmatic information, benefits, and services in a timely manner; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that state-administered benefits programs promptly implement accessibility policies that require web-based information and forms to conform to web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA) and promptly audit and remediate application and renewal of eligibility processes and forms so that they are fully and equally accessible to blind people.

Resolution 2019-09: Regarding ADA Litigation

WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability; and

WHEREAS, to assist Americans with disabilities in asserting our rights under the ADA, Congress included a private right of action, which has assisted Americans with disabilities to secure landmark victories that have opened doors in employment, education, commerce, and other arenas; and

WHEREAS, under Department of Justice interpretation and court rulings, ADA Title III applies not only to physical places of public accommodation but also to their websites; and

WHEREAS, many websites are inaccessible to blind people who use screen readers to access digital content and to other people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, a small group of plaintiffs and attorneys are exploiting the situation by filing dozens, occasionally hundreds, of lawsuits all at once or in rapid succession; and

WHEREAS, rather than acknowledging that website inaccessibility is a real and growing problem, some business groups and media outlets have focused on this behavior as evidence that the ADA is merely a tool for greedy lawyers to extort quick cash settlements from businesses; and

WHEREAS, this largely misplaced blame for ADA lawsuits has led to the introduction, and in some cases enactment, of state legislation that places onerous burdens on people and organizations who wish to bring legitimate complaints under the ADA, as well as attempts to enact federal legislation that would have the same effect; and

WHEREAS, even if litigants act in good faith and with noble intentions, blanketing a geographic area or business type with lawsuits often does not meaningfully advance the cause of accessibility because the litigants may lack the resources or the commitment to investigate each lawsuit thoroughly, and many lawsuits brought in this way are settled quickly and confidentially, thereby failing to hold public accommodations accountable for true progress toward making their websites accessible: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge members of the legal community to engage in responsible, ethical, and transparent behavior when pursuing ADA litigation, including contacting targeted entities to try to resolve accessibility issues without litigation where possible and appropriate and to draw up public settlement agreements that outline the specific steps to be taken by an entity to achieve accessibility and the anticipated timeline for those steps to be completed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization reaffirm its opposition to any legislation, state or federal, that seeks to shift the burden of compliance from the entities to people with disabilities affected by noncompliance; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization continue to work collaboratively with the policymaking, legal, business, and web development communities to advance accessibility, while not hesitating to commence litigation if needed. 

Resolution 2019-10: Regarding the Greater Accessibility and Independence Through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act

WHEREAS, the rapid proliferation of digital technology has led to the increased use of touchscreens and interactive visual interfaces, replacing traditional controls such as knobs, switches, and buttons on home-use medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances; and

WHEREAS, this major shift in technology has rendered the majority of home-use medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances inaccessible to blind users, potentially threatening the health, safety, and independence of blind people; and

WHEREAS, in most cases the technology already exists to allow for nonvisual access to these products; and

WHEREAS, accessibility is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement when it is incorporated into the design of a product from the outset; and

WHEREAS, the ability to operate nonvisually all home-use medical devices, home appliances, and exercise equipment is essential to a blind person’s wellbeing, independence, and overall quality of life: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge the United States Congress swiftly to consider and pass the Greater Accessibility and Independence Through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act, thereby ensuring and protecting the independence of blind Americans.

Resolution 2019-11: Regarding Equal Accessibility for All Learning Ally Customers, Including the Blind

WHEREAS, in 1948 Recording for the Blind was established to enable blind veterans to take advantage of the GI Bill of Rights and over the years has expanded its services to include students with learning disabilities, as reflected in the change of its name to Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in 1995 and then to Learning Ally in 2011; and

WHEREAS, Learning Ally produces books in classic audio format or in VOICEtext format that readers use on their computer, reading device, or Learning Ally’s smart phone app; and

WHEREAS, Learning Ally’s expanded mission has redirected its resources to include print-reading populations, which offer larger markets, and mentions blind students on its website only when describing its history; and

WHEREAS, this expansion has resulted in a priority shift away from the blind, making our community no longer Learning Ally’s primary priority, nor even an equal priority with other served groups; and

WHEREAS, this second-class treatment is demonstrated by Learning Ally’s lack of accessible navigation for blind readers in its phone app; and

WHEREAS, the At-Large chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia has repeatedly asked Learning Ally to fix these problems; and

WHEREAS, the need for Learning Ally’s products and services, especially its human-read narration and scripted descriptions of figures, illustrations, graphics, charts, and tables in textbooks remains a paramount need because it is often the sole source of accessible educational material for blind patrons; and

WHEREAS, educational institutions, from K-12 through higher education, purchase subscriptions to Learning Ally for materials in specialized formats for their students; and

WHEREAS, these institutions are required to purchase products that provide equal access to all students, including the blind: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization strongly urge Learning Ally immediately to upgrade its current book-reading software and VOICEtext audio format so that blind patrons have the same access and equivalent ease of use as other print-disabled readers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all educational institutions to refuse to purchase memberships to Learning Ally for students until it provides the same access to the blind that it offers to other print-disabled readers.  

Resolution 2019-12: Regarding Accessibility of Social Media Platforms

WHEREAS, social media has become an integral part of many people’s lives, serving as a vehicle for staying in touch with friends, seeking advice, searching for jobs, and staying up-to-date with information about local and national news and events; and

WHEREAS, much of the information available on social media platforms is added by users as photos or graphics that are not inherently readable by access technology such as screen readers; and

WHEREAS, when accessibility features such as the ability to add alt text to photos are included by social media platforms, they are often buried in “advanced settings,” requiring users to have knowledge of how to find these features; and

WHEREAS, frequent updates to social media platforms and apps introduce new features and bring changes to existing features, and accessibility is frequently not taken into account when these new builds and features are released, resulting in blind users being unable to use features, add content, or access content added by others: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization call upon social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and others, to make a serious commitment to creating more inclusive experiences by giving accessibility features a more prominent place on their platforms and implementing stricter accessibility testing protocols, including user testing, before new features launch; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge all major social media companies to engage actively with the organized blind during the development stages of product and feature design in order to inform their accessibility and usability processes.

Resolution 2019-13: Regarding the Proliferation of Dockless Electric Scooters

WHEREAS, dockless electric scooters are a new form of transportation that has become increasingly popular in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the appeal of these scooters is that they may be retrieved from and left anywhere because they do not need to be parked at a docking station or rack; and

WHEREAS, as a result users are leaving these scooters in locations that block curb cuts, obstruct sidewalks, block bus stops and stoops, and generally disrupt the flow of pedestrian traffic; and

WHEREAS, users further endanger pedestrian traffic by riding these scooters on sidewalks and other pedestrian rights-of-way; and

WHEREAS, these scooters are virtually silent when in use, making it impossible for those using nonvisual means of travel to detect them; and

WHEREAS, the public is encouraged to contact the various scooter companies directly to report scooter misuse, request that a scooter be moved, or report an injury or other concern by calling the company, visiting the website, or making a report using the app; and

WHEREAS, the blind cannot identify the scooter companies’ names, phone numbers, or websites because the information on the scooter is available only in print; and

WHEREAS, blind people are further denied the opportunity to make reports or issue complaints, since scooter websites and apps are generally not accessible via access technology; and

WHEREAS, few laws in the United States regulate the use of these scooters, and laws that do exist are inconsistent from city to city: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization call upon the United States Congress to establish a minimum sound standard for dockless electric scooters; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge state and local governments to work with affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind to enact laws regulating scooter use to control parking, prohibit riding on sidewalks, and generally avoid disrupting the flow of pedestrian traffic; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that all dockless electric scooter companies place their company name, scooter identification number, and contact information on each scooter in a format accessible and easily detectible by the blind and that these companies develop accessible websites and mobile applications so that blind pedestrians can easily communicate reports of misuse or injury.

Resolution 2019-14: Regarding the Authentic Representation of Blind People in the Entertainment Industry

WHEREAS, the entertainment industry has produced dozens of movies and TV shows portraying blind characters, usually offensively or inaccurately, which exploit blindness for admiration and awards; and

WHEREAS, stereotypical portrayals of blind people in the media continue to affect negatively the perception of blind people in society; and

WHEREAS, the CW, CBS, and Red Hour Film produced a television series called In the Dark that follows a blind woman as she works to solve a suspected crime; and

WHEREAS, despite the fact that the main character in the show is blind, the role is portrayed by a sighted actor rather than a blind actor; and

WHEREAS, executives of In the Dark are perpetuating low expectations by making the excuse that a blind actor could not be found for the leading role; and

WHEREAS, various levels of the entertainment industry are failing to create a pipeline of blind actors in order to bring authentic representation to blind characters and roles for which a blind actor may be suited; and

WHEREAS, blind people are often discouraged from pursuing an acting career or are denied acting roles due to low expectations and misconceptions regarding the capacity of the blind: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge all parts of the entertainment industry, including directors, producers, casting agencies, and acting schools, to seek authentic representation when casting for blind roles; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that the entertainment industry consult the organized blind and hire blind writers when developing a blind role, in order to eliminate stereotypes and misconceptions regarding blindness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the CW, CBS, and Red Hour Films to produce the second season of In the Dark with the lead character played by a blind actor; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the entertainment industry to promote the inclusion of blind actors and characters in its television shows and movies, not solely in specific blind roles but in any role for which the blind actor may be suited.

Resolution 2019-15: Regarding the Handling of Graphics in NLS Materials

WHEREAS, graphics such as charts, tables, maps, and pictures are important features in books and periodicals; and

WHEREAS, the Braille Audio Reading Download (BARD) system is a popular service that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) uses to distribute books in accessible formats; and

WHEREAS, NLS provides some tactile graphics and descriptions of pictures in some of its hardcopy Braille formats, but cannot include tactile graphics on the BARD system because Braille devices cannot display this content; and

WHEREAS, the exclusion of graphical materials denies information and diminishes the reading experience for patrons: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge NLS to include tactile graphics in the production of all future hardcopy Braille materials; an

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend NLS for including its Braille collection on the BARD platform, thus enabling users to store and access Braille using refreshable Braille displays; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly encourage NLS to develop a policy that ensures that, when it produces a hardcopy Braille version of a book containing graphics, it also offers a hard copy of just the accompanying tactile graphics that BARD users can order.

Resolution 2019-16: Regarding Uber and Lyft Ride Denials for Travelers with Service Animals

WHEREAS, Uber and Lyft’s ridesharing services are increasingly available nationwide, are used for millions of rides annually, and are now considered transportation fixtures in society; and

WHEREAS, an ever increasing number of people with and without disabilities rely on these services as faster and more convenient alternatives to traditional public transportation options; and

WHEREAS, in 2017 the National Federation of the Blind entered into settlement agreements with Uber and Lyft in an effort to resolve drivers’ discriminatory treatment against blind travelers with service animals; and

WHEREAS, the settlement agreements include the education of drivers on their obligation to accept riders with service animals and strict single-strike policies that require Uber and Lyft to terminate drivers who knowingly deny transportation to travelers with service animals, and

WHEREAS, despite the settlement agreements, driver education, and strict policies, drivers continue knowingly to deny rides to and discriminate against blind travelers with service animals; and

WHEREAS, Uber and Lyft have chosen to reeducate rather than to terminate drivers who, after denying rides, claimed ignorance regarding knowledge of travelers’” service animals, even in cases where riders notified drivers that they travel with service animals: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that Uber and Lyft vigorously enforce their single-strike policies for terminating drivers who knowingly refuse transportation to riders with service animals, as required by their settlement agreements with the NFB; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that Uber and Lyft thoroughly investigate all claims of discrimination against travelers with  service animals and that Uber and Lyft respond to complainants and the NFB promptly and transparently and in accordance with their settlement agreement obligations.

Resolution 2019-17: Regarding Pearson’s Access Barriers

WHEREAS, Pearson Education Inc.’s North America operations offer educational content, assessments, and digital services to K-12 and higher education schools nationwide; and

WHEREAS, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit schools from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and ultimately require that schools provide effective communication and equal and integrated access to programs and activities; and

WHEREAS, Pearson’s 2018 Sustainability Report identifies that Pearson’s new products are not yet all born accessible; and

WHEREAS, some Pearson products, including MyLab, are compatible with screen-access software only for selected multiple-choice and free-response questions, but not for all questions; and

WHEREAS, Pearson has publicly posted robust steps to make elearning accessible, but has presented these steps as guidelines and not requirements for its development teams; and

WHEREAS, Pearson has received repeated complaints from students, the National Federation of the Blind, and others regarding the inaccessibility of its products but has failed to address systematically the cause of these barriers; and

WHEREAS, blind students have been harmed by Pearson’s failure to ensure that its products are fully and equally accessible, such harm being evidenced by low test and assignment scores, low course grades, or pressure to withdraw from classes that use Pearson’s products; and

WHEREAS, the United States District Court of the Central District of California recently found that the Los Angeles Community College District discriminated against a blind student when it failed to provide meaningful access to coursework via Pearson’s MyMathLab or equivalent assignments in a timely manner; and

WHEREAS, Pearson acknowledges falling short of its goal to make one hundred percent of its higher education courseware digital portfolio accessible by 2020, but has not yet been transparent in sharing its revised timeline with schools, students, and advocacy organizations; and

WHEREAS, Pearson promotes on its accessibility webpage that it works collaboratively with the NFB; and

WHEREAS, Pearson’s assessments team has partnered with the NFB on tactile graphic studies and other projects, but Pearson’s higher education and K-12 courseware and sales teams have not engaged with the NFB on accessibility-related solutions; and

WHEREAS, Pearson’s North America operations have not accepted NFB’s repeated invitations to enter into a robust company-wide accessibility agreement with the NFB and to take critical steps to enculturate accessibility fully, to the long-term detriment of blind students: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization call upon Pearson to demonstrate a full commitment to accessibility by publicizing its roadmap for addressing the accessibility of its educational products and services and by ensuring that all new products conform with WCAG 2.1 AA prior to their release; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that Pearson announce publicly its process and timeline for responding to complaints from schools, students, parents, and others regarding access barriers in Pearson products and services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization condemn and deplore Pearson’s continued use of and failure to remediate its inaccessible MyLab questions, tutorial content, and features.

Resolution 2019-18: Regarding Considerations for Blind Users in the Development of Autonomous Vehicle Technology

WHEREAS, autonomous vehicles are the next major advancement in the transportation industry; and

WHEREAS, innovations in autonomous vehicle technology represent a valuable new resource that has extraordinary potential to help blind people gain greater independence and improve transportation options; and

WHEREAS, private industry stakeholders such as Cruise, Waymo, and Volkswagen Group, along with others, are already designing, developing, and testing autonomous vehicles on roads and highways across the country; and

WHEREAS, four essential features will need to be included with all autonomous vehicles to ensure that blind people can independently operate them; and

WHEREAS, the first of these essential features will be a nonvisual vehicle-location system that will direct the blind user to the vehicle and give instructions regarding pick-up and drop-off locations; and

WHEREAS, a second essential feature will be nonvisually accessible navigation and maintenance controls that will allow the blind user to program destinations and make changes during the trip and will alert the user to any maintenance the vehicle may need; and

WHEREAS, a third essential feature will be accessible interior environment controls, including but not limited to climate control, the entertainment system, and the opening and closing of the windows; and

WHEREAS, the final essential feature will be exterior environment alerts that will inform the blind user when the vehicle experiences sudden and unexpected changes due to heavy traffic, obstacles, or equipment malfunctions: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge automobile manufacturers, technology companies, and all other stakeholders involved in designing, developing, and deploying autonomous vehicles to make their vehicles fully accessible to the blind by including nonvisual access to these four essential features in their products; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge these entities to work directly with blind Americans to test and acquire feedback on the nonvisual access features of autonomous vehicles.

Resolution 2019-19: Regarding the Quality of Braille Output from Amazon Kindle Books

WHEREAS, Amazon’s Kindle books constitute a major source of titles in the commercial electronic book market; and

WHEREAS, when reading Kindle books with a refreshable Braille display, formatting and attribute information such as line breaks, indentation, page breaks, and text highlighting is frequently not conveyed to the reader; and

WHEREAS, when a book is displayed without proper formatting, technical material such as computer programming, mathematics, and creative or artistic content like poetry is rendered partially inaccessible or completely unusable; and

WHEREAS, consumers who purchase Kindle books with the expectation that they will be able to read them using a refreshable Braille device face the possibility that the book will not meet their needs, especially if formatting and attribute information is critical to the use of the book: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization call upon Amazon to design, develop, and implement solutions that will enable Kindle books displayed in Braille to convey formatting and attribute information to blind users.

Resolution 2019-20: Regarding Calling for a Study Group to Ensure Equitable Access to Blind Ice Hockey

WHEREAS, according to the United States Association of Blind Athletes, blind ice hockey is a new, increasingly popular sport, and while blind ice hockey is not yet a Paralympic sport, in 2015 the International Blind Ice Hockey Federation was formed to recruit athletes internationally in order to grow the sport; and

WHEREAS, currently, the only modifications to the sport of blind ice hockey are a larger, slower-moving puck that makes noise while in motion, goals thirty-six inches in height instead of forty-eight inches in order to keep the puck closer to the ice and increase the sound being made, and a rule that at least one pass must be completed on the offensive half of the rink before a team can attempt to score in order to increase opportunity for puck location; and

WHEREAS, although this is considered a sport for blind athletes, athletes who are totally blind are currently limited to the goaltender position due to a lack of additional modifications to the sport such as locator sounds when the puck stops moving and locator sounds on the goals; and

WHEREAS, a sport for the blind should be fully accessible to all blind players; and

WHEREAS, a sport that is more accessible to individuals with a greater level of vision promotes a “hierarchy of sight” and perpetuates low expectations and misconceptions about the capabilities of blind athletes: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that the International Blind Ice Hockey Federation, USA Hockey, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes immediately convene a study group that includes blind ice hockey players and members of the National Federation of the Blind Sports and Recreation Division to explore ways to make the sport of blind ice hockey equally accessible to blind players regardless of level of vision; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the International Blind Ice Hockey Federation to work closely with the National Federation of the Blind, USA Hockey, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes to implement recommendations from the study group so that all blind ice hockey players can enjoy equal access to the sport.

Resolution 2019-21: Regarding the HBO Cable Channels and the Lack of Video Description

WHEREAS, HBO, operated by Home Box Office, Inc, a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, is a package of premium cable channels that air commercial-free, uncensored content including movies, comedy specials, concerts, documentaries, sporting events, and original scripted television series; and

WHEREAS, subscribers pay an extra fee in addition to their regular cable or satellite television subscription for access to the HBO channels or can subscribe to a streaming service, HBO Now, for a monthly fee if they do not have cable service; and

WHEREAS, over the past two decades the original programming produced by and for HBO has been among the most critically acclaimed, culturally significant, and popular television programming available, including shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Veep, Westworld, and its most recent hit, the miniseries Chernobyl; and

WHEREAS, HBO uses the Second Audio Program (SAP) feature that can be accessed by most televisions and cable devices to carry Spanish-language versions of its programs, but does not use this capability to carry video description of its programs for blind viewers; and

WHEREAS, the use of the SAP feature to carry programming dubbed into Spanish is redundant and unnecessary because the package of HBO channels sold to subscribers also includes HBO Latino, which simulcasts Spanish versions of the programming being aired on HBO’s main channel; and

WHEREAS, not only has HBO failed to add video description to its original programming, but it does not carry the video description that is already available for the movies that it runs nor even for the educational program Sesame Street, whose episodes are now first run on HBO instead of on the Public Broadcasting Service; and

WHEREAS, other cable channels, the major broadcast networks, and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime provide video description for some or all of their original programming and for many movies and programs that they license from other producers and providers; and

WHEREAS, while HBO and other premium cable services are not mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to carry video description, as the networks and some other cable channels are, nothing prevents HBO from voluntarily adding video description to its programming; and

WHEREAS, the lack of video description means that blind subscribers, while paying the same fee for access to HBO as subscribers without disabilities, do not have equal access to its programming: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this eleventh day of July, 2019, in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization demand that HBO begin airing new original programming with video description and set forth a plan to add video description to its existing movie and program library; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to explore mandating that video description be provided by HBO and other premium cable services.