Braille Monitor                                                    March 2008

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Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:
Priorities for the 110th Congress, Second Session

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the voice of the nation's blind. We present the collective views of blind people throughout society. All of our leaders and the vast majority of our members are blind, but anyone can participate in our movement. Every year approximately 75,000 Americans become blind, and there are an estimated 1.3 million blind people in the United States. The social and economic consequences of blindness affect not only blind people, but also our families, our friends, and our coworkers.

Three legislative initiatives demand the immediate attention of the 110th Congress in its second session. These urgent action items include:

1. We urge Congress to ensure the safety of the blind and other pedestrians by passing legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to adopt regulations establishing a minimum sound level standard for all new automobiles sold in the United States. The regulations need not prescribe the method automobile manufacturers must use to achieve the minimum sound standard, but the standard should have the following characteristics:

2. We urge Congress to fully fund the program of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress to convert the analog cassette collection of Talking Books to a digital format and to procure the equipment to play the digital Talking Books. Failure to provide this funding will result in the disruption of library service to all blind Americans, creating a devastating set of circumstances preventing the blind from equal opportunity for literacy.

Congress should fully fund the digital Talking Book project by allocating $19.1 million for this purpose in fiscal year 2009, as well as restoring the $6.6 million left out of the fiscal year 2008 request. This appropriation of $25.7 million will allow the NLS to remain on course for a successful conversion to ensure that blind users of the Talking Book program do not find themselves without access to books and magazines.

3. We urge Congress to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to mandate a schedule of increases in the level of earnings allowed for blind individuals before applying a work penalty, as follows:

For more information about these priorities, please consult the attached fact sheets.

Other priorities that offer opportunities for legislative action in the second session of Congress include:

For more information on any of these priorities, please contact James McCarthy or Jesse Hartle of the National Federation of the Blind, or visit us online at <>.

Blind Americans need your help to achieve our goals of economic security, increased opportunity, and full integration into American society on a basis of equality. Enactment of these legislative proposals will represent important steps toward reaching these goals. We need the help and support of each member of Congress. Our success benefits not only us, but the whole of America as well.

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