The resolutions of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas
WHEREAS, for sixty years the National Federation of the Blind of Texas (NFB of Texas) has worked to promote security, equality, and opportunity for the blind of our state; and
WHEREAS, in that role the NFB of Texas has worked with its parent organization to develop programs such as NFB Newsline, a talking newspaper service; a statewide mentoring program for blind youth; and Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL), a program to introduce preschool and elementary school students to Braille; and
WHEREAS, in 2012 the NFB of Texas, developed and received funding for Connections Helping Another Navigate and Gain Employment (CHANGE), an innovative, employment focused, program targeted at blind adolescents and young adults; and
WHEREAS, these initiatives emphasize the Federation’s positive philosophy about blindness, the importance of mentors to one’s success, our belief in the structured discovery learning method, empowerment, and leadership; and
WHEREAS, developing and implementing these important programs has solidified our role as a leader in the fields of education and rehabilitation of blind children and young adults; and
WHEREAS, if the NFB of Texas is to maintain current programming and develop new and innovative initiatives, it is critical that we take all necessary steps to insure that we have adequate funding for current and future programs: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind of Texas in convention assembled this eleventh day of November, 2012, in the city of Beaumont, Texas, that this organization commit to the development of a sustainability plan designed to insure that we have adequate and ongoing funding for both current and future programs for blind children, youth and adults; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that such a plan should be multifaceted and should include outreach to government, foundations, corporations, and the public as well establishing goals for a commitment of funds from our treasury.
WHEREAS, Disabled workers have been unfairly excluded from the federal minimum wage for 74 years, and today over 300,000 disabled workers are working for subminimum wages; and
WHEREAS, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) discriminates against people with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, this Section 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, often in sheltered work environments; and
WHEREAS, This discrimination is rooted in low expectations based on misconceptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities, promoting the support of an outdated business model that fosters underemployment of workers with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, subminimum-wage sheltered workshops have eroded into day custody centers, limiting opportunities for workers with disabilities ever to transition into integrated, competitive work; and
WHEREAS, these institutions instill a philosophy of incapacity, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy resulting in long-term underemployment; and
WHEREAS, these sheltered shops are awarded or given special consideration in the awarding of government contracts to mass produce items for use in government agencies and institutions; and
WHEREAS, the sheltered work system is a moneymaker for the subminimum wage employer, encouraging the perpetuation of subminimum wage employment and leaving workers with disabilities little to no choice for real employment: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the blind of Texas in convention assembled this eleventh day of November, 2012, in the city of Beaumont, Texas, that we strongly urge Congress to enact The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011 (H.R. 3086) that:
- Discontinues the practice of issuing special wage certificates by the Secretary of Labor to new applicants;
- Phases out all remaining special wage certificates over a 3-year period, with private for-profit entities’ certificates being revoked after 1 year; public or governmental entities’ certificates being revoked after 2 years; and non-profit entities’ certificates being revoked after 3 years; and
- Repeals Section14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act Three years after the law has been enacted, officially abolishing the practice of paying workers with disabilities subminimum wage.
WHEREAS, being able to read and write efficiently, is essential to effective communication, access to highly skilled and highly paid employment, and success in the community; and
WHEREAS, only 10 percent of today’s blind students under age twenty-two are being taught to read Braille, resulting in a 45 percent high school graduation rate for blind students; and
WHEREAS, more than 70 percent of blind people nationwide are not employed, but of those blind people who are employed, 85 percent or more use Braille in the workplace, demonstrating a relationship among literacy, confidence, and success; and
WHEREAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that, when developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a child who is
Visually impaired, the IEP team shall provide for instruction in Braille unless the IEP team’s evaluation finds Braille unnecessary; and
WHEREAS, the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) for Youth with Visual Impairments provides for a valid, standardized measuring tool that will yield a quantitative measure of otherwise qualitative factors in Braille reading and writing needs; and
WHEREAS, the NRMA assessment gathers only information pertinent to reading and writing; gathers these data under standardized conditions; and bases evaluation of the student’s reading efficiency on what would be expected of sighted students of similar intellectual functioning in terms of reading speed, accuracy, and duration; and
WHEREAS, it is common practice for youth with visual impairments to hold reading materials very close to their faces, and/or to hunch their bodies over the materials when reading, which causes eye strain, headaches, neck and back pain, fatigue, diminished concentration, reading speed, and comprehension. Consequently, in this assessment students are evaluated when sitting up straight and with materials held or placed at standardized distances: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the blind of Texas in convention assembled this eleventh day of November, 2012, in the city of Beaumont, Texas, that we strongly affirm the use of braille for blind and low-vision children.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commit to working toward the goal of making the National Reading Media Assessment the standard assessment tool for determining the proper reading medium for blind children in Texas.
WHEREAS, Google offers an ever-increasing number of digital and electronic services, including a suite of cloud-based applications collectively known as “Google Apps” designed to provide traditional desktop functions such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and calendars, which the company is aggressively marketing to businesses, educational institutions, and government entities as an alternative to suites of similar desktop applications; and
WHEREAS, despite promises made by Google to make the Google Apps Suite fully accessible, stemming from complaints filed with the Department of Justice, by the National Federation of the Blind in 2011 against colleges and universities for their plans to use the Google Apps Suite and other digital services, the Google Apps Suite and other digital services remain not fully accessible to the blind; and
WHEREAS, more businesses such as media outlets and educational institutions such as the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, have adopted the use of Google Apps and Services, and
WHEREAS, the lack of full accessibility of the Google Apps Suite, forces blind persons to use alternative methods for accessing material to perform everyday tasks on the job and at school; and
WHEREAS, businesses and educational institutions, although required by law to provide equal access to information for blind persons, it is up to each business and educational institution to determine how the access will be provided, which means that blind persons often do not have equal access to the necessary information and tools to compete with their sighted counter parts on terms of equality; and
Whereas, the lack of access to tools and information necessary to complete job and educational tasks threatens the educational and employment opportunities of blind Americans; Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Texas in Convention assembled this eleventh day of November, 2012, in the city of Beaumont, Texas, that this organization stand firm in our resolve to hold Google accountable for making Google Apps and services fully accessible; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that businesses and educational institutions using the Google Apps Suite and digital services ensure that alternative methods for accessing materials and tools that are either not accessible or not fully accessible to the blind are provided and that they are equal to the Google Apps and services used by their sighted counter parts.
WHEREAS, for two decades, there has been a concerted effort to reorganize, consolidate, and merge vocational rehabilitation programs for the blind of Texas with larger agencies which have little or no knowledge about how to provide the quality, specialized services necessary to insure positive employment outcomes for blind consumers; and
WHEREAS, combining agencies which have the focused responsibility of serving blind people with programs that have a less precise mission and a far more diverse clientele defeats the goal of efficiency and results in growing dependency caused by lack of relevant service; and
WHEREAS, both government and university studies have shown that blind people who receive service from specialized agencies for the blind have better employment outcomes: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Texas in convention assembled this thirteenth day of November, 2011, in the City of Austin Texas, that this organization stand firm in its conviction that blind Texans are best served by a separate, identifiable agency for the blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call on the Texas Legislature to establish and support specialized services for the blind, provided by a consumer-responsive agency that is based on the principles of both personal and program accountability.
Whereas, the unemployment rate for blind adults hovers around 75%; and
Whereas, blind men and women want to work and to be contributing members of society; and
Whereas, the National Federation of the Blind believes that given proper training and an opportunity to work, blind men and women can `compete on terms of equality with their sighted peers; and
Whereas, lowering the rate of unemployment among blind Texans is a priority for the National Federation of the Blind of Texas; and
Whereas, the Federation needs strong partners with the same goal; and
Whereas, the mission of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is to promote and support an effective workforce system that offers employers, individuals and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity; and
Whereas, Executive Director Larry Temple, and key leaders at TWC have demonstrated a commitment to including the blind community in that mission by sponsoring Texas students attending the 2011 NFB Youth Slam, attending local and state meetings organized by the National Federation of the Blind and, assisting the Federation in its efforts to expand and strengthen collaborative relationships with agencies, organizations and people who can work with us in an effort to improve employment opportunities for blind people; and
Whereas, the members of this organization appreciate these efforts and look forward to working with Mr. Temple and other TWC leaders as we partner to change what it means to be blind in Texas: Now, therefore
Be it resolved, by the National Federation of the Blind of Texas in convention assembled this twelfth day of November 2011, in the city of Austin, Texas, that we applaud Larry Temple and the Texas Workforce Commission for their commitment to including blind Texans in their efforts to alleviate the problem of high unemployment among the blind; and
Be it further resolved, that we encourage a continuation of this innovative approach to creating future employment opportunities for a segment of the population that wants to work alongside our sighted peers to create a better Texas for everyone.
Whereas, The state of Texas is made up of many rural regions; and
Whereas, The rural Texas landscape poses unique challenges for organizing traditional NFB chapters; and
Whereas, The NFB of Texas seeks to encourage participation of members who live in areas with no other blind residents.
Therefore, be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, in convention assembled October 24, 2010, that this organization establish a committee to develop a plan for an At-Large chapter of the NFB of Texas.
Be it further resolved that this committee implement the plan for the establishment of an at-large chapter by the 2011 NFB of Texas state convention.
Whereas, the NFB of Texas will soon be concluding a two-year mentoring program, funded by a grant from the Rehabilitation Service Administration and The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services of Texas, which linked blind teenagers and young adults around the state with successful blind adults; and
Whereas, The CHANGE Mentoring Program proved to be highly successful, resulting in participants engaging in empowering activities including job shadowing, internships, community service, and the NFB Youth Slam, a week-long leadership camp for blind youth; and
Whereas, participants are already demonstrating the long-term impact of the program, as several have completed rehabilitation training to gain critical blindness skills, and a number of participants have joined consumer organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind; and
Whereas, the NFB of Texas has a wealth of valuable resources that are vitally important to blind and visually impaired youth around the state;
Therefore, be it resolved that the NFB of Texas, in convention assembled this 25th day of October, 2009, make it a priority to develop infrastructures within our organization to mentor blind youth in Texas through our local chapters, divisions, and the state affiliate
Be it further resolved that this organization, whenever possible, seek funding to support our efforts to empower blind youth in Texas.
Whereas, current Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (CTVI) preparation programs in the state of Texas do not have a standardized requirement for educator experience with blind and visually impaired students prior to certification; and
Whereas, under the current certification requirements, educators can obtain certification without having met a blind or visually-impaired person; and
Whereas, the absence of student teaching experience for teachers of the blind and visually-impaired can result in lowered expectations and a diminished quality of education for blind students in Texas.
Whereas, the NFB of Texas recognizes that blind and visually impaired students have unique educational needs, and
Whereas, the quality of training programs for teachers of the blind and visually-impaired has a critical impact on the educational opportunities and overall life chances of our blind children and youth;
Therefore, be it resolved that the NFB of Texas, in convention assembled this 25 day of October, 2009, recommends that CTVI programs in Texas) adopt a standardized practicum or student teaching requirement which ensures that certified instructors will have worked directly with blind and visually impaired students under the observation and assessment of a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired.
Be it further resolved that the NFB of Texas work with certification programs around the state to see that this recommendation is implemented.
Whereas, free and reduced bus fair for the blind contributes to the perception that the blind are perpetually in need, and
Whereas, free and reduced bus fair for the blind points to a social attitude of paternalism and is demeaning to blind individuals attempting to go about their business in a dignified manner, and
Whereas, free and reduced bus fair for the blind is actually unfair to the low income able bodied who may be less able to pay than many blind people, and
Whereas, many local transit systems struggle with funding and must be subsidized by the government,
Therefore, let it be resolved by the Texas Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, in convention assembled this second day of November, 2008, that this organization opposes free and reduced bus fair when granted solely on the basis of blindness.
Let it further be resolved that the officers of this organization are directed to oppose any such free or reduced fairs for the blind on the fixed route services used by the general public.