Future Reflections Convention 1992, Vol. 11 No. 5



by Ramona Walhof

[PICTURE] (From left to right) Barbara Pierce of Ohio; Peggy Pinder of Iowa; and James (Jim) Gashel, NFB Director of Governmental Affairs, take notes with slates and styli at the 1992 Resolutions Committee Meeting

     Editor's Note: The following summary of the 1992 resolutions is taken from an article in the August-September, 1992, issue of the Braille Monitor. The Monitor article is more comprehensive; it reprints the full text of each resolution passed by the convention. Free copies of the resolutions are available from: National Federation of the Blind, Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

     Resolutions adopted by the National Federation of the Blind are written policy statements of the organization. Each resolution is presented to the convention for discussion and a vote. Prior to coming before the convention, resolutions are ordinarily presented to the Resolutions Committee for discussion and a recommendation. The committee may not block a resolution from coming to the floor; it can only recommend "pass" or "not pass." The committee may recommend changes and revisions, but these must be acceptable to the presenter if they are to be incorporated in the text of the document. Any NFB member may present a resolution to the Resolutions Committee and, through it, to the NFB convention. If the presenter chooses to withdraw a resolution based on committee discussion or for some other reason, this is also possible.

     At the 1992 convention the Resolutions Committee consisted of fifty-two Federationists, who considered thirty resolutions. Twenty-five were brought to the floor of the convention. All of them passed. Printed below is a summary of these resolutions. Five resolutions were withdrawn by their authors.

Resolution 92-01 opposes the establishment of the Study Commission on Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
     Background: At the time of the convention a proposal to establish such a commission had been made in the Committee on Education and Labor in the House of Representatives. Members worked throughout the convention to help Congress understand the problems which this commission would cause.

Resolution 92-02 supports statutory linkage between the earnings exemptions for blind people and for retirees under Social Security.
     Background: For some years benefits for blind people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance have been paid according to the same formula as the one used for computing benefits for retirees who are sixty-five or older. The NFB has worked to maintain these similar benefits.

Resolution 92-03 calls upon Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander to terminate his Department's inclusion of the National Accreditation Council on the Department of Education's list of approved accrediting bodies.

Resolution 92-04 commends Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana for sponsoring legislation to strengthen the right of choice for individuals receiving Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and it encourages other Congressmen and Senators to join with Mr. Jefferson in this effort.

Resolution 92-05 calls upon employers and software developers to help make Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) accessible to the blind.

Resolution 92-06 is an updated statement of NFB policy regarding audible traffic signals.
     Background: Audible traffic signals have been installed in some cities, purportedly to assist blind individuals at street crossings. The National Federation of the Blind is on record opposing audible traffic signals. For the most part this position has not changed. However, it is important, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, that representatives of the National Federation of the Blind be consulted by city and county governments considering the installation of audible traffic signals. Further, newly developed audible traffic signals which can be activated by pedestrians and used only when they choose to do so may require study and testing.

Resolution 92-07 opposes research on detectable warnings for the blind in architecture, on sidewalks, etc.
     Background: The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board adopted regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring installation of truncated domed tiles as a warning to the blind of the proximity of certain allegedly dangerous areas. For example, a strip could be used between a sidewalk and a parking lot if there is no curb. The blind have argued that bumpy tiles are more dangerous than helpful and tend to lead others to the false conclusion that the blind are incapable of gathering information.

Resolution 92-08 calls upon rehabilitation agencies to provide instruction for blind clients in the use of city buses and trains even if special Dial-A-Ride services for the handicapped are available.

Resolution 92-09 calls upon officials in the Department of Justice to support the arbitration process provided for by the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

Resolution 92-10 seeks to avoid competition between Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities and the Committee for Purchase from the Blind and Other Severely Handicapped.

Resolution 92-11 opposes North Carolina legislation regarding vending facilities.
     Background: A piece of legislation was introduced in the North Carolina Legislature which seriously damages opportunities for vendors in that state. At the time of the convention in Charlotte, this bill was being debated.

Resolution 92-12 calls upon the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to offer all its tests for blind proofreaders in Braille.

Resolution 92-13 calls upon the Small Business Administration to award contracts to the disabled and to define disability as a presumed social and economic disadvantage.

Resolution 92-14 joins the voice of the Federation with that of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in requesting that federal agencies eliminate special awards for the disabled.
     Background: Many federal agencies have long had the practice of presenting disabled employees with awards which are different from--and often in addition to--awards presented to their other employees. If these awards were ever desirable, there seems to be general agreement among the disabled that time has passed.

Resolution 92-15 calls upon the Social Security Administration to develop improved reporting procedures for disabled persons who are working.

Resolution 92-16 calls upon the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights to treat blind applicants for child care certification in the same way as it treats sighted applicants.

Resolution 92-17 declares that parents should have primary decision-making responsibility about whether a blind child should attend a residential school or a public school and calls upon school officials to furnish parents with relevant information.

Resolution 92-18 takes the position that guide dog schools do not have the right to stipulate the kinds of employment in which their graduates may engage.
     Background: The National Federation of the Blind has worked hard to reduce the number of blind persons who engage in begging. The image of the blind beggar is one of the most destructive stereotypes which puts us down and keeps us out. We have worked to improve training and job opportunities and to broaden public understanding of blindness. We have also fought to increase welfare and Social Security benefits for the blind. Further, the NFB has gone on record repeatedly as believing that demeaning activities (such as begging) carried on by some blind individuals reflect poorly on all members of the blind community. Nevertheless, the convention took the position that no guide dog school should have the power to deny any blind person appropriate training and a dog on the basis of the individual's occupation.

Resolutions 92-19 and 92-20 were withdrawn by their authors.

Resolution 92-21 calls upon all guide dog schools to transfer ownership of dogs to the blind people who use them.

Resolutions 92-22 and 92-23 were withdrawn by their authors.

Resolution 92-24 calls upon those exploring the installation of audible traffic signals to consider the problems these signals may cause for deaf-blind people and to consult them when considering such installations.

Resolution 92-25 requests exploration of the purchase and circulation in this country of Braille books produced in Great Britain.

Resolution 92-26 calls upon the Association for Handicapped Students Services Programs in Postsecondary Education to consult with the NFB to develop a policy on blindness that does not lump blind students with all other disabled students.

Resolution 92-27 demands that the Educational Testing Service comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Resolution 92-28 calls upon the General Services Administration to amend its rules so as to exempt blind federal employees from mandatory special requirements regarding building evacuations.

Resolution 92-29 calls upon the Internal Revenue Service to do local hiring and training of blind people.

Resolution 92-30 was withdrawn by its author.