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2017 Resolutions

The official policy statements of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the state convention.

The resolutions committee meets early during the convention. Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.

RESOLUTION 2017-01: Regarding Commending the Henry Ford Museum

WHEREAS, for nearly a century the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village have been places where innovation and technology are collected and displayed to tell the story of American ingenuity and technology; and

WHEREAS, a hallmark of the National Federation of the Blind is our innovative and dogged approach to creating opportunities to live the lives we want through innovations, such as the KNFB Reader, the “Long White Cane,” and uncounted collaborations with inventors and manufacturers to provide products and services to provide access for blind persons to all facets of American life; and

WHEREAS, the Henry Ford has reached out to the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan to include us in its efforts to improve accessibility for blind people of all ages and interests to its programs and collections; and

WHEREAS, such efforts include dedicated tours to solicit and utilize input from blind people, special efforts to create accessible topical events for Sensesational Adventures in Summer Science’s weather-oriented tour in the summer of 2017, an action-packed tour of the Rouge assembly facility in 2016, and inclusion of members of the National Federation of the Blind in training videos for The Henry Ford staff and visitors; and

WHEREAS, these efforts have resulted in measurably improved access for blind people to the museum and Greenfield Village: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization commend The Henry Ford for its efforts to make its facilities, programs and education fully accessible to blind persons and include the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan in these efforts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, recognizing that this is an ongoing and continuing work-in-process, that this organization encourages The Henry Ford Museum to continue these efforts as a permanent part of all developmental process in planning and that this process has as its goal maximum access to all programs, artifacts and educational programs of the organization.

RESOLUTION 2017-02: Regarding Braille Literacy Regulations

WHEREAS, after a 12-year effort, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan was successful in 2000in getting the Michigan Legislature to pass a Braille Literacy Law, known as the “blind pupil's Braille literacy law”; and

WHEREAS, there is still a profound low rate of blind children learning Braille; and

WHEREAS, National statistics demonstrate that there is a very high correlation between Braille usage and employment; and

WHEREAS, there is a persistent, pervasive and pernicious 70% unemployment rate among blind persons; and

WHEREAS, increasing the rate of Braille literacy among blind persons in Michigan would provide an effective and proven means of improving the likelihood of successful employment for blind persons; and

WHEREAS, Michigan law states in part:

Sec. 1704.

“(1) This section shall be known and may be cited as the “blind pupil's Braille literacy law”.
(2) The department shall adopt Braille reading and writing standards for teachers of blind and visually impaired pupils and shall disseminate these standards to all school districts, intermediate school districts, and teacher preparation programs. These standards shall be included in the rules governing special education programs and services. In establishing these standards, the department shall consider the standards adopted by the national library service for the blind and physically handicapped of the United States library of congress…”; and

WHEREAS, to date, the Michigan Department of education has not promulgated rules or adopted standards per section 2 above; and

WHEREAS, the lack of regulations providing specific expectations and standards creates a patchwork of school districts with varying policies, practices and outcomes with regard to adequate Braille instruction for blind students in the state of Michigan and does not provide leadership or guidance to teacher preparation programs: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization call upon the Michigan Department of education to act in all due haste to work with the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan to promulgate regulations implementing Act 451 380.1704 “Blind Pupil's Braille Literacy Law”.

Resolution 2017-03: Regarding Open Meetings with the BSBP

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan was instrumental in accomplishing the passage of Public Act 260 of 1978 which established the Michigan Commission for the Blind to provide blind persons participation in the provision of rehabilitation and other services to blind persons by the state of Michigan; and

WHEREAS, this law reads in part:
". . . Act 260 of 1978
393.365 Conducting business at public meeting; notice; availability of writings to the public.
Sec. 15.
(1) The business which the commission or any committee appointed under this act may perform shall be conducted at a public meeting of the commission or committee held in compliance with Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.261 to 15.275 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. Public notice of the time, date, and place of the meeting shall be given in the manner required by Act No. 267 of the Public Acts of 1976.
(2) A writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by the commission in the performance of an official function shall be made available to the public in compliance with Act No. 442 of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.231 to 15.246 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.
History:
1978, Act 260, Eff. Oct. 1, 1978
Compiler's Notes:
For transfer of powers and duties of the commission for the blind from the family independence agency, or its director, to the department of labor and economic growth, or its director, by Type II transfer, see E.R.O. No. 2003-1, compiled at MCL 445.2011. For transfer of powers and duties of commission for the blind to bureau of services for blind persons within department of licensing and regulatory affairs, see E.R.O. No. 2012-5, compiled at MCL 445.2033.
© 2017 Legislative Council, State of Michigan . . ."; and

WHEREAS, in his Executive Order, Governor Rick Snyder replaced the 5-person Commission Board with a 7-person “Advisory Board,” also appointed by the Governor; and

WHEREAS, the Executive Order did not exempt any portion of the Bureau of Services to Blind Persons from the Open Meetings Act nor Michigan Public Act 260 of 1978; and

WHEREAS, the Governor appointed Advisory Committee has been meeting in private with no minutes or other notices or announcements required under Michigan law; and

WHEREAS, such actions subject the Bureau of Services to Blind Persons to possible legal actions and penalties; and

WHEREAS, closed meetings deprive the public, in this case, blind persons, of our right to have access to the decision making process of the agency and to have a formal means of raising concerns or requesting policy clarification or change which effect delivery of services to assist with vocational training, access to libraries, services for deaf/blind persons and senior citizens; and

WHEREAS, maintaining an open and transparent agency is in the interest of all citizens of our state and particularly members of the national Federation of the Blind of Michigan: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization demands that all future meetings of the Bureau of Services to Blind Persons Advisory Committee be open with all the requirements of Michigan’s Open meetings law including publication of the time and date and agenda of such meetings in sufficient time for citizens to fully participate; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization empower our president to take any legal or administrative action to enforce the law in the future and to seek any redress of past violations of the law.

Resolution 2017-04: Regarding Training Centers

WHEREAS, a quality orientation and adjustment center is the heart of any good vocational rehabilitation program; and

WHEREAS, every VR counselor should work to make each new customer aware of the enormous benefits to be gained through enrollment and participation in such a program; and

WHEREAS, the VR customer who has received personal empowerment from a cutting edge NFB center has a markedly higher chance for vocational success than the norm. He or she has the knowledge necessary to make sound life choices and the power to make those choices stick; and

WHEREAS, given proper training, the average blind person--not merely those some observers mistakenly perceive as the super blind--can compete on terms of complete equality with his or her sighted peers and can become a tax-payer rather than a tax user; and

WHEREAS, the fundamental and primary outcome of such training is to provide blind people the confidence in their abilities as a blind person to achieve personal success as they define it. The definition of success for each individual must be based on their belief in themselves and be predicated on the idea that it is not blindness which will determine their own personal success; and

WHEREAS, over 60 years of experience operating orientation and adjustment centers for the blind, the NFB has conclusively demonstrated that the most effective Adjustment to Blindness training programs in the U.S. require 6 to 9 months of intensive training including Braille, Cane Travel, Daily Living and Shop; and

WHEREAS, the Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons Training Center structure is segmented into short bursts of skill oriented classes. Such an approach may provide some proficiency in a given area, but will not lead to a comprehensive accumulation of skills and abilities and a philosophy of blindness which will routinely and predictably lead to optimum success for individual blind persons; and

WHEREAS, the Bureau of Services for Blind persons has a new director with, apparently, more progressive and optimistic attitudes towards blindness; and

WHEREAS, this change of leadership toward a more positive attitude of blindness affords an opportunity to re-evaluate and reform programs within the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons; and

WHEREAS, the national Federation of the Blind is optimist and encouraged by this opportunity and we have the experience of thousands of people over decades in operating successful training programs for blind persons. The NFB of Michigan would embrace the possibility of partnering with the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons to develop a world-class philosophy based training program modeled on NFB training centers and proven over more than 60 years of experience to provide confidence and a belief in the abilities of blind people to be successful regardless of their blindness: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization call upon the Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind persons to begin the process of creating a 6-9 month training program which will train individuals’ in the skills of blindness and empower each student with beliefs in their personal abilities to live and work as first-class citizens in their fields of choice.

Resolution 2017-05: Regarding Accessible Voting

WHEREAS, universal suffrage, the hard-won right of every citizen to vote freely and secretly, is the bedrock upon which our society functions; and

WHEREAS, the “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) has greatly strengthened these rights by requiring voting officials to take all necessary steps to see that all voters including blind and otherwise disabled voters receive a fully accessible secret and unified voting experience; and

WHEREAS, since the implementation of HAVA, we have made great progress in the development and use of accessible voting machines; and

WHEREAS, the process of voter verification, the process by which a voter is deemed eligible or ineligible to vote, remains largely inaccessible to us; and

WHEREAS, the VOTEC corporation is developing the first fully accessible election pole book, which will make voter verification both accessible to blind and otherwise disabled voters; and

WHEREAS, VOTEC is sharing its “proof of concept” with the National Federation of the Blind and seeking our input in its development: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization call upon all election officials to use accessible election pole books as soon as they become available; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we commend the VOTEC Corporation for their work in this area and their collaboration with the National Federation of the blind and call upon other manufacturers of voting technology to do likewise.

Resolution 2017-06: Regarding Braille Instruction

WHEREAS, blind people know that braille is the only reliable means of establishing full and permanent literacy for blind persons; and

WHEREAS, 70% of blind persons are unemployed, but 90% of those who are employed are braille readers; and

WHEREAS, for these reasons, blind people have organized and caused both the United States Congress and the Michigan legislature to pass laws mandating that blind and visually impaired students WILL be taught braille; and

WHEREAS, parents of blind children across the state have demanded that their children receive instruction in Braille and be educated in an age-appropriate manner, only to be told by their respective school districts that the districts lack sufficient personnel and resources to provide those services, thereby denying a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to many blind students in Michigan; and

WHEREAS, numerous attempts have been made by members of the Michigan Parents of Blind Children division of the NFB of Michigan (MiPOBC) to build a partnership with the Michigan Board of Education, and strengthen the quality of the education provided to our blind and visually impaired children in Michigan, only to be disappointed by an absolute lack of positive action; and

WHEREAS, the parents of blind and visually impaired children in Michigan are tired of the endless excuses and flat out denial of braille instruction which denies lifelong literacy to our children such as:

  1. Insisting on artificial acuity measurements as opposed to functional evaluation of students’ capabilities; and
  2. Maintaining the use of pre-braille at the expense of actual braille instruction.

Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization demand that the Michigan State Board of Education enforce existing state and federal law by directing and holding accountable all intermediate school districts and their employees to teach blind and visually impaired students braille; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that that this organization insist the Michigan Department of Education, its Superintendent and all staff charged with assuring excellent outcomes for blind children, to partner with the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan and the MiPOBC, the Parents of Blind Children division, in order to educate Michigan’s district administrators and teachers about the true abilities of blind persons, the usefulness and continued applicability of Braille and the ease with which it is learned.

Resolution 2017-07: Regarding Accessible Voting Machines and Equipment

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan recognizes the importance of providing blind and visually impaired people the right to cast a fully private and independent ballot by supporting the adoption and implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002; and

WHEREAS, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 enables blind voters and other voters with disabilities to exercise their right to vote privately and independently at each polling location by requiring at least one voting system accessible to individuals with disabilities in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation in the voting process including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired; and

WHEREAS, the state of Michigan recently completed the process of evaluating and certifying new voting machines and equipment to replace aging voting machines and equipment purchased over ten years ago to comply with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002; and

WHEREAS, the State of Michigan concluded that three different voting machines and equipment were deemed to comply with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 including Dominion, Hart, and ES&S that could be purchased by each county in Michigan; and

WHEREAS, a majority of the counties in Michigan purchased voting machines and equipment from either Dominion or Hart which were not deemed to be fully accessible to blind and visually impaired voters during a mock election where all three voting machines and equipment were on display to be tested by voters in Michigan; and

WHEREAS, Blind and visually impaired voters who live in the counties where the Dominion or Hart voting machines and equipment were purchased were not able to exercise their right to vote privately and independently in the same manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation in the voting process during the August primary election as called upon in the Help America Vote Act of 2002: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization condemn and deplore the certification of voting machines and equipment that are not fully accessible to blind and visually impaired voters by the Michigan Bureau of Elections and the Secretary of State of Michigan, and the purchase of voting machines and equipment that are not fully accessible to blind and visually impaired voters by county clerks; and

BE It FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take any and all necessary actions to ensure blind and visually impaired voters in Michigan can exercise their right to vote privately and independently in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation in the voting process as called upon in the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Resolution 2017-08: Regarding Equal Access to Higher Education

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan declared that access to all aspects of the educational experiences of blind and visually impaired college students should be accessible by supporting the adoption and implementation of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act; and

WHEREAS, Blind and visually impaired college students continue to encounter barriers in receiving access to educational experiences despite supporting the adoption and implementation of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act; and

WHEREAS, the adoption and implementation of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act is slow in gaining adoption and implementation by the United States Congress; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan prides itself in being the oldest and largest consumer organization of blind and visually impaired people within the state of Michigan providing advocacy assistance to blind and visually impaired people within the state of Michigan including blind and visually impaired college students: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan, in Convention assembled, this fifth day of November, 2017, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, that this organization provide adequate advocacy assistance to blind and visually impaired college students in the state of Michigan who encounter barriers in any part of the educational experience in a timely manner; and

BE It FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization provide technical assistance and support to colleges and universities in the state of Michigan to help them understand what it means to provide equal access to educational experiences to blind and visually impaired college students, and

BE It FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take an active role to create a positive environment for fostering equal access to the educational experience of blind and visually impaired college students in the state of Michigan by joining and participating in educational boards, committees, study groups, commissions, or similar forums created to manage or improve higher education.

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