[NFBMO] 2021 Washington Seminar

cktisdal at charter.net cktisdal at charter.net
Thu Jan 14 23:10:54 UTC 2021

Hey Everyone, 


I have pasted a lot of information in this email.  I have all so attached the four Washington Seminar Fact Sheets to this email.  Please read over the material carefully! 



Washington Seminar Fact Sheets and Adjustment to Training Schedule:

Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s Washington Seminar training. The fact sheets for this year’s Washington Seminar issues (

Access Technology Affordability Act,

Medical Devices Nonvisual Accessibility Act,

Accessible Websites Act,

Accessible Voting Act)

are now posted to our website. Please note that we have made an adjustment in the 2021 Washington Seminar training schedule. The training on the new appointment

and rankings tool has now been rescheduled to Tuesday, January 26, at 8:00 p.m. In addition, we are adding two more optional meetings where you can learn

about the legislative issues for the 2021 Washington Seminar. The first of these trainings will be this Thursday, January 14, and the second will be Tuesday,

January 19. Meeting presenters are encouraged to attend at least one of these two meetings. The full schedule is below:

Thursday, January 14, 8:00 p.m. eastern – General issue review and questions – open to all meeting presenters

Tuesday, January 19, 8:00 p.m. eastern – General issue review and questions – open to all meeting presenters

Thursday, January 21, 8:00 p.m. eastern – Final issue review and mock meeting 

Tuesday, January 26, 8:00 p.m. eastern – Meeting appointments and appointment tool

Thursday, January 28, 8:00 p.m. eastern – Zoom moderator training

The Zoom link for all meetings is 


Note that members are encouraged to attend only one of the two general issue review and question meetings. In addition, it would be helpful if you have

studied the fact sheets before attending one of the meetings. 

Note; The Bill Numbers have been left on this Fact Sheet for U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to refer back to see the language.  


Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA) (H.R. 2086/S. 815)


Issue—The cost of critically needed access technology is out of reach for most blind Americans.

The high cost of access technology creates a difficult economic reality.

Most access technology ranges from $1,000 to $6,000. For example, a leading screen reader is $900, a popular Braille note taker is $5,495, one model of

a refreshable Braille display is $2,795, and a moderately priced Braille embosser is $3,695. According to the United States Census Bureau 69.5 percent

of blind Americans are either unemployed or underemployed.


Consequently, most blind Americans do not have sufficient financial resources needed to purchase these items.


 These financial barriers can ultimately lead to a loss of employment, insufficient education, or even isolation from community activities.

Medical insurance will not cover the cost of access technology.

Current definitions of "medical care," "medical necessity," and "durable medical equipment" within common insurance policies do not include access technology.

These definitions were adopted in the 1960s “when medical care was viewed primarily as curative 

and palliative, with little or no consideration given to increasing an individual's functional status.”



Many states’ Medicaid programs and individual health insurance plans have adopted similar definitions and likewise will not cover the cost of access technology



Access technology enables blind Americans to participate in today’s workforce.


is well-defined and measurable,



but affects each person differently and at different ages. Since individuals’ needs differ, manufacturers have designed various tools that enable each

blind American to perform tasks that they were once unable to accomplish themselves due to their blindness. Braille note takers are frequently used in

schools, screen reading software allows workers to check their email at home, and screen magnification software can help seniors losing vision learn about

community activities. Access technology equips blind Americans to seek employment and stay employed. For the 69.5 percent of blind Americans who are either

unemployed or underemployed, it is a vehicle that facilitates the job seeking process. Despite this critical need however, public and private entities

struggle to meet consumer demand



This leads to untimely delays in the delivery of necessary technology and ultimately harms the blind consumer.

Solution—Access Technology Affordability Act:

Makes access technology more affordable so that blind Americans can procure these items for themselves.

It establishes a refundable tax credit for blind Americans in the amount of $2,000 to be used over a three-year period to offset the cost of access technology.

The credit created by ATAA will sunset after five years and will be indexed for inflation.

Provides flexibility for individuals to obtain access technology based upon their specific needs.

Accessibility requires an individualized assessment of one’s own skills and needs. Therefore, blind Americans should be given the opportunity to procure

access technology on their own to ensure that they are receiving the tools that are most useful for them.

Will increase federal income tax revenue.

More blind Americans working means more people paying taxes. It also means that those blind Americans who obtain gainful employment through this tax credit

will no longer need to draw from federal programs such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance and will instead be paying

into the Social Security Program.


Cosponsor the Access Technology Affordability Act.

To cosponsor H.R. 2086 in the House of Representatives, contact:

Crozer Conner, Contact for Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA)


crozer.conner at mail.house.gov <mailto:crozer.conner at mail.house.gov>  

To cosponsor S. 815 in the Senate, contact:

Ryan Losak, Legislative Aide for Senator John Boozman (R-AR)

Phone: 202-224-4843, Email: 

Ryan_Losak at boozman.senate.gov <mailto:Ryan_Losak at boozman.senate.gov> 

For more information, contact:

Jeff Kaloc, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind 

Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2206, Email: 

jkaloc at nfb.org <mailto:jkaloc at nfb.org> , or

visit www.nfb.org <http://www.nfb.org>  


Fact Sheet: Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act


Issue--Advanced digital interfaces create barriers that prevent blind individuals from independently and safely operating home-use medical devices that

are essential to their daily healthcare needs.


Home-use medical devices are becoming more prevalent and less accessible for blind Americans. The rapid proliferation of advanced technology is undeniable.

Most newer models of home-use medical devices, such as glucose and blood pressure monitors, along with the emergence of in-home devices that offer medical

care options, such as chemotherapy treatments and dialysis, require that consumers interact with a digital display or other interfaces. This new technology

has been and continues to be developed and deployed without nonvisual accessibility as an integral part of the design phase, which creates a modern-day

barrier. The inaccessibility of home-use medical devices is not a mere inconvenience; if accessibility for blind consumers is omitted from the medical

technology landscape, the health, safety, and independence of blind Americans will be in imminent danger.

Advancements in home-use medical devices have the potential to transform how people live in society but are currently designed for those with no functional

limitations.1 This flaw in product design limits options for blind Americans who need nonvisual access to critically important devices that help them to

maintain their health and are available to people without disabilities.2

Nonvisual access is achievable, as demonstrated by a number of mainstream products. Apple has incorporated VoiceOver (a text-to-speech function) into all

of their products, making iPhones, Macbooks and Mac desktops, and iPads fully accessible to blind people right out of the box. Virtually all ATMs manufactured

in the United States are accessible, and every polling place is required to have a nonvisually accessible voting machine. Frequently, a simple audio output

or vibrotactile feature can make a product fully accessible at little to no additional cost for manufacturers.

Current disability laws are not able to keep up with advancements due to the expeditious evolution of medical technology and its incorporation into home-use

medical devices. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws require physical accessibility for people with disabilities (e.g., wheelchair

ramps, Braille in public buildings), no laws protect the blind consumer’s right to technology such as home-use medical devices. The National Council on

Disability concluded that accessibility standards lag behind the rapid pace of technology, which can interfere with technology access.3 This trend of inaccessibility

will continue if accessibility solutions are ignored. Only a fraction of medical device manufacturers have incorporated nonvisual access standards into

their product design, while others continue to resist these solutions.

Solution--Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act:

Calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promulgate nonvisual accessibility standards for home-use medical devices. The FDA will consult with

stakeholders with disabilities and manufacturers and issue a notice of proposed rulemaking no later than twelve months after the date of enactment of the

act. No later than 24 months after the date of enactment of the act, the FDA will publish the final rule including the nonvisual accessibility standards.

Requires manufacturers of home-use medical devices to make their products nonvisually accessible. Manufacturers will have twelve months following the publication

of the final rule to ensure that all of the home-use medical devices they produce are nonvisually accessible. 

Authorizes the FDA to enforce the nonvisual access standards for home-use medical devices. Any manufactured device found to be out of compliance, whether

by a public complaint to the FDA or by an independent FDA investigation, will incur the same penalties as failing to meet the same safety standards as

other home-use medical devices.


Cosponsor the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act

For more information, contact:

Stephanie Flynt, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2210


sflynt at nfb.org <mailto:sflynt at nfb.org> 


1 See NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITIES, National Disability Policy Progress Report: Technology that enables access to the full opportunities of citizenship

under the Constitution is a right at 19 (October 7, 2016), available at 



Fact Sheet: Accessible Voting Act


Issue--The constitutionally protected right to vote that is available to all Americans is inaccessible for blind Americans.

Current federal election law does not reflect the guarantee of equal access to voting for people with disabilities that is codified in Title II of the

Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. §12132). The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) ensures that polling locations for federal elections have at least

one voting system accessible to individuals with disabilities.1 However, the ballots produced by many of the accessible voting machines are different in

size and content from the hand marked ballots, resulting in a lack of secrecy when only voters with disabilities use the accessible machines.

Untrained poll workers, voting machine malfunctions, and the lack of accessible voting machines in polling places prevent blind and low-vision voters from

fully exercising their right to vote. The blind and low-vision voter survey conducted by the National Federation of the Blind following the 2016 and 2018

general elections2 found that 66 percent of blind and low-vision voters who voted using an accessible voting machine said the machine was not set up and

operating when they arrived at the polls. One-third of the voters who completed the survey in 2016 and 2018 said that poll workers had problems setting

up or operating the machine. Twenty-one percent of survey respondents in 2018 who marked their ballot using an accessible machine said that poll workers

did not provide clear instructions on how to use the machine. 

Paper absentee ballots cannot be completed privately and independently by blind voters. An accessible way for blind, low-vision, or other print-disabled

voters to privately and independently mark their ballots must be provided, as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and affirmed

by federal courts.3 4 However, blind and print-disabled voters cannot mark and submit a paper absentee or vote-by-mail ballot privately and independently.

For the 2020 general election, only twenty-six states provided an accessible way for blind voters to mark an absentee ballot.5 

Paper voter registration and absentee ballot request forms are inaccessible to blind voters. Due to the inherent inaccessibility of paper forms, blind

and low-vision voters must complete these forms with assistance. In addition, many online versions of these forms are inaccessible with screen-access technology.

A 2015 report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that in 2014, only one state had an online voter registration form that was fully accessible.6 

Additionally, a 2020 audit of online absentee ballot request forms by Deque Systems found that forty-three states had forms that were not fully accessible.7 


Solution--Accessible Voting Act will:

Ensure that in-person voting is accessible for blind and low-vision voters, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation

(including privacy and independence) as for other voters. Registering to vote and voting must require the exclusive use of accessible and universally designed

processes, including electronic ballot marking devices for all voters. Ballot marking devices require the same security that other forms of voting require

to ensure the process is safe and fair, and the use of ballot marking devices at polling locations allows blind and print disabled Americans to submit

their ballots both privately and independently. 

Require the education of state and local election officials and poll workers in the setup and operation of the machines, including accessibility features.

At a minimum, poll worker training should include instruction on how to navigate through the audio ballot, how low-vision features operate, and how to

address potential problems with the nonvisual election technology on Election Day. There must be enough in-person voting locations to make it practical

and reasonable to use this option. In addition, it is equally important to ensure that the process for registering to vote is nonvisually accessible (including

certification and signature requirements). 

Require that vote-by-mail ballots and related voting materials (including voter registration) in elections must be accessible for blind and low-vision

individuals. It is important to establish that the process for requesting, filling out (including certification and signature requirements), and submitting

a vote-by-mail ballot is nonvisually accessible, including electronic ballot delivery and return. Offering an accessible electronic ballot delivery system

can provide these voters with an equal opportunity to mark their ballot privately and independently at home using a computer and their own access technology. 


Cosponsor the Accessible Voting Act

For more information, contact:

Jeff Kaloc, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2206 Email: 

jkaloc at nfb.org <mailto:jkaloc at nfb.org> 

Fact Sheet: Accessible Websites Act


Issue--Websites are required by law to be accessible, but without implementing regulations most businesses and retailers have little understanding of what

accessible means.


Websites and mobile applications are an essential part of modern living. More than 313 million Americans use the internet,1 and 81 percent of Americans

say that they access the internet at least once each day.2 That means that nearly the entire country is accessing websites and mobile applications every

day. However, the need to access websites and mobile applications doesn’t stop when it reaches Americans with disabilities. According to the American Community

Survey, conducted by the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately forty million Americans who currently have a disability.3 Based on the numbers

above, it is more than reasonable to assume that the vast majority of them are using websites and mobile applications. 

The Department of Justice announced its intention to publish accessible website regulations more than a decade ago. On July 26, 2010, the twentieth anniversary

of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the government published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to address website accessibility.4 

After that initial announcement, no further action was taken to substantially advance website accessibility. 

The past few years have seen a significant increase in the prevalence of so-called “click-by” lawsuits. Businesses are required by law to make their websites

accessible but claim to have no clear-cut definition of what “accessible” actually means. Meanwhile, people with disabilities must cope with inaccessible

websites. ADA Title III lawsuits, which include website accessibility suits, hit record numbers in 2019, topping 11,000 for the first time.5  The number

of lawsuits has been increasing steadily since 2013, when the figure was first tracked.6  

Solution--Accessible Websites Act will:

Direct the US Access Board to promulgate accessibility regulations. The US Access Board will have 12 months following the enactment of the legislation

to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding website and mobile application accessibility, then an additional 12 months to issue the final rule. 

Promulgate standards that strive to harmonize with Section 508 standards. The Section 508 standards promulgated by the US Access Board on January 18, 2017,

are established guidelines for website and technology accessibility. Therefore, the regulations promulgated by the Access Board should harmonize with these


Empower the Department of Justice to investigate the accessibility of websites and mobile applications. Either of its own volition or via a logged complaint

pertaining to inaccessibility, the Department of Justice will have the authority to investigate accessibility concerns and commence civil action if necessary. 


Sponsor the Accessible Websites Act

For more information, contact:

Jeff Kaloc, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2206


jkaloc at nfb.org <mailto:jkaloc at nfb.org> 



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