[NFBOH-Cleveland] Urgent! It's Time To Let Your Voices Be Heard!
smturner.234 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 11 17:50:17 UTC 2020
Ohio Today Is The Day!
Please let your voices be heard today through telephone calls, and or emails to your Senator and Congressman. Although, we are not physically at the Washington Seminar, we can be just as powerful in our homes, at work or where ever you are. Pleas ask your family, friends and others to join you in this effort.
Let's Get The Job Done!
Eric, emailed all of the details below. If you can not recall all of the information, use the bill number, provide your zip code and name. We can help, by doing our part!
So, pick up that phone or turn on the computer, laptop or cell and get this done to support the largest organization for the blind in the United States.
Start your calls at 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM
If you need assistance, I will be available until noon tomorrow:
Call: (202) 226-8000 and ask for your Congressmen and Senator by name. They will transfer you; or go to the website and get their email addresses.
Our Ohio and entire membership are counting on us!
Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans: Priorities for the 116th Congress, Second Session The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives we want.
The Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA) Bill Number: (H.R. 2086/S. 815) The cost of critically needed access technology is out of reach for most blind Americans. By providing a refundable tax credit for qualifying purchases, Congress will stimulate individual procurement of this technology and promote affordability of these tools. Learn more about the Access Technology Affordability Act (ATAA) (H.R. 2086/S. 815).
The Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act Bill Number: (H.R. 3929) Advanced digital interfaces create barriers that prevent blind individuals from independently operating essential devices that enhance quality of life. Congress must end the digital divide that threatens the independence of blind Americans by developing minimum accessibility requirements for such devices. Learn more about the Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act (H.R. 3929).
The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act Bill Number: (H.R. 5312/S. 3095) Until a market-driven solution for accessible instructional materials is achieved, blind college students are denied access to critical course content. The AIM HIGH Act will remove these barriers to equality in the classroom by creating a set of guidelines that clearly define accessible instructional materials. Learn more about the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act (H.R. 5312/S. 3095).
THESE PRIORITIES WILL REMOVE OBSTACLES TO EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, AND INDEPENDENT LIVING. WE URGE CONGRESS TO SUPPORT OUR LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES.
Now Read In Detail:
Access Technology Affordability Act (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.
Blindness 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.
GOAL—IMPROVE AFFORDABILITY OF CRITICALLY NEEDED ACCESS TECHNOLOGY NECESSARY FOR EMPLOYMENT AND INDEPENDENT LIVING.
Cosponsor the Access Technology Affordability Act.
To cosponsor H.R. 2086 in the House of Representatives, contact:
Terri McField, Senior Counsel for Tax and Economic Policy for Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA)
Phone: 202-225-3311, Email: terri.mcfield 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
For more information, contact:
Kimie Eacobacci, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2441, Email: keacobacci at nfb.org, or visit www.nfb.org
 See 2017 American Community Survey, www.disabilitystatistics.org.
 Erickson, W., Lee, C., von Schrader, S. (2016). "Disability Statistics from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS)." Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute (EDI). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from www.disabilitystatistics.org.
 National Council on Disability, “Federal Policy Barriers to Assistive Technology,” (May 31, 2000) 8, http://www.ncd.gov/rawmedia_repository/c9e48e89_261b_4dda_bc74_203d5915519f.pdf.
 Assistive Technology Industry Associates, “AT Resources Funding Guide,” https://www.atia.org/at-resources/what-is-at/resources- funding-guide/ (last accessed December 10, 2018).
 See 26 U.S.C § 63(f)(4).
 See e.g. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research, “Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request,” https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget20/justifications/i-rehab.pdf, p. I-50.
Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act (H.R. 3929) Issue—Advanced digital interfaces create barriers that prevent blind individuals from independently operating essential devices that enhance the quality of life.
Home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment are becoming less and less accessible for blind Americans.
The rapid proliferation of advanced technology is undeniable. Most new stoves, glucose monitors, and treadmills now require that consumers interact with a digital display, flat panels, and other user interfaces. This new technology is inaccessible to blind individuals and creates a modern-day barrier. Inaccessibility is not a mere inconvenience; it threatens the safety, health, and independence of blind Americans. Advancements in technology have the potential to transform how people live in a society but are designed for those with no functional limitations. This flaw in product design limits options for blind Americans who need nonvisual access to important devices that are available to people without disabilities.
Nonvisual access is achievable, as demonstrated by a number of mainstream products.
Apple has incorporated VoiceOver (a text-to-speech function) into its touch-screen products, making the iPhone, iPod, and iPad fully accessible to blind people right out of the box. Virtually all ATMs manufactured in the United States are accessible, and every polling place provides a nonvisually accessible voting machine. Frequently, a simple audio output or vibrotactile feature can make a product fully accessible at minimal cost.
Current disability laws are not able to keep up with advancements in technology.
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 blind consumers’ right to access technology such as home use medical devices, home appliances, or fitness equipment. The National Council on Disability concluded that accessibility standards lag behind the rapid pace of technology, which can interfere with technology access. This trend of inaccessibility won’t improve if accessibility solutions are ignored. Only a fraction of manufacturers incorporate nonvisual access standards into their product design while others resist solutions.
Solution—Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act:
Calls on the Access Board to conduct a nonvisual access standard review.
The Access Board (an independent federal agency and leading source of information on accessible design) will review the current marketplace, consult with stakeholders and manufacturers, and will issue a report with findings and recommendations for a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment.
Establishes a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment.
The Access Board will issue a final rule, not later than thirty-six months after the date of enactment of the act, to establish a minimum nonvisual access standard for home use medical devices, home appliances, and fitness equipment. The standard will go into effect two years after the final rule.
Authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce the nonvisual access standards for home use medical devices.
Under its authority to ensure the safety, efficacy, and security of medical devices, the FDA will investigate and, when appropriate, assess civil penalties against manufacturers who fail to comply with the standard.
Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the nonvisual accessibility standards for home appliances and fitness equipment.
Under its authority to investigate and enforce consumer protection matters, the FTC will investigate and, when appropriate, assess civil penalties against manufacturers who fail to comply with the standard.
GOAL—END THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR BLIND AMERICANS.
Cosponsor the Greater Access and Independence Through Nonvisual Access Technology Act.
To cosponsor H.R. 3929 in the House of Representatives, contact:
Syd Terry, Legislative Director for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Phone: (202) 225-2111, Email: syd.terry at mail.house.gov
For more information, contact:
Stephanie Flynt, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2210
Email: sflynt at nfb.org
 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 https://ncd.gov/progressreport/2016/progress-report-october-2016.
 See Id.
 See Id.
Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act (H.R. 5312/S. 3095) Issue—Until a market-driven solution for accessible instructional materials is achieved, blind college students are denied access to critical course content.
Technology has fundamentally changed the education system.
The scope of instructional materials used at institutions of higher education has expanded. Curricular content comes in digital books, PDFs, webpages, etc., and most of this content is delivered through digital databases, learning management systems, and applications. The print world is inherently inaccessible to students with disabilities, but technology offers the opportunity to expand the circle of participation. There are currently seven million students with disabilities in grades K-12, and that number keeps growing. It is reasonable to presume that the number who go on to pursue postsecondary education is similarly trending upward.
Blind students are facing unlawful and overwhelming barriers to education.
Instead of fulfilling the promise of equal access, technology creates more problems when not developed with accessibility in mind. Data show that students with disabilities face a variety of challenges, including matriculation and college completion failure, solely because, in the absence of clear accessibility guidelines, colleges and universities are sticking with the ad-hoc accommodations model. Currently, schools deploy inaccessible technology and then create another version for blind students, usually weeks or even months into class, creating a “separate-but-equal” landscape with nearly impenetrable barriers. With only 30.5 percent of blind people being employed full-time year round, compared to 69.5 percent among people without disabilities, students with disabilities should not be denied access by the innovations that can ensure full participation.
Higher education institutions struggle to identify accessible material and comply with nondiscrimination laws.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act require schools to provide equal access, and in 2010, the US Departments of Justice and Education clarified that the use of inaccessible technology is prohibited under these laws. The 2011 AIM Commission recommended to Congress that accessibility guidelines be developed for postsecondary instructional materials. In the nine years since, over three dozen institutions have faced legal action for using inaccessible technology, and complaints are on the rise. Most litigation ends with a commitment from the school to embrace accessibility, but that commitment does little in a vast and uncoordinated higher education market.
Solution—Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act:
Develops accessibility guidelines for instructional materials used in postsecondary education.
A purpose-based commission is tasked with developing accessibility criteria for instructional materials and the delivery systems/technologies used to access those materials. Additionally, the commission is tasked with developing an annotated list of existing national and international standards so that schools and developers can identify what makes a product usable by the blind.
Provides a digital accessibility roadmap for institutions of higher education.
The guidelines developed by the commission will contain specific technical and functional criteria that will clearly illustrate how to make educational technologies usable by the blind and other students with print disabilities. Such criteria will be beneficial to procurement officers, informational technology staff, chief technology officers, and other key personnel at institutions of higher education.
Offers flexibility for schools while reiterating that pre-existing obligations still apply.
Colleges and universities are permitted to use material that does not conform to the guidelines as long as equal access laws are still honored. Conformity with the AIM HIGH guidelines is only one path to compliance; schools can pursue a different path but in doing so will forfeit the combined expertise of the relevant stakeholder communities involved in the development of the AIM HIGH guidelines.
GOAL—REMOVE BARRIERS TO EQUALITY IN THE CLASSROOM.
Cosponsor the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act.
To cosponsor H.R. 5312 in the House of Representatives, contact:
John Witherspoon, Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Dr. Phil Roe (R-TN)
Phone: 202-225-6356, Email: john.witherspoon at mail.house.gov
To cosponsor S. 3095 in the Senate, contact:
Alex Davidson, Legislative Correspondent for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Phone: 202-224-4543, Email: alex_davidson at warren.senate.gov
For more information, contact:
Stephanie Flynt, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: 410-659-9314, extension 2210, Email: sflynt at nfb.org, or visit www.nfb.org
 US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, “Children and Youth with Disabilities,” last updated May 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp
 Brand, B., Valent, A., Danielson, L., College & Career Readiness & Success Center American Institutes for Research, “Improving College and Career Readiness for Students with Disabilities,” 2013.
 “Report of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities.” (2011) 13
 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey, “The percentage of non-institutionalized persons aged 21-64 years with a visual disability in the United States who were employed full-time/full-year in 2017,” http://www.disabilitystatistics.org/reports/acs.cfm?statistic=4
 United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, “69.5 percent of people who worked in 2017 worked full time, year round,” December 20, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/69-point-5-percent-of-people-who-worked-in-2017-worked-full-time-year-round.htm
 Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and Department of Education Office of Civil Rights letter to College and University Presidents, June 29, 2010.
 “Report of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities.” (2011) 42, No. 1. Higher ED Accessibility Lawsuits, complaints, and settlements
 LaGrow, Martin. “From Accommodation to Accessibility: Creating a Culture of Inclusivity.” March 13, 2017. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/3/from-accommodation-to-accessibility-creating-a-culture-of-inclusivity?utm_source=Informz&utm_medium=Email+marketing&utm_campaign=ER.
 Information Technology Systems and Services, University of Minnesota Duluth, “Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits, Complaints, and Settlements,” https://www.d.umn.edu/~lcarlson/atteam/lawsuits.html.
 Government Accountability Office. “Education Needs a Coordinated Approach to Improve Its Assistance to Schools in Supporting Students.” Report to the Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives.10-33 (2009).
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