Resolutions 2016

American Council of the Blind 2016 Resolutions

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Note: This publication reflects the resolutions which were adopted by the convention.  Below are the links to the summaries of the 2016 resolutions as well as links to the full text of each.  You may also choose the "printer-friendly version" link at the end for a full document of all resolutions.

2016 Resolutions Summaries

Two resolutions were referred to ACB bodies: 2016-20 to the information access committee, and 2016-22 to the board of directors. They are not included in this compilation.
 
Resolution 2016-01 urges the Federal Communications Commission to substantially expand the number of hours of audio-described TV programming required per calendar quarter; increase the number of networks required to offer described programming and the designated markets in which audio description must be provided; propose and issue regulations requiring the designation of a dedicated digital audio stream only for audio description; and exercise all appropriate authority to foster the creation of, set standards for, and monitor the quality of a centralized described TV programming listing to ensure that information about audio-described programming is on par with information about captioned TV.
 
Resolution 2016-02 directs ACB to urge the U.S. Congress and state legislatures to protect the integrity of assessments conducted by teachers of the visually impaired by rejecting calls which expressly or impliedly require the use of the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) or any other single specific assessment tool or technique to determine the learning or literacy needs of all students who are blind or visually impaired; encourage state chapters and affiliates of this organization to advocate for appropriate assessments that honor students’ unique needs for reasonable accommodations and which recognize the diversity of learning and literacy characteristics inherent in the heterogeneous population of students with vision loss; and call upon the U.S. Congress to promptly enact the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act.
 
Resolution 2016-03 directs ACB to repudiate any effort to alter or modify the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s existing braille provisions that would in any way impair IDEA’s currently uncompromising approach to the provision of braille, and reaffirm its unwavering commitment to see low-vision services and devices get their due recognition in federal special education law so that all students who should benefit from such services and devices can finally receive them.
 
Resolution 2016-04 expresses ACB’s deep concern over the division of the United States into two codes for mathematical teaching, and directs the organization to urge every state to make clear in their policies and procedures that there will be provisions to protect access to mathematical instruction in the code to which the student is accustomed, even if that code is not the one in use in that state. It also encourages the Braille Authority of North America to monitor the effectiveness of both codes over the next five years so that BANA may be able to make a definitive decision about which code appears to offer the most effective approach to teaching and learning mathematics.
 
Resolution 2016-05 expresses ACB’s profound frustration and disappointment with the Obama Administration for its failure to be responsive to Americans with vision loss who, for more than a decade, have been calling for much-needed regulatory clarification of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s application to online-only places of public accommodation, and directs ACB to reach out to the major party candidates for President of the United States to communicate our demand that, within the first six months of the new presidency, issuance of regulations clarifying that online-only places of public accommodation are nevertheless ADA-covered entities with Internet accessibility obligations must be achieved.
 
Resolution 2016-06 expresses ACB’s support for any and all efforts to allow the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to provide equipment to patrons for use with each of the formats produced by NLS; and urges Congress to promptly enact H.R. 5227, pending legislation to authorize NLS to offer digital braille reading equipment enabling all NLS patrons to have access to free library service in braille.
 
Resolution 2016-07 directs ACB to take all appropriate steps to persuade and/or compel the Social Security Administration, and agencies of the federal government generally, to ensure the availability of accessible in-person information and benefits kiosks or computerized systems that comply with Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
 
Resolution 2016-08 directs ACB to contact each of the commissioners and the principal staff of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and demand that the Commission include in its reasonable accommodations document complete and appropriate guidance on assistive technology accommodations for federal employees who are blind or who have low vision.
 
Resolution 2016-09 expresses ACB’s belief that the residents of southern California who are blind or visually impaired deserve to enjoy the same access to PBS television as their sighted neighbors and friends, and urges PBS So-Cal to purchase the necessary equipment to fulfill its public interest obligation to provide audio description.
 
Resolution 2016-10 directs ACB to pursue any and all appropriate legal remedies to address the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ inaccessible communications (letters, statements, applications, eligibility determinations, etc.).
 
Resolution 2016-11 expresses support for teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) with vision loss who frequently face disability discrimination in hiring and advancement, and directs ACB to call upon state and/or local education agencies to provide driver assistance to TVIs with vision loss for whom such a reasonable accommodation is appropriate.
 
Resolution 2016-12 directs ACB to promote, through the public policy process, the availability and fiscal health of existing and new assistive technology low-interest loan programs; and consider and collaborate, as appropriate, with other strategic partners to achieve means for building or strengthening private sector commercial or nonprofit low-interest loan programs for people with disabilities.
 
Resolution 2016-13 directs ACB, in partnership with like-minded organizations of and for people with vision loss, to develop and execute a public policy agenda, including but not limited to model legislation, executive actions, and industry stakeholder negotiations, with the goal of making sure that no personal medical device remains inaccessible and unusable by people who are blind or visually impaired.
 
Resolution 2016-14 directs ACB’s officers, board of directors and staff to pursue all appropriate strategies to achieve harmonization of the United States Department of Transportation’s service animal regulations with those of the United States Department of Justice.
 
Resolution 2016-15 directs ACB to urge its individual members, chapters and affiliates to be aware of national, state, and local ballot races and initiatives, and to reach out to candidates to discuss the policy priorities that are important to each of us.
 
Resolution 2016-16 directs ACB to ensure that all contracts entered into by this organization with hotels reflect the hotel’s compliance with braille signage requirements, and take such additional steps as are necessary to make signage usable and comprehensible by people who are blind or visually impaired participating in meetings of this organization.
 
Resolution 2016-17 expresses ACB’s belief that there is a need for additional research concerning best practices in the design and utilization of audible countdown features, and that, in the absence of additional credible research to the contrary, ACB supports the provision of audible countdown information, and encourages that research focused on this subject be directed toward determining the most effective ways to efficiently convey countdown information, rather than whether audible countdown should be eliminated.
 
Resolution 2016-18 expresses ACB’s belief that it is urgent to immediately challenge the Freestyle vending machine technology to include accessibility elements; both the touch-screen kiosk and the app should be independently usable by people who are blind or have low vision. It also instructs ACB’s leadership to make contact with these companies and with associations in the food industry so that standards may be developed and implemented as this new generation of automated kiosks is rolled out.
 
Resolution 2016-19 directs ACB to ask Facebook to refine its automated picture description mechanism to create descriptions which contain specific details of pictorial elements, and to develop a mechanism to prompt Facebook members who post pictures and other visual media to attach accompanying descriptions.
 
Resolution 2016-21 directs ACB to establish a high-level committee, in consultation with industry and utilizing the relationships that ACB has assiduously and productively built up over the years, to explore the feasibility of creating an intensive training academy designed to train suitable people with limited or no vision for mainstream technology careers.
 
Resolution 2016-23 thanks the management and staff of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis for their first-class hospitality.
 
Resolution 2016-24 thanks the Minnesota host committee and the members of ACB of Minnesota for their hard work and warm welcome to Minneapolis.
 
Resolution 2016-25 thanks all volunteers who worked to assist the attendees of the 2016 ACB convention.

Resolution 2016-01

ACB’s Imperatives Regarding Audio Description, Accessible Video Equipment, and the CVAA
Resolution 2016-01
 
Whereas, the historic Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and its implementing regulations promise a revolution in the use and enjoyment of digital TV through audio description and accessible video equipment; and
 
Whereas, current law requires only a small number of television networks to carry a few hours of audio-described programming per quarter, amounting to a fraction of all TV programming available; and
 
Whereas, nearly 100% of all available TV programming is currently closed captioned, while only a tiny proportion of programming is being described today; and
 
Whereas, in some cases, instead of creating new audio-described material, old programs and movies are simply being repeated by certain networks; and
 
Whereas, the multiplicity of TV programming delivery methods available today has the potential to exponentially increase the demand for audio description; and
 
Whereas, producers and distributors of TV programming have told audio description advocates for decades that, if we would just be patient, the proliferation of digital TV delivery systems would naturally ensure the availability and designation of a specific digital audio stream for description; and
 
Whereas, even with the current technical capacity for twelve such available channels, to date there has been no meaningful industry effort to move toward the designation of a single channel reserved for audio description; and
 
Whereas, a designated description channel would allow for the creation of a single shortcut key or command that could be standardized on every delivery system to reliably actuate audio-described programming whenever such programming is available; and
 
Whereas, such a designation would also no longer require audio description to needlessly compete with second language audio services, which occurs today for those programs where secondary language takes precedence over description; and
 
Whereas, as the demand for audio description grows, whether in theaters, on television or via the myriad of other consumer choices, viewers who are blind or who have low vision have an increasingly urgent need for complete, accurate and timely information about what described content is being offered and how and where it can be enjoyed; and
 
Whereas, while for more than a decade, there has been a commitment to ensure that all captioned programs are accurately listed in a timely fashion, there is no comparable centralized listing of described TV content available today; and
 
Whereas, the CVAA has allowed the cable and satellite industries a more-than-generous time line to develop and distribute set-top boxes that are accessible; and
 
Whereas, by the end of 2016, providers are expected to have such equipment ready and available to their customers; and
 
Whereas, one provider, Comcast, has already demonstrated that development and distribution of an accessible solution is categorically achievable by making the “Talking Guide” and other components available today; and
 
Whereas, the more than 21 million American consumers with vision loss who could benefit from such accessible equipment have already had to wait an unconscionably long time for the simple dignity and pleasure of being able to independently choose television programs and to enjoy them with audio description; and
 
Whereas, a serious problem exists today with DVD players or DVD recordings in that it is currently impossible for people who are blind or who have low vision to easily select the audio description track on a DVD; and
 
Whereas, both the CVAA and the Federal Communications Commission’s ancillary jurisdiction surely vest the FCC with proper authority to address this issue;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 4th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization strongly urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to:

  • Substantially expand the number of hours of audio-described TV programming required per calendar quarter;
  • Increase the number of networks required to offer described programming and the designated markets in which audio description must be provided;
  • Propose and issue regulations requiring the designation of a dedicated digital audio stream only for audio description; and

Be it further resolved that this organization strongly urge the FCC to exercise all appropriate authority to foster the creation of, set standards for, and monitor the quality of a centralized described TV programming listing to ensure that information about audio-described programming is on par with information about captioned TV; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization ask the FCC to encourage and support the establishment of a centralized supplemental resource listing all audio-described content, including content made available in movie theaters, on DVDs, or through Internet streaming services; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization declare to the FCC our firm conviction that there is absolutely no justifiable rationale for granting any industry-proposed waivers or extensions to come into compliance with the FCC’s accessible cable and satellite equipment rules taking effect at the end of this year; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization is prepared and stands ready to assist its members, chapters and affiliates to file complaints with the FCC as early as January 2017, against any cable or satellite provider, or any other covered entity, which is failing to comply with the CVAA and which consequently should be subject to the full weight of the CVAA’s penalties; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization is prepared to take all appropriate actions to ensure that the FCC enforce the requirements of Section 204 of the CVAA to compel manufacturers of DVD players to make their user interfaces accessible, including assuring that audio description tracks can be accessed independently by people who are blind or visually impaired; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization, through its elected and staff leadership and its Audio Description Project, remains ready and willing to work in amicable partnership with any and all industry stakeholders desiring to assess the accessibility and usability of solutions for any of the matters discussed herein which they may be considering or they may wish to propose.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-02

Appropriate Learning Media Assessments
Resolution 2016-02
 
Whereas, to meet the diverse literacy and learning needs of the heterogeneous population of students with vision loss, teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) must be prepared to provide instruction in and use of braille, instruction in print with or without optical and/or electronic devices, and instruction in dual media; and
 
Whereas, students who are blind or visually impaired (including those students who may have additional disabilities) should be appropriately evaluated to assess their individual learning media needs; and
 
Whereas, TVIs must have access to an array of assessment tools and techniques so that TVIs can tailor evaluations of students’ learning media needs to students’ unique characteristics, skill levels and other individual factors (including needs for appropriate lighting, contrast, and other low vision-related needs, etc.); and
 
Whereas, requiring the use of a single specific assessment would put students at risk inasmuch as TVIs’ ability to tailor assessments for any particular student would be needlessly restricted; and
 
Whereas, assessments conducted by TVIs should be research-based, data-driven, and validated; and
 
Whereas, there are currently no assessments available to TVIs that meet these exacting scientific standards for evidence; and
 
Whereas, frameworks for learning media assessments commonly used by TVIs today are nevertheless based upon best practices in the field; and
 
Whereas, the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) is fundamentally flawed because its administration requires that all students be evaluated in a standardized manner that denies these students access to the classroom and testing accommodations to which they are entitled by law (including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act);
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 6th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization:

  • Urge the U.S. Congress and state legislatures to protect the integrity of assessments conducted by TVIs by rejecting calls which expressly or impliedly require the use of the National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) or any other single specific assessment tool or technique to determine the learning or literacy needs of all students who are blind or visually impaired;
  • Encourage state chapters and affiliates of this organization to advocate for appropriate assessments that honor students’ unique needs for reasonable accommodations and which recognize the diversity of learning and literacy characteristics inherent in the heterogeneous population of students with vision loss; and
  • Call upon the U.S. Congress to promptly enact the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act which, among other critical policy objectives, would significantly increase federal investment in quantitative and qualitative research allowing our field to identify evidence-based practices in assessment and instruction for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind, and who may have additional disabilities.

Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-03

Braille and Low Vision Services in Special Education
Resolution 2016-03
 
Whereas, for nearly twenty years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has required that every student who is blind or visually impaired shall have instruction in and use of braille unless the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team determines, after appropriate evaluation, that instruction in and use of braille is inappropriate for the student; and
 
Whereas, this so-called braille presumption in IDEA, though indispensible as the clearest statement in current education law supporting braille instruction for students with vision loss, has not, as yet, yielded national systemic increases in braille literacy, in the number of available teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) prepared to teach braille, or in awareness among parents of students with vision loss of their children’s right to learn and read braille; and
 
Whereas, it is imperative that the current braille presumption in IDEA be preserved and, if possible, strengthened so that students with vision loss can truly be guaranteed a free and appropriate public education; and
 
Whereas, a small cohort of respected but over-zealous professionals and academics are seeking to promote the delivery of clinical low vision evaluations, instruction using large print, and the use of optical devices or other low vision-related assistive technologies, by advocating that the braille presumption in IDEA be weakened, eliminated, and/or commingled with low vision-specific statutory requirements; and
 
Whereas, such advocacy would, if successful, put students’ right to braille at significant risk and needlessly pit braille instruction against low vision devices and instruction; and
 
Whereas, notwithstanding this misguided strategy, it is vital that the needs of students with low vision be fully honored and that education funding and policy compel educational systems to meet these nationally neglected needs; and
 
Whereas, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has joined with more than 100 major national, regional and community-based organizations of and for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind, to endorse the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, comprehensive special education legislation to fundamentally transform America’s special education system and improve results for students with sensory disabilities, including those students who may have additional disabilities; and
 
Whereas, the Cogswell-Macy Act, once enacted, would preserve the current braille presumption in IDEA but, for the first time, also provide formal federal statutory status and recognition for low vision services and devices in America’s special education system; and
 
Whereas, ACB has long affirmed that the current provisions of IDEA concerning instruction in and use of braille must be held inviolate and, if possible, strengthened so that no blind or visually impaired student in America is denied their right to learn and read braille;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 7th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this
organization repudiate any effort to alter or modify IDEA’s existing braille provisions that would in any way, either actually or as may be perceived, impair IDEA’s currently uncompromising approach to the provision of braille; and
 
Be it further resolved that, as an endorser of the Cogswell-Macy Act and a lead proponent of its prompt enactment, ACB reaffirm its unwavering commitment to see low vision services and devices get their due recognition in federal special education law so that all students who should benefit from such services and devices can finally receive them.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-04

Braille Mathematics Codes
Resolution 2016-04
 
Whereas, both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind passed resolutions approving the adoption of UEB (Unified English Braille) which clearly indicated that the Nemeth code would still be a part of the braille code in the United States; and
 
Whereas, many states have indicated that they will continue to use Nemeth code for all instruction in mathematics and science where it had been used before the adoption of UEB; and
 
Whereas, at least ten states have decided to use UEB for all mathematics instruction; and
 
Whereas, the adoption of two approaches to the braille codes to be used with mathematics means that many students who move from state to state may find themselves significantly disadvantaged because the code they were using in their former home is not the one being used in the state to which they have relocated;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 6th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization express our deep concern over the division of the United States into two codes for mathematical teaching; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization strongly urge every state to make clear in their policies and procedures that there will be provisions to protect access to mathematical instruction in the code to which the student is accustomed, even if that code is not the one in use in that state; and
 
Be it further resolved that, at the very least, every state include provisions in such policies and procedures that allow exceptions to the general practice to be written into the Individualized Education Program (IEP) which is at the heart of what IDEA expects the IEP to be; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization strongly urge those entities involved in national testing to provide tests in both Nemeth and UEB to make certain that all students will have the ability to demonstrate their mathematical competence rather than their unfamiliarity with a particular code; and
 
Be it further resolved that the Braille Authority of North America is hereby strongly encouraged to monitor the effectiveness of both codes over the next five years so that BANA may be able to make a definitive decision about which code appears to offer the most effective approach to teaching and learning mathematics.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-05

Internet Accessibility Regulations
Resolution 2016-05
 
Whereas, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted when the Internet was still in its infancy; and
 
Whereas, an array of court decisions continues to make application of the ADA to online-only places of public accommodation uncertain; and
 
Whereas, on the 20th anniversary of the ADA in 2010, the Obama Administration publically acknowledged the need for clarifying regulations in this area but has consistently thwarted efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to make progress on this critical regulatory agenda; and
 
Whereas, most recently, the Obama Administration scuttled plans to release a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the ADA’s application to state and local government Internet accessibility obligations; and
 
Whereas, while bringing some further attention to state and local governmental entities’ Internet accessibility obligations is always in order, organizations of and for people who are blind or visually impaired have rather been demanding action on the obligations of public accommodations operating exclusively online and not on state and local governments for which Internet accessibility obligations have never been in doubt; and
 
Whereas, in a vain attempt to portray regulatory progress regarding Internet accessibility, the DOJ has most recently issued a so-called supplemental advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM) concerning state and local governments which asks many of the same insulting questions DOJ posed for public comment in previous proceedings demanding evidence of the relative costs and benefits of Internet accessibility; and
 
Whereas, no civil right — whether started at Seneca Falls, Selma or Stonewall, or sought in Silicon Valley or cyberspace — no civil right should ever be sold at auction;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization express its profound frustration and disappointment with the Obama Administration for its failure to be responsive to Americans with vision loss who, for more than a decade, have been calling for much-needed regulatory clarification of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s application to online-only places of public accommodation; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization reach out to the major party candidates for President of the United States to communicate our demand that, within the first six months of the new presidency, issuance of regulations clarifying that online-only places of public accommodation are nevertheless ADA-covered entities with Internet accessibility obligations must be achieved.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-06

NLS Braille Devices Legislation
Resolution 2016-06
 
Whereas, for the past 82 years, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has distributed talking book players free of charge allowing blind and physically handicapped patrons who use audio materials to fully enjoy a free library service; and
 
Whereas, NLS began producing braille books 85 years ago and, in 1999, started providing digital versions of these books to its patrons; and
 
Whereas, no reading device has been provided to patrons for use with such digital books, meaning that braille readers who wish to use these digital materials have had to provide their own equipment; and
 
Whereas, for more than 40 years, braille reading devices have been commercially available and exceedingly expensive, but new technological developments have brought about a significant reduction in cost;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 7th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization support any and all efforts to allow the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to provide equipment to patrons for use with each of the formats produced by NLS; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization urge the Congress of the United States to promptly enact H.R. 5227, pending legislation to authorize NLS to offer digital braille reading equipment enabling all NLS patrons to have access to free library service in braille.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-07

Accessible Federal Agency Data Entry Systems
Resolution 2016-07
 
Whereas, the Social Security Administration encourages applicants to use electronic data entry systems when applying for benefits; and
 
Whereas, these systems are not set up with screen-reading or magnification software; and
 
Whereas, members of the public are being increasingly required to use an inaccessible touch screen when coming into their Social Security offices to sign in and state their business; and
 
Whereas, in some instances, Social Security office security guards or other inappropriate personnel are, out of necessity, being approached by people who are blind or visually impaired to assist them with entering in their Social Security numbers and other sensitive information;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization take all appropriate steps to persuade and/or compel the Social Security Administration, and agencies of the federal government generally, to ensure the availability of accessible in-person information and benefits kiosks or computerized systems that comply with Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-08

Improvements to EEOC Reasonable Accommodations Policy Guidance Needed
Resolution 2016-08
 
Whereas, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been the lead agency that is charged with providing guidance and subsequent approval of all federal compliance with Executive Order 13164 that requires each agency to have its own EEOC approved written procedure for individuals with disabilities to request reasonable accommodations; and
 
Whereas, a review of EEOC’s internal document entitled, “Procedures for Providing Reasonable Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities,” omits any mention of assistive technology accommodations including but not limited to screen reader and magnification software; and
 
Whereas, the EEOC’s failure to provide guidance to federal agencies on assistive technology accommodations has ultimately resulted in federal employees who are blind or have low vision being unable to perform their job duties; and
 
Whereas, the absence of reasonable accommodations brought about by this failure results in denial of jobs, including promotional opportunities, and even the firing of employees with visual impairments;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization contact each of the commissioners and the principal staff of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and demand that the Commission include, within the aforementioned document, complete and appropriate guidance on assistive technology accommodations for federal employees who are blind or who have low vision.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-09

PBS and Audio Description
Resolution 2016-09
 
Whereas, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has demonstrated a historic commitment to providing quality audio description; and
 
Whereas, Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the country; and
 
Whereas, KCET, the former PBS affiliate in the Los Angeles market, passed through the audio description produced by PBS until they disaffiliated from the network; and 
 
Whereas, now KOCE, known as PBS So-Cal, is the major provider of PBS programming in the Los Angeles market; and 
 
Whereas, PBS So-Cal, in response to a viewer inquiry, has stated that they do not have the equipment to pass through audio description and will not invest in this technology; and
 
Whereas, although PBS So-Cal may not have a legal obligation to purchase equipment necessary to offer audio description, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, it nevertheless has a public interest obligation to purchase necessary equipment to provide audio description;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization believes that the residents of southern California who are blind or visually impaired deserve to enjoy the same access to PBS television as their sighted neighbors and friends take for granted; and
 
Be it further resolved that, in order to achieve this objective, PBS So-Cal is urged to purchase the necessary equipment to fulfill its public interest obligation to provide audio description; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization believes that the Public Broadcasting Corporation should develop and implement policies and procedures which will ensure that all affiliated stations acquire all necessary equipment and pass through audio description.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-10

Accessibility of Medicare Documentation
Resolution 2016-10
 
Whereas, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) actively and continuously discriminate against beneficiaries who are blind or visually impaired by providing communications (e.g., applications, eligibility determinations, explanation of benefits, etc.) only in non-accessible print on paper even after years of numerous verbal and written requests for legally required reasonable accommodations; and
 
Whereas, CMS permits and sanctions the discriminatory practice of its medical providers to deny effective communication to people with vision loss even after numerous verbal as well as written requests for reasonable accommodations; and
 
Whereas, this denial of effective communication can result in limited access to medical services and treatments, financial difficulties and negative credit impact, and denial of private access to medical results and recommendations;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization pursue any and all appropriate legal remedies to address this persistent pattern of failure to ensure equal access and effective communication.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-11

Driver Assistance as Reasonable Accommodation for TVIs who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Resolution 2016-11
 
Whereas, there is a nationwide shortage of teachers of students with visual impairments, resulting in many vacant TVI positions going unfilled; and
 
Whereas, a significant proportion of these unfilled positions is for itinerant teachers who must travel by automobile to multiple schools in a large geographic region, more often than not in areas with insufficient public transportation; and
 
Whereas, there are any number of qualified TVIs who are blind or visually impaired who could fill such positions with the support of driver assistance; and
 
Whereas, many school districts fail to accommodate TVIs with vision loss by refusing to hire driver assistants, thus requiring these TVIs to incur the cost of such accommodations; and
 
Whereas, in some cases, school districts simply will not hire TVIs who are blind or visually impaired because of the need to provide this reasonable accommodation;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization express its support for TVIs with vision loss who frequently face disability discrimination in hiring and advancement; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization call upon state and/or local education agencies to provide driver assistance to TVIs with vision loss for whom such a reasonable accommodation is appropriate.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-12

Technology Low-Interest Loan Programs
Resolution 2016-12
 
Whereas, the cost of assistive technology meeting the unique needs of people who are blind or visually impaired is commonly very high and frequently prohibitive; and
 
Whereas, manufacturers of such equipment frequently do not offer their customers financing for purchasing and certainly not on credit eligibility and other loan terms that would otherwise make such financing a possibility for many;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization:

  • Promote, through the public policy process, the availability and fiscal health of existing and new assistive technology low-interest loan programs; and
  • Consider and collaborate, as appropriate, with other strategic partners to achieve means for building or strengthening private sector commercial or nonprofit low-interest loan programs for people with disabilities.

Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-13

Accessibility of Commonly Used Self-Care Medical Equipment
Resolution 2016-13
 
Whereas, loss of vision is a frequent complication for people who have diabetes; and
 
Whereas, many people have sleep apnea; and
 
Whereas, these and many other common conditions require the use of a growing array of personal medical devices, from insulin pumps, to continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines; and
 
Whereas, these devices largely have user controls that are inaccessible to people who are blind or visually impaired; and
 
Whereas, the current patchwork of health and disability law and policy does not adequately provide meaningful remedies for such inaccessibility and does not compel device manufacturers to proactively address accessibility;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization, in partnership with like-minded organizations of and for people with vision loss, develop and execute a public policy agenda, including but not limited to model legislation, executive actions, and industry stakeholder negotiations, with the goal of making sure that no personal medical device remains inaccessible and unusable by people who are blind or visually impaired.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-14

Harmonization of Dog Guide Regulations
Resolution 2016-14
 
Whereas, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its comprehensive review and update of its regulations implementing Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adopted important revisions to regulations pertaining to covered entities’ non-discrimination obligations concerning service animals; and
 
Whereas, among other things, these revisions make critical clarifications to current law concerning the kinds of animals that fall within the scope of the ADA’s protections and the circumstances in which such animals may be used; and
 
Whereas, the regulations of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) pertaining to service animals are in conflict with the DOJ regulations in, among other respects, their failure to apply the DOJ’s more restrictive definition of the term “service animal” which explicitly limits the types of animals which can serve as service animals to dogs and (in some instances) miniature horses; and
 
Whereas, the DOT’s current definition of the term “service animals” allows for the use of unusual and exotic animals; and
 
Whereas, the use of these uncommon and exotic animals creates a number of operational and enforcement challenges for transportation providers, a much higher potential for service animal fraud, and an increased risk of health and safety concerns for transportation provider employees and independent contractors, members of the public and legitimate service animal handlers and their animals; and
 
Whereas, having multiple legal definitions of the term “service animal” results in confusion for individuals who must enforce service animal regulations without inadvertently discriminating against legitimate service animal handlers even as the inconsistent regulations create a safe haven for people who fraudulently pass off their pets and exotic animals as service animals, thereby undermining the public’s acceptance of legitimate service animals, thereby eroding the hard-won rights of legitimate service animal handlers who need their animals for safe and independent travel; and
 
Whereas, consistent federal regulation of service animals should yield consistent and reliable compliance by all entities covered by such non-discrimination obligations; and
 
Whereas, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) adopted Resolution 2013-05 in July 2013, calling upon the Secretary of Transportation to direct the DOT to undertake an immediate review and revision of DOT’s rules concerning service animals to harmonize them with the DOJ service animal regulations; and
 
Whereas, the DOT has failed to resolve this matter;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization direct its officers, directors and staff to pursue all appropriate strategies to achieve harmonization of the United States Department of Transportation’s service animal regulations with those of the United States Department of Justice.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-15

Encouraging Participation in the Electoral Process
Resolution 2016-15
 
Whereas, grassroots advocacy can be, and often is, the most effective means of achieving a policy goal; and
 
Whereas, in this upcoming national election, all United States House of Representatives members’, and a third of United States Senators’, seats are on ballot races across America; and
 
Whereas, it is a fact that the more policymakers hear from constituents about a particular issue, the more willing they may become to respond to it favorably;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization urge its individual members, chapters and affiliates to be aware of national, state, and local ballot races and initiatives, and to reach out to candidates to discuss the policy priorities that are important to each of us.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-16

Braille Signage at ACB Meetings
Resolution 2016-16
 
Whereas, ACB in its convention policies, has maintained that hotels must have braille signage that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and,
 
Whereas, though the ADAAG is very specific in much of its content, certain interpretations within its scope can nonetheless lead to confusing signage which is difficult to locate and which does not achieve the intent of the ADA to provide equally effective communication to customers who are blind or visually impaired;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization perform its due diligence to ensure that all contracts entered into by this organization with hotels reflect the hotel’s compliance with braille signage requirements; and
 
Be it further resolved that, where some interpretations of the ADAAG might suggest that signage is compliant but where it nevertheless fails to fulfill its intended purpose of providing equally effective communication to people who are blind or visually impaired, ACB take such additional steps as are necessary to make signage usable and comprehensible by people who are blind or visually impaired participating in meetings of this organization.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-17

Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Audible Countdown Information
Resolution 2016-17
 
Whereas, discussion on the orientation and mobility listserv of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI) has suggested AERBVI, as guided by its Orientation and Mobility Division, should take a position opposing audible countdowns on accessible pedestrian signals, and that comments to this effect should be submitted with regard to further revisions of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD); and
 
Whereas, the research leading to the findings discussed on the AERBVI orientation and mobility listserv involved a rather small sample, and should not be considered definitive; and
 
Whereas, elimination of the audible countdown feature would have the impact of denying information to blind and visually impaired pedestrians which is readily available to sighted pedestrians; and
 
Whereas, allegations that the audible countdown creates distractions for the pedestrian are outweighed by the beneficial information provided to blind and visually impaired pedestrians, which can assist in avoiding veers, and in providing other useful orientation information; and
 
Whereas, claims of lack of synchronization between the audible countdown and the visual display can be resolved through adjustments to signal performance by local traffic engineers;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization believes there is a need for additional research concerning best practices in the design and utilization of audible countdown features; and
 
Be it further resolved, however, that, in the absence of additional credible research to the contrary, ACB is supportive of the provision of audible countdown information, and encourages  that research focused on this subject be directed toward determining the most effective ways to efficiently convey countdown information, rather than whether audible countdown should be eliminated; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization shall request that an orientation and mobility professional having access to the AERBVI Orientation Listserv post a copy of this resolution to that venue.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-18

Self-Service Food and Drink Machines
Resolution 2016-18
 
Whereas, many fast-food restaurants and other entities are beginning to deploy fully automated devices for dispensing food and drinks; and
 
Whereas, most such devices utilize touch screens which have no accessibility built into their design; and
 
Whereas, since many of these locations are parts of large chains, including McDonald’s and Wendy’s, which clearly means that they have sufficient funds to undertake creating accessible platforms; and
 
Whereas, some of these devices can be accessed remotely using apps operable on smart phones; and
 
Whereas, at present, these applications are also inaccessible; and
 
Whereas, the Coca-Cola Company is also utilizing kiosks and applications which allow more than 100 flavors of drink to be produced by a totally inaccessible machine known as “Freestyle;” and 
 
Whereas, the emergence of this plethora of new vending machines that use totally inaccessible interfaces suggests that it will soon be very difficult for people who are blind or have low vision to receive services comparable to those available to other members of the public;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization believes it is urgent to immediately challenge this new technology to include accessibility elements; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization believes that it is insufficient to make just the application accessible and that both the touch-screen kiosk and the app should be independently usable by people who are blind or have low vision; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization instruct its leadership to make contact with these companies and with associations in the food industry so that standards may be developed and implemented as this new generation of automated kiosks is rolled out; and
 
Be it further resolved that the leadership of this organization is hereby instructed to communicate to such companies and associations that our membership is perfectly prepared to take such action as may be necessary, either through structured negotiation or in a court of law, to prevent the widespread adoption of an inaccessible kiosk system; and
 
Be it further resolved that the American Council of the Blind remains prepared to work collaboratively with companies interested in developing accessible interfaces for automated kiosks and will use its good offices to promote the adoption of such an accessible system.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-19

Accessibility of Facebook’s Photographs and Other Visual Media
Resolution 2016-19
 
Whereas, Facebook is a popular social media platform intended for use by everyone; and
 
Whereas, people who post on Facebook will often post photographs and other visual media; and,
 
Whereas, persons who are blind or visually impaired do not have the pleasure of fully enjoying the photographs and other visual media posted; and
 
Whereas, Facebook launched an automated picture recognition tool for implementing description of pictures.
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization ask Facebook to refine its automated picture description mechanism to create descriptions which contain specific details of pictorial elements; and
 
Be it further resolved that this organization strongly encourage Facebook to develop a mechanism to prompt Facebook members who post pictures and other visual media to attach accompanying descriptions.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-21

Strategy Development and Implementation Addressing Technology Career Needs
Resolution 2016-21
 
Whereas, mainstream business and commerce in America make growing use of online technology and communications to conduct business and communicate with their customers and other constituencies; and
 
Whereas, many of these companies, including technology developers such as those represented and honored at this convention, including major retailers and others, are coming to recognize the necessity for accessibility as an element of these communications; and
 
Whereas, many leading technology companies are endeavoring to incorporate accessibility into the design of their hardware and software offerings; and
 
Whereas, as a consequence of this recognition and implementation, many leading technology companies are advertising and seeking to fill accessibility-related positions in areas of product development, website testing and customer support; and
 
Whereas, many law firms who advise major businesses are now recommending that their clients incorporate accessibility into their public-facing websites and other products; and
 
Whereas, it has been reported that companies seeking accessibility expertise have encountered shortages in the availability of personnel with the requisite skills and training needed to fulfill their accessibility-related hiring goals and public commitments; and
 
Whereas, many blind people who utilize technology have acquired familiarity with computer technology and experience understanding and overcoming accessibility barriers and issues; and
 
Whereas, many of these persons, though possessed of considerable practical knowledge and experience, do not have the formal education or professional résumés that would make them attractive or obvious candidates for mainstream technology employment; and
 
Whereas, many of these people could, with intensive training and support, be equipped with the augmented skills needed to fill good-paying accessibility-related positions in industry; and
 
Whereas, ACB, through its establishment of cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships with leading technology companies, has helped to foster technology awareness and to achieve greater accessibility throughout our nation; and
 
Whereas, ACB’s fruitful relationships with leading technology companies puts ACB in an ideal position to work with these companies in identifying, training and placing suitable blind and visually impaired persons in professional technology positions related to and going beyond accessibility; and
 
Whereas, many ACB members and others who are blind or have visual impairments have already achieved financially and personally rewarding professional careers in accessibility-related and other technology-related positions in industry, demonstrating in the process that their unique understanding of the issues gives them great advantages in addressing the subject; and
 
Whereas, the simultaneous existence, on the one hand, of under- or unemployed, computer-literate, accessibility-aware blind persons, and on the other hand of unfilled, professional, accessibility-related developer, coder, tester, and other accessibility-related positions throughout commerce, industry and government, creates a natural and mutually beneficial fit;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization establish a high-level committee, in consultation with industry and utilizing the relationships that ACB has assiduously and productively built up over the years, to explore the feasibility of creating an intensive training academy designed:

  • To train and otherwise equip suitable persons with no or limited vision for mainstream technology careers;
  • To assure that curricula and technology used in such training are optimally selected to meet current and foreseeable industry needs;
  • To assure that applicants acquire not only the necessary technical skills but, where needed, the fullest understanding of the organizational, social and other features, expectations and stresses of the modern high-pressure corporate environment;
  • To provide an appropriate stipend for all trainees, including benefits counseling where necessary; and
  • To offer placement and post-placement assistance in conjunction with the employer so as to maximize the prospects of each individual’s success.

Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-23

Thanks to the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
Resolution 2016-23
 
Whereas, it is appropriate that this conference and convention express its thanks and appreciation to our host hotel;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization communicate our deep gratitude to the management and staff of the Hyatt Regency Hotel for their warm Minnesota welcome, very hard work and first-class hospitality.
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-24

Thanks to Minnesota Host Committee
Resolution 2016-24
 
Whereas, the strength of the American Council of the Blind lies in each of its individual members and in each of its state and special-interest affiliates;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization express its heartfelt congratulations and thanks to this year’s Convention Host Committee and the women and men of the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota for their enthusiastic welcome, the untold hours of planning and hard work, and the tremendous privilege of bringing our national conference and convention to their home state, the “Land of 10,000 Dreams!”
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary

Resolution 2016-25

Thanks to Volunteers
Resolution 2016-25
 
Whereas, there is no greater gift to give than service to others freely given with a generous heart;
 
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization warmly embrace and most sincerely thank each and every individual volunteer who so selflessly and graciously gave of their time and energy to offer assistance to the attendees of this year’s national conference and convention. Thanks to you! You made our dreams for a memorable conference and convention come true!
 
Adopted.
 
Ray Campbell, Secretary