Dots and Dashes 4/5/19

“Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features the White House’s 2020 budget proposal and its potential impact on blind and visually impaired people, a study on connected autonomous vehicles and blind pedestrians, Hulu adding audio description, and advocacy updates.

 

White House Proposes Budget for 2020

The White House released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2020. Many in the disability community expressed concerns regarding program eliminations and spending cuts. It is important to keep in mind that our government is a system of checks and balances. One check that Congress has over the whims of the executive is the power of the purse, as laid down in the U.S. Constitution. A president’s budget proposal is as much a political messaging document as a policy document. We anticipate the newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, where all funding bills must originate, to view many of the executive’s policy recommendations with a healthy dose of skepticism. Along with our allies in the cross-disability community, the ACB national office is monitoring the actions of the administration and Congress very closely, and we will alert our membership of any significant developments. That said, below is a list of the budget proposals with the potential to directly impact ACB members.

Medicare

The White House budget proposal would reduce Medicare spending by $575 billion over the next 10 years by reducing wasteful spending, provider payments, and lowering prescription drug prices.

Medicaid

The White House budget proposal would reduce Medicaid spending by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, would implement work requirements, and create $1.2 trillion block grants for the states. The net reduction in value for Medicaid is projected to be $777 billion.

Social Security 

The White House budget plans to reduce Social Security Disability Insurance spending by $10 billion over the next 10 years.

Department of Education

Programs authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are level funded.

Vocational Rehabilitation Programs

  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants would receive $3,610,000,000, a 2.5% increase ($88,010,000 increase) from FY 2019.
  • Supported Employment State Grants is zeroed out, a $22,548,000 decrease.
  • Services for Older Blind Individuals would receive $33,317,000, level funded.

In addition, the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults would receive $10,300,000, a 23.7% decrease ($3.2 million decrease) in funding from FY 2019.

Under Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities:

  • American Printing House for the Blind would receive $25,400,000, a 16.53% decrease ($5.03 million decrease) in funding from FY 2019.
  • National Technical Institute for the Deaf would receive $70,000,000, a 9.68% decrease ($7.5 million decrease) from FY 2019.
  • Gallaudet University would receive $121,300,000, a 9.72% decrease ($13.06 million decrease) from FY 2019.

The budget proposal also proposes to eliminate 29 programs for an annual savings of $6.7 billion. Those programs include:

  • Special Olympics Education Programs, which were funded at $17.6 million.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which were funded at $1,221,700,000.
  • Alaska Native Education, which was funded at $35 million   
  • American History and Civics Education, which was funded at $4.8 million.
  • Arts in Education, which was funded at $29 million.
  • Comprehensive Centers, which were funded at $52 million.
  • Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants, which were funded at $190 million.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which were funded at $840 million.
  • Full-Service Community Schools, which were funded at $17.5 million.
  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, which was funded at $5 million.
  • Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, which were funded at $360 million.
  • Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, which was funded at $23 million.
  • Impact Aid Payments for Federal Property, which were funded at $74.3 million.
  • Innovative Approaches to Literacy, which were funded at $27 million.
  • International Education and Foreign Language Studies Domestic Programs, which were funded at $65.1 million.
  • International Education and Foreign Language Studies Overseas Programs, which were funded at $7.1 million.
  • Javits Gifted and Talented Education, which was funded at $12 million.
  • Native Hawaiian Education, which was funded at $36 million.
  • Promise Neighborhoods, which were funded at $78.3 million.
  • Ready to Learn Programming, which was funded at $27.7 million.
  • Regional Educational Laboratories, which were funded at $55.4 million.
  • Statewide Family Engagement Centers, which were funded at $10 million.
  • Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, which were funded at $32.3 million.
  • Strengthening Institutions, which were funded at $99.9 million.
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, which were funded at $1.17 billion.
  • Supported Employment State Grants, which were funded at $22.5 million.
  • Supporting Effective Educator Development, which was funded at $75 million.
  • Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, which were funded at $2.055 billion.
  • Teacher Quality Partnership, which was funded at $43.1 million.

 

Connected Autonomous Vehicle Study

The research subject request below is being distributed for informational purposes only to individuals interested in completed the survey. ACB has no direct role in this project, but believes that it could contribute to our overall mission.

Transportation is seeing all kinds of disruptive transformation. Ride sharing, electric cars and automated vehicles are only a few examples. While all these innovative technological advances will hopefully have a positive impact within our communities, the needs of pedestrians who are blind must not be left to chance.

The CNIB Foundation in partnership with a leading Canadian university and a long serving researcher in the field of blindness, with partial funding from the Government of Canada - Transport Canada, is undertaking a study to identify possible mitigation strategies so that connected autonomous vehicles do not further marginalize pedestrians who are blind.

We are inviting our colleagues throughout the world to share their views via an online survey. To access the survey, go to https://cnib.ca/en/support-usadvocate/transportation?region=ab. You’ll also find an overview of the project there. The survey will close at the end of April 2019.

Please share widely and encourage anyone with sight loss or who is blind to take a few minutes to complete the survey. The final report which will consolidate our findings will be available mid to late July 2019.

Thank you in advance for taking time to share your views via the survey. If you have any questions, please contact Lui Greco at lui.greco@cnib.ca.

 

Hulu Adds Descriptive Audio Tracks

To read this article online, go to https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/hulu-adds-descriptive-audio-tracks-for-those-with-visual-impairments/

Back in October, we shared news about Hulu agreeing to provide an audio feed for people with visual disabilities to make the streaming service more accessible for viewers with disabilities. The agreement includes Hulu providing a separate audio track that describes the actions and the facial expressions of characters, allowing those with visual impairments to more fully experience what’s happening on the screen.

The Audio Description Project, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind, has instructions available for accessing the audio descriptions. Just log in to your Hulu account from a web browser, click on the gear icon, and pull up the Subtitle and Audio menu where you’ll see an option for turning on Audio Description.

On the Audio Description Project, you’ll also find a list of the programming that currently has audio descriptions available. As of now, there are four titles (all Hulu originals) available:

  • Around the Way
  • Fyre Fraud
  • The Act
  • The Handmaid’s Tale

Check out the Audio Description Project’s Twitter account for updates as this service continues to grow and more titles add audio descriptions.

 

Advocacy Updates

On the March 22nd ACB Advocacy Update, Claire Stanley and Clark Rachfal speak with Kelly Egan from Sprint about her experiences as a blind individual and also discuss the exciting accessibility endeavors that Sprint is currently working on. To listen to the podcast online, go to http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-march-22-2019.