The official policies of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the state convention.
The resolutions committee meets early during the convention. Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.
Resolution 2015-01: Regarding quarterly conference calls between blind stakeholder consumer groups and the Illinois Director of Rehabilitation
WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, the National Association of Blind Merchants and other interested consumer organizations believe that it is of the upmost importance to keep the lines of communication open with the Director of Rehabilitation Services; and
WHEREAS, such communication allows the blind to advocate for the kinds of specialized services and training that most effectively eliminates the technological and attitudinal barriers attributable to the inability to access information presented visually; and enhance collaboration
WHEREAS, Ongoing communication with the Director has proven essential in the ongoing absence of a Bureau of the Blind Director, and has served as an important means by which the blind have informed the Director of ways in which the present lack of leadership and fiscal resources has hindered Bureau staff in their mission of equipping the blind to work and live independently; and
WHEREAS, While the statute establishing both the Bureau of the Blind and the Blind Services Planning Council mandates a collaborative relationship that makes informed advice possible, such continues to be impossible given the lack of a Bureau director and the limited involvement of the current director in Bureau operations; and
WHEREAS, Informed stake holders representing those to whom the Department of Rehabilitation is charged to provide services are in a position to effectively advocate for the types and quantity of targeted resources that enhance the propriety and effectiveness of such services at minimum cost: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this first day of November, 2015 in the City of Naperville, Illinois, that this organization strongly urge that the Director of Rehabilitation Services meet on a quarterly basis via conference call with the Blind Services Planning Council, the Illinois Association of Blind Merchants, and other appropriate stake holders; and.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that the Bureau of the Blind Director, acting or perminent, also attend such conference calls and do all that is statutorily mandated to assure that the Blind Services Planning Council has the information to give informed advice, and to participate in budgetary formulation.
Resolution 2015-02: Calling on Governor and Legislature to Resolve Budget and Preserve Adequate Mass Transit Funding
WHEREAS, mass transit is crucial for people to go to work, school, medical appointments and other essential life activities; and
WHEREAS, mass transit is the only way for many persons with disabilities, especially blind people, to get around; and
WHEREAS, initial budget proposals would have cut funding for mass transit and statewide Amtrak services; and
WHEREAS, the lack of a state budget potentially can jeopardise masss transit funding: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, in Convention Assembled, this first day of November, 2015, in the City of Naperville, Illinois, that this organization call on the Governor and legislative leaders to pass a budget, ensuring support of mass transit and statewide Amtrak services at current levels.
Resolution 2015-03: Regarding Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Children
WHEREAS, skills in orientation and mobility (O&M) are essential for the successful transition of blind children, including children with low vision, to full and productive lives as adults; and
WHEREAS, local and state laws recognize the use of the long white cane as a tool for both safety and independence for blind people, yet too many school systems nationwide do not promote the use of the white cane by blind students; and
WHEREAS, regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 300.34[c], Related Services, clearly define O&M as “services provided to blind or visually impaired children by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community”; and
WHEREAS, although IDEA clearly lists O&M as an essential service for blind and visually impaired children, too often these children are denied O&M instruction because the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team assumes that these children do not need this instruction; and
WHEREAS, another reason for denial of O&M instruction is insufficient evaluations, e.g., only examining a child’s movement in familiar areas, failing to consider environments in different lighting, not requesting input from parents, or not considering such factors as the child’s medically indicated expectation of further visual deterioration; and
WHEREAS, the IEP team should treat O&M instruction as a presumption for youth who have an IEP based on visual impairment, as it does with Braille, unless a proper assessment determines that O&M instruction is not necessary; and
WHEREAS, two states, Maryland and Texas, have incorporated the mobility presumption and stronger evaluation requirements into state law, which will ensure that more students who need O&M instruction in those states will receive it: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in Convention assembled this first day of November, 2015, in the city of Naperville, Illinois, that this organization strongly urge the Illinois General Assembly immediately to enact legislation, as well as all entities, and officials associated with the education of blind children, to enact policies that contain a presumption similar to the Braille presumption that explicitly states that all blind and visually impaired children need orientation and mobility instruction unless a proper evaluation demonstrates that such instruction is not appropriate for the child.
Resolution 2015-04: Regarding Positive Train Control
WHEREAS, as originally written, the Rail Safety Act of 2008, PL 110-432, requires railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) by January 1, 2016; and
WHEREAS, fines for non compliance range from $1,500 to $25,000 per violation, that is, per train per day; and
WHEREAS, PTC ostensibly would improve railroad safety by using modern technology, including global positioning system, to regulate the speed of trains and the distance between trains; and
WHEREAS, railroads claim that they need more time to implement PTC; and
WHEREAS, Metra, Amtrak and several major freight railroads have announced that they would shut down on January 1, 2016 if Congress does not extend this deadline; and
WHEREAS, Representative Mike Quigley, of Illinois, is one of 160 members of Congress who have circulated a “Dear Colleagues” letter, calling for an extension through 2018 to implement PTC and 2019 if railroads cannot meet this deadline but show a good faith effort to comply; and
WHEREAS, Representative Bill Schuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) has called for such an extension; and
WHEREAS, members have introduced several bills — HR 22 would grant a three-year extension, along with reauthorizing mass transit and Amtrak funding; HR 3651 would grant a stand-alone extension; S 650 would provide a five-year extension; and
WHEREAS, Metra provides commuter train service to communities throughout the Chicago area; and
WHEREAS, Illinois has invested considerable effort and funding to improve and operate Amtrak service throughout the state; and
WHEREAS, strong, viable, comprehensive networks of public transportation are essential for blind persons to lead active, productive lives: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, in Convention Assembled, this first day of November, 2015, in the City of Naperville, Illinois, that this organization urge the Illinois Congressional delegation to call for extending the January 1, 2016, mandatory deadline for full implementation of PTC; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this organization express its support of this proposed extension to other relevant officials.
Resolution 2015-05: Concerning Mandatory Input by those utilizing readers of their readers job performance on evaluations
WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired community is a growing part of society as a whole; and
WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired community are an integral part of productive part of contributors to society; and
WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired community make up part of the tax paying community; and
WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired community are heavily reliant on the use of readers in the performance of their varying means of employment; and
WHEREAS, the blind and visually impaired community have been put in positions where they have been forced to accept readers who were untrained and performed their jobs as readers ineptly; and
WHEREAS, blind and visually impaired employees have been placed in situations where their readers have been allowed to get away with poor performance of their duties while hindering the blind or visually impaired employee’s work performance; and
WHEREAS, the employee utilizing the reader has been made to feel they have no power or recourse when their readers perform substandardly; and
WHEREAS, as in accordance with the American’s with Disabilities Act 28 CFR 35.160 – General, “(a) (1) A public entity shall take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, members of the public, and companions with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.
(2) For purposes of this section, “companion” means a family member, friend, or associate of an individual seeking access to a service, program, or activity of a public entity, who, along with such individual, is an appropriate person with whom the public entity should communicate.
(b) (1) A public entity shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford individuals with disabilities, including applicants, participants, companions, and members of the public, an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity of a public entity.
(2) The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure effective communication will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place. In determining what types of auxiliary aids and services are necessary, a public entity shall give primary consideration to the requests of individuals with disabilities. In order to be effective, auxiliary aids and services must be provided in accessible formats, in a timely manner, and in such a way as to protect the privacy and independence of the individual with a disability.”; and
WHEREAS, in accordance to the American’s with Disabilities Act 28 CFR 35. in “determining what types of auxiliary aids and services are necessary, a public entity shall give primary consideration to the requests of individuals with disabilities,” The blind or visually impaired employee’s needs are to be strongly taken into consideration: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this 2nd day of November , 2015, in the City of Naperville, Illinois, that this organization strongly recommend that the state pass a regulation making it mandatory that those employees utilizing the services of a reader to perform their jobs, be allowed to provide major input on the evaluations of those readers in determining their level of job performance, thereby making the readers jobs dependent upon the people they read to.
Resolution 2015-06: Commending the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Governor for the appointment of a Bureau of Blind Services director
WHEREAS, the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services Bureau of Blind Services (BBS) has, since the retirement of its director Bettye Odem-Davis over two years ago, been without a director; and
WHEREAS, This prolonged lack of a director, together with the stresses inherent with considerable BBS understaffing, deprived staff of the leadership and accountability necessary to efficiently coordinate service delivery, recognize work that was well done, and implement training reflecting new technologies and approaches; and
WHEREAS, the lack of a BBS director deprived the Blind Services Planning Council and other organizations representing the blind of the ability to collaborate with, or hold accountable, the Bureau’s provision of adjustment to blindness and vocational services; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Rehabilitation Service’s previous director made little effort to collaborate with blindness organizations or with the Bureau of Blind Services, and rejected all candidates suggested by a previous search process; and
WHEREAS, Current DORS Director Chris Smith has demonstrated a commitment to enhance BBS services by more effectively collaborating with the blind, and by initiating a search process which has resulted in the selection of John Gordon, a blind person who has demonstrated his expertise and commitment for over 20 years as chair of the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors; and
WHEREAS, Governor Bruce Rouner recently appointed Mr. Gordon as BBS Director; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this first day of November in the city of Naperville Illinois that this organization commend Chris Smith for her re initiation of the search process and her support of a director, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend the Governor for his part in filling this important position; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization Congratulate John Gordon and work with him to address the many challenges that face the BBS in its provision of the quality services blind Illinoisans need and deserve.