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 Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.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 2020-01: Regarding the ability of blind Illinoisans to vote independently using vote-by-mail systems
WHEREAS, the Covid-19 pandemic and fear of exposure have prompted states to expand availability of alternatives to in-person voting; and
WHEREAS, Those efforts in Illinois culminated in the enactment of legislation to increase the ease of voting by means other than in person at one’s polling place; BUT
WHEREAS, This legislation made virtually no provisions to address the accessibility barriers inherent in completing and signing a printed ballot; AND
WHEREAS, the right to cast a secret ballot independently is protected under the Help America Vote Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and applies beyond the polling place; AND
WHEREAS, Many states, either voluntarily or in compliance with court orders, have implemented systems by which blind people can vote secretly and independently; AND
WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, with participation of the National Federation of the Blind, reached out to the Governor’s Office and to the Illinois Board of Elections to address these accessibility shortcomings; AND
WHEREAS, meetings resulted in the Board’s contracting with Voting Works, a company through which the more than 100 election authorities in Illinois can submit ballots which blind persons, through an online portal, can independently review and complete their ballots for mailing or submission; AND
WHEREAS, although Illinois law leaves it to each city or county election authority to administer its election, the Board has contacted each authority, urged them regarding the necessity of offering an accessible solution, and made the proposed solution available for free within an extremely tight deadline; AND
WHEREAS, This proposed solution, while not ideal, is a major step in enhancing the accessibility of the vote-by-mail process: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this first day of November, 2020, that this organization commend the Illinois Board of Elections for its offered assistance to election authorities in meeting their respective obligations to assure that the blind who do not wish to vote at their polling places can still cast a secret ballot independently; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization commend those election authorities who, whether through Voting Works or another solution, offer blind persons an accessible vote-by-mail alternative; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization hold accountable, those entities which have failed to adopt an accessible VOTE-BY-MAIL solution, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization maintain efforts to assure that future Illinois elections, conducted through whatever systems are considered, take place so that all aspects of the process from registration through the alternative ways of voting, are accessible via nonvisual means.
Resolution 2020-02:Regarding Federal Funding for Public Transportation
WHEREAS, blind people must have efficient, reliable public transportation to achieve full integration into all aspects of community life; and
WHEREAS, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) uses federal funds and state funds for a wide range of its operating and capital activities to provide a national system of passenger rail service, including regional service through several corridors and service to smaller communities that have no other passenger transportation; and
WHEREAS, these services include trains that connect communities in Illinois and connect Illinois with other parts of the country; and
WHEREAS, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including fixed route systems (buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys, and ferries) as well as on-demand systems; and
WHEREAS, one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the precipitous drop in ridership, a reduction in ridership of 80-90%; and
WHEREAS, Metra, Chicagoland’s commuter rail system, now operates about sixty percent of its previous weekday service and Sunday schedules on Saturdays; and
WHEREAS, effective October 1, Amtrak began operating its daily long-distance trains triweekly; and
WHEREAS, without state funding, sweeping cuts in transportation services likely will occur; and
WHEREAS, this crisis will have a detrimental impact on the ability of the blind, as well as other people with disabilities, to travel to school, work, doctor’s appointments, community meetings, civic events, worship services, and recreational activities: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in Convention assembled this first day of November, 2020, that this organization strongly urge local and state governments to recognize that mass transit and rail transportation are integral parts of this nation’s and states infrastructure and should be supported by increases in funding.
Resolution 2020-03: Regarding Access to Educational Platforms and Materials
WHEREAS, Access to the full curriculum is vital for participation in in-person and virtual education settings for all students; and
WHEREAS, Accessibility barriers impede full access to the educational environment for blind and low vision students and for others with print disabilities; and
WHEREAS, Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) require schools to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the United States Department of Education (USDOE) issued a Joint Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on June 29, 2010, noting that “individuals with disabilities must be provided with the same aids, benefits, or services that provide an equal opportunity to achieve the same result or the same level of achievement as others”; and
WHEREAS, On November 12, 2014, the USDOJ and the USDOE issued a Joint DCL stating that: “Students with disabilities, like all students, must be provided the opportunity to fully participate in our public schools,” and that “a critical aspect of participation is communication with others”; and
WHEREAS, In September 2017 and on March 12, 2020, the USDOE unequivocally reminded school districts that students with disabilities retain full rights to educational opportunities, including access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) whenever school districts provide any educational opportunities to nondisabled students; and
WHEREAS, Many school districts in Illinois have ignored their longstanding accessibility obligations to blind and low vision students, purchasing and implementing educational technologies that are only partially accessible to these students or are not accessible at all; and
WHEREAS, Despite clear guidance from the USDOE, the shift to part-time or full-time remote instruction in many Illinois school districts due to the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened learning barriers for blind and low vision students: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this first day of November, 2020, that this organization call upon the Illinois State Board of Education and school districts throughout the state to purchase and implement the use of educational materials that are fully accessible to blind and low vision students; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these entities be encouraged to consult with the National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois for recommendations about the purchase and implementation of fully accessible materials.
Resolution 2020-04: Regarding Accommodating Customers Who Are Unable to Use Drive-thru Facilities
WHEREAS, Facilities such as fast food restaurants resorted to drive-thru only service because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, Some state Covid-19 testing facilities also operate on a drive-thru basis; and
WHEREAS, There have been incidents where blind and other disabled people were refused service because they were not in a car; and
WHEREAS, Accommodations are possible as demonstrated by the White Castle Hamburger chain whose corporate policy mandates service to all customers, whether they drive or not; and
WHEREAS, denials of service can be interpreted as violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodations; and,
WHEREAS, The Illinois White Cane Law contains non-discrimination language, including ‘’ places to which the public is invited’’: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in convention assembled this first day of November, 2020, that this organization call on all drive-thru facilities to work with blindness organizations to come up with ways to serve individuals who cannot access drive-thru lanes because of blindness.