[Nfbnet-members-list] Washington Seminar Materials

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Mon Jan 21 19:04:26 UTC 2013

Since some people had problems opening up the 
attachments which were sent out yesterday -- I am 
resending the material with everything in the 
body of this message.  I apologize for any 
inconvenience this may have caused any of you.

David Andrews

Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:
Priorities for the 113th Congress, FIRST Session

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the 
nation’s oldest and largest nationwide 
organization of blind people.  As the voice of 
the nation’s blind, we represent the collective 
views of blind people throughout society.  All of 
our leaders and the vast majority of our members 
are blind, but anyone can participate in our 
movement.  There are an estimated 1.3 million 
blind people in the United States, and every year 
approximately 75,000 Americans become blind.

The NFB’s three legislative initiatives for 2013 are:

·        The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act
This legislation phases out Section 14(c) of the 
Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers 
to pay disabled workers subminimum wages.  By 
ending this exploitative, discriminatory 
practice, disabled Americans will receive equal 
protection under the law to earn at least the 
federal minimum wage and reach their full employment potential.
·        The Technology, Education and 
Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act
Electronic instructional materials and related 
technology have replaced traditional methods of 
learning in postsecondary settings.  Although it 
would be inexpensive to create e-books, 
courseware, applications, and other educational 
devices and materials in accessible formats, the 
overwhelming majority of these materials are 
inaccessible to disabled students.  This bill 
calls for minimum accessibility standards for 
instructional materials, ending the “separate but equal” approach to learning.
·        Equal Access to Air Travel for Service-Disabled Veterans (HR 164)
The Space Available Program allows active-duty 
military, Red Cross employees, and retired 
members of the armed services to travel on 
military aircraft if there is space 
available.  HR 164 reverses the exclusion of 100 
percent service-disabled veterans who were 
discharged before retirement and entitles them to the program’s privileges.

The real problem of blindness is not the loss of 
eyesight; it is the misunderstanding and lack of 
information that exist.  Given the proper 
training and opportunity, blindness can be 
reduced to a physical nuisance.  Blind Americans 
need your help to achieve these goals and reach 
economic security and full integration into 
society.  Supporting these measures will benefit 
more than just the blind, as promoting our 
economic welfare increases the tax base.  We urge 
Congress to hear our demands for equality and 
support these legislative initiatives.

The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013

Current labor laws unjustly prohibit workers with disabilities
from reaching their full socioeconomic potential.

Written in 1938, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor 
Standards Act (FLSA) discriminates against people 
with disabilities by allowing the secretary of 
labor to grant Special Wage Certificates to 
employers, permitting them to pay workers with 
disabilities less than the minimum wage.  Despite 
enlightened civil rights legislation prohibiting 
discrimination on the basis of disability, this 
antiquated provision is still in force, with some 
disabled workers making only three cents an hour.

The subminimum wage model actually benefits the 
employer, not the worker. Subminimum wage 
employers receive taxpayer and philanthropic 
dollars because the public believes they are 
providing training and employment for people with 
disabilities.  The executives use the substantial 
proceeds to compensate themselves with six-figure 
salaries on the backs of disabled workers they 
pay pennies per hour.  People who raise their own 
standard of living while taking advantage of 
those who do not have the same rights as every 
other American are engaging in discrimination, not charity.

This discrimination persists because of the myths that Section 14(c) is:

Myth 1
a compassionate offering of meaningful 
work.  Although the entities that engage in this 
practice demand the benefits that come from being 
recognized as employers, subminimum wage work is 
not true employment.   These so-called employers 
offer days filled with only repetitive drudgery 
for which workers are compensated with 
third-world wages, leading disabled employees 
toward learned incapacity and greater dependence on social programs.

Myth 2
an employment training tool for disabled 
workers. Fewer than 5 percent of workers with 
disabilities in subminimum wage workshops will 
transition into integrated competitive work.  In 
fact data show that they must unlearn the skills 
they acquire in a subminimum wage workshop in 
order to obtain meaningful employment.  Therefore 
Section 14(c) is a training tool that perpetuates ongoing underemployment.

Myth 3
a controversial issue among the disability 
community.  More than fifty disability-related 
organizations and counting support the repeal of 
Section 14(c) of the FLSA, and many former 
subminimum wage employers have abandoned the use 
of the Special Wage Certificate without 
terminating anyone.  Only entities profiting from 
this exploitive practice refuse to acknowledge that it is discrimination.

The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013:

Discontinues the practice of issuing Special Wage 
Certificates.  The secretary of labor will no 
longer issue Special Wage Certificates to new applicants.

Phases out all remaining Special Wage 
Certificates over a three-year period.  Entities 
currently holding Special Wage Certificates will 
begin compensating their workers with 
disabilities at no less than the federal minimum 
wage, using the following schedule:
·        private for-profit entities’ 
certificates will be revoked after one year;
·        public or governmental entities’ 
certificates will be revoked after two years; and
·        nonprofit entities’ certificates will be revoked after three years.

Repeals Section 14(c) of the FLSA.  Three years 
after the law is enacted, the practice of paying 
disabled workers subminimum wages will be 
officially abolished, and workers with 
disabilities will no longer be excluded from the 
workforce protection of a federal minimum wage.

Create opportunities for real work at real wages.

Cosponsor the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act.

For more information contact:
Anil Lewis, Director of Advocacy and Policy
National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, Extension 2374    email: 
<mailto:alewis at nfb.org>alewis at nfb.org

The Technology, Education, and Accessibility
in College and Higher Education Act (TEACH)

Inaccessible technology in the classroom creates a separate-but-equal
approach to learning that discriminates against disabled students.

The evolution of technology has fundamentally 
changed the education system.  The scope of 
instructional materials used to facilitate the 
teaching and learning process at institutions of 
higher education has expanded.  Curricular 
content comes in the form of digital books, PDFs, 
webpages, etc.; and most of this content is 
delivered through technology such as courseware, 
library databases, digital software, and 
applications. These advancements have 
revolutionized access to information, but the 
majority of these materials are partially or 
completely inaccessible to students with disabilities.

Barriers to access for disabled students create a 
separate-but-equal approach to 
learning.   According to a 2009 Government 
Accountability Office report, approximately 10.8 
percent of students enrolled in postsecondary 
institutions had some disability.  The mass 
deployment of inaccessible electronic 
instructional materials creates barriers to 
learning for millions of disabled students.  When 
a website is not compatible with screen-access 
software, a blind student is denied access to 
online course information; if nondisabled 
students are using an inaccessible e-reader, a 
student who cannot read print has to petition the 
school for an accessible device and thus 
potentially different content.  This approach to 
access is discriminatory and places unnecessary 
barriers in the way of students with disabilities.

Technology exists to remedy this discrimination, 
but postsecondary institutions are not investing 
in accessibility.   Innovations in 
text-to-speech, refreshable Braille, and other 
technologies have created promise for equal 
access for disabled students; yet an unacceptable 
number of postsecondary institutions do not make 
it a priority to purchase accessible 
technology.  Schools are buying inaccessible 
instructional materials and then separate, 
accessible items on an ad-hoc basis for students 
with disabilities.  Some resort merely to 
retrofitting the inaccessible technology, which 
sometimes makes accessibility worse.  Until 
postsecondary institutions harness their 
purchasing power, the market for accessible 
instructional materials will remain limited, and 
disabled students will continue to be left behind.

Equality in the classroom is a civil 
right.   Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 
and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit 
discrimination on the basis of disability.  The 
deployment of inaccessible instructional materials violates these laws.
Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act:

Develops accessibility guidelines for 
instructional materials.  The Access Board will 
consult experts and stakeholders to develop 
technical specifications for electronic 
instructional materials and related information 
technologies so that those materials are usable 
by individuals with disabilities.

Establishes a minimum accessibility standard for 
instructional materials used by the government 
and in postsecondary academic settings.  The 
Department of Justice will implement the 
guidelines developed by the Access Board as 
enforceable standards applicable to all 
departments and agencies of the federal 
government and institutions of higher education 
covered in Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Promotes competition while ensuring 
equality.  The guidelines provide guidance to 
manufacturers on how to develop products that are 
fully accessible to disabled users, and the 
required standards will ensure that all colleges, 
universities, and federal agencies procure and 
deploy only fully accessible instructional 
materials, ending the separate-but-equal approach to learning.


Cosponsor the Technology, Education, and Accessibility
  in College and Higher Education Act (TEACH).

For more information contact:
Lauren McLarney, Government Affairs Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, Extension 2207    email: lmclarney at nfb.org

Equal Access to Air Travel for Service-Disabled Veterans (HR 164)

The Space Available Program denies 100 percent of
Service-Disabled Veterans the opportunity to participate.

Discharged service-disabled veterans are not 
entitled to air travel privileges to which other 
members of the military have access.  The Space 
Available Program allows members of the active 
military, some family members, Red Cross 
employees, and retired members of the armed 
services to travel on military aircraft if space 
is available.  However, members of the military 
who are 100 percent service disabled do not 
qualify for this program because they do not fall into one of those categories.

This unintentional exclusion denies discharged 
service-disabled veterans a privilege to which 
they would be entitled had they not been disabled 
during service.  Those service members who are 
disabled during active duty and are medically 
discharged do not have the chance to stay on 
active duty or fulfill the twenty years 
requirement to become qualified for this 
program.  Had they not been medically discharged, 
100 percent service-disabled veterans are likely 
to have served until retirement. These men and 
women have earned the right to space-available 
travel just as others have because they have defended our country.

Equal Access to Air Travel for Service-Disabled Veterans would:

Provide travel privileges to totally disabled 
veterans.  This bill amends Title 10 of the U.S. 
Code, to permit veterans who have a 
service-connected, permanent disability rated as 
total to travel on military aircraft in the same 
manner and to the same extent as retired members 
of the Armed Forces entitled to such travel.


Cosponsor HR 164.

To cosponsor the bill, contact:

Mirium Keim, Legislative Assistant
Office of Congressman Bilirakis (R-FL)
Phone: (202) 225-5755 email: 
<mailto:mirium.keim at mail.house.gov>mirium.keim at mail.house.gov

For more information contact:
Jesse Hartle, Government Affairs Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (410) 659-9314, Extension 2233 email: 
<mailto:jhartle at nfb.org>jhartle at nfb.org

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