[Nfbnet-members-list] Washington Seminar Materials
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.
Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:
Priorities for the 113th Congress, FIRST Session
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the
nations oldest and largest nationwide
organization of blind people. As the voice of
the nations 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 NFBs 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 programs 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:
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.
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.
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.
STOP THE DISCRIMINATION.
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.
PROTECT EQUALITY IN THE CLASSROOM.
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.
HONOR OUR SERVICE-DISABLED VETERANS WITH
PRIVILEGES THEY ARE ENTITLED TO.
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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