From left to right Sarita Cann, Representative Brandon Ellington and Ruby Polk at the 2017 Legislative trip to Jefferson City. Sarita is a constituent of Representative Ellington. He has introduced HB 520 which provides for accessible voting machines in all elections.
3-22-17 Urgent Message from Shelia Wright
Dear Federation Brothers and Sisters,
I just took five on our behalf. Can you help too!
There is a critical issue for this week. Please give this priority and call today. There are direct attacks on the ADA which was enacted to give us equal access to buildings, programs, transportation, employment, etc. Please call your U.S. Representative and the Chair. Below is what President Riccobono had to say in alerting us in his weekly message. Our lack of action helps the misinformed that want to destroy the progress we have made. It is time to speak out!
Call to Action From President Riccobono: Opposition to H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017:
As you know, we ask members from time to time to contact their representatives in Congress in support of legislation that would benefit the blind community. But today I am calling upon all Federationists to contact their representatives in opposition to H.R. 620. The phone number for the Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. From there, simply ask to be connected with your representative. In addition, please call the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Robert Goodlatte, at (202) 225-5431.
Here are some brief talking points to share with the offices of your representative and Chairman Goodlatte: (1) the ADA was enacted in 1990, so covered entities have had ample time to learn about and comply with the law; (2) the ADA already contains an “undue burden” provision to protect covered entities when the costs of making facilities accessible are too high; and (3) Title III of the ADA (which applies to public accommodations) does not allow monetary damages for noncompliance.
The National Federation of the Blind has joined with 216 other allied civil rights organizations in opposing this bill. You can read our joint letter at https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/sign-on-letters/comments_on_hr620_03162017.pdf. If you want to know how this bill would affect us, consider internet access guaranteed under the ADA and our comments filed with DOJ last October <https://nfb.org/ada-title-ii-internet-regulations-joint-sanprm-comments> as just one example.
2-28-17 Legislative Update from Shelia Wright
It is great to be able to report today that SB 362 was voted do pass by the Senate Education Committee. This is a great start for the bill. Let's keep
up the momentum and see this through the next level.
Thank you to Rita Lynch, Kathy Hurley, and Ron Hurley, who sat through lots of hearing testimonies today before the committee got to the vote. I think
it is always great to have some interested parties in the audience and it certainly allows us to get the news of what happened more quickly.
Thanks to you that called or wrote members of the committee over the past week. Now a thank you to those senators could certainly be appreciated.
2-23-17 Legislative Update from Shelia Wright
On Tuesday there was a hearing for SB 362 on the use of the National Reading Media Assessment for determining present and future reading and writing needs of blind students. Senator Hummel presented the bill and Kathy Hurley and I testified in support of the bill. There was a brief testimony in
support of the bill from the Special Education Administrators. There was testimony in opposition to the bill by a lawyer representing several
Optometrist and optometry associations.
Below is a list of the Senators who serve on the Education Committee. Please contact them and urge them to support SB 362. While the bill does not have valid and reliable in the text as we had hoped, it does require the NRMA or a research base assessment to be used in determining whether braille, print, or print and braille should be used if educators believe braille is not appropriate.
The committee meets on Tuesdays at 12:00 noon. It is possible they would vote on the bill this Tuesday, February 28. Please take a few moments to
contact these senators.
You can call the Missouri State Information Switchboard at 573-751-2000 and they will connect you to any of these senators offices. The email addresses are included in the list below.
Senate Education Committee
2-16-17 Newspaper Article
courtesy of the News Tribune, Jefferson City Mo (Link to Article)
Blind Federation members lobby lawmakers
Members of Missouri's National Federation of the Blind (NFB) chapter visited the Capitol this week, delivering their message that "low expectations create obstacles between blind people and their dreams. Blindness is not what holds us back."
Their annual lobbying effort involves informing lawmakers of some of the key, special issues facing blind Missourians that those with sight may not have considered.
Requiring a research-based, standardized reading media assessment.
Missouri law says "no blind person shall be denied instruction in Braille," but it does allow school districts to determine whether print or Braille is "the most appropriate method for reading and writing for a given student," the NFB reminded lawmakers. "Far too often print is determined to be the most appropriate reading medium because the process used in making evaluations is flawed and because the strong preference of teachers and school administrators is to teach what they know and use the resources easily available to them."
However, if blind students aren't provided materials in Braille when they need them, the group said, there can be physical and health consequences.
"It is common practice for students with visual impairments to hold reading materials very close to their faces, and/or to hunch their bodies over the materials when reading," the NFB explained.
"In addition to the posture and other health concerns these reading positions raise, years of field practice and experience have demonstrated that youth who read print materials at very close distances suffer eye strain, headache, neck and back pain, fatigue, and diminished concentration, reading speed, and comprehension."
So any test the state uses should "ensure that children are evaluated when sitting up straight and with materials held or placed at standardized distances," the group said. "We urge the Missouri General Assembly to embrace literacy for the blind with the same vigor that our society embraces literacy for the sighted."
Mandating accessible voting in all elections.
The federal "Help America Vote Act" requires each polling place to have at least one voting machine, during each federal election, that can be used by a blind person without requiring the assistance of a sighted person.
The federation wants to see those voting machines used "consistently" in state and local elections as well as federal contests — and doing so would bring the state into compliance with two other federal laws, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.
Changing state law involving the identification required to buy alcohol.
Recently, the NFB told lawmakers, a blind chemist, 35, visiting from another state was not allowed to buy alcohol because Missouri law didn't recognize his state's non-driver license as being valid.
They said current law, which lists Missouri's non-driver license and a valid out-of-state driver's license as acceptable identification, should be updated to include valid non-driver's licenses from other states.
2-13-17 Jefferson City Legislative Session
On Monday & Tuesday (February 13 & 14) a large group of dedicated members of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri convenes in Jefferson City to address lawmakers on our current legislative agenda.
Great News! SUCCESS on the "Required Identification to Purchase Alcohol" agenda item.
Identification, acceptable forms.
311.328. 1. A valid and unexpired operator's or chauffeur's license issued under the provisions of section 302.177, or a valid and unexpired operator's or chauffeur's license issued under the laws of any state or territory of the United States to residents of those states or territories, or a valid and unexpired identification card or nondriver's license as provided for under section 302.181, or a valid and unexpired nondriver's license issued under the laws of any state or territory of the United States to residents of those states or territories, or a valid and unexpired identification card issued by any uniformed service of the United States, or a valid and unexpired passport shall be presented by the holder thereof upon request of any agent of the division of alcohol and tobacco control or any licensee or the servant, agent or employee thereof for the purpose of aiding the licensee or the servant, agent or employee to determine whether or not the person is at least twenty-one years of age when such person desires to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages procured from a licensee. Upon such presentation the licensee or the servant, agent or employee thereof shall compare the photograph and physical characteristics noted on the license, identification card or passport with the physical characteristics of the person presenting the license, identification card or passport.