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2018 Resolutions, Strongsville

The resolutions below were passed by the membership of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio during our 2018 convention in Strongsville. If you are using a screen reader, you can use the letter H and shift+H on your keyboard to move between the resolutions, as they are organized by headings.

Resolution 2018-01: The Creation of State Government Documents and Forms in HTML5

WHEREAS, for many years blind Ohioans have been unable to obtain most forms and other government documents in an accessible format; and
WHEREAS, many documents sent to blind people from state agencies are time-sensitive and have severe consequences attached to a missed deadline; and
WHEREAS, PDF documents are often inaccessible to the blind, and the remediation of these documents is both costly and time-consuming; and
WHEREAS, PDF documents cannot be completed on mobile devices using screen-access software nor be made compliant with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA; and
WHEREAS, HTML5-based formats render all documents accessible regardless of device; and
WHEREAS, all citizens benefit from documents that are properly formatted and easy to read on any device: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the City of Strongsville, Ohio, that we call upon all state agencies to adopt policies requiring that all documents and forms be produced in HTML5-based formats by December 31, 2019; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon these agencies to replace or convert all currently used forms or documents to the HTML5-based format and that this replacement or conversion process commence on or before January 1, 2020.

Resolution 2018-02: Selection of the Superintendent of the Ohio State School for the Blind

WHEREAS, In 1837 the Ohio government established the Ohio Institution for the Education of the Blind; and
WHEREAS, This institution was the predecessor of the Ohio State School for the Blind and was the first public school for the blind in the United States; and
WHEREAS, this history demonstrates a strong commitment on the part of the people of Ohio to ensure that the blind children of the state receive a free and appropriate public education in an environment with specialized educators, professional staff, and equipment; and
WHEREAS, in its modern history until 2008 the Ohio State School for the Blind had a superintendent whose sole responsibility was to oversee the educational and social development of the pupils placed at the school; and
WHEREAS, this responsibility includes supervising staff at all levels and overseeing the maintenance of the buildings and grounds of the school; and
WHEREAS, the construction of new facilities for the Ohio State School for the Blind and the Ohio School for the Deaf, completed in 2011, is a further demonstration of the understanding of the Ohio General Assembly that blind children have unique educational needs and that the people of Ohio remain committed to meeting those needs: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the City of Strongsville, Ohio, that this organization call upon the Ohio Department of Education to begin a national search for a qualified superintendent of the Ohio State School for the Blind; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist on having representation on the search committee; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if the department of Education fails to begin a search within three months or fails to include the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio on the search committee, the president of this organization be authorized to take any and all political or legal action he deems appropriate to see that the Ohio State School for the Blind has a qualified superintendent.

Resolution 2018-03: Appointment of the Director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

WHEREAS, at its inception in 1970 the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (now Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, OOD) was governed by seven Commissioners, a majority of whom had disabilities or represented those with disabilities, including a representative from the blindness field; and
WHEREAS, because this body was comprised of people with disabilities who had both personal and institutional knowledge of rehabilitation services and were firmly grounded in a positive philosophy of disability; and
WHEREAS, this body insisted that the agency director share its values and philosophy concerning appropriate rehabilitation outcomes–the agency director and bureau deputy directors being professionals from the disability field; and
WHEREAS, even with this leadership in place the blind of Ohio often disagreed with the agency administration, the disagreements were handled in a mutually respectful way, and both sides knew that both positions were grounded in knowledge and experience in the disability field; and
WHEREAS, despite occasional disharmony among key stakeholders, the agency was in at least the top five agencies in the nation in key performance indicator categories, including types of jobs held by people with disabilities, wages earned, number of hours worked, and successful case closures; and
WHEREAS, in recent years the director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities has been a gubernatorial appointment; and
WHEREAS, the current OOD director was a purely political appointment with no experience in administering successful rehabilitation programs; and
WHEREAS, this director appointed others with no experience in services for the blind to key leadership positions within the agency; and
WHEREAS, this has led to the predictable result that the state’s rehabilitation services agency has been in a protracted struggle with the organized blind of Ohio as we try to improve the quality of rehabilitation services for blind citizens throughout the state, which will result in more blind people living higher quality lives and becoming more productive citizens able to engage in every aspect of life, including paying taxes; and
WHEREAS, leaders who are experienced in rehabilitation and committed to working with the organized blind and others with disabilities could build OOD into an agency that leads the nation in successful rehabilitation outcomes, making Ohio the envy of the nation among people with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, identifying an official with the rehabilitation experience and dedication to making the OOD program one that truly offers effective training opportunities and provides excellent rehabilitation to Ohio’s growing population of citizens with disabilities will require a national search; and
WHEREAS, Ohio’s disability consumer organizations understand what constitutes effective rehabilitation and would examine applicant credentials with a recognition of excellence and commitment to high expectations: now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the city of Strongsville, Ohio, that this organization urge the next governor of Ohio to commit himself to improving rehabilitation services in the state; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge him to conduct a national search for a truly excellent director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we offer the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in conducting this search and finding an OOD director truly capable of building an agency committed to genuine rehabilitation of Ohioans with disabilities.

Resolution 2018-04: Need for Public Transportation Reforms in Ohio

WHEREAS, in the state of Ohio public transportation is a valuable community resource; and
WHEREAS, those Ohioans who do not have access to personal transportation must rely on public transportation; and
WHEREAS, the blind of Ohio necessarily depend on public transportation to go to work, attend school, travel for medical appointments, and engage in various aspects of community life; and
WHEREAS, in the state of Ohio paratransit options are limited; and
WHEREAS, paratransit has proven unreliable, time-consuming, and frustrating even for those blind Ohioans who do have access to it; and
WHEREAS, public transportation offers more flexibility for making travel plans; and
WHEREAS, public transportation options such as streetcars, buses, and the like are considered fixed-route transportation; and
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically addresses the operation of fixed-route transportation; and
WHEREAS, the ADA mandates that bus routes will be clearly announced at each stop; and
WHEREAS, fixed-route vehicles are required by the ADA to announce major stops as well as major intersections; and
WHEREAS, many public transportation systems have installed automated announcement systems on buses; and
WHEREAS, the volume of these automated announcement systems is sometimes set so low that they are inaudible; and
WHEREAS, these automated announcement systems are often turned off or are in a state of complete disrepair; and
WHEREAS, bus drivers mostly fail to make announcements when the automated announcement systems fail to work appropriately; and
WHEREAS, public transportation systems allow a bus with a nonworking automated announcement system to remain in service for long periods of time before maintenance is performed; and
WHEREAS, bus drivers on a fixed-route system are required to stop when an identifiable blind person is clearly waiting near a bus stop, but often do not; and
WHEREAS, multiple buses can line up at a bus stop and a bus in the second, third, or fourth position often fails to wait for the first bus to pull away, without alerting blind passengers who might be waiting for that bus, resulting in blind passengers never having a chance to board the bus they need; and
WHEREAS, many transit companies make no reasonable effort to let blind riders know when a bus stop has moved or been temporarily taken out of service; and
WHEREAS, the blind of Ohio have for years complained in the hope that transit authorities would correct these and similar injustices; and
WHEREAS, in the past our complaints have been passed on to management without noticeable resolution of the problems or any efforts made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities act or with transit systems’ best practices regarding blind and disabled passengers: now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the City of Strongsville, Ohio, that we call upon all public transportation systems throughout the state of Ohio to comply with all transportation protections established by the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we demand that all public transportation systems follow their own best practices in providing transportation to the disabled and to the blind of Ohio; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that transit authorities meet with local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio and leaders of this organization to resolve problems identified by the blind of the area; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the president of this organization be instructed to take any political or legal action he deems appropriate to protect the rights of blind and disabled users of transportation systems in the state and to ensure their access to transportation.

Resolution 2018-05: Paratransit Reform and Modernization in Ohio through the Use of Ride-Share Companies

WHEREAS, in the state of Ohio public transportation is a valuable community resource; and
WHEREAS, those Ohioans who do not have access to personal transportation must rely on public transportation; and
WHEREAS, Ohioans who are deemed eligible may use paratransit services; and
WHEREAS, the blind of Ohio necessarily depend on public transportation or paratransit to go to work, attend school, travel for medical appointments, and engage in community life; and
WHEREAS, throughout the state of Ohio paratransit options are limited; and
WHEREAS, in some instances public transit systems provide their own paratransit services direct to the community; and
WHEREAS, public transit systems often contract with a third party to provide paratransit services; and
WHEREAS, these third-party contracts can be very lucrative for the third-party transportation provider, resulting in profit having a higher importance than performance; and
WHEREAS, making use of paratransit presents many challenges such as being able to get a pickup or drop-off time that is close to when you would like to travel, being picked up and dropped off at the scheduled time, not spending extended time in transit, problems with dispatch, having trips canceled based on driver availability, last-minute change in work schedule, and in the case of non-ADA trips being able to schedule a ride at all; and
WHEREAS, paratransit is not an option if you have an unforeseen event or emergency that occurs outside of the prescribed paratransit reservation window; and
WHEREAS, paratransit has proven unreliable, time-consuming, frustrating, physically uncomfortable, and in some instances unsafe; and
WHEREAS, paratransit is lacking in both customer service and in quality assurance; and
WHEREAS, paratransit providers have difficulty in hiring and maintaining quality drivers; and
WHEREAS, paratransit providers throughout Ohio have an overall operating cost that can fluctuate based on employee overtime, fuel cost, number of trips scheduled, and vehicle maintenance; and
WHEREAS, state and federal funding for transportation including paratransit is subject to budget cuts; and
WHEREAS, the cost for an individual to take paratransit and to bring an escort along has historically increased in cost, which is paid directly by the eligible rider; and
WHEREAS, the development of new business models and the advancement of accessible smartphone technology have created an alternative to the traditional transit and paratransit markets; and
WHEREAS, ride-share companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar can be found in communities throughout Ohio where public transportation and paratransit are offered; and
WHEREAS, ride-share companies could be used to supplement and improve paratransit services by lowering cost to the rider, allowing escorts to ride along with no additional charge, offering more flexibility when scheduling ride times, reducing the overall time spent in transit, and moving towards an on-demand option; and
WHEREAS, using a ride-share option could reduce the overall cost of paratransit by lowering the number of drivers, reservation staff, mechanics, administrative staff, and miscellaneous employees directly employed by paratransit companies; and
WHEREAS, going to a ride-share model would further reduce cost by decreasing tax dollars being spent on paratransit vehicles, garage equipment, and facility costs: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the City of Strongsville, Ohio, that we call upon all paratransit systems throughout the state of Ohio to move to a ride-share model to supplement the current paratransit option; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that transit authorities meet with local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio and leaders of this organization to develop the use of ride-share options to improve paratransit within Ohio; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the president of this organization be instructed to take any political or legal action he deems appropriate to support the implementation of a ride-share paratransit partnership in the state of Ohio.

Resolution 2018-06 : Domestic Violence against the Blind

WHEREAS, people living with disabilities, including the blind, are victims of domestic violence three times more frequently than able-bodied people; and

WHEREAS, blind people may not realize that they are victims of verbal, financial, physical, sexual, psychological, and other forms of abuse; and

WHEREAS, few domestic violence agencies, shelters, or law enforcement and health care providers are aware of the most effective ways to support a blind victim; and

WHEREAS, there are no specific procedures to follow when the crime of domestic
violence is committed against a blind person; and

WHEREAS, the current national escape plans address the problems of able-bodied victims; and

WHEREAS, hotline and shelter staff members have no training in reasonable accommodations for blind victims during a crisis: now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the national Federation of the Blind of Ohio in Convention assembled this fourth day of November, 2018, in the City of Strongsville, Ohio, that this organization call upon health care professionals, law enforcement entities, domestic violence agencies, shelter and hotline staff members, and others to work with the organized blind to develop appropriate plans and reasonable accommodations for helping blind victims of domestic violence; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the president of this organization appoint a committee to work to help local NFB chapters and local officials develop an escape plan for the blind that the various local and state domestic violence agencies can adopt; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we continue to speak out against the crime of domestic abuse and work toward ending the cycle of violence against blind people.

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