Member Update: Consumer Group Resolutions
Ian Shadrick Ed.D., CVRT, CRC
One of the new member benefits is to provide you our members with updates on the latest trends and happenings in the field or that can affect you as a professional. AVRT felt it might be beneficial for those of you could not attend either or both consumer group conventions, to learn about the resolutions passed by both the NFB and ACB national offices, that have an impact on either the profession of vision rehabilitation therapy directly, or other aspects that could impact the services we provide as VRTs.
You will note both organizations have a number of resolutions surrounding accessibility of technology (such that VRTs instruct) as well as home and personal use for clients. ACB did have a resolutions specific to vision professionals and the naming convention of the profession as a whole. This resolution is something that has been an ongoing discussion from ACVREP and as such I have provided the entire text of this resolution to provide a historical context. Below is a summary of the 2019 resolutions passed by both groups that directly affect VRTs or the services we provide. Additionally there were a number or tangentially related resolutions that may be worth reviewing. It is important to note that both groups passed at least 20 resolutions, so not all resolutions are noted here but we do provide links to these additional resolutions. Additionally, a number of the resolutions are also listed as hyperlinks that can direct you to the full wording.
Resolution 2019-02: Regarding the Continued Exploitation of Workers with Disabilities under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act: condemns and deplores all entities that use special wage certificates under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act; and urges all entities that continue to exploit workers with disabilities through the payment of sub minimum wages immediately to develop and implement models to transition all of their disabled workers to competitive, integrated employment.
Resolution 2019-03: Regarding Mobile Phones for Blind Seniors: urges Jitterbug to add non visual access features including menu and message readout to the Jitterbug Flip; and to make available the ability to enable Talk back or other accessibility options at the initial stage of setup and provide documentation for all features of its products in an accessible format; and urges Great Call to provide an accessible activation method, describe the accessibility features of its phones in the Product-Support section of its website, and train customer service staff on all accessibility features.
Resolution 2019-05: Regarding the Use of Accessible Ballot-Marking Devices as the Primary Ballot Marking Tool: demands that the Senate amend the PAVE Act to make BMDs the primary method for ballot-marking and provide sufficient funds to state and local governments to purchase the required number of BMDs for use by the majority of voters; and demands that state and local governments implement the legislation and election procedures necessary to make the use of BMDs the primary method of ballot-marking for the majority of voters, thus ensuring that voters with disabilities have a secret ballot.
Resolution 2019-11: Regarding Equal Accessibility for All Learning Ally Customers, Including the Blind: strongly urges Learning Ally immediately to upgrade its current book-reading software and VOICE text audio format so that blind patrons have the same access and equivalent ease of use as other print-disabled readers; and calls upon all educational institutions to refuse to purchase memberships to Learning Ally for students until it provides the same access to the blind that it offers to other print-disabled readers.
Resolution 2019-12: Regarding Accessibility of Social Media Platforms: calls upon social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and others, to make a serious commitment to creating more inclusive experiences by giving accessibility features a more prominent place on their platforms and implementing stricter accessibility testing protocols, including user testing, before new features launch; and urges all major social media companies to engage actively with the organized blind during the development stages of product and feature design in order to inform their accessibility and usability processes.
Resolution 2019-16: Regarding Uber and Lyft Ride Denials for Travelers with Service Animals: demands that Uber and Lyft vigorously enforce their single-strike policies for terminating drivers who knowingly refuse transportation to riders with service animals, as required by their settlement agreements with the NFB; and demands that Uber and Lyft thoroughly investigate all claims of discrimination against travelers with service animals and that Uber and Lyft respond to complainants and the NFB promptly and transparently and in accordance with their settlement agreement obligations.
Resolution 2019-17: Regarding Pearson’s Access Barriers: calls upon Pearson to demonstrate a full commitment to accessibility by publicizing its roadmap for addressing the accessibility of its educational products and services and by ensuring that all new products conform with WCAG 2.1 AA prior to their release; and demands that Pearson announce publicly its process and timeline for responding to complaints from schools, students, parents, and others regarding access barriers in Pearson products and services; and condemns and deplores Pearson’s continued use of and failure to remediate its inaccessible My Lab questions, tutorial content, and features.
Resolution 2019-18: Regarding Considerations for Blind Users in the Development of Autonomous Vehicle Technology: urges automobile manufacturers, technology companies, and all other stakeholders involved in designing, developing, and deploying autonomous vehicles to make their vehicles fully accessible to the blind by including non visual access to these four essential features in their products; and also urges entities to work directly with blind Americans to test and acquire feedback on the non visual access features of autonomous vehicles.
Resolution 2019-19: Regarding the Quality of Braille Output from Amazon Kindle Books: calls upon Amazon to design, develop, and implement solutions that will enable Kindle books displayed in Braille to convey formatting and attribute information to blind users.
Vision Impairment Specialist Designation Resolution 2019-05:
Whereas, people who are blind or have low vision constitute a low-incidence population, and availability of specialists to provide this population with vision habilitation and rehabilitation training is scarce; and people who are hired for vision habilitation and rehabilitation programs often come from related fields that do not have the specialized training that is necessary to provide optimal services; and it is essential to increase the numbers of specially trained service providers; and lack of awareness of the existence and availability of jobs in the field of vision habilitation and rehabilitation has hindered efforts to grow a large enough cohort of specialists; and establishing a specific designation for the field will both increase awareness and readily identify those people who are specifically trained and certified to serve people who are blind or have low vision; and the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) has proposed the use of “vision impairment specialist” as the primary designator for positions serving people with visual impairments; and this designator would always be accompanied by a specialist designation which would include, among others, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT), Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist (CATIS) and Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT); and ACVREP does not certify teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs), who have separate state requirements for licensure and employment; Now, therefore, be it resolved that this organization join with ACVREP, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and Vision Serve Alliance to actively encourage the use of these designations in all communications about the nationally certified professionals in the field of vision habilitation and rehabilitation with the general public, policy and decision-makers, and elected officials; and that these organizations and others be encouraged to create a working group on which ACB would serve to advance the objectives of this resolution by whatever means seem appropriate; and that this organization work to assure that each of the designations described herein are appropriately defined and included in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to ensure that each of the distinct professional disciplines is properly recognized and maintained in law and regulations.
Resolution 2019-02: Bar Codes: request that Trader Joe’s change its practice to enable people with print disabilities using bar code scanners to access product information.
Resolution 2019-07: Accessible Diabetes Medical Equipment: reiterates ACBs commitment to work for the enactment of legislation, seek potential changes in regulations and, if necessary, look for relief through the courts to assure that people who are blind or have low vision have access to appropriate, accessible and usable diabetic devices.
Resolution 2019-09 Medical Recordings: supports the responsible, unrestricted use of personal recording devices in medical settings by people with disabilities.
Resolution 2019-11 Accessibility of Autonomous Vehicles: urges all companies seeking approval for experimental use of AVs, either voluntarily or pursuant to any applicable requirement of law, to demonstrate meaningful inclusion of and responsiveness to the disability community, especially ACB and other leading organizational and individual expert perspectives on blindness and low vision, to ensure the full accessibility and usability of AVs; and such input from people who are blind or who have low vision address not merely issues relating to the safe and effective operation of AVs by passengers, but also the infrastructural issues surrounding AV access and use, including communication necessary for locating vehicles upon their arrival, for identifying the appropriate vehicle from among many vehicles that may be co-located in a given area, and for ascertaining before, during and at the conclusion of trips, all vehicle-usage-related information that persons with ordinary vision would have or expect to have; and emphatically demands that no experimental use permits or permanent approvals be granted for AV use in the absence of consumer-informed and well-delineated protocols ensuring the accessibility and usability of AVs on terms of full equality for people who are blind or who have low vision.
Resolution 2019-13 Competitive Integrated Employment and National Industries for the Blind Placements: communicates its strong opposition to this existing policy by RSA in an effort to expand the definition of competitive integrated employment to encompass the placement of consumers in NIB-sponsored facilities, particularly those located in venues employing significant numbers of non-disabled individuals.
In conclusion, you will note from significant resolutions from both groups that can affect our client’s, information we can provide, and the technology and related services that clients can access. This includes everything from education systems, personal and professional technology, public transportation and related technology services and overall employment; to name but a few. Additionally, there is the specific resolution that could affect the overall naming of the field if adopted by other organizations, creating sub-specialties of the field in name. We hope that you found these resolutions helpful in understanding the areas of impact and focus from both consumer groups.
For further information, please visit the consumer websites below: