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2020 Resolutions

The official policy statements of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan are established every year with annual resolutions adopted at the state convention.

The resolutions committee meets early during the convention. Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.

Resolution 2020-01: A Resolution Asking Western Michigan University To Establish and Implement Accessibility Standards that will Meet the needs Of Their Blind ” Students

Whereas Western Michigan University has a significant population of blind undergraduate and graduate students; and

Whereas COVID-19 has drastically altered the format of instruction to be virtual for most courses in 2020 and beyond; and

Whereas most blind students require accessible technology and software to complete course work; and

Whereas Western Michigan University students have faced significant accessibility barriers related to coursework prior to COVID-19, but have had these become even more apparent with virtual instruction; and

Whereas accessibility complaints are not being satisfactorily resolved for students; and

Whereas the elimination of the access technology support student positions has made it significantly more challenging for students to seek university-based accessibility-related assistance in the current virtual instructional environment for their accessibility issues; and

Whereas there are no insitution-wide policies related to accessibility published by the university or any of its services, colleges or departments; and

Whereas instructors are not provided standardized training to understand best practices for assisting their blind students with accessibility issues: Now, therefor

Be it resolved on this seventh day of November in the year 2020 that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan ask Western Michigan University to create formalized accessibility policies that will allow blind students to fully participate in their curriculum, and that we, the National Federation of The blind offer to consult with the university on best practices to achieve this; and

Be it further resolved that this organization ask Western Michigan University to create and implement standardized training for all faculty and instructional staff, including graduate teaching assistants, regarding accessibility issues for blind students; and

Be it further resolved that Western Michigan University must restore accessibility technology support positions in order that blind students have the technical support that they need to be successful in this virtual learning environment.

Resolution 2020-02: A Resolution Calling On The city Of Detroit to correct The Inaccessibility of Their Information Technology.

Whereas, full access to information from all levels of government, including elected officials, administration, departments, and functionaries, as well as the ability to communicate fully with them, is essential to survive and participate in the activities of our society; and

Whereas, doing so is the right of every citizen; and

Whereas many communications such as emails, text messages, and much of the webpages used by the city of Detroit are not fully accessible to blind Detroit citizens; and

Whereas this situation makes it difficult or impossible for fully capable blind Detroit citizens to enjoy the essential services that the city provides; and

Whereas the need to do almost everything in a virtual environment, due to the current Pandemic, makes solving these problems even more necessary; and

Whereas there are reasonable steps that can be taken to make Detroit’s information technology compatible with the adaptive software that we, blind people use; and

Whereas failure to do so would be both a dereliction of civic responsibility and a violation of established civil rights and disability law; and

Whereas the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan is the most active and representative organization of blind people in this state; and

Whereas the National Federation of the Blind is willing and able to assist the City Of Detroit to identify and solve these problems: Now, therefor

Be it resolved on this 7th day of November 2020 in virtual convention assembled that we, the National Federation Of The Blind Of Michigan, call upon Detroit’s Mayor, City council, and heads of departments, to take all Possible steps to resolve this situation; and

Be it further resolved that the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan offers to work cooperatively with the City of Detroit, in a good faith and ongoing effort, to identify and fix all inaccessible information technology used by the City of Detroit and prevent such problems from occurring in the future.

Resolution 2020-03: A resolution to follow up on “Resolution 2019-01” Re unfulfilled Commitment of BSBP.

Whereas on Sept. 30 2019 the Bureau of Services for the Blind (BSBP) shut down the “Visually Impaired Services” (VIS) program, Housed in Detroit Receiving Hospital without notice or consultation with the National Federation of the Blind, VIS staff, or any other clients or community members, leaving Michigan’s three largest counties without a dedicated “Adjustment To Blindness” program, for the first time in fifty years; and

Whereas at our convention on November 9th 2019 the National Federation of the Blind presented BSBP Director William Robinson with Resolution 2019 1, which condemned and deplored the BSBP for its allowing the VIS program to decline to a shamefully low level, and there closing it in secrecy without notice; and

Whereas in response Mr. Robinson agreed that the program was substandard, but denied any responsibility for this, and committed to meet with the National Federation of the Blind to discuss plans and ideas to fill the whole left by the destruction of the VIS program and improve rehabilitation services in the Detroit metropolitan area; and

Whereas as of this writing, neither Mr. Robinson or anyone else from the BSBP has met with us to resolve this issue, nor have they done anything to correct the drastic service cut that closing the VIS program created for blind people in the Detroit area; and

Whereas we recognize the difficulties created by the Covid 19 pandemic, this does not explain Mr. Robinson’s silence during the months between our convention in early November and the outbreak of the virus, which in any case would not stop anybody from picking up the telephone: Now, therefore

Be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan on this 7th day of November 2020 in virtual convention assembled, that we, the National Federation of the Blind, renew our request that Mr. Robinson and the BSBP immediately start to work with the National Federation of the Blind in a cooperative good faith effort, to restore a reasonable level of rehabilitation services to blind people in Detroit; and

Be it further resolved that we will take all appropriate steps to achieve these ends.

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