The official policies of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania 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 Each proposed resolution is read, spoken for by the authoring member, considered, and then ultimately withdrawn or recommended for passage or disapproval by the Convention.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: Regarding Prescription Eye Drops
WHEREAS many persons require prescription eye drops for in-home treatment of their related eye conditions; and
WHEREAS, during the self-administration of this required in-home treatment, uncontrollable environmental factors negatively impact the “laboratory condition” of the eyedrops and/or their administration; and
WHEREAS, current laws prohibit the refill of sterile compounded preparations, such as eye drops, at the time of need and rely solely upon the “date dispensed” for prescription refill; and
WHEREAS, laws have been inacted in other states which govern the existing practices for responsible preparation, controlled method of delivery, and timely dispensing of eye drops, including early refills: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled this fifteenth day of November, 2020 in the city of Pittsburgh, that this organization present the above matter to the President of the National Federation of the Blind, Baltimore, Maryland; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization work with the National office as well as other stakeholders, in pursuing a nationwide and/or state solution.
Resolution 2020-02: Regarding Accessible Voting
WHEREAS, on October 31, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bill creating no excuse mail-in balloting; and,
WHEREAS, the mail-in and absentee ballots provided by the State are not accessible for the blind preventing blind voters their right of voting privately and independently; and,
WHEREAS, the onset of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic resulted in many counties across the state closing in-person voting for the 2020 Primary thus further limiting voting options for the blind; and,
WHEREAS, in May 2020, the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth, in Federal court seeking releif for the inaccessible ballots; and,
WHEREAS, with less than seventy-two (72) hours prior to the deadline to request ballots, the Commonwealth provided a solution of the accessible write-in ballot, which the Federal judge accepted for the primary, but continued the case for a permanent solution for the November 2020 election; and,
WHEREAS, in August 2020, the Commonwealth presented a contract with Democracy Live to provide an accessible ballot marking tool, satisfying the judge and settling the lawsuit; and,
WHEREAS, on October 15, 2020, the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania determined that the Commonwealth’s contract with Democracy Live is for only one (1) year: Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled this fifteenth day of November, 2020 in the city of Pittsburgh, that this organization remain vigilant in the fight against discrimination of the blind in our Constitutional right to vote, privately and independently being equal with all US citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as defined by the Pennsylvania state constitution; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization advocate to the legislature in voting reform, including when possible, attending hearings on the matter of voting equality and accessibility in order to memorialize in law the guarantee of accessible voting in every format available to other voters in Pennsylvania; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVE that the National Federation of the Blind and the members of this state affiliate be commended for their courage and resolve to fight this injustice.
Resolution 2020-03: Regarding 2020 Pandemic Response & Outreach
WHEREAS, in early 2020, SARS-CoV 2 was declared a global pandemic; and
WHEREAS, in March, the Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Health, instituted mandatory closures of government agencies, schools, resources for the disabled and other community businesses; and
WHEREAS, National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania President Lynn Heitz requested from the state board and subsequently the membership, to accept the offer from the national office of a Zoom license, and create programming to aid blind members during this critical time; and
WHEREAS, as a result of this leadership, the state affiliate pulled together a Zoom meeting platform for the duration of the pandemic with activities ranging from accessibility technology training, health and fitness, education, legislation, trivia and more; Now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled this fifteenth day of November, 2020 in the city of Pittsburgh, that this organization commend all of its members for coming together in this time of need to serve others throughout the state and what ended up being throughout the world, with support and education thus moving the message of the Federation forward; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this organization continue with its outreach, reinvigorating our membership local and abroad, increasing the recognition of our name and mission in order that this organization becomes the “go-to” resource for any in the state seeking knowledge, direction, and advocacy in future policies so that the blind of Pennsylvania can live the lives they want.
Resolution 2020-04: Regarding Access to Educational Platforms and Materials
WHEREAS, access to the full curriculum is vital for participation in in-person and virtual education settings for all students; and
WHEREAS, accessibility barriers impede full access to the educational environment for blind and low vision students and for others with print disabilities; and
WHEREAS, both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) require schools to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the United States Department of Education (USDOE) issued a Joint Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on June 29, 2010, noting that “individuals with disabilities must be provided with the same aids, benefits, or services that provide an equal opportunity to achieve the same result or the same level of achievement as others”; and
WHEREAS, on November 12, 2014, the USDOJ and the USDOE issued a Joint DCL stating that: “Students with disabilities, like all students, must be provided the opportunity to fully participate in our public schools,” and that “a critical aspect of participation is communication with others”; and
WHEREAS, in September 2017 and on March 12, 2020, the USDOE unequivocally reminded school districts and other local education agencies that students with disabilities retain full rights to educational opportunities, including access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) whenever school districts provide any educational opportunities to nondisabled students; and
WHEREAS, many school districts in Pennsylvania have ignored their longstanding accessibility obligations to blind and low vision students, by purchasing, implementing, and allowing the use of educational technologies that are only partially accessible to these students or are not accessible at all; and
WHEREAS, despite clear guidance from the USDOE, the shift to part-time or full-time remote instruction in many Pennsylvania public schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened learning barriers for blind and low vision students due to the use of partially or fully inaccessible educational technologies: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in convention assembled this fifteenth day of November, 2020 in the city of Pittsburgh, that this organization strongly urge the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Intermediate Units, school districts, and other local education agencies throughout the state to limit their purchase, use, and implementation of educational materials to only those that are fully accessible to blind and low vision students; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these entities be encouraged to consult with the National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania for recommendations about the purchase and implementation of fully accessible materials.
Resolution 2020-05: Regarding Commending the Wolk Family
WHEREAS, Michael Wolk sought out the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania as a resource for his family and daughter Laura Wolk; and
WHEREAS, Michael Wolk became President of the Pennsylvania Organization of Parents of Blind Children substantially revitalizing it; and
WHEREAS, Laura Wolk flourished, graduating from Swarthmore College and then Law School at Notre Dame in 2016; and
WHEREAS, Laura Wolk continued to break barriers, becoming not only the first blind lawyer, but the first blind female lawyer to clerk for the United States Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas (2019-2020): Now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania in Convention assembled this fifteenth day of November, 2020 in the city of Pittsburgh, that this organization commend to the highest degree, the work Michael Wolk and his family have done in support of their blind child and in support of this Organization; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Organization commend to the highest degree, Laura Wolk for her vast achievements and tireless effort to become the best person she can be, all the while, in her actions proving blindness is only a characteristic, and we can live the lives we want; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Pennsylvania Organization of Parents of Blind Children work together with the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania affiliate in creating a program honoring Michael and Laura Wolk, to support parents and children with their own journey with the National Federation of the Blind, to assist them in living a life they want.