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Resolution 2014-01 Regarding the Inaccessibility of AlcoholEdu

WHEREAS,

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), and the Joint Dear Colleague Letter issued on June 29, 2010 by the Departments of Justice and Education, all require that institutions of higher education in the United States provide blind and other students with print disabilities equal access to education, including electronic educational media and learning management systems; and,

WHEREAS,

State of Montana rules such as the 1993 Executive Order by Governor Racicot calling for Montana to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, HB239 passed in 2001 requiring nonvisual access to information technology, and the Montana Human Rights Act, all require that Montana University System components only procure and provide electronic media and learning management systems which are accessible to blind and other students with print disabilities; and,

WHEREAS,

On March 7, 2014, The University of Montana, a component of the Montana University System, entered into a compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Educationís Office of Civil Rights, regarding the Universityís failure to make such electronic educational media and learning management systems accessible to blind and other students with print disabilities; and,

WHEREAS,

The Montana University System has justly ramped up its efforts to educate incoming students about the potential dangers of alcohol abuse and sexual violence; and,

WHEREAS,

The Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, subsequently approved the purchase of AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol abuse and sexual violence prevention program, to be implemented as the education module on this topic for the entire Montana University System; and,

WHEREAS,

The completion of AlcoholEdu is mandatory for all incoming first-year and transfer students under the age of 21 in all sixteen components of the Montana University System, but the failure to complete AlcoholEdu results in the freezing of a studentís ability to register for future classes; and,

WHEREAS,

Blind and other students with print disabilities have at least as great a need for education regarding alcohol abuse and sexual violence as their nondisabled peers; and,

WHEREAS,

Since AlcoholEdu has proven to be inaccessible to screen readers, an assistive technology used by blind and other students with print disabilities in the Montana University System, the only means by which a screen reader using student can complete this mandatory requirement is to have someone else read the questions aloud to the student and submit the studentís responses to AlcoholEdu; and,

WHEREAS,

Since AlcoholEdu promises complete confidentiality to all students with respect to the information they provide, this process violates both the civil rights and the rights to confidentiality of blind and other students with print disabilities; and,

WHEREAS

Although Commissioner Christian was made aware of this, he nevertheless forced the implementation of AlcoholEdu in all sixteen components of the Montana University System: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this Eleventh Day of October, 2014, in the city of Helena, Montana, that we condemn and deplore Commissioner Clayton Christianís willful and informed action, resulting in the violation of the civil and confidentiality rights of blind and other students with print disabilities of the Montana University System, and his utter disregard for the law and the health and safety of all students with print disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Commissioner Christian and the Montana University System to immediately take whatever steps are necessary to make AlcoholEdu accessible to blind and other students with print disabilities.

Resolution 2014-02 Applauds BLVS for funding NFB Newsline

WHEREAS,

Access to national and local newspapers and other printed information is critical to achieving full participation in employment and other aspects of society; and,

WHEREAS

NFB Newsline is a fast and flexible information content delivery system with five Montana dailies, as well as more than three hundred other newspapers, magazines, and publications; and,

WHEREAS,

Montanaís Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services has now assumed sponsorship of NFB Newsline as an important employability factor for Montanans with print disabilities: NOW THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this Eleventh Day of October, 2014, in the city of Helena, Montana, that we applaud VRBS for sponsoring NFB Newsline for the benefit of all Montanans with print disabilities.

Resolution 2014-03 Regarding Funding for the Teaching of Fundamental Skill Development for Montana Students with Blindness and Low Vision Disabilities

WHEREAS,

Montana students with blindness and low vision disabilities are in need of fundamental skill development for independent travel, information management, and other compensatory disability-related skills; and,

WHEREAS,

The Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind community-based service consultants do not provide direct services such as orientation and mobility instruction to Montana students with blindness and low vision disabilities; and,

WHEREAS,

Blind and Low Vision Services orientation and mobility service strategy involves age and employment-related eligibility requirements; and,

WHEREAS,

It is a necessity for Montana students with blindness and low vision disabilities to have fundamental skills to benefit from public education and live the lives they want: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this Eleventh Day of October, 2014, in the city of Helena, Montana, that we recommend that The Honorable Governor Steve Bullock in the Executive Budget Planning (EBPP), and/or through the Montana 2015 legislature, appropriate funds to the Montana Independent Living Project (MILP) for the purposes of supporting, encouraging, and stabilizing orientation and mobility gains for Montana students with blindness and low vision disabilities for the upcoming biennium.

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I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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