These resolutions were adopted by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana Treasure State virtual convention on Saturday, October 1, 2022.
Resolution 2022-01 Regarding Continued funding for Access to NFB-NEWSLINE in Montana
WHEREAS one of the obstacles for people who are blind or have low vision is the inability to see small print and electronic text materials; and
WHEREAS blind and low vision citizens of the state of Montana need access to the content from newspapers, magazines, online information sources, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and other content in order to be successful in school, to find and retain meaningful employment, to raise and maintain a family, and to contribute to society; and
WHEREAS NFB-NEWSLINE, which has operated since 1995, currently makes over 500 newspapers and magazines, online materials, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and information specific to the state of Montana accessible in audio and Braille formats to all blind, low vision, and print-disabled people at no cost to the individual by leveraging a wide range of commercially available and specialized technologies including the touchtone phone, IOS mobile app, Amazon skill, and a secure accessible website; and
WHEREAS during the 2021-2023 biennium, the Montana state legislature generously authorized funding access to NFB-NEWSLINE, which has benefitted qualified Montanans by removing one of the biggest obstacles to information access for people who are blind, have low vision, or are otherwise print-disabled: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Montana in convention assembled this first day of October, 2022, in the state of Montana, that this organization commend the 2021 Montana legislature for funding NFB-NEWSLINE in Montana; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon the 2023 Montana legislature to continue to fund NFB-NEWSLINE for the 2023-2025 biennium and into the future to ensure that blind, low vision, and other print-disabled Montanans can remain equal and fully-engaged members of our great state.
Resolution 2022-02 Requesting a Substantial Increase in State Funding for the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program in Montana
WHEREAS the population of Montana is the sixth oldest in the country and the oldest west of the Mississippi; and
WHEREAS an estimated sixty thousand of Montana's approximately 300,000 citizens who are 55 years of age and older will experience vision loss as a natural part of the aging process; and
WHEREAS these older adults experiencing vision loss will need to learn and use alternative nonvisual techniques and tools in order to continue to age in place in their own homes and communities and to live the lives they want; and
WHEREAS the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended contains the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program which, in a joint federal and state partnership, provides access to and training in the use of these alternative nonvisual techniques and tools to older blind Montanans through the Blind and Low Vision Services Bureau (BLVS) of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS); and
WHEREAS, because of staff shortages, many older blind Montanans are presently waiting six months or longer to receive services as fundamental and as life-changing as a magnification system, which would restore their ability to read newspapers and magazines, recipes, crossword puzzles, or package directions, read their own mail and write their own checks, resume hobbies or crafts, and see pictures of family and friends; and
WHEREAS the demand for such life-enhancing services for the older blind in Montana far outpaces the supply of these services, leaving far too many older blind Montanans unnecessarily isolated and without a support system, especially in rural areas, which adversely affects their physical and mental wellbeing and leaves them at risk of being placed in expensive nursing homes or other care facilities: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this first day of October, 2022, in the state of Montana, that this organization call upon the 2023 Montana legislature and the Governor to substantially add more state dollars to the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind program, in order to fill vacancies with qualified staff, and to deliver services in a timely manner to older blind Montanans.
Resolution 2002-03 Regarding Accessible Voting for Voters with Disabilities in Montana
WHEREAS the Montana Secretary of State's office has partnered with all 56 counties in Montana to offer the ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking system, which provides options for all voters, including those with disabilities, to mark and cast a ballot: and
WHEREAS the ExpressVote ballot marking system currently does not allow a voter who cannot access the touch screen to vote without assistance from a poll worker in a closed primary election before continuing to mark a ballot, since the choices on the touch screen are not tactile or audible and the voting process will not continue until a choice is made: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this first day of October, 2022, in the state of Montana, that this organization call upon ES&S ExpressVote Elections and software to make the process of selecting a political party in a primary election accessible to blind voters in Montana