REPORT OF BVA 61ST NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration has been forced to operate with decremental budgets for years, AND
WHEREAS, the administration proposed in its 1998 thru 2006 fiscal year budget for VA, that Veterans Health Administration appropriations for health care be substituted for by allowing VA to retain collections from third party payers through their Medical Care Cost Recovery program, AND
WHEREAS, this action sends a clear message to VA and veterans that VA must rely more heavily on revenue sources other than appropriations for funding veterans health care, AND
WHEREAS, the VA has proposed a demonstration project that would allow VA to be reimbursed for medical care provided to certain veterans who have dual eligibility for VA and Medicare,AND
WHEREAS, the design of the demonstration project is a win-win for both veterans and the Medicare Trust Fund; veterans would have increased choices for receiving health care; and the Medicare Trust Fund would save money because the VA has agreed to provide care at a discounted rate to Medicare recipients, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to a similar opportunity for the Department of Defense to be reimbursed by Medicare, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, strongly urges VA and Committees on Veterans Affairs in both the Senate and the House to aggressively pursue separate legislation, providing VA with the authority to establish a demonstration project for Medicare Subvention.
WHEREAS, blinded veterans referred to one of the ten VA Regional Blind Rehabilitation Centers (BRCs) for comprehensive residential blind rehab services must travel long distances to receive these rehabilitative services, AND
WHEREAS, certain blinded veterans, because of their income level, are not eligible for Beneficiary Travel Benefits, AND
WHEREAS, these same blinded veterans are required to pay the Social Security co-payment and daily per diem rates to receive VA residential blind rehabilitation, AND
WHEREAS, these veterans are required to pay their own travel to receive essential rehabilitative services, AND
WHEREAS, the expense of air transportation can be very high and serve as a strong disincentive for the veteran to take advantage of the VA BRC training, AND
WHEREAS, the Network hosting the BRC is reimbursed at the high or complex rate for these blinded veterans, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urges the U.S. Congress to amend Title 38 USC section on Beneficiary Travel requiring VA to pay travel for all veterans accepted for care in one of the VA Special Disabilities Programs.
WHEREAS, new technological improvement in products in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation appear almost daily, AND
WHEREAS, currently, there is no standardized method for BREWS to systematically evaluate, test and review emerging technology,AND
WHEREAS, it is likely that some of these technological innovations will offer benefit to some portion of the blinded veteran population, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association in Convention Assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006 strongly urge the Veterans Health Administration and Congress to do the following:
Instruct BRS to formulate and implement an organized method of researching and testing new technological innovations in the field of Blindness Rehabilitation using actual blinded veterans as part of the test for the viability of training and issuance of the new devices to blinded veterans. The testing procedure should include review of usage of new technology by agencies and organizations dealing with sight loss outside the Department of Veterans Affairs,AND FURTHER BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Veterans Health Administration explore Partnering with the American Foundation For The Blind (AFB) Technology Center in Huntington West Virginia to achieve the goals outlined in this resolution.
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees the right of access to information to persons with disabilities; AND
WHEREAS, many signalized intersections provide information to pedestrians with sight which is not provided to pedestrians with visual impairments, AND
WHEREAS, it has been demonstrated (Crandall, W. Bentzen, B.L., and Myers, L., 1998) that competent, independent, blind pedestrians at unfamiliar signalized intersections may initiate as many or more than 34 percent of crossings during the clearance of DON'T WALK intervals if those intersections are not equipped with accessible pedestrian signals, AND
WHEREAS, accessible pedestrian signals have been widely used for more than ten years in countries including Australia, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom and are considered by traffic engineers to be widely effective not only in providing information to blind pedestrians but also in decreasing general pedestrian delay and facilitating vehicular flow at signalized intersections, AND
WHEREAS, increasing numbers of quiet vehicles, including electric vehicles and those with quiet internal combustion engines, make acoustic information from vehicles inconsistent, resulting in the inability of pedestrians who are blind to reliably detect the onset of the WALK interval by listening for a surge of vehicles, AND
WHEREAS, inexpensive technologies exist to make Accessible Pedestrian Signals which are automatically responsive to ambient sound, being very quiet at night and in low traffic situations, while still loud enough to be heard above vehicular sound in high traffic situations; AND
WHEREAS, accessible vibrotactile and speech transmission signal systems exist which add no noise to the environment, AND
WHEREAS, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century provides that "Transportation plans and projects ... shall include the installation, where appropriate, and maintenance of audible traffic signals and audible signs at street crossings"; NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urges the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to develop recommended practices for installation of pedestrian signals which make information which is regularly provided to other pedestrians, accessible to pedestrians who are visually impaired, including but not limited to: information specifying WALK and DON'T WALKintervals; information indicating the presence and location of push-buttons; and information unambiguously indicating the street to which the signal applies.
WHEREAS, the loss of hearing in combination with loss of eyesight is very disabling and negatively effects the quality of life of veterans suffering from this combination of disabilities, AND
WHEREAS, current law enables veterans with service-connected loss of vision in one eye to obtain service-connection for both eyes if loss of vision in the other eye should occur, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urge Congress to amend Title 38 providing the loss of hearing in one or more ears be ruled service-connected if a veteran has service-connected blindness.
WHEREAS, current voting machines allow most people to cast their votes for their choice of political candidates in a confidential setting, AND
WHEREAS, the same private situation is not offered to most blind voters in the United States, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that BVA in Convention Assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, urge the U.S. Government to enforce laws mandating the use of accessible voting machines throughout the United States, AND FURTHER BE IT
RESOLVED, all voting places are fully accessible to disabled persons, AND FINALLY BE IT
RESOLVED, that every polling place have at least one voting system that is fully accessible, providing people who are visually impaired or blind the opportunity to cast their vote independently and with full privacy if they so choose.
WHEREAS, most current automatic teller machines (ATMs) are not accessible to blind people and whereas technology is now available to make ATMs completely accessible to blind people,THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, legislation be adopted to insure that ATM machines be available at every ATM site for blind and otherwise visually impaired individuals.
WHEREAS, Non Service-Connected (NSC) veterans whose income exceeds the means test threshold are required to pay the Social Security Co-pay for inpatient episodes of care as well as a daily per diem rate during that episode, AND
WHEREAS, the means test assumes veterans have sufficient discretionary income to offset the cost of services in the VA, AND
WHEREAS, catastrophically disabled veterans are not likely to be employed or have the potential for meaningful employment, AND
WHEREAS, the charges assessed for care by the VA may serve as a significant deterrent to receiving essential care, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, seek legislation that would waive the means test requirements for NSC catastrophically disabled veterans assuring they have access to the Special-Disabilities Programs so crucial to their rehabilitation and well being.
WHEREAS, it has become evident that formal education and experience in the field of blind rehabilitation is not being used as a qualifying factor in the selection of the position of Chief at the Blind Rehabilitation Centers, AND
WHEREAS, the position of Manager/Chief of a residential Blind Rehabilitation Center is a critical role in providing services for Blinded Veterans, the individuals selected for these positions must have a solid foundation in the field of blind rehabilitation,THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Buffalo, NY on this 19th day of August, 2006, strongly request that the VA make every effort to recruit qualified individuals with backgrounds in blind rehabilitation for the positions of management in a blind rehabilitation center. The VA is encouraged to give special consideration to qualified blinded veterans for these positions, as they would serve as excellent role models