REPORT OF BVA 66TH NATIONAL CONVENTION BYLAWS AND RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
RESOLVED, that the National President shall send letters of appreciation to organizations and individuals contributing to the success of the 66th National Convention, as well as to other individuals and organizations assisting and supporting BVA during the past year.
WHEREAS, visual impairments are the third most prevalent factor in limiting the activities of individuals, AND
WHEREAS, the prevalence of visual impairments of those aged 65 and over is eight times the rate for those under 65, and 50 percent of all visually impaired persons in the United States are over the age of 65, AND
WHEREAS, 70-80 percent of individuals over age 65 currently classified as legally blind can be helped to perform daily living functions by low vision or vision rehabilitation services, AND
WHEREAS, financial resources are often a key factor in receiving such assistance, AND
WHEREAS, under current law, vision rehabilitation services and aids for the blind are excluded from coverage by Medicare or Medicaid, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, supports coverage under Medicare and Medicaid programs of vision aids for visually impaired persons eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
WHEREAS, federal funding for stipends and fellowships for students in personnel training programs to be teachers of the visually handicapped, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation teachers, and counselors for the blind have been reduced each year since 1976, AND
WHEREAS, the reduction of funding has caused many professional preparation programs to reduce faculty positions, closed many programs, and frustrated development of high caliber personnel,AND
WHEREAS, these reductions in funds have forced the programs to reduce the number of students accepted, and the reduction in stipends has made it difficult to recruit applicants for study in numbers equal to program capacity, AND
WHEREAS, the incidence of blindness and visual impairment is expected to dramatically increase over the next 15 years, while the number of qualified graduates continues to decrease, AND
WHEREAS, the shortage of qualified professionals in work with blind persons has in some instances caused a shift to service provision by persons with general education who have no knowledge of the unique needs of blind persons, AND
WHEREAS, the only certain means of assuring stipends and fellowships for students to alleviate the shortage is through categorical funding, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, urges the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to fund categorical programs for professional preparation of education and rehabilitation personnel serving people who are severely visually impaired and blind, AND
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that BVA encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affairs to explore partnering with University Preparation Programs to assure an adequate supply of professionally trained Vision Rehabilitation specialists.
WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in July 1990, AND
WHEREAS, blind and visually impaired individuals historically have experienced extreme difficulty in finding meaningful employment or advancing beyond entry level positions when employment is found, AND
WHEREAS, the provisions of ADA require reasonable accommodations for disabled persons, AND
WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs disabled people, many of whom are blind or severely visually impaired, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, urges VA to insure that all visually impaired and blind employees have reasonable accommodations, including necessary training on essential access technology.
WHEREAS, members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America are on duty 24 hours a day and may be subject to multiple hazards, hostile environments and unknown health conditions as a matter of course during their tours of duty in the Department of Defense, THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Blinded Veterans Association, in Convention assembled in Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, urges that these veterans shall not be innocent victims of indiscriminate budget-cutting efforts by attempting to change the method for service-connected compensation for injury or disease to performance of duty; AND
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the current line of duty approach shall remain as the standard applied to veterans’ claims.
WHEREAS, nonpayment of both retirement pay and veterans’ disability is an injustice to the veteran, AND
WHEREAS, retirement pay is for the time served in any military branch, AND
WHEREAS, veterans’ disability compensation is for a disability or injury while on active duty, NOW THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, the Blinded Veterans Association, in convention assembled in Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, strongly seek appropriate legislative change to permit veterans’ simultaneous receipt of disability compensation and military retirement pay without reduction in retirement pay.
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 rehabilitation 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 Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, urges the U.S. Congress to amend Title 38 USC section on Beneficiary Travel requiring VA to pay travel for all veterans meeting the VA definition of catastrophically disabled and to accept them for care in one of the VA Special Disabilities Programs.
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% 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 Las Vegas, Nevada, on this 20th day of August 2011, 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 WALK intervals; information indicating the presence and location of push-buttons; and information unambiguously indicating the street to which the signal applies.