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A2004-02: Regarding Inaccessible Software for Blind Employees at SSB

Adopted in: 2004

Topics: Accessible Technology, Employment, State Services for the Blind

WHEREAS, software that is inaccessible via nonvisual means is a significant barrier to blind persons becoming employed in the modern workplace and reduces the effectiveness of the work of blind employees; and

WHEREAS, in 1998, understanding the need for accessible technology for all employees, the Minnesota legislature enacted  Minnesota Statutes Chapter 16C.145, requiring that all contracts for the procurement of information technology by the state of Minnesota include nonvisual access standards; and

WHEREAS, Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) employs qualified blind persons in a variety of positions within the agency; and

WHEREAS, blind employees at SSB have for more than eleven years been unable to access independently SSB's client information system and fiscal management software and have had difficulties with handling e-mail from remote locations; and

WHEREAS, this violation of Minnesota law has arisen in part because of choices and policies established by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the government department in which SSB is located, and to which SSB has contributed significant funding for upgrades to computer systems; and

WHEREAS, several attempts to resolve these problems undertaken by SSB were prematurely brought to a standstill by governmental restructuring, departmental reorganizations, budget cutting and staff changes; and

WHEREAS, potential employers look to SSB for advice and guidance as to how to make their job sites better suited to blind workers; and

WHEREAS, members of this organization have attempted to encourage and assist with the resolution of these problems by participating on a number of committees and by raising our concerns in various forums; now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this twenty-fourth day of October, 2004, in the city of St.  Cloud, Minnesota, that this organization express its serious concern over the inaccessibility of software essential to performing assigned job duties of blind employees of State Services for the blind (SSB); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon SSB to make finding a solution to this problem and coming into compliance with state law a top priority for the agency; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that where appropriate, assistance and resources be sought from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, since decisions made at that level have an impact on possible solutions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization express its willingness to work with SSB to assist in the resolution of the problem.

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