Guide Dogs and Health Insurance
The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut urges the opposition of 2016 Senate Bill 35 as written. All language about guide dogs for the blind should be removed. While this bill is a fantastic thing for users of service animals, including guide dogs for the blind could have detrimental effects on the guide dog industry.
The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut is opposed to any legislation that would greatly lessen business opportunities for blind people who want to run food service facilities in state parks and forests that are maintained by the Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP). Such legislation would also set a terrible precedent in the future for Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurs.
While the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) would be able to bid on these facilities, they would only be able to retain or procure the food services facilities for a blind person in the unlikely event that they are the highest bidder.Currently there are three blind vendors operating food service facilities in three state parks and forests. In all likelihood, these three people will lose their businesses if such legislation passes. The chance for blind people to procur new businesses in other state parks and forests in the future will be severely impaired.The unemployment rate for blind people in Connecticut is dismally high, over 70%. Our goals include working at productive jobs in order to be independent, tax-paying citizens of our state. Please support blind small business owners and oppose any such proposed legislation or amendments.
Accessible Voting Machines
During the 2011 legislative session, our General Assembly and Governor Malloy revised elections-related statutes with Public Act 11-173. It is now mandatory that ALL voting devices are tested and operational one hour prior to the opening of the polling places. This mandate works to end the second class treatment of blind people who wish to vote independently. The NFB of CT will continue to advocate for one primary voting system that is accessible to both the majority of the public and to the blind.
Separate State Agency for the Blind
As a result of budgetary cutbacks, the 2011 General Assembly and Governor Malloy consolidated the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, the Commission on Deaf and Hearing Impaired and the Bureau of Rehab Services into a new agency, the Bureau of Rehab Services. The National Federation of the Blind of CT disagrees with this action. We firmly believe in, and will always advocate for, a separate agency for the blind.