The National Federation of the Blind
of Connecticut
Legislative Issues in Connecticut

Testimony in Favor of Raised House Bill 5279,
An Act Eliminating the Minimum Fair Wage Exception for Certain Citizens of Connecticut

The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut supports Raised House Bill 5279 which fosters fair compensation for those with disabilities. We believe that those with disabilities need to be given the same employment opportunities that all working adults in Connecticut receive. H.B.5279 is a major step in the direction of equality. It has been demonstrated that the 75-year-old practice of paying those with a disability pennies per hour is an outdated system that does not work well.

The assumption that disabled workers are not as productive as their non-disabled counterparts is false. This assumption has been disproven with the countless modern employment models that have been put into practice across the country. Satellite locations of Goodwill Industries andNational Industries for the Blind (NIB) are successful while paying disabled employees at or above minimum wage. The justification that sub-minimum wage workshops can be used as a stepping stone to full-wage employment is inaccurate. Data shows that less than five percent of disabled workers placed in sub-minimum wage workshops successfully transition to a competitive employment model. Numerous sub-minimum wage employment models have shifted successfully to a model which guarantees all their employees at least the same minimum or above-minimum wage that their non-disabled workers enjoy.

The practice of sheltered workshops paying their workers pennies per hour while the executives of the same workshop make six-, or sometimes seven-figure salaries, is revolting. This system is discriminatory and does not provide an environment where initiative is rewarded. Ninety-five percent of disabled workers that are employed in a sum-minimum wage paying workshop stay there permanently. Let's change this unjust arrangement to a system of which all Connecticut residents can be proud. Please pass Raised House Bill 5279.

Edward Shaham, Director of Legislative Affairs
National Federation of the Blind of CT
Telephone: (860) 289-1971

Randolph-Sheppard Entrepreneurs

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). The 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 this 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.

The Freedom to Vote
by Chris Kuell

Resolution 2010-01: Independent & Private Voting

Blind Residents Have Right to Vote Privately, Independently: November 2009

More on the 2009 elections

Op-Ed authored by Susan Bysiewicz and Chris Kuell, October 2006


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.

Model Blind Services Agency to Be Stripped of Accountability and Efficiency

Letter to the State Legislature

Testimony in Opposition to Agency Consolidation

Why a Separate Agency For The Blind


Contact Information
Click here to contact your State Representative or Senator, or Congressperson

Click here to contact Governor Malloy



National Legislative Issues

National Legislative Issues

Quiet Car Legislation

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For more information, E-mail us at:

The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut
477 Connecticut Boulevard, Suite 217
East Hartford, CT 06108
(860) 289-1971


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Updated March 18, 2014