Resolution adopted by the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma, regarding equality for the blind and their experiences at the State Capitol

Resolution Regarding the Oklahoma State Legislature, 2017-03

WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma is the largest and most diverse advocacy organization of the blind in the State of Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Legislature, comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate, whose Members are elected officials representing the people of Oklahoma, meet in session annually to draft, debate and pass legislation which ultimately becomes law in the state of Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, there are approximately 135,000 blind Oklahomans who are directly affected by the actions of the Oklahoma Legislature; and

WHEREAS, the blind of Oklahoma possess the capacity, knowledge and experience of blindness to understand issues directly affecting them and who, because of their unique experiences, are most qualified to speak on matters concerning the blind; and

WHEREAS, HB 1861 and SB 733 regarding the Older Blind program, diverting funding from the Department of Rehabilitation Services and placing it in the direction of Newview Oklahoma, a private, non-profit sheltered workshop, and HB 2230 regarding the exemption of County Jails from participation in priority contracts for blind managers, were introduced in the 56th Oklahoma Legislature, First Regular Session, and were authored without consultation with nor consideration of the blind constituents of Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, a group of approximately thirty to forty constituent members of the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma met on March 1, 2017, to attend committee meetings regarding the proposed legislation which had been referred to committees in the House of Representatives; and

WHEREAS, the County and Municipal Government Committee met regarding HB 2230 with the Committee Chair, Representative Sean Roberts, having previously given permission for a representative of the Oklahoma Association of Blind Merchants, a Division of the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma, to be recognized and to speak regarding our opposition to the proposed legislation; and

WHEREAS, after objection from the bill sponsor, Representative Mulready, the Committee Chair did not honor the agreement to allow a blind constituent to speak against the measure and instead allowed the Tulsa County Sheriff to be recognized and to speak in favor of the legislation; and

WHEREAS, Committee Chair Roberts further disrespected the blind persons in attendance by not providing verbal description of the voting after having been requested to do so by one of his own committee members, thereby not affording the blind attendees the opportunity to understand the tally and procedures of the vote, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and

WHEREAS, the Appropriations and Budget Committee met regarding HB 1861, with the same above-mentioned constituent members of the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma in attendance for the entirety of the four-hour committee meeting, and said blind constituents were not acknowledged or recognized by the Committee Chair, Representative Leslie Osborn, and were not provided an opportunity to speak in opposition to the proposed legislation; and

WHEREAS, blind constituents, their friends and family members have, in good faith and belief in the democratic process, contacted their respective Representatives and Senators by phone, e-mail and social media on multiple occasions regarding opposition to the proposed legislation that will undeniably affect the blind community; and

WHEREAS, the above legislation continues to move forward with complete disregard to the input provided by blind constituents, even though the blind of Oklahoma are united against the above measures and the only supporters are entities who stand to profit at the expense of quality services and jobs for the blind.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma, in Convention assembled in the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, this ninth day of April, 2017, that we condemn and deplore the actions of The Oklahoma Legislature, including the House of Representatives and the Senate, for demonstrating a pattern of disrespect and disregard for the blind of Oklahoma and for failing to faithfully represent the people of Oklahoma;

BE IT Further Resolved that We, the blind of Oklahoma, seek to speak for ourselves regarding matters concerning the blind and engage the members of the Oklahoma Legislature to work together in crafting and authoring legislation regarding issues related to blindness and the blind of Oklahoma so that we may share our knowledge and experiences with blindness in order to assist the Oklahoma Legislature in creating effective policies regarding the blind.


Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
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