Wednesday, October 26

Legislative Update: Blind Vendors

Greetings. I received the following from the NFB of Texas's email list, regarding the measure to preserve the Randolph-Shepperd program for blind vendors. Read more below and if you know a blind vendor or are one yourself, then please do write an email to the address below and support this effort. If you would like a copy of the report that is referenced in this message, then email me through my website, or via comment, and I'll send you one. Thanks.

Dear Fellow Federationists:

We have a deadline before us. We each need to write and send an email before close of business next Monday in support of the oldest job creation
program in America that is specifically for blind persons. Last week an oversight hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor,
and Pensions (HELP). The goal of this hearing was to receive testimony about the Randolph-Sheppard Act as well as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act.
Our own Mr. Gashel provided the committee with informed testimony about both of these pieces of disability employment legislation. Federationists turned
out in impressive numbers, which made a powerful statement to several senators. The majority of listeners in their large hearing room were Federation

Although I thank you all for your past support of the Randolph-Sheppard program, now is most certainly not the time for us to rest on our past
accomplishments. Everyone of us must respond to the committee report that accompanied this hearing. The staff of the HELP Committee wrote a report that
attacks the Randolph-Sheppard Act and then recommends that the Randolph-Sheppard Act be combined with JWOD

The characterizations of blind vendors and of our program contained in the committee’s report were scurrilous and inaccurate, so we must demonstrate the
positive value of the Randolph-Sheppard program to the HELP Committee. For example, the report asserts that a very few blind vendors get rich under the
Randolph-Sheppard Act while most have nothing. It also asserts that blind vendors hire very few persons with blindness or disabilities to staff their
operations. Those of you who are vendors need to tell your stories explaining the critical role this program has played in your lives. Here are possible
points about which you can educate the committee:

· Tell where you were before you came into the program and contrast that with where you are now.

· Why did you decide to become a vendor?

· Describe in general terms those you employ in the management of your facility. Are any of your employees either blind or otherwise disabled?

· How many employees with disabilities, including blind persons, have you hired over the years?

· For how many of your workers with disabilities was this the first or only job they could find which gave them a chance?

· Do you know any success stories for your employees?

Outdated statistics provided to the committee by the Department of Education indicate that almost no disabled or blind people work for the
blind vendors under the Randolph-Sheppard program. Few doubt that blind vendors could improve in their hiring of disabled people, but they are likely
doing much better than these statistics suggest.

Those of us who are not vendors must also provide comments. Has a blind vendor served as a positive role model for you and, if so, how? Describe benefits
to you from having blind men and women in public contact with government employees. Our presence at the hearing indicated the importance of these issues
to us, and a large number of comments for the committee will continue to show them the importance of the Randolph-Sheppard program to the blind of America.

Your comments are needed. Please send your emails directly to the HELP Committee at,
and a copy to us to the address the NFB has established which is
The deadline established by the Committee is Monday, October 31.

The blind of America are counting on us to provide comments and preserve the Randolph-Sheppard program as a important program for the employment of blind
men and women in valuable opportunities.

Best regards

Jim McCarthy

Director of Governmental Affairs

National Federation of the Blind

1800 Johnson Street

Baltimore Maryland 21230

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