I had the opportunity to participate in the 2018 ACB Legislative seminar on February 26th and 27th, 2018 In the Washington, D.C. area. I shared ACB’s 2018 legislative imperatives with staff from the offices of Indiana’s 2 Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young and representatives from the offices of Jim Banks, Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon, Trey Hollingsworth, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Peter Visclosky and Jackie walorski. I encourage you to review ACB’s 2018 legislative imperatives and urge you to contact your U.S. Representative and Senator Joe Donnelly (202) 224-4814 and Senator Todd Young (202) 224-5623 and ask and encourage them to support these key legislative issues on behalf of the blind and visually impaired.
2018 ACB Legislative Imperatives
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is the nation’s leading grassroots consumer organization of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 state and special interest affiliates across the country, ACB is committed to promoting independence and opportunity for Americans who are blind, and ACB stands committed to advocacy that lifts up our values.
Americans are currently at the start of a transformative time in history regarding blindness and vision loss. On one end of the spectrum, technology is making massive improvements towards augmenting the loss of sight for individuals who are blind; while at the same time, live longer in retirement and changing demographics in our country all contribute to what will be a significant rise in the prevalence in blindness over the next 30 years*. Therefore, ACB urges Congress to work with advocates, scholars, and policymakers toward crafting a long-term agenda that will secure independence for millions of Americans experiencing vision loss and blindness. The following legislative imperatives represent several key issues in the 115th Congress ACB believes will help us in our road to full independence and participation in our society.
Securing Independence for Medicare Beneficiaries
For a decade now, Medicate has refused to cover the cost of low-vision aids, due to an eyeglasses exclusion that prohibits the purchase of any durable medical good with a lens. While the regulatory exclusion was seen as cost savings by not covering eyeglasses, it has had negative impact on those who through the use of special low-vision aids could significantly increase their independence in the home. ACB believes that simple adaptive low-vision aids can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to remain independent in their home. Such personal independence can have long-lasting effects toward aging in place, rather than have to pursue costlier institutional or assisted living care.
ACB Calls on Congress to pass the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage on Low Vision Devices Act (H.R. 2050), which would measure the various costs and benefits of removing the Medicare eyeglass exclusion. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) in the house, is a smart approach toward finding workable solutions that help seniors age in place. A Senate companion bill is forthcoming. Congressional offices interested in becoming a co-sponsor can
Contact Anthony Stephens, ACB’s Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs: email@example.com
Passage of the Cogswell-Macy Act
Despite decades of efforts intended to create pathways of success for students with disabilities, children who are blind and visually impaired still face significant challenges transitioning into adulthood, gaining the necessary intellectual and social skills that can lead to success outcomes.
The Alice Cogswell and Ann Sullivan Macy Act recognizes that no two children with sensory disabilities are equal, each one with a unique set of experiences and solutions ready to be unlocked and open the door to success. This bipartisan legislation, introduced as H.R. 1120 in the house and S. 2087 in the Senate, seeks to uncover these pathways to success, assuring that relevant data is tracked and limited funds for special education are spent in a manner to provide the greatest return on investment.
Safeguarding Programs that Promote Independence and Inclusion
ACB urges Congress to support three key programs and services that are often not in the limelight, but of great value for millions of Americans who are blind and visually impaired. These programs not only promote independence, but also sustain literacy and foster community inclusion and opportunity. Understanding the detrimental effect loss of these programs would have on our population, in addition to increased costs for those forced out of their homes into institutions and assisted living facilities. ACB strongly urges Congress to support these programs through recommended – or at minimum level funding – appropriations for FY2018 and 2019, and for the latter program to assure that nothing in the infrastructure proposals encouraging privatization of highway rest areas does not kill this program.
- Independent Living Services for Older Individuals with Blindness
- National Library Services for the Blind & Physically Handicapped
- Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facilities Program
For questions or further information on the 2018 ACB imperatives, Email Anthony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs: firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 467-5081. The American Council of the Blind greatly appreciates your support on these critical issues for 2018, and we look forward to working with you during the remainder of the 115th Congress.