Blind Missourians presenting 2020 agenda to lawmakers

3 months 2 weeks 3 days ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:34:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
By: Marisa Rios, KOMU 8 News Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri will spend two days at the capitol, presenting their concerns and advocating for the blind.

Dacia Cole, Columbia chapter vice president, said there are 7-8 chapters all around Missouri coming to Jefferson City. Cole said they all bring their concerns each year around this time. There is a full agenda, but the group has a few main concerns.

"Every year, the annual review is sent as a certified piece of mail and currently that's a problem because a lot of blind people live on their own or even if they don't, they don't always have someone who comes and brings their mail everyday," Cole said. "If you get a certified mail sticker on the front door or stuck in the mailbox, and the mailman doesn't ring the doorbell to notify, then the blind person has to go to the post office and that isn't always convenient."

Cole said a lot of blind people don't have a way to get to the post office. In this case, they may have to pay for an Uber or hire a friend, which costs extra money. Cole wants to change this with a policy that wouldn't require certified mail. 

One of the issues the NFB wants to discuss is ensuring children have the right to braille literacy. 

"Only 10 percent of most blind read braille and that's because they're not taught braille because school districts fight teaching it," Cold said. "We're fighting to make it so that children can be taught braille because a lot of times their vision will deteriorate. If they don't learn braille, they can become illiterate."

NFB member Gary Wunder is attending the annual event Monday and Tuesday. He said their group will also support House Bill 1540, a bill that would allow the recording of IEP meetings. Wunder said another concern involves being able to vote independently and privately. 

"In some situations, we have to either bring somebody with us or get a judge from the Republican Party and a judge from the Democratic Party to listen to how we vote," Wunder said. "There are machines that can do this, but they only get rolled out for federal elections. We are looking for them to be rolled out on all elections."

Cole said their main reason for going down is to be equal with everyone and have the same opportunities as everyone else. 

"As a whole, it's our goal to fight for that person to have the right to say I need this," Cole said.

The National Federation of the Blind of Missouri won't stop its fight here. It will continue to keep in touch with legislators after this, and have its message heard across many platforms. 

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