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To download the word version of our 2017 Legislative Priorities, click here.

Transportation Alternatives & Accessibility:

Strengthen transit and transportation services to ensure that people with disabilities across the state can get to where they need to go.

Transportation is among the greatest of challenges facing people who are blind/visually impaired. Being transit dependent limits access to employment, health care, services of daily living and social connections.

Budget Items

• The current budget proposal seeks a 2% per year increase in the funding of the Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities County Aids. When factored across 72 counties, this is a minor increase for this key funding.

• State funding for transit options has been relatively flat since 2000. Increased transit options across the state would enhance quality of life for people with vision impairments.

 

Employment Opportunities:

Support initiatives to increase competitive employment for people with disabilities, including the Business Enterprise Program and training opportunities through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

People experiencing vision loss have unique needs related to obtaining and maintaining living wage employment. These include specialized training in assistive technologies, workplace accommodations, transportation access and reduced employer bias towards people with

disabilities.

Budget Items

• The proposed budget fully funds the Transition Incentive Grant Program, which WCBVI supports as an important mechanism for school districts to invest in the successful post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities.

• The proposed new grant program for school districts to identify and create meaningful and competitive work opportunities for students with disabilities also shows promise.

• The Department of Workforce Development, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provides valuable training and supports the Business Enterprise Program and thus needs appropriate funding to maintain its ability to serve people with visual disabilities.

 

Civil Rights & ADA Compliance:

Prevent discrimination and promote full community inclusion of people with disabilities.

Budget Items

• Many important consumer protections are established through the administrative rules process, and we are concerned about the impact of limiting the creation of administrative rules, related public hearings and input mechanisms would have on the health and safety of Wisconsin consumers and people with disabilities.

• The proposed elimination of the Labor and Industry Review Commission raises concerns regarding how employment issues and questions will be managed in the state. A mechanism for managing employment discrimination issues or violations against equal enjoyment of places of public accommodations is critical for the wellbeing of people with vision-related disabilities.

• The proposed expansion of the Board on Aging and Long Term Care Ombudsman’s authority to cover all adults over the age of 60 who are enrolled in a long-term care program, including IRIS, benefits people who are blind or visually impaired.

 

Education:

Support investments in Wisconsin public schools.

Excellent educational opportunities, including access to specialized educational services for students who are blind/visually impaired is key for successful workplace and societal engagement.

Budget Items

• The proposed increase in per pupil aid amount in each year of the budget directly benefits all students and helps replace the funding lost over the past several years. However, withholding this funding for districts not in compliance with Act 10 unfairly disadvantages some students, particularly concerning for students qualifying for special education services.

• The budget does not include increases for special education funding for public schools, but offers increased funding for voucher programs. Public schools, including the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Janesville, have dedicated programs and specially trained professionals, serving the needs of students with visual disabilities. In addition, these schools attempt to provide the appropriate assistive technology and accommodations, including Braille. Private schools are not required to provide these certified professionals, technologies and accommodations.

 

Health Care & Long Term Care:

 

Protect and strengthen health coverage for people with disabilities.

People with vision-related disabilities, whether purchasing their own health coverage or utilizing Medicaid, are vulnerable to changes in these systems. especially if they are income-limited, suffer from traumatic eye injury or disease, requiring surgery or medication or have other health conditions.

Budget Items

• The proposed budget increases for medically needy Medicaid eligibility would benefit some of our constituents.

• While the proposed budget maintains current eligibility and funding for Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs, it is concerning that the potential of Medicaid block grants or per capita caps will result in significant funding cuts for Medicaid in Wisconsin.

• The budget’s attempts to put a more equitable premium structure forward for Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP) may benefit people with vision-related disabilities as it is based on income when that income exceeds 100% of Federal Poverty Level.