AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
Conference Call Advisory Meeting
The meeting was called to order by President Chris Gray at 8:15pm Central Standard Time on November 25, 2002.
Roll call was taken by secretary Donna Seliger. All officers and directors were present except Ms. Bazyn and Mr. Pomerantz. Also present were Ms. Melanie Brunson, Mr. Charlie Crawford, Ms. Debbie Grubb and Mr. John Taylor.
Motion 1: Mr. Paul Edwards moved that we hold an ad hoc meeting of a group of leaders of ACB to discuss this issue. The motion carried.
President Gray explained to the group the reason for calling the meeting. Following the meeting held in Iowa on November 16, 2002, the Advocacy Committee met and voted to recommend that ACB proceed as a signer on the complaint. The Iowa Council of the United Blind requested a meeting because it strongly objected to the decision made by the Advocacy Committee.
Mr. Crawford indicated all guide dog schools have been contacted and asked to sign on to the complaint. Four have agreed to sign onto the complaint, three have agreed to send support letters and the other have not responded at this time.
Mr. John Taylor, representing the Iowa Council of the United Blind, explained to the group that Miss Dohmen could take the classes at the Iowa Department for the Blind (with her dog) without going through the Orientation Center.
Next, Ms. Debbie Grubb presented the reasoning for filing the complaint on behalf of Ms. Dohmen and Guide Dog Users, Inc. She explained that under the law, the cane and guide dog are equally accepted mobility aids. She went on to indicate Ms. Dohmen is the one person who has made her complaint known. Ms. Grubb encouraged a vote in favor of ACB signing onto the complaint.
Mr. Taylor explained that Ms. Dohmen applied to the Des Moines Human Rights Commission and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. His belief is that those two bodies should make a decision prior to involving the Department of Justice.
Ms. Grubb stated she believed ACB should join the complaint because it has national ramifications.
Ms. Melanie Brunson explained that the case has ramifications applicable to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA. Both require that government agencies make their programs, services and activities accessible to people with disabilities. The ADA speaks specifically to the guide dog issues.
Mr. Charlson stated he was in attendance at the RSA Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Ms. JoAnne Wilson, RSA Commissioner, spoke. He had occasion to speak with several state agency directors while there. He said Ms. Wilson, as well as Mr. Alan Harris, director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, believe the only true mobility aid is the white cane.
Motion 2: Mr. Brian Charlson moved that we (ad hoc committee) add our voice (ACB) to that of the Advocacy Committee in recommending that ACB sign on to the complaint with respect to guide dog users at the Iowa Department for the Blind and other similar agencies.
Ms. Donna Seliger explained that the Iowa Council of the United Blind asked for the call because several members of the ICUB Board are pressing the president of ICUB to convene a meeting of the organization to secede from ACB if ACB signs onto the complaint.
A roll call vote was taken following a very long discussion. The vote was four in favor, nine opposed and two absent. Those in opposition were: Mr. Jerry Annunzio, Mr. Alan Beatty; Dr. Ed Bradley, Ms. Billie Jean Keith, Mr. Oral Miller, Ms. Carla Ruschival, Ms. M. J. Schmitt, Ms. Donna Seliger and Mr. Steve Speicher. Those voting in favor were: Mr. Brian Charlson, Ms. Dawn Christensen, Mr. Paul Edwards and Mr. Pat Sheehan.
Motion 3: Mr. Edwards moved that this advisory group endorse the notion of being supportive of the efforts of our affiliate GDUI in filing its complaint. The motion carried with abstentions from Ms. Seliger and Mr. Speicher.
Motion 4: Dr. Ed Bradley moved to adjourn the ad hoc committee meeting. The motion carried and the meeting was adjourned at 10:00pm CST.
Donna Seliger, Secretary