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Missouri's National Federation of the Blind Lobbying for Change

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The National Federation of the Blind of Missouri is at the state capitol to lobby for laws and changes that could make blind Missourians lives more accessible.

A few of the issues they are focusing on include IEP recordings, pensions and employment.

Eugene Coulter, president of the Columbia chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, said that braille literacy is also important in giving students more equality.

“I guess the biggest thing is that if a person gets to see at all like I did when I was a kid, they told you had to learn print.”

According to Missouri’s Annual Blind/Visually Impaired Literacy Study of 2018 conducted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, only 8.9% of the blind/visually impaired use braille as their primary reading medium.

Coulter says that there are not enough qualified braille teachers and that teaching a student braille takes scheduling, time and money. 

Coulter says that visually impaired students should learn braille because even if they can be print, braille literacy in the long run if they lose all of their sight.

On another issue, Coulter said that voting rights are important in giving the blind independence.

Brianna Lennon, Boone County Clerk, said that she takes allowing every eligible voter to cast a ballot seriously.

“One of the things that we will be doing now is sending out the voting machines that are accessible for all elections.”

Coulter said that the state should mandate accessible voting for all elections to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, including local elections.

The National Federation for the Blind of Missouri will be at the state capitol until tomorrow lobbying for house bills, including 1270, 1276 and 1540.