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RE: Payment of Readers in Higher Education

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RE: Payment of Readers in Higher Education

WHEREAS, live readers continue to be a necessary and invaluable tool for blind students to obtain equal access to class materials; and

WHEREAS, many blind students cannot afford to pay their readers out of pocket; and

WHEREAS, the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will provide funding for readers unless "comparable benefits" are available; and

WHEREAS, since Arizona's universities provide so-called "comparable" reader services, many blind students in Arizona cannot receive payment for readers from RSA; and

WHEREAS, when students receive reader services from their universities, they are required to use readers obtained and supervised by the university in order to ensure that their readers are paid; and

WHEREAS, this dependence upon the university undermines the student's ability to develop and practice managerial skills necessary for using readers when employed; and

WHEREAS, university programs which serve many students cannot always find readers for all students in a timely manner; and

WHEREAS, by contrast, RSA allows students to hire and manage their own readers and still receive proper payment; and

WHEREAS, Arizona's universities generally pay readers less than RSA does, further weakening the quality of service; and

WHEREAS, students taking distance learning courses are expected to receive their "comparable benefits" from the out-of-state university offering the course, which is logistically impractical; and

WHEREAS, for all of these reasons, reader services currently available from universities do not meet the test of comparable benefits: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in convention assembled this seventeenth day of September, 2006, in the city of Tucson, Arizona, that this organization urge the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration to routinely pay for readers needed for higher education, regardless of other services that might be available to students; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge universities and community colleges to adopt best practices that support students' ability to hire and manage their own readers.

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