Regarding the My MD THINK Consumer Portal

WHEREAS, the State of Maryland has established a new internet portal called Maryland's Total Human-Services Integrated Network (My MD THINK) Consumer Portal, which its home page describes as the "gateway to Health and Human Services"; and

WHEREAS, My MD THINK is supposed to allow Marylanders to access and apply for various benefits, including benefits used by Marylanders with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, in order to complete any application process using the My MD THINK Consumer Portal, a user must first create a My MD THINK account by providing detailed personal information, as well as creating a username and password; and

WHEREAS, a screen-reader user tabbing through the form to create an account encounters several accessibility barriers, including: 1) drop-down menus that do not identify their function but where instead the user only hears a prompt saying "please select one;" 2) a field for the user's date of birth which does not specify what format to use to enter the information; 3) fields for phone numbers that do not identify which type of number (e.g. home, mobile, work) is being requested; and 4) additional coding and usability issues not consistent with screen-reader access; and

WHEREAS, an accessibility link (which incidentally is not properly identified as a link by screen readers) on the portal's home page only takes users to the general accessibility statement that is supposed to apply to all websites in the domain; and

WHEREAS, blind users who have completed the registration process report further accessibility issues when applying for specific benefits; and

WHEREAS, many of these users also report difficulty getting help using the system when they call the designated phone number, if they can find it, such as long wait times and the failure of representatives to call back even when an appointment has been scheduled; and

WHEREAS, many users who need the benefits that can supposedly be accessed through the My MD THINK  Consumer Portal do not even have internet access, making the process of applying for benefits over the phone even more important and consequently more frustrating when it fails; and

WHEREAS, some blind Marylanders have lost needed benefits because they could not apply or recertify their eligibility for those benefits and had to reapply because they could not use the My MD THINK system; and

WHEREAS, the Maryland Department of Human Services, Department of Disabilities, and Department of Information Technology are charged with resolving problems with the My MD THINK Consumer Portal, but they have clearly failed to do so: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this thirteenth day of November, 2022, in the city of Towson, Maryland, that this organization urge the Maryland Department of Human Services, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, and the Maryland Department of Information Technology to work collaboratively with us to identify and resolve all accessibility barriers on the My MD THINK Consumer Portal; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we demand a responsive telephone service for Marylanders with and without disabilities to use if they find it difficult or impossible to use the My MD THINK Consumer Portal.