Access to the Blind Ensured at LinkNYC Communication Network

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New York, NY – January 31, 2017 – A settlement has been reached between the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and CityBridge, LLC to ensure that the LinkNYC public communications network is fully accessible to the blind now and in the future. LinkNYC, touted as a “first-of-its-kind communication network,” provides free mobile device charging, domestic phone calls, access to city services, and a dedicated function to reach 911 to millions of New York residents and visitors.

There are already hundreds of Links deployed across the five boroughs and CityBridge will install thousands more over the next few years. By instituting policies that will ensure that access for the blind is built-in before a new service is offered to the general public, CityBridge becomes a model for technology companies across the country. The far-reaching accessibility plan settles a 2016 lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind and several blind New York City residents who have been unable to access all features of the Links. The plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center. DRA co-counseled with Brown, Goldstein & Levy of Baltimore, MD.

The comprehensive agreement includes:

  • Accessibility enhancements for blind users of LinkNYC, including:
    • Improved accessible screen navigation features;
    • Dedicated shortcut key to request assistance with a Link; and
    • Updated screen reader and text-to-speech engine.
  • Policies to ensure the accessibility of all LinkNYC features before public use;
  • Annual accessibility training for CityBridge employees; and
  • Appointment of an Accessibility Coordinator to ensure that CityBridge’s Accessibility Policy is implemented.

“People with disabilities have a right to full participation in new technological innovations,” said Mindy Jacobsen, a plaintiff in the suit and a blind individual who teaches the blind and those who are losing vision how to use computers. “I’m excited to use LinkNYC’s features and I’m glad I can tell my students they can access LinkNYC too.”

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is committed to ensuring that blind Americans can access innovative technologies like LinkNYC, and we are glad to see that the city and CityBridge are committing to making this new service available to all New Yorkers on an equal basis. We urge other entities contemplating similar services to follow the example being set by CityBridge in its implementation of this comprehensive agreement, and we stand ready to partner with municipalities and other entities as they plan and implement these services.”

“By integrating accessibility into its policies and practices, CityBridge will be an industry leader in providing accessible technologies to the blind,” stated Michelle Caiola, Director of Litigation at DRA. “We are extremely pleased that this litigation has resulted in such a productive agreement.”

About Disability Rights Advocates
Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-change, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.

About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

 

Contacts

Disability Rights Advocates
Seth Packrone, Fellowship Attorney, (212) 644-8644, spackrone@dralegal.org
Michelle Caiola, Director of Litigation, (212) 644-8644, mcaiola@dralegal.org
National Federation of the Blind
Chris Danielsen, Director of Public Relations, (410) 659-9314, Ext. 2330, CDanielsen@nfb.org