National Federation of the Blind, et al., v. The City of New York, et al.
In January of 2017, Disability Rights Advocates announced a settlement of its 2016 federal lawsuit on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind (“NFB”) and three blind individuals, alleging that the City of New York and its partner, CityBridge LLC, discriminated against blind people in their LinkNYC program. 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. Specifically, the suit alleged that the LinkNYC program violated federal and state disability laws by failing to equip the individual “Links” with readily available software and hardware that would allow blind people to utilize the broad range of services available free of charge to others.
The settlement unveiled a comprehensive plan to ensure that the LinkNYC public communications network is fully accessible to the blind now and in the future. The comprehensive plan 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.
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. DRA co-counseled with Brown, Goldstein & Levy of Baltimore, MD.