Top News Stories
ACB Files Suit Against Four Cab Companies
A March 16 press release indicates that the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP have filed a lawsuit against four Washington, D.C. cab companies (Yellow Cab of DC, Grand Cab, Elite Cab, and Pleasant Taxi) on behalf of Eric Bridges and the American Council of the Blind. The complaint is based on four incidents caught on camera during a 2013 undercover investigation by WUSA Channel 9. The video shows cab drivers from the four previously identified companies bypassing Mr. Bridges and his guide dog and stopping to pick up a nearby sighted passenger who did not have a dog. Following the undercover investigation, Mr. Bridges filed complaints with the DC Office of Human Rights against the four cab companies. This suit was filed only after subsequent mediation attempts failed. Click here to read the press release.
GE and KSB Colaborate to Make Ranges More Accessible
In recent years, visually impaired consumers have found it increasingly difficult to find accessible appliances. This is due to the fact that most appliances now have flat pannels and touch pads rather than dials and buttons found on older appliances. A March 19 GE press release talks about how students at the Kentucky School for the Blind have helped them develop braille kits to make the company's new line of Artistry™ ranges accessible. Click here to read the press release and learn how to get the kit.
Accessible Children's TV Programming Now Available
On March 16, the U.S. Department of Education announced the availability of free, video-on-demand children’s television programming for thousands of visually and hearing impaired students. Dozens of TV episodes may be viewed online featuring closed captioning and descriptions through the Education Department’s Accessible Television Portal project. The press release includes instructions on how to view available content and apply for access to the portal. Click here to view the press release.
ACB Provides Links to Accessible IRS Resources
It's the time of year when taxpayers prepare to file their tax returns. ACB has created a webpage with links to lots of accessible forms and information from the IRS. Click here to visit the web page.
People who are unable to complete their tax returns because of a physical disability or are age 60 or older may get assistance through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. You can find a nearby VITA or TCE location by calling 1-800-906-9887.
AccessNote Now Available fore Android
According to the February 2015 issue of Accessworld, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has released the AccessNote notetaker for the Android platform which is available free to all users thanks to generous support from the Motorola Mobility Foundation. This notetaking app, previously only available on the iOS platform, has been designed to take advantage of Android's built in screen reader, TalkBack. The app also has many keyboard shortcuts which makes it easy to use with many wireless Bluetooth keyboards.
AccessNote for Android includes all of the features found in the iOS version plus some new features. Features added to the Android version include the ability to create custom folders, a custom spell check system, the ability to import rich text documents (RTF) and more.
AccessNote is availabel free to those using IOS and Android devices and may be downloaded/installed by visiting the appropriate stores.
FCC Updating List of Nonbroadcast Networks Subject to Video Description Requirements
Current FCC rules require multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) systems (such as cable and satellite providers) that serve 50,000 or more subscribers to provide 50 hours of video description per calendar quarter (about four hours per week) during prime time or children's programming on each of the top five nonbroadcast networks. Every three years The FCC updates the list of top five nonbroadcast networks that are subject to these requirements. Since July 1, 2012 USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS were required to meet these standards.
On January 7, 2015, the FCC's Media Bureau announced the top 10 nonbroadcast networks based on 2013-2014 ratings: USA Network, ESPN, Turner Network Television (TNT), TBS Network, History, Disney Channel, Fox News Channel, Nickelodeon, A&E Network, and FX.
A nonbroadcast network may request an exemption within 30 days after publication of the Public Notice if it believes it does not air at least 50 hours of prime time programming that is not live or near-live (recorded less than 24 hours before its first airing) per calendar quarter. On January 28, 2015, ESPN requested an exemption.
The Media Bureau will evaluate requests for exemption and announce the list of top five nonbroadcast networks that will be subject to the video description requirements beginning July 1, 2015. . For example, if ESPN is excluded and no other network files a request for exemption, the top five nonbroadcast networks would be USA, TNT, TBS, History, and the Disney Channel.
For further information, contact Maria Mullarkey at (202) 418-2120 or Maria.Mullarkey@fcc.gov.
CVS Health Expands Acccessible Label Options
On January 5 CVS announced that it will begin using the ScripAbility prescription accessibility system to expand its mail order offerings to its CVS/caremark members who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to the ScripTalk talking prescription labels which they began offering in March 2014, CVS will be able to generate braile and large print labels for prescriptions ordered for home delivery through its online pharmacy, CVS.com.
The ScripTalk talking labels provide a safe and convenient way to access information on prescription labels for individuals who cannot read standard print. The ScripTalk labels are free to CVS/caremark members who are blind or visually impaired. Members can also obtain a free ScripTalk reader from Envision America that will enable them to listen to the information on the ScripTalk label..
The latest announcement is the result of collaboration between CVS Health, the American Council of the Blind (ACB), and several CVS/caremark members.
Members can request a product from the ScripAbility suite by contacting Caremark's call center at 800-552-8159 or 800-450-3755. To inquire about the readers required to read the ScripTalk labels contact Envision America at 800-890-1180.
ACB Mini Mall Now Open
It's the Latest! It's the greatest! It's the all-new ACB Mini Mall, and it's open for business. Grab your credit card and come right on over to the ACB Mini Mall. You don't need a car; you don't need paratransit; you don't have to wait for a cab or a bus. You don't even have to get dressed to go shopping. Just click here to visit the ACB home page" or click here to go directly to the Mini Mall webpage" AND START SHOPPING!!!
Several shops are now open in the Mini Mall. Browse the ACB Logo Shop, ACB Radio Wave, and the Cane Kiosk and more. More shops are coming soon, and more products will be added every day.
Some products in the Mini Mall ship "Free Matter for the Blind" while others are eligible for combined shipping. For most items that do not ship free matter, the first item ships for $6.00 and each subsequent item is $2.00. Shipping charges may be more for very large or bulky packages. Shipping will not be charged at check-out; rather, it will appear as a second charge to your credit card so that we may ensure that you pay the lowest amount possible.
Tell all your friends about the Mini Mall. Remember that every purchase supports the good work of the American Council of the Blind.
Have questions, comments, or suggestions, or wish to place an order by phone? Email the Mini Mall at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-630-7190.
TalkingGuide Now Available to Comcast Customers
Comcast is making the TV viewing experience more accessible to its visually impaired cable customers who subscribe to its X1 digital service. The Talking Guide will read out channel listings and program descriptions in a lifelike electronic voice. As a result, visually impaired Comcast subscribers will be able to independently access onscreen information already available to sighted viewers. This will make it easier to change to desired channels, locate favorite programs, and program digital video recorders. Since the cloud-based system operates on the cable provider's data network, users will not have to get new equipmentg. This new feature is now available to all Comcast X1 digital subscribers. Click here for additional information including a short video demonstration.
According to Comcast, the talking guide is the first offered by any cable company in the United States. It was developed in response to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 which requires cable companies to start offering audible menus to make onscreen commands usable by people who have vision problems. The American Council of the Blind was one of the groups which worke to help insure passage of this legislation.
Free Currency Reader Program Expands
As of January 2, 2015, Currency readers are now available to all U.S. citizens and persons residing legally in the U.S., who are blind or visually impaired. Individuals must submit an application. NLS patrons who check the appropriate box on the application do not need to provide any additional documentation. In fact, patrons of the Kentucky Talking Book Library who are unable to download or complete the application may call 800-372-2968 to request that a staff member fill out an application on their behalf. Those who are not NLS patrons may provide copies of documentation of their visual problem from any federal, state or local agency or have the application signed by a competent certifying authority. click here for more information about the program and to download the application.
It should also be noted that EyeNote® for IOS and the IDEAL Currency Reader ®for Android are availabel free to those using these devices and can be downloaded/installed by visiting the appropriate stores. The Bureau of engraving and Printing hopes to begin circulating tactual currency by 2020.