[Nfbk] FW: Montgomery County Discriminates Against Blind Employee

Cathy cathyj at iglou.com
Wed Apr 13 14:28:36 UTC 2011

-----Original Message-----
From: Freeh, Jessica [mailto:JFreeh at nfb.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 10:16 AM
To: Alpidio Rolon; Amy Buresh; Art Schreiber; Beth Rival; Bill Packee; Bob
Kresmer; Carl Jacobsen; Cassandra McNabb; Cathy Jackson; Charlene Smyth;
Christine G. Hall; Dan Hicks; Daniel Burke; Don Galloway; Donna Wood; Elsie
Dickerson; Frank Lee; Franklin Shiner; Fred Schroeder; Garrick Scott; Gary
Ray; Gary Wunder; Grace Pires; J.W. Smith; James Antonacci; Jennelle
Bichler; Jennifer Dunnam; Joe Ruffalo; John Batron; John Fritz; Joy Harris;
Joyce Scanlan; Ken Rollman; Kim Williams; Kimberly Flores; Larry Posont;
Lynn Majewski; Mary Willows; Melissa Riccobono; Michael Barber; Michael
Freeman; Mika Pyyhkala; Nani Fife; Pam Allen; Parnell Diggs; Patti Chang;
Rena Smith; Ron Brown; Gardner, Ron; Sam Gleese; Scott LaBarre; Selena
Sundling-Crawford; Terry Sheeler
Subject: Montgomery County Discriminates Against Blind Employee



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

Montgomery County Discriminates Against Blind Employee

Rockville, Maryland (April 13, 2011): With the assistance of the National
Federation of the Blind, a blind woman who was until recently employed as an
information specialist with Montgomery County's Department of Health and
Human Services has filed suit against the County for unlawful discrimination
under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The suit arises from the County's
purchase of an inaccessible database program that employees of its new 311
call center must use to complete their tasks.  Yasmin Reyazuddin worked in
the call center of the County's Department of Health and Human Services:
Division of Aging and Disability Services until the County consolidated that
call center and others into its new Montgomery County 311 Call Center.  Ms.
Reyazuddin had been using screen access software, which converts information
on a computer screen into synthesized speech or into Braille that can be
displayed on a device known as a refreshable Braille display, to access the
computer programs with which she needed to interact in order to provide
accurate information to callers, keep records of calls, and perform other
tasks necessary for resolving the concerns of callers.  When she learned
that her agency's call center would be consolidated into the County's new
311 call center, she repeatedly inquired of County officials whether the
software for the new call center would be accessible with screen access
technology and provided information to the County about accessible
solutions.  For the new call center, the County ultimately procured a
database system from Oracle known as Seibel Customer Relationship Management
(CRM).  According to its manufacturer, this software can be configured to
work with screen access software, but the County installed a custom
configuration of the software that is not accessible to blind employees.

Ms. Reyazuddin was originally scheduled to be transferred to the new call
center with other information specialists, but was not allowed to be
transferred when she raised concerns about the accessibility of the CRM
program.  Ms. Reyazuddin has not been allowed to test the software for
accessibility, and although Oracle provided the County with documentation
describing how the software could be made accessible, the County has not
implemented an accessible configuration of the software.  Ms. Reyazuddin has
been downgraded from an information specialist to a support staff position
at the County Department of Health and Human Services, and she is only given
duties that fill approximately half of an eight-hour work day.  She has been
informed that her pay will also be cut because the County claims that her
multilingual skills are no longer being used in her new assignment.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
"Yasmin Reyazuddin has been treated shamefully and with deliberate disregard
for her legal and civil rights by Montgomery County.  Instead of taking the
steps necessary to make the database program used by employees of the
Montgomery County 311 Call Center accessible, the County has reassigned her
to a lower-paying job in which her skills are not being used.  We cannot and
will not tolerate this discrimination against her and other blind County

Ms. Reyazuddin said: "Despite my ten years of service to Montgomery County,
I am now being shifted to a lower-paying position with little to do.  I
could do all of my former job duties if the County would follow Oracle's
guidelines for making CRM accessible, but instead I am largely relegated to
idleness.  The situation has caused me considerable emotional distress.  I
did not want to resort to litigation but I feel that I have no choice if I
am to once again be a productive employee of Montgomery County."

The plaintiff is represented with the assistance of the National Federation
of the Blind by Joseph B. Espo and Timothy R. Elder of the Baltimore firm
Brown, Goldstein & Levy.


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the
largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the
United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy,
education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and
self-confidence.  It is the leading force in the blindness field today and
the voice of the nation's blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and
training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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