[nfbmi-talk] important case for blind
joe harcz Comcast
joeharcz at comcast.net
Mon Jan 20 13:38:00 UTC 2014
Would that state agencies including MiSHDA, DHS, DTMB, and of course the most violative, Bureau of Services for blind Persons take this case to heart. here in Michigan as well as those like MPAS and MCRC who are charged with helping to enforce our civil rights.
Under Title II of the ADA alone people with visual impairments were required to have thee accommodations from state agencies 22 years ago.
Access is a civil right, including access to visually deliverred information.
Blind Staten Island man who sued over Housing Authority communication methods reaches settlement with agency
Port Richmond resident, Justin Williams, who is blind, and the New York City Housing Authority, agreed to a settlement that will result in the city agency
taking strong steps to improve its communications with folks living with disabilities. Here is Williams in 2010 with his lawyer, Nancy Goodhill. (Staten
Island Advance/Irving Silverstein)
Mark D. Stein/Staten Island Advance
Mark D. Stein/Staten Island Advance
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on January 18, 2014 at 9:02 AM, updated January 18, 2014 at 9:45 AM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A blind man has one city agency seeing the light.
Justin Williams of Port Richmond and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) agreed on a settlement earlier this month following
a lawsuit filed in 2010
that claimed the agency didn't properly communicate with him.
Williams, who previously lived in Concord, said that the NYCHA not only stopped paying the Section 8 subsidy for his rent without notice but communicated
important information to him through written letters only -- letters that he couldn't read because of his disability.
The actions were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and other human rights laws, the suit alleged.
Williams' Section 8 subsidy was reinstated once the lawsuit was filed, said his lawyer, Nancy Goodhill.
And now the communication issues Williams faced will soon be a thing of the past, according to the settlement.
Within the next six months, NYCHA will adopt and implement policies and procedures, among them communications being delivered "in an alternative format
as a potential reasonable accommodation."
The agency will also modify its Section 8 application form to permit the applicant to identify as a person who has a visual impairment requiring communications
in an alternative format as a reasonable accommodation.
"Now there's a system that will go into place within the next six months that will ensure that people who apply for Section 8 and people who get Section
8 who have visual impairments will receive notices and documents in formats that will be accessible to them," said Ms. Goodhill, of Staten Island Legal
Services. "And they'll have a choice of a range of options, including audio CDs, braille, large print, phone calls, and they'll get help filling out whatever
forms they need to fill out."
"This should've been done a long time [ago]," said Williams. "It had to take someone to put a foot in their behind for NYCHA to do anything."
Several other changes to benefit folks living with vision disabilities will also be implemented. NYCHA will announce them on its website's
Equal Opportunity page,
according to the settlement.
NYCHA will also provide disability discrimination training, including the requirement to provide alternative formats and auxiliary aids and services for
people who have visual impairments, to the Section 8 Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator, and all staff of the Department of Equal Opportunity's Services
for People with Disabilities Unit.
Williams will be able to review those training materials, the settlement says.
Ms. Goodhill called it a great success, adding the changes will help many people.
"It helps Justin enormously and it will help all people in his situation, which is tremendous," she said.
NYCHA didn't comment specifically on the settlement, but issued a statement saying the agency is committed to working with individuals with disabilities
to accommodate needs and ensure quality service.
In addition, the agency will pay Â$97,500 in attorneys' fees and costs, said the settlement.
Williams said he's extremely relieved that the lengthy process has concluded with a positive outcome.
"I didn't just do it for me," he said. "I did it for others as well."
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