[nfbmi-talk] blind employee sues ny arc

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Sat Jan 25 12:57:39 UTC 2014








Blind employee sues Syracuse agency for disabled, claims disability discrimination (video) | syracuse.com


Blind employee sues Syracuse agency for disabled, claims disability discrimination (video)


Christine Delay, who's blind, is suing her employer, Arc of Onondaga, claiming the agency violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to provide

her with a computer software program that allows her to read her screen as she had been doing for more than 20 years. (John O'Brien | jobrien at syracuse.com)


John O'Brien | jobrien at syracuse.com


John O'Brien | jobrien at syracuse.com

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on January 25, 2014 at 5:45 AM




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SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Arc of Onondaga promotes its advocacy for disabled people with this motto: "Turning disabilities into abilities."


But one of its own employees says the agency turned her disability into a greater hardship, and she's suing Arc in federal court.


Christine Delay says

Arc of Onondaga

violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to accommodate her blindness starting in 2009, after the agency decided to buy a new electronic

file system for its computers.


She raised concerns that the new program wasn't compatible with a software program she uses to read computer screens, in which a computerized voice reads

the words on the screen aloud.


"I tried to muddle through," Delay said in a recent interview. "But there were lots of things I could no longer do." At the time, she was a rehabilitation


Christine Delay sues Arc of Onondaga

Christine Delay, who's blind, is suing her employer, Arc of Onondaga, claiming the agency for disabled people refused to accommodate her disability.


Part of the problem was that the new program required her to use a mouse. But she can't see the cursor, so she's unable to use the mouse.


Delay said she raised her concerns with her supervisor, Kristen Morey, and with Stanfort Perry, then the agency's chief executive officer. When the problem

persisted, she hired a lawyer, Rick Guy, who wrote to Arc and asked that the agency cooperate with Delay.


Instead of resolving the problem with new software, her supervisors retaliated, Delay says.


They had her sit through three 90-minute training sessions about the computer program they'd bought, she said.


The training was useless because of her blindness, she said: It consisted of her sitting through videos that she could not see.


"I said to them, 'If we're going to do this, why don't you guys turn the screen off so you can watch it like I am,'" Delay said. "They laughed."


In her lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court, she alleged that Arc of Onondaga demoted her and cut her pay by 25 percent after she requested

a reasonable accommodation with an adaptive software program. She was demoted to vocational counselor specialist.


Delay's lawsuit also described the video training as cruel and said it caused her "substantial humiliation and embarrassment because of her disability."


The lawsuit names Arc of Onondaga, Perry and Morey as defendants, along with New York state Arc.


Perry is now director of Arc in another area, said Ellen Gutmaker, Arc of Onondaga's new chief executive officer.


"Arc of Onondaga has historically treated all of its employees respectfully, in compliance with federal and state law," Gutmaker said this week. "The agency's

committed to furthering the rights of all individuals with disabilities."


She would not comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit.


Delay, 54, accused Perry of being biased against her because of her disability even before the computer software problem. In 2008, she was disciplined for

not noticing that one of Arc's clients had a cut on his or her finger, the lawsuit said.


Because of her blindness, Delay could not possibly have seen the cut, she said. And reporting such matters was not part of her job description, she said.


Contact John O'Brien at

jobrien at syracuse.com

or 315-470-2187.



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