edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
Notice of Proposed Amended and Restated Class Action Settlement
To all members of the nationwide class certified by this court to include blind patrons of automated teller machines (“ATMs”) owned or operated by either Cardtronics, Inc. or Cardtronics USA, Inc.:
On Dec. 4, 2007, this court granted final approval of a class action settlement agreement (“Settlement Agreement”) entered into between Plaintiffs, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the National Federation of the Blind (“NFB”), and several individual blind persons, and Defendants, Cardtronics, Inc. and Cardtronics USA, Inc. (collectively “Cardtronics”), concerning, among other things, the accessibility of ATMs owned or operated by Cardtronics to blind patrons under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Massachusetts state law. The class certified by the court consists of patrons of ATMs owned or operated by Cardtronics who have total blindness or central vision acuity not to exceed 20/200 in the better eye, with corrective lenses, as measured by the Snellen test, or visual acuity greater than 20/200, but with a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of not greater than 20 degrees (the “Class Members”).
The parties subsequently had a number of disputes concerning performance of the settlement agreement by Cardtronics. The parties ultimately resolved these disputes through a revised agreement called a remediation plan, which was granted final approval by the court on Nov. 3, 2010. The remediation plan extended some of the deadlines in the settlement agreement and also obligated Cardtronics to install customized voice-guidance software on the vast majority of its owned machines by Dec. 31, 2010.
On July 29, 2011, and again in August 2012, plaintiffs moved for contempt sanctions, alleging that Cardtronics was not in compliance with the settlement agreement and remediation plan. On March 21, 2013, the court issued an order finding that contempt sanctions against Cardtronics were warranted, but stating further that the extent of Cardtronics’ violations remained to be ascertained. After extensive negotiations, and with the assistance of a court-appointed special master, the parties have now entered into an Amended and Restated Class Action Settlement Agreement (“amended agreement”) to resolve all remaining disputes concerning Cardtronics’ alleged non-compliance with the settlement agreement and remediation plan. This amended agreement is subject to approval by this court.
The parties believe that the amended agreement will give the members of the class even greater access to Cardtronics’ expanding nationwide fleet of ATMs.
Cardtronics has agreed to develop and install enhanced voice-guidance software for its fleet of ATMs — both owned and operated — on or before March 31, 2017. The parties have also agreed to new, NFB-approved braille signage. The amended agreement also provides for a robust field inspection and testing program, as well as comprehensive compliance reporting. The court-appointed special master will serve as arbiter during the term of the amended agreement to determine, through a rigorous software approval process that will include testing by a NFB-approved blind consultant, whether the enhanced software satisfies the parties’ agreed upon voice-guidance standards and to certify Cardtronics’ compliance with those standards. Cardtronics has agreed to pay the reasonable fees and expenses incurred by the arbiter and the consultant during the software testing and approval process. Cardtronics has also agreed to pay $1,250,000 to the NFB and $250,000 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to be used to promote or to fund other programs or initiatives that promote equal access for blind people. Cardtronics has further agreed to pay the reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred by class counsel in connection with negotiating the amended agreement and obtaining final approval of the amended agreement by the court. The attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred by class counsel through Oct. 31, 2014 total $307,093.80. These payments will not detract from Cardtronics’ obligations to provide accessible ATMs to the class.
Under the Amended Agreement, class members will release Cardtronics from all claims concerning Cardtronics’ compliance with the settlement agreement and remediation plan. Class members (other than the named plaintiffs) will not release claims for monetary damages except for those related to Cardtronics’ alleged non-compliance with the settlement agreement, remediation plan or prior court orders. A full copy of the amended agreement is available on Cardtronics’ web site, https://www.cardtronics.com/about/legal.asp.
A Final Approval Hearing will be held on May 7, 2015, at 2 p.m., at the United States Courthouse, One Courthouse Way, Boston, MA 02210. The purpose of this Final Approval Hearing is to determine whether the proposed amended agreement should be approved by the court as fair, reasonable and adequate, whether class counsel’s application for attorneys’ fees and costs and the payments to the NFB and the Commonwealth should be approved, and whether the contempt proceedings should be dismissed on the merits and with prejudice. The date of the Final Approval Hearing may change without further notice to the class. Class members are advised to check the court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.mad.uscourts.gov to confirm that the date of the Final Approval Hearing has not been changed.
Class members who wish to object to the proposed settlement must provide notice of and explanation of their objection in writing to the court at the address above, with copies to counsel at the addresses below, no later than April 2, 2015. Only class members filing timely objections may request to present their objections at the Final Approval Hearing.
Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General
Attn: Genevieve Nadeau, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP
Attn: Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Esq.
120 E. Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Attn: Douglas P. Lobel, Esq.
One Freedom Square/Reston Town Center
11951 Freedom Dr.
Reston, VA 20190
For more information, visit www.cardtronics.com/about/legal.asp, or contact counsel for plaintiffs: Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, (617) 727-2200, www.mass.gov/ago, or Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, (410) 962-1030, www.browngold.com.
Except as instructed in this notice, please do not contact the court.
NFB, Department of Education Agreement
The National Federation of the Blind and three individuals have reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that will make student loan information accessible to blind Americans. The agreement commits the Department of Education and the student loan servicers with which it contracts to make web sites, forms, and documents related to the department's direct loan program equally accessible to blind applicants and borrowers. Requirements include providing documents in alternative formats such as braille and large print, and allowing blind people to fill out and electronically sign and submit accessible versions of student loan applications and forms.
The complainants were represented in this matter by Arlene B. Mayerson and Larisa Cummings of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) and Daniel F. Goldstein and Jessica P. Weber of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP.
Independence 101 Summer Program
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) offers Independence 101, a three-week comprehensive life skills program that focuses on building confidence and independence. This program is open to all blind and low-vision middle-school students (grades 5-8) nationwide.
Like most summer camps, students participate in a wide array of social and recreational activities. Independence 101 participants will build a peer support network with other blind middle-school students. Students will receive instruction, in a small classroom setting, in braille, technology, cane travel, and independent living. Blind instructors/mentors reside with students on a college campus in the Baltimore area and students assist with daily household needs.
Confidence-building activities may include visits to the mall and movies, rock climbing, sports activities, trips to amusement parks, visiting points of interest in Baltimore, taking a train to Washington, D.C., and more!
This program runs from July 18, 2015 to Aug. 8, 2015. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2015. For more information, or to apply, visit www.bism.org/youth. If you have questions, contact Sarah Baebler or Melissa Lomax at (410) 737-2642.
Camp Siloam 2015
Camp Siloam 2015 for blind adults will take place in New Caney, Tex. from May 16-23. Camp Siloam is a Bible camp sponsored by the Gospel Association for the Blind in Bunnell, Fla. There is a registration fee of $25 for all campers. First-time campers will have their transportation costs covered, as well as the week of camp. There will be plenty of good food as well as great activities during the week, including swimming, hayrides, a field trip, and gospel films, to name just a few! The 2015 theme is "A Heart for Missions." Come join us for a great week of Bible study and fun! For more information, visit www.circleministries.com or call (386) 586-5885 or toll-free 1-866-251-5165 and enter mailbox 7128. Or you may e-mail George Gray, [email protected] .
Save Your Pennies, Save the Date
Candle in the Window will hold its next conference Aug. 5-9, 2015 at the Wooded Glen Retreat Center in Henryville, Ind. The theme is “Self-Esteem and Blindness.” This could be a very popular topic, so register early!
If you have questions, contact either Kathy Szinnyey, [email protected], phone (502) 759-1288; Patrick Votta, [email protected], phone (718) 797-2475; or Becky Barnes Davidson, [email protected], phone (914) 393-6613.
TIPTOE Video Winners
The Ramah Camping Movement and the Ruderman Family Foundation recently announced the winners of "TIPTOE (The Inclusion Project: Through Our Eyes)," an inclusion-themed video contest for participants from all Jewish camps. The Ruderman Family Foundation will award a cash prize to the top three winners and make donations to the inclusion program at the winners' camps.
Winners are: first place, $1,000: Simone Rotman, Oakland, Calif. ($1,750 donation to Ramah California); second place, $500: Jenna Freeman, Los Angeles, Calif. ($1,000 donation to Ramah California); third place, $250: David Sharif, Los Angeles, Calif. ($500 donation to Camp JRF).
The top 10 videos — the three winners and seven honorable mentions — can be viewed at www.tiptoe2014.org/contest-winners/ , or by searching social media for #TIPTOE2014.
Free UEB Transition Course for Professionals
The Hadley School for the Blind is offering a “Transitioning to Unified English Braille” course for professionals beginning in January 2015. The course will be available in print and braille; an online version is being developed. Thanks to the American Printing House for the Blind, this professional course will be tuition-free through the end of 2015.
The six-lesson course provides a structured approach to learning the difference between English Braille American Edition (EBAE) and Unified English Braille (UEB). Prerequisites include strong contracted reading and writing skills in EBAE or SEB (Standard English Braille).
“Transitioning to Unified English Braille” also will be offered to students in Hadley’s Adult Continuing Education/High School Program and Family Education Program, free of charge on an ongoing basis.
New Hall of Fame Member
The late Michael T. Collins was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field in Louisville, Ky.
Collins, who passed away in 2008, led education programs for children who are deaf-blind at Perkins School for the Blind for 30 years, including the supervision of Perkins’ renowned Deafblind Program. Most notably, he launched Hilton/Perkins International to expand deaf-blind education in the developing world. Under his leadership, the program grew from serving a few hundred students to reaching tens of thousands of children, families and educators in 67 countries. He traveled the world championing education and government policies to improve opportunities for children who are deaf-blind and blind with additional disabilities.
In addition to his work with Perkins, Collins also led Deafblind International, served on the board of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment and founded the National Coalition on Deafblindness. He received the distinguished Perkins' Annie Sullivan Award, Deafblind International’s Lifetime Achievement Award and their Distinguished Service Award. Collins studied theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston and received a master’s degree in special education from Boston College.
Touch Screens Made Easy with Guide 9!
Dolphin Guide 9 is now available from EVAS! What is Guide? It’s an all-in-one software suite with more than 20 programs, and it has a built-in screen reader and a screen magnifier, too.
Learn more by visiting www.Guide-EVAS.com. It will tell you what’s new in Guide 9, let you have a free 30-day trial, and offers videos teaching you about Guide, too.
If you already have a current Guide Software Maintenance Agreement, you will get Guide 9 at no extra charge. If you have questions, contact EVAS at 1-800-872-3827, or e-mail the company, [email protected].
Do you need a copy of “The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs”? A copy of the 18-volume, soft-cover braille hymnal (copyright 1990) is available from Byron Smith. If you would like this copy, send e-mail to [email protected], and indicate why you would like to have the braille hymnal.
“Snizzly Snouts” is a new book that offers a unique reading experience for all. Children can read with their ears, see with their fingers and feel with their eyes!
This book with CD (DAISY/MP3 or standard audio) was published in 2014 by two sight loss organizations from different countries: NCBI (Ireland) and Blindenzorg Licht en Liefde (Belgium). The original Dutch version, “Rare Snuiters,” has been very successful in Belgium and the Netherlands. It has received several awards, including a prestigious White Raven Special Mention from the International Youth Library (Munich).
The book engages several different senses through tactile pictures, vivid contrasting colors, clear lettering, braille and audio. Children can share their experiences and discover each other’s way of seeing. The braille alphabet has also been included — it can be learned by sight or by touch, so that all readers can decode the hidden messages in the book.
The audio CD contains the poems and a verbal description of the whole book. But it also serves as a true GPS for the fingers, cleverly guiding listeners to explore the pictures. In this way, all children learn playfully to broaden their experience of life. Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjO7Q6c-fSI for a demo!
For more information, visit www.snizzlysnouts.com . French and Dutch versions are also available at www.binettesbizarres.com (French) and www.raresnuiters.be (Dutch).