Dots and Dashes from Washington 4/19/19

“Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features information on airlines and service animal policies, news about electric vehicles, signing up for paratransit in Rochester, how to order dog food for delivery at the convention, how to apply for the Friends-in-Art scholarship, a survey on who blind people trust to get assistance, a career exploration summit and global accessibility symposium, Lions World Song Festival, and advocacy updates.


Airlines and Service Animal Policies

The ACB national office has received calls regarding concerns over some airlines’ new service animal policies. Such policies require travelers to perform certain tasks, such as providing a signed letter by a physician before they can board a plane. These requirements are inconsistent with the Air Carrier Access Act. In response to such policies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently drafting an interim policy statement that will come out this spring clarifying the department’s stance on these issues. This statement will help travelers better understand current policies and what is required of them.

Then, this fall, the FAA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) where all Americans can provide comments to the FAA. ACB will post the notice on its listservs, on the website, on social media, and on the Washington Connection. When the time comes, and the NPRM is made available, ACB encourages all members to submit comments to stress the concern of all guide dog users. ACB staff members will be available to assist members in submitting their comments.

If you do experience a situation where you are denied access because of your dog, asked to provide paperwork, etc., the FAA asks that you file a complaint immediately. You have 60 days from the event to do so. To file the complaint online, go to Or you may file a complaint by phone at (202) 366-2220.

To file a complaint by mail, please send your correspondence to: Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC  20590.

In the meantime, ACB encourages all air travelers to be vigilant when flying, and to advocate for themselves in light of such policies.


EVs Will Soon Be Required to Make More Noise at Slow Speeds

To read the full article online, go to

The American rock band Linkin Park is helping Mercedes-AMG come up with just the right sound for its electric performance car. Yes, really. At the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, Mercedes executives said the music group would develop the sound the normally quiet battery-powered vehicles would make when driving to alert pedestrians.

That's because electric vehicles are pretty much silent, and dangerously so, regulators say. As greater numbers of electric vehicles make it onto the road, worries about the potential danger of silent vehicles to pedestrians, cyclists, and blind people grow. The European Union has a new directive requiring all new electric and hybrid vehicles to give a sound warning to pedestrians by 2021.

The U.S. set up a similar requirement for hybrid and all-electric vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require all electric vehicles (and hybrids) to emit a sound while moving up to 18.6 mph by September 2020. The noise requirement will be phased in to give car makers time to modify the vehicles, with 50 percent of cars required to emit a sound by this September.

Here in the U.S., more automakers are going electric. About 1 percent of car sales are EVs, which means more of these quieter cars are sneaking up on people in the crosswalk or while pulling out of a parking space. To comply with the upcoming requirements, every car maker must have a sound plan if it has or will have an electric vehicle in its lineup. To hear the Nissan LEAF’s sound, click on this link: 2018 Nissan LEAF approaching vehicle sound for pedestrians VSP system.

Motorcycles are also part of this new regulation, so Harley-Davidson's new LiveWire electric motorcycle is revving up with an original sound emulating a "real" hog. Hear it here: Harley Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle sound.


Using Paratransit in Rochester

To be certified for paratransit in Rochester, N.Y., your current paratransit provider needs to send verification of your eligibility. They will need to provide the following information:

  • Applicant's full name
  • Applicant's date of birth
  • Applicant's full address, phone number and e-mail address
  • Applicant's paratransit ID number and expiration date
  • Type of mobility aid used, if applicable
  • If applicant is authorized for a Personal Care Attendant
  • If applicant uses a service animal
  • Start and end date of visit

Information should be faxed to (585) 654-0229 or emailed to by June 14th.

Once they receive the information, the applicant will be contacted and provided with their temporary access ID number and instructions for scheduling rides, fares and the cancellation policy.


Ordering Dog Food for Convention

Scoop Masters will provide and maintain our dog relief areas. If you would like to pre-order dog food to be delivered to your hotel room, call Tim Stone at 1-800-787-7667, or order online at Fill out the form that asks for name, email address, phone number, brand and type of food. Tim will call to get the details within 24 hours, and will accept payments at the hotel. Food must be ordered by June 15th to ensure delivery.


FIA Scholarship Available

You are invited to apply for the Friends-in-Art scholarship!

Friends-in-Art (FIA), a nonprofit organization with the mission of advancing accessibility and opportunity for artists and audience members who are visually impaired, offers an annual $1,500 scholarship to college students who are legally blind and live in North America.

If you are a high school senior or a college student who is planning to, or currently majoring in the field of music, art, drama, or creative writing, and are blind or visually impaired, we encourage you to apply!

Note: Legal blindness is defined as an individual who has a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the corrected eye and/or 20 degrees or less visual field in the corrected eye. Only individuals who are legally blind in BOTH eyes are eligible to receive this scholarship.

To apply, please go to and complete the application and upload/mail the required materials, including documentation of visual impairment from a medical professional, per the directions on the form by May 15, 2019.

Please direct any questions to Peter Altschul, FIA's scholarship chair, via email at


Who Do You Trust When You Need Assistance?

Vinod Namboodiri is a member of the faculty at Wichita State University who works on designing assistive technologies for those who are blind or visually impaired. Along with researchers at the Envision Research institute he is running a study that collects anonymous responses to assess who BVI users trust in various situations to provide assistance when they need help. To take the survey, go to


Lights! Camera! Access!

If you or someone you know is an aspiring technology or media professional, storyteller, gamer, geek, coder, filmmaker, musician, actor, dreamer, writer, director, editor, transitioning youth, college student, recent grad, disabled veteran who is deaf or has a disability, check out Lights! Camera! Access! Silicon Valley Career Exploration Summit and the Global Accessibility Symposium on May 17th — Own the Deaf & Disability Narrative Imperative across delivery platforms (TV, movies, documentaries, news, theatre, interactive and video games) — and make a difference. 

The application deadline for this summit is April 30, at 8 p.m. Pacific. To apply, visit


Lions World Song Festival

The 4th Lions World Song Festival for the Blind will be held November 14 to 16 in Krakow, Poland.
The contest is intended for talented vocalists struggling with sight problems – blind or partially sighted, who are not professional musicians. We believe that the festival can help them to start their professional careers.
This festival was created to promote blind and visually impaired talented vocalists. During the previous three events, 68 vocalists from 20 countries and 4 continents performed. The event is set up as a competition; only the best singers will perform in Krakow. All concerts are performed with the accompaniment of a professional orchestra.

The registration deadline is May 31, 2019. For more information, visit, or check us out on Facebook at

Advocacy Updates

On the April 8th ACB Advocacy Update, Claire Stanley and Clark Rachfal talk about audio description, along with Sheila Young, president of the Florida Council of the Blind, who discusses her experience submitting comments regarding audio description with the Federal Communications Commission. To listen to the podcast online, go to