Federal Office of Personnel Management Improving Access to Health Benefits Information for Blind Employees
Agreement Resolves Litigation by Retired Federal Worker and National Federation of the Blind
Chicago (May 19, 2021): Under a consent decree entered in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois last week, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has agreed to take steps to ensure that health benefit information is accessible to blind federal employees, retirees, and other plan participants.
The consent decree resolves a lawsuit brought in 2019 by Jamal Mazrui, a retired blind federal employee, and the National Federation of the Blind, America’s civil rights organization of the blind.
Among other steps, OPM will ensure that health-benefit information on opm.gov is accessible and will notify all providers of federal employee health benefits that they must make their own federal employee benefits websites and mobile apps accessible or face potential consequences to their contracts.
“The federal government is probably the largest single employer of blind people, and all current and retired employees must have equal access to information about their health benefits in order to protect and provide for themselves and their families,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We expect the government to provide leadership in equal access. This resolution is a positive step in that direction and we are pleased that OPM has already taken many steps to ensure the blind have access to this critical information.”
“Everyone should be able to access their personal health insurance information privately and independently,” said Rachel M. Weisberg, attorney with Equip for Equality, the protection and advocacy system for the state of Illinois. “We applaud OPM’s commitment to ensuring that all carriers that provide health insurance coverage will be accessible to the blind community.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Equip for Equality and the Baltimore law firm of Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP.