LinkNYC Discriminates Against Blind New Yorkers and Visitors
New York City (July 28, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind has filed suit today against the city of New York because its new LinkNYC program, which provides various free services to citizens via public "links" that are being deployed with the goal of replacing public payphones, is not accessible to the blind. The links that are part of the program, already installed along Third and Eighth Avenues in Manhattan, are supposed to provide free internet surfing, local and long distance phone calls, and access to emergency services with a dedicated 911 button. Although the links are equipped with audio jacks, there is no audio guidance for blind users to access these services, even though the technology for such guidance is readily available and already in use at ATM's, public transit ticketing machines, and similar services throughout the nation. Mindy Jacobsen, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, who has unsuccessfully attempted to use the links, is also a named plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "By treating accessibility as an afterthought, New York City is discriminating against its blind citizens and relegating them to second-class status. The blind cannot even use this new technology in an emergency. This is shameful conduct on the part of the most populous and high-profile city in the United States, and the National Federation of the Blind will not tolerate this artificial limit on our participation."