Braille Monitor                          December 2018

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News from the Federation Family

Elected:
The following officers and board members were elected at the annual Treasure State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana on September 22, 2018: president, Jim Marks; first vice president, Joy Breslauer; second vice president, Sheila Leigland; secretary, Robert Jaquiss; treasurer, Ted Robbins; board members Jeff Haworth and Jim Aldrich.
 
Elected:
The following officers were elected at the October meeting of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana Electric City Chapter (in Great Falls): president, Sheila Leigland; first vice president, Bruce Breslauer; and secretary-treasurer, Joy Breslauer.

Elected:
The following people were elected to two-year terms at our recent convention of the NFB of Washington: president, Marci Carpenter; first vice president, Kris Colcock; second vice president, Doug Trimble; secretary, Ben Prows; treasurer, Corey Grandstaff; board position one, Mike Forzano; board position two, Buna Dahal. Congratulations to all of those elected to advance our work together.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Walmart Sued by Blind Maryland Residents over Self-Service Checkout Kiosks
National Federation of the Blind and Its Maryland Affiliate Also Plaintiffs

When Cynthia Morales and her boyfriend Linwood Boyd, who are both blind, made a routine trip to a Walmart in Owings Mills in late July of 2017, they didn’t expect to have to get the police involved.

But that was the result of a chain of events that began with Ms. Morales trying to use one of the self-service checkout kiosks that Walmart makes available to shoppers as an alternative to waiting in line for a cashier. Although the kiosks do issue some spoken prompts, those prompts don’t provide enough information for a blind person to use the machines independently. Ultimately, Ms. Morales asked for help from a Walmart employee, who completed the checkout transaction but also, unbeknownst to Ms. Morales and Mr. Boyd, requested forty dollars in cash back, which the employee pocketed. Because no audio prompt gave Ms. Morales the total of her transaction, she didn’t realize anything was wrong until the machine audibly prompted the user to take the money. Ms. Morales and Mr. Boyd then had a bystander outside the store read them the receipt; at that point, they realized they had been charged an additional forty dollars. The money was ultimately returned, but Ms. Morales and Mr. Boyd decided to do their regular shopping at a Walmart Supercenter in Randallstown from then on.

Now they, together with Melissa Sheeder—another blind Marylander; the National Federation of the Blind (NFB); and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland (NFB-MD) are suing Walmart under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit asks the Maryland federal district court to order the giant retailer to make its self-service checkout kiosks fully accessible to blind shoppers.

Similar devices, such as ATMs, Amtrak ticket kiosks, and airline check-in kiosks, as well as some point-of-sale terminals like those in the back of many taxicabs, can be used independently by blind people. Usually voice prompts are spoken through headphones, and blind users respond with tactile keypads or accessible touch screens. The NFB has offered to work with Walmart to make its kiosks accessible, but Walmart has declined the offer.

“What happened to Cindy Morales is an extreme example of what can occur when companies like Walmart deploy inaccessible self-checkout or point-of-sale technology,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The real problem is that Walmart has decided to treat blind customers differently from sighted customers. Walmart’s refusal to deploy readily available technology to give blind shoppers the same choice sighted shoppers have—whether to check ourselves out or visit a cashier—makes us second-class customers. That is unlawful and unacceptable.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Eve L. Hill, Jessica P. Weber, and Chelsea J. Crawford of the Baltimore law firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP.

In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

National Braille Press Touch of Genius Award Seeking Nominations:
The National Braille Press's Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation is now accepting entries! Please help us spread the word.

The Touch of Genius Prize was developed to inspire entrepreneurs, educators, or inventors to continue the promotion of Braille and tactile literacy for blind and deafblind people worldwide. This prize can be granted for innovative and accessible computer software, Android applications, iOS applications, or tactile hardware that promotes Braille and/or tactile literacy.  NBP encourages all applicants to think outside the box to what can be used to help improve the lives of blind people.

The winner of this prize will receive up to $20,000, which will help them to continue to innovate in the fields of technology and education for blind people. Frank Gibney and the Gibney Family Foundation helped fund and establish this award in 2007, inspiring people to go beyond what was thought possible.

The deadline to apply is January 11, 2019. Full application details and more information can be found at http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/technology/tog/tog_prize. All questions can be directed to mailto:geniusprize@nbp.org.

Learn Your Favorite Musical Instrument Completely by Ear:
MusicForTheBlind.com has over 1,200 song lessons and over a dozen beginner courses for piano, guitar, banjo, bass, saxophone, and more! These lessons use no print, no video, and no Braille. These lessons are completely all-audio.

See all of the great music resources we have at www.MusicForTheBlind.com and sign up for our newsletter to receive coupons and discounts on our easy-to-use music lessons designed just for those with visual impairments.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

For Sale:

We have a BrailleNote Apex 32-cell with the following features: original box; carrying case; power cord and charger; V9.5 of KeySoft loaded (latest available); optional software Nemeth Tutorial enabled; optional software Oxford Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus (US Edition) enabled; and recently serviced, tested and tuned by HumanWare. Asking $1,000, contact Sheryl Pickering at 830-743-7655.

NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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