GDUI Announcement, August 18, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Turn to the GDUI Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Fund for help with disaster-related expenses for your guide dog:
http://guidedogusersinc.org/disaster-assistance-preparedness-program-dapp/

August! What a month of extremes this has been! Some intriguing, some not unexpected, others bringing concern about friends and colleagues and looking for ways to help! Day after day of relentless heat which has suffocated much of the East Coast and Mid-West in unyielding hundred-degree-plus temperatures and astonishing humidity was not unexpected – for August – but still hard on us and hard on our dogs!

Fortunately, here in the Mid-Atlantic, the worst of the heat wave seems to be dissipating, and we’re merely coping with weather that’s typically hot and bothersome in August. But, the fires in drought-suffering California are a frightening reality of this hotter-than-ever-in-history summer, and the flooding in Louisiana – the worst since Superstorm Sandy – are causing so much suffering for so many people who never even considered their homes in danger of
flooding. Please know that if you’re coping with the aftermath of fire or flood – or disaster of any kind – we care, we are sending prayers and looking for ways to help. If you’re a guide dog user, remember that the GDUI DAPP Fund is here for you. Call our toll-free number, 866.799.8436, to get in touch with GDUI’s Office Manager, Sarah Calhoun, or Ken Metz, Chairperson of the DAPP Committee, for financial assistance with disaster-related expenses for your guide dog. Please
tell guide dog users whom you may know who live in California’s
fire-emergency vicinity, or so many Louisiana parishes now coping with flood damage, about our fund, and remember, too, that anyone can make a financial contribution to that fund. Disasters can affect any among us. It’s good to know that there are ways to help.

Heads Up: The ACB/CUSDGS/GDUI Taxicab Survey closes tomorrow! If you’re a guide dog user and you’ve ever been refused transportation by a taxicab or vehicle-for-hire (such as Uber or LYFT) driver, GDUI and ACB need your help! The American Council of the Blind has partnered with the Council of U.S. Dog Guide Schools (CUSDGS) and Guide Dog Users, Inc. to develop a survey to collect data from guide dog users around the country on this infuriating transportation issue. Results will be shared with the courts, legislators, the U.S. Department of Justice, the media and interested respondents to this survey. We encourage all U.S. guide dog users to fill out the survey. The more information we can gather, the more reliable our data will be, which will allow us to present a more complete and accurate picture of the current state of affairs to relevant agencies, companies and organizations. The survey will close at 11:59 PM Eastern
on Friday, August 19th 2016. To take the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PBSRP89. Remember, answer every
question. The survey will stall if you leave out any of the questions, and you won’t be able to submit your data. Thank you for completing the survey, and for telling other guide dog users about it.

GuideDogUsersInc.org is moving to a new host! We are looking forward to the expanded space and better connectivity with members that our move to Host Gator will achieve. Our webmaster, Steve Zelaya, along with Will Burley and Dixie Sanderson will be taking care of all of the details over this coming week end. So, expect our GDUI e-mail discussion lists to be unavailable beginning on Friday, August 19, until Close of Business on Tuesday, August 23. We are grateful to Steve and Will and Dixie for doing all the hard work that will allow us to make the change.

We hope you are enjoying the recordings of our GDUI 2016 convention which are available here:
http://guidedogusersinc.org/2016-gdui-convention-presentations-audio/
We suggest that you use these last weeks of summer to imagine yourselves in the lovely summer climate of Minneapolis; catching up with friends and meeting new people and guide dogs; grabbing a long, cold drink; and taking advantage of the excellent convention recordings prepared for us by ACB Radio. Unfortunately we can’t provide one of Carla’s excellent canine massages for your dog or re-create the friendly atmosphere of the GDUI convention suite, but our convention recordings will be almost as good as being there in person, and whet your appetite for next summer’s convention in Reno!

If you were able to be with us at convention in Minneapolis, the GDUI Convention Program Committee is interested in hearing from you. Please tell us what you liked, what was missing, and how we might make the experience even better next summer! Send e-mail about your convention experiences to: mailto:programs@guidedogusersinc.org. Thank you.

We will be back in touch after Labor Day. Until then, take care of yourselves and your guide dogs and one another. Thank you for your friendship and support.

Sincerely,
Penny Reeder, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
mailto:President@GuideDogUsersInc.org

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
mailto:vp1@GuideDogUsersInc.org

GDUI : http://guidedogusersinc.org/
Call us, toll-free, at 866.799.8436
Like and visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc
Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc
Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at 11:00 p.m. EDT, the first Monday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://gdr.xml

Or search for the GDUI Juno Report on ITunes.

Support GDUI when you use this link to shop at Amazon.com:
http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1871119.

To join the GDUI-Announce List, visit this link:
http://guidedogusersinc.org/join/.

For our members and friends who do not have access to e-mail (or prefer to listen to the pleasant sound of a human voice reading aloud), we also offer telephonic recordings of every announcement. If you are aware of guide dog users who do not have computer access, please share this telephone number with them: 646-653-1900. Recorded announcements available at this number are updated concurrently with each new online announcement.

We look forward to sharing announcements concerning our organization with all who are interested in GDUI.

UBER Settlement Agreement Pending: All Guide Dog Users, Please Read and Share

NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
ATTENTION: ALL BLIND OR VISUALLY DISABLED INDIVIDUALS WHO USE SERVICE ANIMALS WHEN TRAVELING AND WHO HAVE USED, ATTEMPTED TO USE, OR HAVE BEEN DETERRED FROM USING TRANSPORTATION SERVICES ARRANGED THROUGH THE UBER RIDER APP. THE SETTLEMENT DESCRIBED BELOW MAY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS. READ THIS NOTICE AND INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.

This notice is to inform you about the proposed settlement that would resolve the class action lawsuit National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Case No. 3:14-cv-4086 (N.D. Cal.). The lawsuit alleges that Uber Technologies, Inc. and its subsidiary and affiliate entities (collectively, “Uber”), violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., by failing to take the necessary steps to ensure that transportation providers using the Uber mobile software application (“Drivers”) do not discriminate against blind or visually disabled riders who travel with service animals (“Riders”). Uber denies all liability in the case and asserts that its current practices do not violate applicable federal, state, and local law. The settlement, which must be approved by the Court, would resolve the lawsuit.

I. SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT
Under the settlement, Uber agrees to take additional steps to inform Drivers of their obligations to transport all Riders. Uber will require that new and existing Drivers expressly confirm that they understand and agree to these obligations, through a pop-up interactive questionnaire in the Driver mobile software application and changes to the technology services agreement. In addition, Uber will send quarterly email reminders to Drivers.

Uber will also adopt a new enforcement practice. If, following a complaint from a Rider, Uber determines that a driver knowingly refused to transport a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, Uber will terminate that Driver’s contract and permanently remove the Driver from the Driver platform. In addition, if Uber receives plausible complaints on more than one occasion that a Driver denied service to a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, Uber will terminate the Driver’s contract and the Driver will be permanently removed from the Driver platform. This second basis for contract termination will apply where Uber was unable to determine whether the first denial was a knowing violation.

Under the settlement, Uber will also enhance its response system for complaints that a Driver denied service to a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, and will provide greater transparency to Riders regarding what action has been taken in response to a complaint about a Driver. Uber will also limit the circumstances in which a Rider can be charged for cleaning issues related to his or her service animal.

Additionally, Uber will record each allegation that a Driver is alleged to have denied service to a Rider, or otherwise discriminated against a Rider, because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, and will report aggregated data to Class Counsel. The National Federation of the Blind and its California affiliate will administer a testing program, through which blind individuals request and take trips to evaluate the effectiveness of the settlement. A third-party individual will monitor Uber’s compliance with the settlement as well.

The settlement also provides that the three named individual plaintiffs who served as class representatives will receive payments of $15,000 each in return for their release of their individual damage claims. In addition, the National Federation of the Blind will receive three annual payments of $75,000 during the term of the settlement, and a fourth payment of $75,000 if the term of the settlement is extended. These payments are intended to support the Federation’s testing program.

Finally, Disability Rights Advocates, Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, and TRE Legal Practice (collectively, “Class Counsel”), the attorneys who represent the class, will have the right to seek attorneys’ fees and costs for their work on the case. Class Counsel will file a motion asking the Court to award reasonable fees and costs for work on the merits phase of this case. The Court must approve the amount awarded even if the parties reach an agreement on the amount. This motion for fees and costs will be available on www.nfb-serviceanimal-settlement.com on September 21, 2016. Class Counsel will also be entitled to seek reasonable fees and costs for their future work monitoring compliance with the settlement and enforcing the agreement. Uber retains the right to contest the amount of any attorneys’ fees requested by Class Counsel.

II. WHO IS IN THE CLASS?
All blind or visually disabled individuals nationwide who travel with the assistance of service animals and who have used, attempted to use, or been deterred from attempting to use transportation arranged through the Uber rider app.

III. THE EFFECT OF THE SETTLEMENT ON THE RIGHTS OF CLASS MEMBERS
All class members will be bound by the terms of the settlement relating to access to transportation services arranged using the Uber app for blind or visually disabled persons who use service animals, if the settlement agreement is approved by the Court. If the settlement is approved, all class members will release and forever discharge all claims for injunctive relief under all federal, state, and local laws related to alleged discrimination by Uber against blind or visually disabled persons who use service animals that arose before the Settlement Agreement becomes effective. Class members, other than the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are not releasing any claims for monetary damages.

IV. OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT
You can ask the Court to deny approval of this settlement by filing an objection with the Court. You cannot ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or deny this proposed settlement. If the Court denies approval, any settlement changes necessary for approval may not be made, and the lawsuit may continue. If this is what you want to happen, you must object.
If you wish to object to the proposed settlement you must object to the proposed settlement in writing. You may also appear at the fairness hearing for final approval of the settlement, either in person or through your own attorney. But if you wish to appear and present your objection orally at the fairness hearing, you must first submit a written objection and in your written objection you must indicate your intention to appear and be heard at the fairness hearing. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers must (a) clearly identify the case name and number, National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., Case No. 3:14-cv-4086 (N.D. Cal.), (b) be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 280 South 1st Street, Room 2112, San Jose, CA 95113, or by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and (c) be received on or before October 13, 2016.

V. FURTHER INFORMATION
This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. For the precise terms and conditions of the settlement, please see the settlement agreement available at www.nfb-serviceanimal-settlement.com, contact Class Counsel using the information below, access the Court docket in this case through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov, or visit the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 280 South 1st Street, Room 2112, San Jose, CA 95113, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.
To obtain a copy of this notice in alternate accessible formats, contact Class Counsel using the information below.

VI. CONTACT INFORMATION
Please do not contact the Court, the Court clerk’s office, or Defense Counsel with questions about this settlement. Any questions must be directed to Class Counsel at the numbers and addresses below.

Class Counsel:

Laurence Paradis
Disability Rights Advocates
2001 Center Street, Fourth Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 665-8644

Timothy Elder, Esq.
TRE Legal Practice
4226 Castanos Street
Fremont, California 94536
(410) 415-3493

Michael Bien
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
50 Fremont Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, California 94105-2235
(415) 433-6830

GDUI Announcement, August 2, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends, Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer! And, to the first months of our new GDUI administration. I received an e-mail message today from Jane Woods, one of our wonderful Louisville Ladies. I had written to Jane, asking if she and Connie Smith had recovered after so many days of such hard work selling products and answering questions and generally being helpful to anyone and everyone who visited our GDUI Suite. Jane speculated that it probably took me a whole month to recover my energy, and she wasn’t far from wrong!

Our convention in the lovely city of Minneapolis was so successful. Willow and I enjoyed meeting many of you there, and wasn’t our program fabulous? Thanks again to Lillian Scaife, and Connie Jacomini, the person who made our sales the most successful products sales enterprise there has ever been in the history of our having a GDUI Convention Suite! And to Sarah Calhoun and Jeff, who sold summer drawing tickets and ran the mike and did anything that needed to be done! It was wonderful to have Maria and Frisco there, and Vickie Curley, and Minh and Brianna and Deanna Noriega and Caitlin! I know that if you and your guide dog were lucky enough to spend some time with Carla Campbell who was providing canine massage in our suite and who also conducted a very successful program session, teaching attendees how to bring some of those massage skills home with them, your convention experiences were especially revitalizing. We have so many people to thank, including members like Ginger Kutsch, Joel Isaac, Audrey Gunther, and Lynn Merrill and others, who worked on the convention program committee from behind the scenes; the many guide dog trainers who gave directions, answered questions, walked members and their dogs to and from the breakfast club, helped with pick-up and clean-up, and were supportive in every possible way; all of our friends and members who purchased summer drawing tickets and donated prizes and items for sale to the drawing and our silent auction; and all of the presenters who educated us and entertained us and made our convention experiences so worthwhile. Putting on a convention is no small feat. It’s obvious that Lillian and the people who work so hard with her on the GDUI Convention Program Committee know what they’re doing, and we are grateful!

Our convention fund-raisers were successful, and we thank all of you who purchased summer drawing tickets, took a chance on bringing Viking home with you, and bid on our fabulous assortment of summer auction items. We appreciate all of your support. Beautiful hand-made and harnessed GSD Viking recently arrived in lovely southwest Missouri, where he’s happily keeping Melita Waters and her more active German Shepherd Lizzie company in style. The Viking raffle brought in$355. The summer auction, which raises funds to help GDUI pay for all those convention expenses, brought in $2,547.00. And, the Fund-Raising Committee’s Summer Drawing raised$1,870. The goal for the summer drawing was to fund one or more first-timers to attend GDUI’s convention next summer in Reno. The GDUI Board and members of the Fund-Raising Committee will be exploring ways to meet that goal and spend this welcomed resource fairly and efficiently.

Recordings of our convention program will become available soon on our web site, www.guidedogusersinc.org. We are so pleased to be able to make these excellent recordings available to all of our members, including those of you who couldn’t attend our convention. ACB’s board authorized ACB Radio to record our convention program on the 2nd of July, and Larry Turnbull and his staff worked very hard creating excellent recordings of many of our program segments. (We did not record hands-on sessions, believing that listening without an ability to handle items being demonstrated or audio description might be too confusing.) Larry and his staff received authorization to record GDUI’s convention program at the very last minute. We are so grateful and so awe-struck by their dedication and their skills and their willingness to provide terrific recordings, as well as on-site assistance with sound quality and assistive listening devices, even without much prior planning.

Watch our web site for the arrival of our GDUI Convention Recordings, and start saving your pennies for 2017 in Reno, NV.

The GDUI/ACB/CUSDGS Taxicab Survey is still online. If you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do, and encourage your friends who are guide dog users to do so as well. One tip for filling out the survey is to be sure to answer every single question. If you skip a question, the survey stalls and you can’t go forward or submit the completed survey. Even if your answer to a question like, “Do you allow your dog to ride on the seat in a taxicab,” is no, and the next question is a follow-up that asks about the circumstances under which you might allow your dog to sit on the car seat, it’s important for you to read all the choices available and to choose the one that says something like, “Not applicable, I never allow my dog to sit on the taxicab seat.”

The more guide dog users who complete the survey, the more comprehensive will be the data we collect, and the better (and bigger!) our data, the more attention agencies like the U. S. Department of Justice and the U. S. Department of Transportation are likely to pay to us when we advocate for stronger regulations to protect our civil right to ride in publicly available transportation vehicles just like other members of the public who do not have disabilities. You don’t have to be a GDUI member to add to our data, and I hope you will encourage everyone you know who has been frustrated trying to catch a cab or ride in a Uber or a LYFT vehicle to complete our survey. Find the survey here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PBSRP89.

Speaking of Uber, the terms of the proposed settlement agreement between the National Federation of the Blind of California and Uber were announced on August 1.A summary of that settlement agreement, which, if no one objects, should go into effect in December 2016 will be on our web site soon. You can also listen to the recording of the GDUI Convention program segment in which Julia Marks, of Disability Rights Advocates, discusses her participation in the law suit and proposed settlement agreement and answers specific questions regarding the settlement and its probable impact on access to Uber transportation for all of us who use guide dogs and access Uber with their smart phone app. You can find more information about the case and the settlement here: http://dralegal.org/case/national-federation-of-the-blind-of-california-et-al-v-uber-technologies-inc-et-al/

Top Dog is on the horizon! Are you thinking that July of 2017 is just too long to wait for more convention fun? Well, be of good cheer because Top Dog 2017 is scheduled to take place in sunny Orlando, FL, from Thursday, January 12 through Sunday, January 15, 2017! The event hotel will be The Holiday Inn And Suites, located across from Universal Orlando. The cost per standard room is $89.00 per night plus applicable tax. Prices for other hotel accommodation options will be available in the registration announcement. The pricing will be in effect for three days before and after Top Dog for your vacation pleasure.

Registration will be available online in late August or early September, at which time conference planners will provide complete descriptions of Top Dog events as well as specific registration instructions. Already being planned are seminars on airline safety and providing CPR for your dog. And, if you’ve attended a Top Dog conference in the past, you’re already looking forward to a guide dog schools update, a fabulous exhibits hall, and the always moving Blessing of the Guide Dogs.

Can’t wait? You can call the hotel right now to book your rooms. In order to reserve a room, call (800) 216-0635 and say that you are registering for Top Dog 2017. Be sure to provide the event code which is “Top.” You may also register online at www.hiuniversal.com where you will use the code “top” as well.

The cost per standard room is $89.00 per night plus applicable tax.

The cost for a one bedroom suite is $149.00 plus applicable tax and the cost of a two bedroom suite is $189.00 plus applicable tax. The pricing will be in effect for three days before and after Top Dog for your vacation pleasure.

Are you planning a Stay-cation this summer? Since you’ll probably be staying inside in the air conditioning during these next few end-of-summer scorching-hot days, how about learning some new skills that will serve you in good stead and allow you to improve your assistive technology abilities for the upcoming school year or work-related projects? The American Foundation for the Blind may have just the summer learning opportunity you’ve been waiting for – and it’s free of charge via their web site. AFB offers a set of free tutorials called “Learn NVDA,” for learning the free screen reader: http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/assistive-technology-videos/learn-nvda/1234

The tutorials walk you through acquiring the open source free screen reader, installing it, and using it to accomplish what you need to do with your computer, including word processing, e-mail, and using the internet.

We suggest stocking up on a supply of tasty ice cubes, icy-cold baby carrots, and occasional Frostee Paws to keep your dogs busy inside while you’re learning a new skill and they’re relishing these August days named in their honor!

The August GDUI Juno Report aired on ACB Radio last night. Remember, you can subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report as a podcast on ITunes, and listen wherever and whenever you choose. Thanks to Dan Kysor and Ken Metz who spent quite a lot of time exploring the history of and providing their own unique perspective concerning the California State Guide Dog Board and controversies surrounding that board’s recent history, as well as legislation pending in California’s legislature which may portend changes in the regulatory environment for guide dog users in the state of California.

As we ease into getting to know our new First Vice President and board members better and evaluating which committee assignments are best suited for which GDUI members and leaders, we wish all of you a pleasant August, with lots of juicy tomatoes and sweet corn, maybe some ocean breezes, pleasant walks with your guides, and perhaps some recreational reading. Until next time, thank you for your friendship and support.

Sincerely,

Penny Reeder, President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
mailto:President@GuideDogUsersInc.org

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
mailto:vp1@GuideDogUsersInc.org

Website: http://www.guidedogusersinc.org/

Call us, toll-free, at 866.799.8436
Like and visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc
Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc
Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at 11:00 p.m. EDT, the first Monday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.
Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://gdr.xml or search for the GDUI Juno Report on ITunes.
Support GDUI when you use this link to shop at Amazon.com: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1871119.
To join the GDUI-Announce List, visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/join/.

For our members and friends who do not have access to e-mail (or prefer to listen to the pleasant sound of a human voice reading aloud), we also offer telephonic recordings of every announcement. If you are aware of guide dog users who do not have computer access, please share this telephone number with them: 646-653-1900. Recorded announcements available at this number are updated concurrently with each new online announcement.

We look forward to sharing announcements concerning our organization with all who are interested in GDUI.