GDUI Announcement, September 28, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Again this month, many of the updates that have dominated the news of the world and the country have been unsettling and upsetting. Thank heavens for our guide dogs who can provide welcomed distractions from time to time with their occasional silliness and their constant loyalty and affection!

DAPP Info and News! GDUI’s Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program is here for any guide dog user who needs financial assistance to care for their working guide dog during recovery from a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, afire emergency or other disaster. If you need help, call our toll-free phone number, 866.799.8436, and Sarah will help you apply for assistance from our DAPP Committee. If you can’t call yourself, a friend or family member or emergency worker can call on your behalf. For more information about the DAPP, visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/resources/disaster-assistance-preparedness-program-dapp/    

At our board meeting last Saturday, GDUI’s board voted unanimously to expand DAPP assistance to include anyone who uses a guide dog and needs help while coping with the aftermath of a disaster. When DAPP guidelines were first developed several years ago, financial assistance was restricted to GDUI members only. But, it only makes sense to expand the number of people who are eligible to apply for assistance because disaster can befall any one of us, regardless of organizational membership status or political affiliation, and our administration has never restricted any kind of GDUI assistance exclusively to GDUI members. Any guide dog user can contact our empathizers during any phase of their guide dog partnerships – beginning when they wonder whether or not the guide dog lifestyle is compatible with theirs, and continuing through those first months of adjustment and bonding, progressing through behaviors and health issues that can be concerning, and continuing on through the dreaded days when possible retirement or end-of-life decisions are on our minds. Our guide dog schools surveys are open to anyone who wants to become informed about the similarities and differences between U. S. guide dog training programs. Our web site provides all kinds of information to anyone who wants to visit, and our informational brochures are available for anyone to download. Our GDUI-Chat and GDUI-Announce lists are open to friends as well as members, and any guide dog user can attend our convention, listen to the GDUI Juno Report, call into a board meeting, or purchase a product. Why, then would we restrict funding for any guide dog users who have experienced just the kinds of disasters and emergencies we created the fund to address in the first place? Our board is proud to have made this important change in our disaster assistance policy.

Are you wondering what else happened at the September 23 GDUI board meeting?

Here are several ways to access the board meeting recording from Saturday, September 23:

Drop Box: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dbl5cvigp6gcc29/September%2023%2C%202017%20GDUI%20Board%20Meeting%20Recording%20.mp3?dl=0

Send Space: https://www.sendspace.com/file/trwsdm

Play back phone number and access code:

Phone: 1-712-432-1085

Access code: 919245.

Thanks to Sarah Calhoun, our Secretary and Office Manager, for making the recording available so quickly.

Roundabouts: Learn why they’re proliferating all over the country and what you need to know about safety for you and your guide dog when your routes of travel include roundabouts!

Set aside some time on your calendar for this coming Saturday, September 30. That’s when the ACB Transportation Committee and the ACB Environmental Access Committee will be presenting a special tele-seminar on Roundabouts! Roundabouts present a special challenge to every blind person, whether traveling with guide dog or white mobility cane, and their prevalence is growing in every part of the country.

The seminar panel of orientation and mobility, accessibility and traffic engineering experts will cover the following topics:

What roundabouts are, how they function and why they are becoming so popular among traffic engineers and urban planners.

Why roundabouts may pose navigational and safety challenges for people who are blind or visually impaired.

How roundabouts can be designed to be as accessible as possible.

Join us for the call and stick around to get your questions answered and your concerns addressed.

The Details:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Participant Phone Numbers:

605-475-4120; code 818-9279

TMobile customers call 605-475-2880; code 818-9279

Introducing the Panel:

Janet M Barlow

Accessible Design For The Blind

Bastian Schroeder, PE, Ph.D.

Principle Engineer

Kittelson and Associates Inc.

Transportation Engineering/ Planning

Mike Goehring

Guiding Eyes

Field Representative. 

Proposed Legislation threatening our civil rights under the ADA:

This has been a tough week. First of all, and unbelievably this wasn’t the first time this happened, we witnessed hundreds of people with disabilities being dragged by Capitol Police from the Capitol Building where they were protesting the potential loss of health care – upon which most depend for their very lives. Those members of #ADAPT who take to the streets and the halls of government in wheelchairs, walkers, using support and mobility canes, and dog guides, to stand up for themselves, their civil rights, and all of us are truly among the bravest people I know!

Then, thankfully, we were able to sigh with relief and maybe briefly indulge in a tiny dance of joy when the Senate’s third attempt to take health insurance and Medicaid from millions of Americans was defeated! But, put away your dancin’ shoes and take another deep breath: Now some of your legislators are aiming for your civil rights as a person with a disability who depends on a guide dog for safe and independent travel.

Just after celebrating the 27th anniversary of the date when the Americans with Disabilities Act became the law of the land, H.R. 620) The ADA > Education and Reform Act of 2017 was introduced. The law would significantly weaken our civil rights protections under the ADA.

First, the law would compel the U. S. Department of Justice to formulate a program to educate business owners and state and local officials on “strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability.” I guess there’s not much wrong with that – except that one would think after nearly three decades, state and local officials and business owners might have not only actually already become aware of our civil rights as they are guaranteed under the ADA, but also figured out how to provide all of the reasonable accommodations we have been advocating for day after day, over the last 27 years!(Has anyone ever heard of the ACCESS Board? Or ADAAG?)

But, okay, if the DOJ wants to provide even more guidance, I guess that’s okay. However, other provisions in this “reform” act would prohibit civil suits arising out of a failure to provide reasonable accommodations unless the person with a disability provides written notice specifying the deficiency to the offending business establishment or agency or organization or public venue. Then, the property owner would have sixty days to respond with a written plan for improvement, and an additional 120 days to correct the deficiency, or demonstrate some degree of progress toward achieving that goal!

(180 days is a long, long time to stand at the curb waiting for your Uber driver to decide to allow you and your dog to climb into the car! Or the owners of the local shopping mall to train their security staff that, yes actually, a person who is blind and uses a guide dog has every right to come inside and even find a table and order a bite to eat!)

The list of realty and hotel and lodging and retail associations and other organizations who are endorsing this bill is long, and includes the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately, there are some heavy hitters – and long-time friends to people with disabilities who oppose it. That list of our friends includes the #ACLU and Human Rights Watch.

But, we can’t leave this issue only in the hands of friends and advocates. We need to be calling our legislators, raising our voices, and advocating for ourselves and the protections upon which we depend every single day for independence and safety and access and a decent quality of life! Call the Capitol Switchboard, contact your representative and your senators, and let your voice be heard!

Twenty-seven years after the bill became a law, it   is ludicrous to imply that business owners are still so uninformed about their civil rights obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act that they need a written notice about violations and 60 days before they even have to think about how to provide the entirely reasonable accommodations that the law requires!

Here is the number for the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Our civil rights were hard won. Don’t allow them to be diminished or watered down. We need to resist!

Hurricane Maria Devastation in Puerto Rico and American Virgin Islands

This year’s hurricane season continues to spread misery and destruction across the Caribbean and throughout our southern-most states, and the season still has at least another six or so weeks to go. The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands remains particularly difficult for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are contending with unavailable electricity, severely limited communications capabilities, food and water and fuel and drug shortages and all kinds of safety concerns and utter misery. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation to the Hurricane Maria Community Recover Fund .

https://connect.clickandpledge.com/w/Form/cb4a3c78-5694-4324-bead-42c8ad94c1bf

Until our next announcement, let’s all take good care of one another just as our guide dogs take such good care of us. As always, 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 website: http://www.guidedogusersinc.org/

Call us, toll-free at 866.799.8436

Like, visit us, and join our Facebook Group : https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://acbradio.org/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.

SUPPORT GUIDE DOG USERS, INC GROUP #999969764 when you purchase candles and other decorative items from the Yankee Candle Store here: https://www.yankeecandlefundraising.com/store.htm.

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

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link: gduichatlist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

businesslist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1. The recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

GDUI Announcement, September 7, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Stormy Weather: With Hurricane Irma’s 180-MPH winds and torrents of rain heading straight for Florida and then possibly for Savanah, and after that, traveling in directions as yet unknown, and terrible fires clogging the skies with smoke, spreading destruction and ash all across the northwestern states, and thousands still experiencing the devastation of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey many of them just beginning the exhausting tasks associated with recovery and rebuilding, disasters are on all of our minds, and anxiety continues to be our constant companion – if not for ourselves and our own guide dogs, then for family members and friends and teachers and mentors, and so many more whom we care about. We are writing, again, to share our concerns and offer help where we can.

Perhaps that smart Phone can help during the emergency: If you are anxiously searching for bottled water and working batteries, boarding up a residence, planning an evacuation strategy, heading for shelter, or checking on friends and family members, we offer advice recently posted on several of our GDUI e-mail discussion lists and published first in “USA Today:https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/09/02/prepare-disaster-how-your-smartphone-can-help-emergency/628323001/.

The article includes information about the apps that can be most helpful (for example, several Emergency apps from the American Red Cross that update alerts and can help you locate emergency shelters; or the Zello app that works like a walkie-talkie even when you don’t have phone service). The writer tells us the kinds of things we should purchase or set up on our phone in advance, and   suggests keeping a ziplock bag handy for protecting electronics, even a smart phone that’s not waterproof.

Up-to-Date Information for People with Disabilities Surviving after Harvey: Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) has compiled a resource list for Texans surviving after Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. Please share widely. We would prefer for people to get this list multiple times rather than not at all. Find the resource list here: https://www.disabilityrightstx.org/files/DRTx_Hurricane_Info_for_Web.pdf.

Important Social Security Information for People Affected by Hurricane Harvey: Many Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payments were scheduled for Friday, September 1.  The following information covers the various delivery methods for these payments in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Payments by Paper Check Delivered by the US Postal Service

Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the Gulf Coast resulted in the temporary suspension of mail delivery service, as well as the closure of some postal facilities in the Houston area.  The U.S. Postal Service is providing additional information on how customers displaced by Hurricane Harvey can retrieve checks they receive via the mail, here: about.usps.com/news/state-releases/tx/tx.htm

Payments by Direct Deposit: Nearly all payments issued by direct deposit should have arrive as scheduled.  If a person’s payment is delayed, they should contact their financial institution.  If the financial institution is not operating, please see the “emergency payment” information below.

Payments by Direct Express Debit Card (a Treasury Department program): For recipients in the affected areas who receive their payment through a Direct Express card, fees will be waived, even if they have evacuated out of the area. Payments were posted to Direct Express cards on September 1. People may contact Direct Express at 1-888-741-1115.

To find the nearest open Social Security office outside of the affected areas, call

1-800-772-1213.

(TTY: 1-800-325-0778) or go to  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/locator

Your civil rights include the right to shelter with your guide dog! We have seen at least one news item which indicated that a person with a disability who uses a service animal was turned away from an emergency shelter during evacuations that occurred during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. This is, not only unacceptable treatment, but it is also illegal!

Here, from the U. S. Department of Justice, the federal agency charged with writing regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act – and enforcing those regulations – is an official explanation of your civil rights as a person with disabilities who depends upon a guide dog to accommodate your needs:

“The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. … Similarly, service animals may not be prohibited from communal food preparation areas, such as are commonly found in shelters or dormitories.”

[From: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html]

 

And, should emergency shelter administrators need to know more about their obligations to provide shelter for you and your guide dog, please refer them to this information and this link for the official word from the U. S. Department of Justice:

“Access for All in Emergencies and Disasters

 One of government’s primary responsibilities is to protect residents and visitors. Providing emergency shelter during disasters and emergencies is a basic way of carrying out this duty. Shelters are sometimes operated by government entities themselves. More commonly, though, shelters are operated for the state or local government by a third party – often the American Red Cross. Regardless of who operates a shelter, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires shelters to provide equal access to the many benefits that shelters provide, including safety, food, services, comfort, information, a place to sleep until it is safe to return home, and the support and assistance of family, friends, and neighbors.

  1. In general, the ADA does not require any action that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or that would impose undue financial and administrative burdens.
  2. This Addendum discusses some of the key issues that emergency managers and shelter operators need to address in order to comply with the ADA when they plan for and provide shelter during emergencies and disasters. Although this Addendum focuses primarily on issues affecting shelter residents with disabilities, these issues are also generally applicable to volunteers and employees with disabilities.”
[From https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap7shelterprog.htm]

 

DAPP Info and News! GDUI’s Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program is here for any member with a working guide dog who needs financial assistance to care for their guide dog  during recovery from a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, afire emergency or other so-called natural disaster. If you need help, call our toll-free phone number, 866.799.8436, and Sarah will help you apply for assistance from our DAPP Committee. If you can’t call yourself, a friend or family member or emergency worker can call on your behalf. For more information about the DAPP, visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/resources/disaster-assistance-preparedness-program-dapp/    

During the past week, we received two generous donations from people who want to help us build the funds earmarked for our DAPP program. We would like to publicly thank our member, Rhea Collett, for her generous donation to the DAPP program, and a Boston-based organization called PAWS Global, Inc. for their generous donation which they hope we can use to assist any guide dog users who need assistance as a result of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. Thank you!

If you would like to make a donation to GDUI, it’s easy and secure to do so online here: http://guidedogusersinc.org/donate/. Or to discuss your donation in more specific terms, call our toll-free number, 866.799.8436, and Sarah will be pleased to assist.

Do you want to help the DAPP Committee? Will is hoping that you do! Here’s a personal invitation from the Chair of our DAPP Committee:

As chair of the Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (DAPP), I would like to invite new members to join the committee. As we’ve seen recently with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana and Hurricane Sandy, guide dog teams are facing the potential of experiencing stronger, longer-lasting and non-traditional weather disasters.  It is my hope that with the nature of the issues we find ourselves facing, a group of GDUI members will be able to come together to take a hard look at our DAPP program and determine how well it is meeting the needs of our guide dog teams.  We would also like to take a look at various ways to raise funds for the DAPP and develop a better media strategy for letting folks know about the program.

If you are a current GDUI member and have an interest in formulating ways to make our program work in better ways, please send an email to

mailto:will.burley3@gmail.com and place I Want to Join DAPP in the subject line.

DAPP is an advisory committee so our work can inform the board of directors to make any needed changes.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Will Burley, Chair

GDUI Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program

In Other News: Quickly, we want to remind all members that, as of September 1, GDUI’s annual and life-member dues have increased. The board made the decision to increase dues last spring with the important goal of improving our financial situation, and recognizing that GDUI’s dues had not increased since the turn of the 21st Century. As of September 1, annual GDUI membership dues are $25 per year. Members, who register on September 1, 2017 and thereafter, will retain a valid membership in GDUI until December 31, 2018. Lifetime memberships are now $400.

If you are in the mood to distract yourself for a while from the daily anxiety of breaking news, remember that the latest issue of PawTracks may still be hanging out in your e-mail In box! PawTracks was delivered by e-mail to all GDUI members who have specified an e-mail preference for their PawTracks subscriptions on August 22. If you didn’t find your copy, don’t hesitate to call our toll-free number, 866.799.8436, or contact our Membership Committee Chairperson, Dixie Sanderson at mailto:Director5@guidedogusersinc.org.Congratulations to our new PawTracks editor, Will Burley, for putting together such an excellent issue.

The next GDUI Board Meeting is scheduled for September 23, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (12:00 Noon Central, 11:00 a.m. Mountain, and 10:00 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time) Remember to call712.432.0075. The Pass-code is: 919245 followed by the Pound Sign. All GDUI members and friends are welcomed to attend and to participate near the end of the call by sharing information, suggestions, and concerns.

Set aside some time on your calendar for Saturday, September 30. That’s when the ACB Transportation Committee and the ACB Environmental Access Committee will be presenting a special tele-seminar on Roundabouts! Roundabouts present a special challenge to every blind person, whether traveling with guide dog or white mobility cane, and their prevalence is growing in every part of the country.

Given the increasing prevalence of roundabouts and the challenges they pose, the ACB Transportation Committee and the ACB Environmental Access Committee are cosponsoring a panel discussion about roundabouts. Our [panel of orientation and mobility, accessibility and traffic engineering experts will cover the following topics:

What roundabouts are, how they function and why they are becoming so popular among traffic engineers and urban planners.

Why roundabouts may pose navigational and safety challenges for people who are blind or visually impaired.

How roundabouts can be designed to be as accessible as possible.

Join us for the call and stick around to get your questions answered and your concerns addressed.

The Details:

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Participant Phone Numbers:

605-475-4120; code 818-9279

TMobile customers call

605-475-2880; code 818-9279

Introducing the Panel:

 Janet M Barlow

Accessible Design For The Blind

Lucas Frank

The Seeing Eye

Bastian Schroeder, PE, Ph.D.

Principle Engineer

Kittelson and Associates Inc.

Transportation Engineering/ Planning

Mike Goehring

Guiding Eyes

Field Representative. 

Finally, remember just a few weeks ago when the only meteorological event on our minds was the coming solar eclipse, and the most pressing concern for many was simply how to gain access to the experience of Totality? That seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? If you would like to recapture the nearly stress-free experience of the Solar Eclipse of August 2017, Joel Snyder announces that the audio-described event is still available for your listening pleasure. Here’s what he says,

“We’ve received so many gracious comments and requests for copies of our ACB Radio Solar Eclipse program.  The show is now available at:

http://acbradio.org/sites/default/files/archives/eclipse/solar-eclipse2017.mp3 .

Enjoy!”

We want all of you to know that GDUI is here for you. No matter what’s happening in your lives, with you and your dogs, we hope you will share your triumphs and your concerns with others who, like you, depend on amazing guide dogs for independence and safety! We are enjoying the stories you have been sharing with us, on our GDUI-Chat list, and via our new Facebook group and Facebook page about your training experiences with newly matched guides, as well as amusing adventures with dogs who are sometimes more clever than anyone ever expected! Our empathizers are available to listen, to offer advice when asked, and to share their own guide dog experiences. Our DAPP is here for you as well. This is the number to call: 866.799.8436. Or, contact our Empathizers via e-mail here: mailto:concerns@guidedogusersinc.org. Please be safe, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are your guide dog community.

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

Call us, toll-free, at  866.799.8436

Like, visit us, and join our Facebook Group : https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://acbradio.org/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.

SUPPORT GUIDE DOG USERS, INC GROUP #999969764 when you purchase candles and other decorative items from the Yankee Candle Store here: https://www.yankeecandlefundraising.com/store.htm.

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

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link: gduichatlist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

businesslist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1 where the recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

GDUI Announcement, August 28, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Hurricane Harvey and Its Aftermath: We are writing tonight to assure all of our members and friends who are suffering because of the terrible flooding and other damage that have been caused by Hurricane Harvey that we want to help in any way that we can.

As you may know, GDUI has a fund available to GDUI members who may need financial assistance in caring for your working guide dog as a direct result of a natural disaster such as this. Learn about the GDUI Disaster Assistance Planning and Preparedness Program (DAPP) on our home page here: http://guidedogusersinc.org/ or call our Office Manager and Secretary, Sarah Calhoun, on our toll-free number here: 866.799.8436.

We have heard anecdotally that some people with service animals have been told – mistakenly – that emergency shelters cannot accept service animals. This is untrue! Here, from the U. S. Department of Justice, the federal agency charged with writing regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act – and enforcing those regulations – is an official explanation of your civil rights as a person with disabilities who depends upon a guide dog to accommodate your needs:

“The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. … Similarly, service animals may not be prohibited from communal food preparation areas, such as are commonly found in shelters or dormitories.”

[From: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html]

 

And, should emergency shelter administrators need to know more about their obligations to provide shelter for you and your guide dog, please refer them to this information and this link for the official word from the U. S. Department of Justice:

“Access for All in Emergencies and Disasters

 One of government’s primary responsibilities is to protect residents and visitors. Providing emergency shelter during disasters and emergencies is a basic way of carrying out this duty. Shelters are sometimes operated by government entities themselves. More commonly, though, shelters are operated for the state or local government by a third party – often the American Red Cross. Regardless of who operates a shelter, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires shelters to provide equal access to the many benefits that shelters provide, including safety, food, services, comfort, information, a place to sleep until it is safe to return home, and the support and assistance of family, friends, and neighbors.

  1. In general, the ADA does not require any action that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or that would impose undue financial and administrative burdens.
  2. This Addendum discusses some of the key issues that emergency managers and shelter operators need to address in order to comply with the ADA when they plan for and provide shelter during emergencies and disasters. Although this Addendum focuses primarily on issues affecting shelter residents with disabilities, these issues are also generally applicable to volunteers and employees with disabilities.”
[From https://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap7shelterprog.htm]

 

For those of us who cannot personally lend our hands to help, making financial donations may be the most tangible way we can offer assistance at the moment. Both Amazon.com and Apple.com provide links for contributing directly to the American Red Cross, and here’s the link provided by the American Red Cross, themselves: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey.

If you prefer, you can contribute via phone, here: 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669). You can also reach the Hurricane Harvey relief effort at:

Español: 1-800-435-7669

TDD Operator: 1-800-220-4095.

As the rains continue to fall and the storm ultimately defines a new and possibly equally dangerous route, we will keep all of you and your guides who live along the Gulf Coast, in southern Texas and Louisiana in our thoughts and prayers. As always, thank you for your friendship and your support, and be safe!

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

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

Call us, toll-free, at  866.799.8436

Like, visit us, and join our Facebook Group : https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://acbradio.org/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.

SUPPORT GUIDE DOG USERS, INC GROUP #999969764 when you purchase candles and other decorative items from the Yankee Candle Store here: https://www.yankeecandlefundraising.com/store.htm.

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

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link: gduichatlist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

businesslist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1. Where The recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

GDUI Announcement, August 8, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Welcome to August! Ordinarily, we might be chatting about those infamous “dog days of summer,” but for the past several days, our weather here in the mid-Atlantic has felt more like mid-September than early August, and   this year, the one thing we seem to be able to say about climate predictability is that our climate has been anything but predictable! There were tornados in Tulsa a couple of days ago, and here in normally hot, hazy, and humid  — but not very meteorologically exciting — Maryland, several localities experienced probable tornados just a few hours ago. The winds were strong enough to flip cars driving down highways where tornados were active. Over the week end, there was flooding in New Orleans when the city experienced ten inches of rain in a single day. Forest fires are raging all over the West, and a new tropical storm reportedly thinks about becoming a full-blown hurricane once it encounters land just about once each week. I bring all of this up just to remind you that, if you experience a natural disaster and that affects your ability to care for your guide dog, GDUI’s Disaster Assistance Preparedness Program is here to help. For more information, visit this link on our web site:

http://guidedogusersinc.org/resources/disaster-assistance-preparedness-program-dapp/.

Heads’ Up: GDUI’s Membership Survey is online and ready for your input! As a membership-driven organization, we welcome opportunities to hear from you! That’s why the Membership Committee, in cooperation with the Advocacy and Legislative Committee, and the Public Relations Committee, has created a survey to ask all of you to prioritize the issues you would like us to be working on, what you like about the way we conduct GDUI business, and if and how you would like us to make changes. Don’t worry, the survey is totally accessible (We tested it with a variety of screen readers and browsers), your anonymity is guaranteed, and there are just a few questions. Find our membership survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CS2DPCR

Please complete the short membership survey and submit it by August 31. That’s our deadline. And, thank you!

A new GDUI Facebook Group! Thanks to GDUI Board Member and Social Networking Guru, Minh Ha for creating a new public group on Facebook for GDUI members, friends, and supporters — giving us all one more way to share information, discuss our organization, and compare notes on the guide dog lifestyle and community. You can join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc/

An Exciting New Fund-Raising Opportunity for GDUI! PLEASE SUPPORT GUIDE DOG USERS, INC GROUP #999969764

We’re partnering with Yankee Candle Fundraising to help achieve our fund-raising goal this year. They are the world’s Number-One  candle brand and they offer a variety of premium candles, fragrances and décor items at a wide range of prices. For GDUI, the most exciting aspect of this generous fund-raising opportunity is that 40 percent  of every sale goes to us!

To help support GDUI, you can click on the link below and order all kinds of beautiful sweet-smelling items online. Your purchases ship directly to your home and our group will automatically receive its 40 percent  on each and every sale. This promotion is good through January 10, 2018.

Ready to start shopping now? Just follow the link below and you’ll be on your way to helping GDUI reach our 2017 fundraising goals: https://www.yankeecandlefundraising.com/store.htm.

If the link fails to take you to the Guide Dog Users Inc. fund-raising site, don’t worry. Simply visit: www.yankeecandlefundraising.com and enter your Group Number 999969764 in the “Start Shopping” box you’ll find there. Then you can shop for all of the Yankee Candle Fundraising items and your purchases will still benefit GDUI.

Holiday shopping season will be here before we know it! We will be pleased and grateful if you begin your shopping with the Yankee Candle Store and help to support GDUI!

New List Moderators for GDUI Chat, Business, and Leadership E-mail Discussion Lists – We are grateful to Darla Rogers and Will Burley who stepped up to meet our need for members to help with moderating our e-mail discussion lists! Dixie and all of us are pleased and grateful. Thank you.

Great news: The GDUI 2017 Convention Recordings are now available at our web site! If you couldn’t attend this year’s GDUI convention, or you couldn’t attend every single program session, you can listen to the convention recordings, ably created and edited by ACB Radio. It will be almost as good as being there in person! Here’s the link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/gdui-convention-archives/2017-gdui-convention-program-recordings/

Returning briefly to our August theme, we want to share one more intriguing link with you! August is famous for the (apparently) breath-taking meteor showers which fill the night skies during this month each summer. I have often wished I could experience those showers of light. (After all, who doesn’t long to wish on a star?) And, this summer promises an even more extraordinary celestial event, the solar eclipse, which will be visible for a large number of people living in North America, on August 21. Now comes news that, even if you can’t see the eclipse with your eyes, there will be ways for you to experience the phenomenon using other senses!

On August 21, 2017, millions of people will view a total solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. However, for the visually impaired, or others who are unable to see the eclipse with their own eyes, the Eclipse Soundscapes Project delivers a multisensory experience of this exciting celestial event. The project, from NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium, will include audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, recordings of the changing environmental sounds during the eclipse, and an interactive  “rumble map” app that will allow users to  visualize the eclipse through touch.

No matter which celestial or terrestrial events become the highlights of August 2017, for you and your guide dog, we wish you an enjoyable last month of summer, with lots of friends and family members to share in your enjoyment, and wagging tails everywhere you go! Thanks again 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 Website: http://www.guidedogusersinc.org/

Call us, toll-free, at  866.799.8436

Like, visit us, and join our Facebook Group : https://www.facebook.com/GDUInc

Follow us at Twitter: @GDUInc

Enjoy the GDUI Juno Report on ACB Radio Mainstream, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://acbradio.org/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.

SUPPORT GUIDE DOG USERS, INC GROUP #999969764 when you purchase candles and other decorative items from the Yankee Candle Store here: https://www.yankeecandlefundraising.com/store.htm.

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

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link: gduichatlist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

businesslist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1 where the recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

GDUI Announcement, July 10, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

Willow and I arrived home from the ACB and GDUI Conventions late on Friday night. After many hours of sleeping soundly under a table at Thursday’s ACB general session and a five-plus hour airplane ride the next day, Willow is all rested up after the many GDUI events we attended together and eager to play with her new favorite ball from the GDUI Suite! I, on the other hand, am still recovering! But with so many wonderful memories and so much gratitude for everyone in GDUI who shares responsibility for a fantastic convention, I am feeling fine.

I am writing tonight to remind all of you about a fund-raising opportunity that will be fun and appealing for you and good for GDUI, too! Amazon.com’s third-annual Prime Day is on Tuesday, July 11, and will feature more than 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime members, making it one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Because of GDUI’s ‘smiling relationship with Amazon.com, all of that shopping can be good for GDUI as well! Whenever you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon will donate to Guide Dog Users Inc.

When you #StartWithaSmile on #PrimeDay, Amazon.com donates to Guide Dog Users Inc. Shop for great deals at smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1871119.

Advocacy is important, but advocacy doesn’t come free of charge! There are phone calls to make and to hear, meetings to attend, letters to write. Even though our Advocacy and Legislative Committee is led and staffed by dedicated volunteers, there are still expenses associated with helping guide dog users make their cases for equality and civil rights, and persuading business owners, government administrators, and legislators about the importance of those civil rights.

We strive to improve our web site all of the time. Recently, GuideDogUsersInc.org was an important source of information about our fantastic convention. None of those postings came free of charge! And, soon, we’ll be adding the recordings from our GDUI 2017 convention to our web site, as well!

PawTracks is a magazine that informs, entertains, and allows members and friends to discuss all of those guide dog-related issues that need attention. One of our most significant expenses during a year is for the production and distribution of our quarterly magazine!

And, of course you know already that our universally accessible voting system costs $5.00 for every member eligible to vote.

I am hoping to encourage all of you to use the Smile Shopping Portal tomorrow when you check out all of those amazing Prime Day deals! Have fun shopping, and thanks for allowing GDUI to benefit from your purchasing power as well!

Sincerely,

Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

mailto:vp1@GuideDogUsersInc.org

GDUI 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, at8:00 p.m., EST, every Friday of every month, here: http://www.acbradio.org/mainstream.

Download or subscribe to the GDUI Juno Report pod cast here: http://acbradio.org/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/.

To subscribe to the GDUI Chat list, visit this link: gduichatlist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

To subscribe to the (members only) GDUI Business list, visit this link:

businesslist-subscribe@guidedogusersinc.org

A recording of each GDUI announcement is available here: 712.432.1281. Enter the Access Code 488062 followed by the number sign. When prompted, enter the Reference Code, No. 1. The recording will remain available until it is replaced by a recording of the next GDUI Announcement. Please share this information with friends who may not have access to the internet. Thank you. We look forward to sharing information with all of our GDUI members and friends.

Proposed Amendments to the GDUI Bylaws April 2017

The GDUI Bylaws and Resolutions Committee submits the following four (4) proposed amendments for consideration during the May 2017 Annual election.

In order to achieve a quorum, at least 75 members, which represents 15% of the membership, must vote.  Further, a two-thirds affirmative vote is required in order to adopt an amendment.

Members will have opportunities to ask questions about the proposed amendments during the Candidates/Amendments Forums which are scheduled on two separate dates prior to the elections.  The first will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017, beginning at 1:00 P. M. (EDT) and the second will be held on Thursday, May 11, 2017 beginning at 8:00 P. M. (EDT). The call-in number for both forums is (712) 432-0075; access code: 919245 followed by the pound sign.

AMENDMENT 1: Non-discrimination and Freedom of Speech

Purpose: To acknowledge the principles of Freedom of Speech and non-discrimination.  Although technically not required because it is already included within the context of the existing provision, GDUI wishes to underscore its commitment to the principles of non-discrimination and freedom of speech with the additional proposed language in the last sentence below.

ARTICLE 1.00:  NAME; GOVERNANCE; AFFILIATION

Section 1.03:  Affiliation

This Organization shall be a chartered special interest affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, and shall hence be subject to all requirements and obligations applicable to affiliates  of that organization.  GDUI embraces the principles of non-discrimination and freedom of speech.

AMENDMENT 2: Clarification of Affiliate Voting

Purpose:  to amend the language of subsection 4.06 (1), which deals with Affiliate Voting, in order to eliminate ambiguity and to conform with related sections 4.06(4) and 7.02.

Below is the proposed revision of 4.06 (1) followed by the current 4.06 (1).

Proposed revision of 4.06 (1):

4.06(1) Affiliate voting shall be limited to caucuses and business sessions taking place at the annual convention  where such business shall be strictly limited to matters coming before the ACB convention on which GDUI may wish to adopt positions or take specific actions.  At such a meeting, the membership may, by majority vote of those present and voting, call for a roll call vote on a specific matter of business.  When affiliate voting is authorized, each affiliate shall be entitled to one (1) vote for each seven (7) affiliate members, or major fraction thereof; however, no affiliate may have more than twenty-five (25) affiliate votes.

The current language of 4.06(1) is:

Affiliate voting shall be limited to caucuses and other activities authorized by the Board of Directors, with the exception that the membership at a properly called meeting, may, by majority vote of those present and voting, call for a roll call vote  on a  specific matter of business.  When affiliate voting is authorized, each affiliate shall be entitled to one (1) vote in any annual or special  meeting of the membership  or properly called telephonic or electronic election/meeting for each seven (7) affiliate members, or major fraction thereof; however, no affiliate may have more than twenty-five (25) affiliate members.

AMENDMENT 3: Designating a Seat on the Board for Immediate Past President

Purpose: designate the position of Immediate Past President as a seat on the Board.  This would involve the following changes.

5.03:  Immediate Past President 

The position of Immediate Past President shall be designated as a seat on the Board. 

  (1)The Immediate Past President shall have full voting privileges and shall serve until there is another Immediate Past President.

  (2) The designated position of Immediate Past President shall become available when the person serving as President in June of 2017 shall be duly qualified to succeed  to that office.

The present section 5.04 shall become 5.05 and read as follows:

5.05:  Board Of Directors

The Officers, Directors, Immediate Past President, and the three (3) additional members who are elected or appointed to the Board shall constitute the Board of Directors of this Organization, (hereinafter the Board).  All Officers shall be considered to be Directors as that term is used in the DC Nonprofit Code.

The current section 5.05 shall become 5.06 and shall read:

Section 5.06:  Locales of Directors

Of those Director positions that are elected to the Board, no more than three (3) members occupying those positions shall be from the same state, district, or possession.  For the avoidance of doubt, the Publications Editor, the Affiliate Liaison, the Guide Dog School Liaison, and the Immediate Past President are not elected positions on the Board.

AMENDMENT 4:  Eliminating Provisions for Run-off Elections

Purpose: Due to the costs of conducting elections, propose eliminating the provision for run-off elections (second elections).

The proposal involves eliminating sub-section 5.09 (3), which deals with second elections, and merging sub-sections 5.09 (2) and 5.09 (4), which deal with majority and plurality voting.

Changes to 5.09 Election and Tenure.  Propose elimination of sub-section 5.09(3) which reads: “In the event there are more than two candidates for any Officer position  and following the election, no candidate has received more than fifty percent of the votes cast for such office, a second election will be held immediately following the conclusion of the first election.  The two candidates receiving the most votes in the first election shall be candidates in the second election.  If either of the top two candidates elects not to stand for the second election, the candidate with the next highest vote total shall be a candidate for office in the second vote.  No additional nominees will be accepted for such office.”

5.09(2) reads “Officers will be elected by a majority  of the members present at the meeting.”  and

5.09(4) reads “Directors will be elected by a plurality of the members present at the meeting.”

Propose combining both into a new 5.09(2) to read, “Officers and Directors will be elected by a plurality of the members present at the meeting.”

End of proposed Amendments

GDUI has elected to proceed under Section 29.405.20(f) of the Nonprofit Code. If a member who is entitled to vote on these matters has any questions, please feel free to contact your Bylaws Committee members at Bylaws@guidedogusersinc.org .

Respectfully submitted,

Maria Hansen, Chair, Bylaws and Resolutions Committee

Lynn Merrill, Member

Ellen Telker, Member

Rick Roderick, Member

Maria Kristic, Member

Penny Reeder, Member

The Blind Side Podcast: A Guide Dog User’s Terrible Experience While Traveling by Air

Guide dog owner at airport posing in front of a commercial airliner.

This is what Discrimination against a guide dog user who is flying with her guide dog sounds like! Check out Jonathan Mosen’s weekly podcast, The Blind Side, for this week, in which Jonathan interviews Sue Martin about her horrendous experience on March 1, of being bullied, refused appropriate seating, and forced to leave a plane about to take off on a flight for which she had purchased a ticket. Also interviewed, Penny Reeder, President of Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Here’s the link: https://soundcloud.com/theblindsidepodcast/episode26
And, here’s a link to a helpful resource for knowing your rights as a person with disabilities when traveling by air in, to, or from the USA: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/passengers-disabilities

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

ACB Reaches Agreement with DC Taxi Companies

American Council of the Blind Reaches Agreement with DC Taxi Companies to Enhance Accessibility of Street-Hail Service for Blind Individuals with Service Dogs

Contact:

Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation, Washington Lawyers’ Committee
matthew_handley@washlaw.org; 202-319-1000

Eric Bridges, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind
ebridges@acb.org; 202-467-5081

Matthew MacLean, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, matthew.maclean@pillsburylaw.com; 202-663-8183

WASHINGTON, DC (June 21, 2016) – Four DC taxi companies: Yellow Cab Company of DC, Inc., Grand Cab Company, Elite Cab Association, and Pleasant Taxi Club LLC have reached an agreement with the American Council of the Blind (“ACB”), a civil rights advocacy organization for the blind, to carry out an Accessibility Initiative to ensure that blind and visually-impaired individuals accompanied by service animals have full and equal access to taxi services in the District of Columbia, including street-hailed taxicab services. Together, these four companies represent more than one-fifth of the taxicabs in DC.

The Accessibility Initiative, pioneered by these four companies, is available for any DC taxicab company or driver wishing to voluntarily promote equal access for a contribution of only $15 per cab. As part of this Accessibility Initiative, the taxi companies have agreed to collaborate with ACB and contribute to a testing fund overseen and administered by ACB. ACB will monitor learning, education effectiveness, and compliance by associated drivers with their legal obligations to provide street-hail taxicab services in DC. Contributions to the Accessibility Initiative will be used to fund this monitoring and a third-party testing program to ensure that blind and visually-impaired individuals with service animals are successfully able to hail taxis on DC streets. Those contributing to this testing fund and agreeing to the Accessibility Initiative will be notified of any complaints and given feedback on their drivers’ performance. The Accessibility Initiative also protects signatory drivers and taxicab companies with a commitment to resolve complaints against participating taxicabs without formal litigation.

As part of their mutual goal of promoting equal access to taxicab services in DC, all four companies have agreed to develop and implement a model Non-Discrimination Policy that accompanies the Accessibility Initiative. The Accessibility Initiative requires each signatory to incorporate such a policy into its association licensing agreements with its drivers when signing new drivers or renewing agreements, and to distribute the policy to all existing drivers. The Non-Discrimination Policy will make it clear that a driver may not assume that an animal accompanying a passenger is not a service animal. All drivers who do not have a valid medical exemption will be required to always stop to provide service to a passenger accompanied by a dog and hailing a taxi, or inquire whether the dog is a service animal where not obvious. The Non-Discrimination Policy also specifies that the taxicab company will promptly investigate any complaints it receives regarding any discriminatory conduct by its associated drivers, and discipline any associated driver who has proven to have engaged in a violation of the policy. Such discipline will include training of the driver on the Non-Discrimination Policy, suspension, reporting the driver to the DC Taxicab Commission (“DCTC”), and terminating the driver’s association with the company.

Additionally, in a joint letter, Grand Cab, Yellow Cab, Elite Cab, and Pleasant Taxi recommended needed changes to DCTC policies and rules to promote and safely provide street-hail taxi services in DC to the visually-impaired. DCTC will now provide disability sensitivity training to new and renewing licensed taxicab vehicle operators and has implemented a disability sensitivity training module.

Eric Bridges, Executive Director of the ACB, stated: “We are encouraged that these four taxi companies are willing to work with us to promote equal access to taxicab services in the District of Columbia. We hope that other cab companies in the District will join this Accessibility Initiative and contribute to the testing fund in order to become the gold standard for taxi service in DC, including street-hailed taxis.”

Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, said: “Public transportation, including taxi services, should be available and accessible to everyone, including persons with disabilities who use service dogs. We are pleased that we were able to come together to implement this Accessibility Initiative in the District of Columbia. We are also pleased with the jointly recommended changes to the Taxi Commission’s policies and regulations, which will apply to all DC taxicab companies and set the standard for equal access.”

Matthew MacLean, Partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, added: “Launching the Accessibility Initiative through the American Council of the Blind is a great accomplishment. This program has the tools to create meaningful change in the accessibility policies of taxicab providers in DC, and is an opportunity for companies to engage in a constructive program to ensure the rights of taxi passengers relying on service animals are understood and respected.”

ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE: Since 1968, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has represented individuals and groups seeking to vindicate their civil rights, handling thousands of civil rights cases in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of urban life. The Committee represents people with claims of discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran’s status. The Committee’s litigation efforts have become nationally known for landmark court victories, record judgments, and precedent-setting consent decrees. For more information, contact: Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, 11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; phone (202) 319-1000; fax (202) 319-1010; or see:www.washlaw.org.

ABOUT AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND: The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society. For more information, visit www.acb.org; write to American Council of the Blind, 1703 N Beauregard Street, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22311; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.

ABOUT PILLSBURY: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a leading international law firm with offices around the world and a particular focus on the energy & natural resources, financial services, real estate & construction, and technology sectors. Recognized by Financial Times as one of the most innovative law firms, Pillsbury and its lawyers are highly regarded for their forward-thinking approach, their enthusiasm for collaborating across disciplines and their unsurpassed commercial awareness. For more information, visit www.pillsburylaw.com.

To read this press release on our website, please visit: www.acb.org/PR-Taxi-Agreement

People with Disabilities and LYFT

Problems with a LYFT driver refusing to transport you and your service dog? Here’s information concerning structured negotiations between advocates for people with disabilities and LYFT:

Statement to the Community Regarding Structured Negotiations With Lyft to read this announcement online, visit http://rbgg.com/statement-to-the-community-regarding-structured-negotiations-with-lyft/

October 15, 2015

Advocates for people with disabilities have entered into structured negotiations with Lyft, Inc. to ensure that disabled riders with service animals are ensured access to transportation services offered by Lyft drivers. These collaborative efforts are under way between Lyft, Inc. (Lyft), Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld (RBGG), and TRE Legal – attorneys for several blind persons who have raised concerns regarding access for service animal users.

DRA, RBGG, and TRE Legal contacted Lyft to present these concerns after certain community members reported difficulties obtaining rides from drivers on the Lyft platform. Lyft currently has a policy that drivers on their platform accept riders with service animals, but Lyft agreed to work with these advocates to ensure that disabled individuals are not denied rides or provided a lesser quality of service because they use service animals.

The parties are hopeful that they can agree on specific new initiatives to improve access to transportation available through the Lyft platform for all riders with disabilities who use service animals.

For more information, please contact:

Tim Elder, telder@trelegal.com, TRE Legal Practice, LLC, 4226 Castanos Street, Fremont, CA 94536, (410) 415-3493

Michael Nunez, mnunez@rbgg.com , Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, 50 Fremont Street, 19th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 433-6830

Julia Marks, jmarks@dralegal.org , Disability Rights Advocates, 2001 Center Street, 4th Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704, (510) 665-8644