The UCB Flier
A publication of
Utah Council of the Blind
For the latest news updates call the Utah Connection 801-299-0670 or 1‑800-273-4569. (You may also leave a message at the end of the announcement.)
Mail correspondence to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UCB Flier is available in large print, Braille, audio CD, as a data (Microsoft Word and a plain text file) CD, and by e-mail. If you would prefer to receive your newsletter in a different format, please call the Utah Connection or send an e-mail to email@example.com and let us know.
In This Issue
You're All Invited!........................................................................................ 5
Technology Forums for March.................................................................... 7
Latest Calendar with Updates.................................................................... 8
Advocacy at the 2018 Session of the Utah State Legislature..................... 9
Scholarship Applications Now Available................................................... 10
Award Nominations.................................................................................. 11
For Dog Guide Users............................................................................... 12
Braille Cookbook...................................................................................... 13
Toothpaste Dispenser Completed............................................................ 13
Employment Opportunities....................................................................... 15
A Second Chance at Sight....................................................................... 20
From Normal to Nothing......................... 22
How it Works.......................................... 24
Time to Heal First................................... 25
Google Launches Disability Support Team.............................................. 27
Toronto Astrophysicist Offers a Musical Guide Through the Universe...... 28
Perkins Becomes First Campus in the Nation to Collaborate with Aira..... 32
In Case You Missed It:............................................................................. 36
Growls are Growing over Delta’s New Rules for Flying with Service Animals.................................................................................................... 37
General UCB Information......................................................................... 42
Upcoming Board Meetings...................... 43
Articles and announcements included in this publication are presented for your information and interest. They reflect the opinions of the respective authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the UCB.
February is the month when we think of Valentine’s Day, but I have been thinking of caring about others. We have all experienced times when someone has treated us as if we were not just visually impaired, but unintelligent, hard of hearing, unable to walk, and so on. It is easy during these times to answer with harsh words or a defensive attitude.
There have been times where I have been totally insulted by the treatment someone has shown me. My natural response is to want to combat the ignorance with a sharp comeback. I believe that we need to show our intelligence and capabilities. Some people will never understand, but we must always strive to teach. My feeling is that we need to answer with patience, and compassion, striving to help the person understand without being rude or mean. We need to remember that we may be the first blind or visually impaired person that person has talked to. Our goal needs to be to educate, not alienate.
Utah Council of the Blind
Come join us at DSBVI on Saturday, March 3, at 10:30 a.m., when we will be welcoming back the Dunmore Lassies, that great group we heard from several years ago with their great music, fun information, and various instruments. This year, the Dunmore Lassies will be staying for lunch to answer more of your questions and to let you look at their instruments if you would like to. The event will be topped off by an Irish lunch from McCool's. This musical program and delicious lunch will be $10.00 per person, so plan on it and get your money in by February 23, so that we can have an accurate count for lunch.
On Saturday, March 10, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding tours of the newly refurbished Jordan River temple for people who are blind or visually impaired. These tours will give persons who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to have a more "hands-on" experience. And, it is an opportunity for both members and nonmembers to see the inside of an LDS temple. The tours will be going on between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Jordan River Temple 10200 S 1300 W.
And, don't forget our annual Easter egg hunt on Saturday, March 24, at the Utah State Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City. The hunt will begin at 11:00 a.m. with beeping eggs and blindfolds for everyone who has sight. Candy will be available to all hunters. The hunt is great fun and much harder than one would expect. Come and try using your ears only to capture an egg. The hunt is open to children and adults alike. Then, at noon, hot dogs and drinks will be provided while the hunters continue to play. In case of bad weather, the games will move into the building. It is important you make reservations so that there will be enough treats and food. Leave your name and count of those attending on the Utah Connection if you wish to participate. A great big thanks to all those of the Legacy West Pioneers who continue to sponsor this really exciting activity.
We will be holding two technology forums in March. These are held at DSBVI, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City. Check with Donni in the UCB office for the exact room location.
· Wednesday, March 7, 1:00-3:00 p.m.: We will be talking about screen readers, magnification systems, notetakers and other alternatives for notetaking, and reading with your smart phone.
· Wednesday, March 14, 1:00-3:00 p.m.: The topic for discussion will be Microsoft Outlook and other options for email and calendaring.
Mail checks or money orders for any activities to UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. They need to reach us by dates given. Unless otherwise noted, classes and activities listed below are held at the Division of Services for the Blind, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City.
· Saturday, February 23: $10 reservation due for Dunmore Lassies and lunch
· Saturday, March 3, 2018: the Dunmore Lassies with catered lunch, $10 per person
· Wednesday, March 7: Technology Forum
· Wednesday, March 14: Technology Forum
· Saturday, March 17: tour of LDS Jordan River Temple
· Saturday, March 24: 2018: Easter egg hunt
The UCB is encouraging members to join the Deaf/Blind group to advocate with the Legislature for more funding for the Deaf/Blind SSP Program. This program provides SSP's (Support Service Providers) for people with significant hearing and sight loss. The SSP provides up to 10 hours of support to people with both sensory losses each week. The program pays for this service. The SSP can take a person shopping, read the mail, attend events as a guide and interpreter and help in any way necessary at home. They are not there to do the work for the person, but to serve as eyes and ears so that the individual can continue to do things themselves. Since 2001, when UCB members worked to get funding for this program, SSP's have been serving people with dual sensory loss. The program is run through the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. If you have questions about your need for an SSP, call 801-232-4343 and request to speak with the deaf/blind specialist.
Your help is needed to speak with your legislators about the value of this unique program. It will take a majority of the legislators to include an increase in funding for this program. There are currently people on a waiting list for this service. It is important to get everyone on board in support of increasing the funding. The current request is for a $250,000 increase. Let your legislators know of the value of this service. It is also important that you get on the waiting list if you have both hearing and sight loss. The legislature needs to know how many people can benefit from the program if there is enough funding.
The UCB is once again offering scholarships for outstanding students attending Utah institutions of higher education. This may also include trade schools, master's programs, and doctoral programs. If you wish to apply for a scholarship to be awarded in September, leave your name and contact information on the Utah Connection, and an application will be sent to you.
For those applying, an official transcript from previous schools is required, as is one or more letters of recommendation. Scholarship amounts vary. All scholarship applications must be submitted by April 15, 2018.
The UCB is seeking nominations for outstanding volunteers who have served people with sight loss. Several awards are available, including those for a lifetime of service as well as for a lesser amount of outstanding service. Awards are available to both persons with sight loss and sighted individuals for their years of service to the blind community. If you know someone deserving of this special recognition, please leave your name and contact information on the Utah Connection, and someone will call and take your nomination. You are the people who receive this service. You are the best ones to make the nominations. We look forward to hearing from you.
Greatest Paws on Earth is an independent group of people interested in guide dogs and issues concerning them. They meet each month on the 3rd Thursday via conference call to talk about a different topic in which dog guide users may be interested.
In the next several months we will have topics such as recurring training or handling problems, importance of good grooming, preparing for the hot summer months, and we welcome your suggestions for subjects to talk about. Our March meeting will be on March 15. For more information on the organization contact its President, Sandy England, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The call-in number is 800-835-8395, access code 1623768.
This is an invitation for braille readers to receive a braille copy of a collection of recipes provided by Tina Terry, UCB President. Tina reports that these are old family recipes with which she grew up. There is quite a variety ranging from rich desserts to lovely main dishes. The collection will probably make one volume. It can also be available to those with braille displays through a .brf file. To order yours, leave your name and contact info on the Utah Connection.
This book will be part of the Braille Literacy program if you are a braille reader. For those wishing the book in large print or another format, there may be a fee. Ask about this cost.
During the past conferences of the UCB, many of you may have taken the opportunity to examine the unique toothpaste dispenser being developed by John Baca with the needs of the disabled in mind. It has taken more than a year, but the new streamlined dispenser is complete with many fine features. The plastic dispenser is completely washable. It holds at least three tooth brushes along with a full-sized tube of paste. There is a small drawer to hold floss and extra brushes. A cup for water can be placed on the top of the dispenser next to the brushes. Mr. Baca has managed to accomplish his goal to develop a dispenser which can be invaluable to someone with one hand or a weak hand. A small dial clicks as it turns to dispense exactly the right amount of paste onto the brush placed at the end of the dispenser. This new feature is exactly what a person with low vision or no sight at all needs to measure out toothpaste without a lot of extra feeling. The clicking dial measures the correct amount of paste on the brush cleanly.
The dispenser is a wonderful device to control the kids who seem to always squeeze paste all over the bathroom. The tube of toothpaste is completely enclosed away from busy little hands. The dial is easy to turn, so that even a child can easily measure the correct amount of paste. The device will not only simplify the process, but will likely save families a bit of expense by controlling the use of the toothpaste.
Those wishing to see this latest dispenser may visit the UCB office on Wednesday afternoons and have Donni Mitchell demonstrate it. The exact price of the dispenser is yet to be announced, but Donni will be able to sell you a dispenser when you see it and wish to take yours home.
Focus on no-vision and low-vision populations in the State of Utah
Part 1 of a 3-part series by Adrienne Clayton
Interview with Michelle Foulger, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for 22 years at the Blind Center, now under General Rehabilitation
This article reflects her opinion based on years of experience as a rehab counselor working with blind and visually impaired persons and employers.
The first question: As a rehab counselor what do you see the barriers are to employing the blind and visually impaired?
1. A lot of the programs employers use are not compatible or accessible because they are graphic based or picture-based programs. The screen reading programs available at the present are not always compatible with employers’ programs.
2. Employers hesitate to hire the blind and visually impaired because they underestimate their abilities. According to the “Directory of Occupational Titles” about 80 to 85% of the jobs titles listed are doable by the blind or visually impaired given the opportunity and training.
3. Employer attitudes: Employers might see a disability as costing them money and time. They are not aware of the help we can give taking some of the burden off the employer.
The Fear factor:
1. The client underestimating themselves as to their own abilities. Some of this is due to the fact they have not had their disability long and are coming to terms with all the factors surrounding them. Overcoming low self-esteem and other obstacles comes with training and counseling.
2. The client has to take into consideration, the effect that taking employment has on income. The big question is: Does it make sense to take this job? Is it financially feasible? Some of the factors may be how it affects Medicaid benefits, and if on SSI or SSDI how those benefits may be affected. See below for SSI and SSDI websites to go to for explanation of benefits.
Next Question: How do you see the role of the ADA, the American Disabilities Act?
The ADA has done good things for the disabled. It has removed a lot of barriers and walls, and improvements have been made, but ADA has its limitations. One of the limitations has to do with “reasonable accommodations.” Reasonable accommodations must be addressed between the employer and the disabled employee. Reasonable accommodations must be made “unless it puts an undue hardship on the employer.” So, the difficulty comes when there is a difference of opinion on what is a reasonable accommodation. The employer may interpret the accommodation differently than the employee. The ADA definition is very broad.
Also, it is very hard to prove discrimination. The employer can use other reasons not to employ the blind or visually impaired person. Not all employers are averse to hiring a qualified person who is blind or visually impaired, but expense on their part may put up a barrier. So, education is very important to overcome these barriers.
The next question: How do you see the future for employment in Utah for Blind and Visually impaired persons?
Because the economy is better general employment is up. But, the employment numbers for the blind and visually impaired is still high. with 72-75% not employed. This should go down as the economy improves.
When certified eligible for placement, MSD (most significantly disabled) and SD (significantly disabled) by-pass the Vocational Rehabilitation wait list. D (disabled) still could be on the wait list. The good news is: better job search avenues are becoming available. Updated equipment is becoming better and more user friendly.
DWS (Department of Workforce Services) www.jobs.utah.gov is a good resource. Access to job fairs to meet employers and information on businesses interested in hiring the blind and visually impaired is available.
Other resources are:
· Rocky Mountain Low Vision
77W 200S Suite 304
SLC UT 84101
For further information contact:
· Vocational Rehab Counselor, Michelle Foulger, 801-323-4375
Blind North Dakota man hopes high-tech chip, camera system gives him a measure of sight.
Retinitis pigmentosa robbed Allan Peterson (a member of the ACB) of his sight and some of his independence. Now, cutting-edge technology promises to give him back a little bit of both.
Today, the 73-year-old Horace man will have surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview to have an electronic implant attached to the retina of his eye that--paired with a camera on a special set of glasses--could give him the ability to once again recognize shapes and forms: edges of doorways, people in front of him, patterns of light. He’ll be the eighth person to get the system implanted at the U of M in Minneapolis.
“It isn’t like normal sight. There isn’t any color vision. I see what the camera sees. I will have to turn my head so the camera will focus light on that chip,” Peterson said.
But after decades of finding it difficult to even tell if it’s light or dark out, he’s excited about the possibilities of this “bionic eye,” especially after having talked with people who now use the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System by Second Sight.
“You can walk independently. I won’t be able to shed my cane. You have to be able to let people know you’re not operating with normal eyes,” but “I will be able to travel much more independently than I can at this time,” Peterson said.
“One of the people I talked to, she likes it because she’s a cook, and she can see things and can cook and see the things that she needs to use,” he said.
Peterson and his wife, Judy, have three adult children and three grandchildren.
“I’m hoping that I can see faces a little bit. I haven’t seen my children since they were little guys,” he said.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare genetic disease that causes loss of sight, though there is no history of it in his family, Peterson said.
Peterson was raised on a dairy farm south of Brandon, Minn., near Alexandria and says he had fairly normal sight. After graduating from high school, he went to the University of Minnesota-Morris, where he earned degrees in biology and chemistry. He and Judy married in 1971. He eventually received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul.
He was an assistant professor in the NDSU Department of Veterinary Medicine when he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, though he had already noticed some night blindness about five years before. It didn’t cause him a lot of problems at first, but a couple of years later, night driving became a problem. Then he started losing his field of vision.
“It got down to the point, at the end, I could only see a very narrow field of vision--part of a letter on a page of print,” Peterson said, and he gave up reading.
At age 45, he started learning braille, and learned how to use a white cane and a computer without sight. Over time, he’s relied on tape recorders and other audio equipment. He still enjoys television with an “audio description” service.
Peterson said he had some resentment about losing his sight. “You drop something on the floor and you have to get down on your hands and knees. You get frustrated when things like that happen,” he said. “I haven’t been happy about losing my sight, but I’ve come to terms with it.”
Peterson found out about the Argus II system from Dr. Lance Bergstrom of the Bergstrom Eye and Laser Clinic in Fargo. Bergstrom had gone to a meeting in Chicago and saw some people who were using the bionic eye system. He encouraged Peterson to see if the system would work for him. “He has been the prime motivator for making this happen,” Peterson said.
According to Second Sight, the Argus II works by electrically stimulating the retina to induce visual perception in blind people.
A miniature video camera in the patient's glasses sends video to a small patient-worn computer. The video is processed and transformed into instructions sent to the glasses via a cable. The instructions are then transmitted wirelessly to an antenna in the retinal implant. The signals are then sent to the electrode array, which emits small pulses of electricity. These pulses bypass the damaged photoreceptors and stimulate the retina's remaining cells, which transmit the visual information along the optic nerve to the brain, allowing the wearer to see patterns of light. Over time, patients learn to interpret these visual patterns.
“I’m a bit apprehensive about it, but I know they’ve done it before” Peterson said. “Pretty experimental stuff. I’m mostly comfortable with it.”
After the chip is implanted, Peterson will have to heal for two to three months before he begins training to use the Argus II. He’ll also be part of a study for the bionic eye system, he said.
Judy Peterson is excited for her husband. “It should be something wonderful, we’re hoping,” Judy said. She’s hoping it will add to his independence and help him “see things he hasn’t seen at all for years.”
Peterson still keeps an office at NDSU and does a lot of volunteer work. He’s the development director for the North Dakota Association of the Blind, a board member for the American Council for the Blind, a member of the Horace Lions Club and is active in his church.
Still, he’s looking forward to a greater degree of independence. “I’m pretty self-sufficient at this point, but I’m always looking for something that will help me to a greater degree. I’m not a person who is static. I’d like to move ahead and move on,” Peterson said. “This is going to be an adventure. We’re starting the adventure at this point,” he said
Article Link: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/a-second-chance-at-sight-blind-north-dakota-man-hopes/article_3b2bb324-8bf4-57a9-b650-6fb86a49dbbc.html
Google recently announced the public launch of a disability customer support team. The support team is available to answer questions about using assistive technology with Google products and accessibility features and functionalities within Google products.
The support team can be reached Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm PST through email and only in English language. Contact the team at email@example.com and you will receive an answer by a support representative within 72 hours.
The support team is exploring adding additional languages and support channels in the future. Read the full announcement posted on Google’s accessibility blog where you can also check for news and updates from Google.
Explore Google’s accessibility products and features on google.com/accessibility.
TORONTO—A Canadian astrophysicist who used the orbital patterns of seven newly discovered planets to create music will be bringing his work to the public in a Toronto show that will also allow those with visual impairments to experience the wonders of the universe.
Matt Russo, a planetarium operator at Toronto's Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, said his work takes the rhythm of planets orbiting and combines them with other notes to create music based on cosmic activity.
Russo's work combining astronomy and music began in earnest last year, after scientists discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star called Trappist-1. The system, about 40 light years away, is believed to be in the right zone to harbour liquid water to sustain life. Russo was one of the researchers who created a musical simulation of the system's orbital dynamics.
"What people noticed was that there were these special patterns in (the planets') orbits, so their orbits were simple multiples of each other, for instance," Russo said.
"Since I was a musician and an astrophysicist, I realized that those simple patterns were the basis of musical rhythm and musical harmony. So, it was fairly straight forward to put it through a numerical simulation, kind of turn the crank and hear the music this planetary system was creating."
Russo's work with Dan Tamayo, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto's Centre for Planetary Sciences, showed that the same properties that makes Trappist-1 musical are what keeps its planets' synchronized and, thus, their orbits stable.
Russo created a video that uses musical notes to illustrate the orbits of the planets and also adds drum beats to mark when the planets pass each other.
"Almost as soon as I released my first musical version of Trappist-1, I started hearing from people who were blind or visually impaired, just kind of thanking me for giving them a way to experience astronomy in a new way," Russo said. "So I realized the potential for converting things in space into music and sound for reaching out to blind and visually impaired communities."
Russo's new show, Our Musical Universe, debuts Friday at the University of Toronto Planetarium and showcases that work and other sounds for twinkling stars and Jupiter's orbiting moons.
Robyn Rennie, an Orillia artist who became partially blind 13 years ago, got a sneak peek of the show last month shortly after her daughter called the planetarium to ask about its programming for people with low vision.
"We used to live in the country where there were no lights at all ... so the night sky was a huge part of my life," Rennie said. "I used to be able to look through the window when I was in bed and see Orion."
She said her and her family were "buzzing" after the show.
"Matt really wants to reach people who otherwise wouldn't be able experience the universe like everybody else," Rennie said.
Russo said the idea of pulling music out of astronomy is nothing new—it goes back more than 2,000 years ago with the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras. But the musician and astrophysicist said his involvement in both fields remained separate until the Trappist-1 discovery.
"I did the physics during the day and the music at night, and they never really crossed paths," he said "I knew there was some connection, it was kind of obvious, but I never explored it. Since I did, it's opened all kinds of doors for me and hopefully other people to share in astronomy."
Article Link: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8094538-toronto-astrophysicist-offers-a-musical-guide-through-the-universe/
New technology utilizes wearable devices to instantly connect users with sighted assistants.
Staff, students and visitors to Perkins School for the Blind will now have access to a new level of accessibility thanks to an exciting collaboration between the school and tech-company Aira.
Starting immediately, anyone with an Aira subscription will be able to use the service at no additional cost while on Perkins’ 38-acre campus. Aira (pronounced “eye-rah”) provides instant, on-demand access to a network of trained sighted assistants via smart glasses or a mobile app.
Perkins President and CEO Dave Power announced the collaboration, the first of its kind in the nation, at a press conference on Tuesday. He was joined by Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti, who called the day “a historic moment” for the blind and visually impaired community.
“As a human, everyone has an equal right to access information,” Kanuganti said. “With Aira, all people will have equal access to information anywhere and anytime.”
Aira’s assistants, called Aira Agents, are able to view the world from the user’s point of view through the smart glasses or smartphone camera. They use augmented reality to instantly help users with a variety of tasks – from navigating in unfamiliar areas to identifying an Uber ride.
Perkins Library Director Kim Charlson calls an Aira Agent when she wants to take a photograph or sort through a stack of mail. Although she navigates independently with her guide dog, Dolly, when snow or ice obscures a pathway, Charlson calls Aira to confirm her location.
“To succeed in life, every blind person assembles their own set of tools to navigate the world,” she said. “The Aira assistant allows me to be independent and safe by describing exactly where I’m walking so I don’t veer off course.”
Charlson was one of several Perkins staff to pilot Aira last year, offering critical user feedback to Kanuganti’s team. On Tuesday, Power emphasized the importance of user testing and user-centered design in developing effective devices and services. He ticked off a list of recent projects including driverless car testing and a mobile app developed by Perkins.
“Connecting innovators and users is a natural extension of Perkins’ mission,” he said. “We’re using user-centered design as a way to drive these collaborations so the end results are great innovation and useful products.”
At the press event, news outlets from Watertown and Boston gathered around as Assistive Technology Specialist Cory Kadlik demonstrated Aira’s capabilities. After donning his smart glasses, Kadlik put his phone on speaker so the audience could listen in on his conversation with Amy, an Aira Agent.
For the next several minutes, Amy served as a remote set of eyes for Kadlik, describing the size and shape of the room, the number of occupants and the contents of the refreshment table. After pulling up a photo of Power for reference, Amy told Kadlik where to go to shake the president’s hand.
“It looks like he’s straight ahead, wearing a dark suit and a red tie,” she said. “He’s actually standing up, it looks like, to shake your hand.”
“Awesome,” said Kadlik, before signing off. “Amy, I appreciate your help, we will talk soon.”
(ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges serves on the Aira Advisory Board.)
Article Link: http://www.perkins.org/stories/perkins-becomes-first-campus-in-the-nation-to-collaborate-with-aira
Facebook is making changes to your news feed, showing you fewer news stories by publishers and businesses that you follow. However, there is a way to make sure you still see our headlines. By clicking "Follow" on our Facebook page, you can select the option to "see first". You also have the option to set up notifications so that you never miss a post. Visit our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/AmericanCounciloftheBlindOfficial.
American Council of the Blind
1703 N Beauregard Street, Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22311
Learn more about us at www.acb.org
Follow us on Twitter at @acbnational
Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanCounciloftheBlindOfficial
Article Link: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/airplane-mode/growls-are-growing-over-delta-s-new-rules-flying-service-n841376
Travelers and advocates are baring their teeth at Delta's new rule that passengers with service animals must submit paperwork two full days before flying.
While some fliers are cheering Delta Air Lines’ new, stricter rules for those traveling with service or emotional support animals, many long-time guide dog users and organizations that advocate for travelers with disabilities say the guidelines, which require added documentation and pre-planning, are over-reaching, discriminatory and illegal.
Citing a significant increase in the numbers and types of “comfort” animals passengers bring on planes — and an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents such as urinating/defecating, biting and attacks — Delta announced last week that certification of a flyer’s need for an animal and proof of an animal’s training and vaccinations will be required for both service and emotional support animals.
However, organizations such as The National Federation of the Blind believe elements of Delta’s policy, which goes into effect March 1, violate the Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act.
“We are particularly troubled by the requirement that guide dog users submit paperwork to Delta 48 hours before flying,” the NFB said in a statement, noting that “Travelers without guide dogs are not required to plan their travel 48 hours in advance.”
The 48-hour ‘intent-to-fly’ requirement means guide dog users "will no longer be able to fly on Delta for family, medical or other emergencies,” said the NFB.
“We stand with NFB,” said Eric Lipp, Executive Director of the Open Doors Organization. “People with properly trained service animals are being punished by Delta.”
Noting that it has “long been concerned with the abuse and fraud of animals purporting to be service or support animals,” the American Council of the Blind also said Delta’s revised policy discriminates against passengers with legitimate service dogs and makes travel more difficult for individuals who rely on their service animals for travel.
“I sympathize with the airlines,” said Pat Pound, a disability consultant who is blind and travels with a guide dog. “More people are cheating. Airlines are trying to maintain the system. But I don’t think Delta’s new policies will address the problem. And, as a person with a disability, I’ll end up being penalized.”
An on-line petition with more than 75,000 signatures is asking Delta not to make it harder for people to travel with emotional support animals — but other airlines are already exploring following Delta’s lead.
“We agree with Delta’s efforts,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We are looking at additional requirements to help protect our team members and our customers who have a real need for a trained service or support animal.” The carrier said from 2016 to 2017 it saw an almost 15 percent increase in the number of customers traveling with emotional support animals.
United Airlines is reviewing its existing policy on service and emotional support animals, said airline spokesman Charles Hobart. “This is something that is important to our employees and to our customers, including those with disabilities and those who do not have disabilities,” he said. “We understand this needs to be resolved soon.”
The Department of Transportation had planned to draft new rules on service animals by July 2017, but those guidelines have yet to be released.
Going forward, “I suspect there will be legal challenges to Delta’s policy on service dogs from individuals and from organizations,” said disability consultant Pound. “This is how an airline is deciding to interpret the law, but a court may have a different idea about what that the law intended.”
Donni Mitchell volunteers in the UCB Office at DSBVI, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City, UT, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. If you wish to make a purchase, we recomend you give her a call at 801-520-3766 to be sure she is there when you visit to purchase cab coupons, t-shirts, screwdriver/hammers, 20/20 pens, signature guides, or measuring cups and spoons.
The UCB maintains a listserv to keep our computer users up-to-date on interesting information as it comes along and to help facilitate an open dialogue between our members. To join the UCB Listserv, send a blank email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a request to verify your wish to subscribe. Just reply without changing or adding to the message.
We are always looking for articles, book reviews, or interesting tidbits of information from our readers or other interested persons. The deadline for submitting items for publication is the 1st of the month, e.g. the deadline for the March newsletter is February 1st. You may e-mail any articles you wish to submit to our editor, TerriLynne Pomeroy, at email@example.com, or send Braille or print to UCB Newsletter, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415; please allow extra time for processing Braille or print.
If you have questions or concerns for any board member or to be placed on the agenda of a board meeting, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will receive a timely reply.
Members are invited and encouraged to attend meetings of the Board of Directors. These are typically held the fourth Monday of each month at 3:15 p.m. in the DSBVI Board Room (in the southeast corner of the building), except as noted.
· Monday, March 26, 2018
· Monday, April 23, 2018
· Monday, May 28, 2018