[AI] Fw: Blind Customers Take Action against the Cell Phone Industry

rajesh asudani rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Tue Aug 7 00:35:43 EDT 2007


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Justice For All Moderator" <jfa at jfanow.org>
To: <justice at jfanow.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 3:15 AM
Subject: Blind Customers Take Action against the Cell Phone Industry


> Blind Customers Take Action against the Cell Phone Industry
> 
> August 2, 2007
> 
> Washington, DC - Blind and visually impaired customers are taking 
> legal action against the cell phone industry in an effort to 
> improve cell phone accessibility. This week, 11 customers from 
> across the country filed complaints with the Federal 
> Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces Section 255, the 
> law that requires phones to be designed to be accessible for 
> people with disabilities. Complaints were filed against both the 
> cell phone carriers and manufacturers.
> 
> "These complaints illustrate a market failure on the part of the 
> cell phone industry to address accessibility," said Paul 
> Schroeder, VP, Programs and Policy Group at the American 
> Foundation for the Blind. "While some companies have taken steps, 
> consumers with vision loss have few good options for 
> accessibility, and almost no reliable information about 
> accessibility."
> 
> There is a growing need for accessible phones given the increasing 
> rates of vision loss. Experts predict that by 2030, rates of 
> severe vision loss will double along with the country's aging 
> population. For people with vision loss, finding a cell phone with 
> a readable screen or with voice output of essential features like 
> menus or text messages is almost impossible. Some companies, like 
> AT&T, have taken the lead on providing accessible phones. But too 
> often the handsets and services are not designed to be user-
> friendly for those who are blind or visually impaired. Earlier 
> this month, AFB initiated a campaign called 255 Action to help 
> people with vision loss understand access requirements, and if 
> necessary, file complaints. As part of that campaign, AFB sent 
> letters to leading cell phone service providers and manufacturers 
> asking what they are doing to meet the needs of people with vision 
> loss. Frequent complaints from blind and visually impaired cell 
> phone customers include:
> 
> * cell phones do not provide for audio output of information
>  displayed on the screen; 
> * the visual displays on most phones are hard to read; 
> * numeric and control keys are not easy to distinguish by touch;
>  and 
> * product manuals or phone bills are not available in braille,
>  large print, or other formats they can read. 
> * The complaints filed with the FCC came from customers in
>  Florida, Georgia, Colorado, California, and West Virginia.
> 
> QUOTES FROM FCC FILINGS
> 
> Problems Purchasing Equipment
> 
> "In November 2006, I asked for assistance in identifying and 
> purchasing a new telephone. The agent was completely uninformed 
> regarding available phones with built-in accessibility features 
> for a Blind user. Indeed, the representative did not even 
> understand what features a Blind user would need in purchasing a 
> phone."Melissa Green, Greeley, CO
> 
> Phones Features Are Inaccessible
> 
> "I cannot text message, surf the Internet, or use the phonebook. 
> Additionally, the numbers displayed on the keypad are too small 
> for me to read, thus I have to use the voice recognition feature 
> to call contacts in my phonebook. This poses some limitations, 
> because I can only program in ten names, yet I have many more 
> contacts than this amount."Douglas Brooks, Winston, GA
> 
> "Even after setting my phone's level of brightness to the highest 
> level, I still have to use a closed circuit television (cctv) to 
> read the text displayed. This magnification device is quite large, 
> encompassing a television set with a similar sized stand. This 
> defeats the "mobile" aspect of my phone, since I have to wait 
> until I am at home to enter contacts in the phonebook, change 
> settings, etc."Richard Rueda, Union City, CA.
> 
> Documentation Is Inaccessible
> 
> "Upon receiving my phone, I was given an inaccessible print manual 
> explaining how to use the phone. However, because I am totally 
> Blind, I cannot read the text on the instruction manual. My 
> phone's instruction manual is in a pdf file, which I have 
> difficulty accessing with my computer's screen reading software 
> because graphical representations are used to instruct a person on 
> how to use the phone."George Roberts, Orlando, FL
> 
> Phones With Access Software Cost More
> 
> "In order to access the features of the MotorolaQ, I had to make 
> an additional out-of-pocket purchase of Mobile Speaks (a screen 
> reader) to access the cell phone features. While this phone is 
> more accessible than the Katana with my add-on software, it was 
> quite expensive, and I would not have purchased it if my previous 
> phone was accessible. Being Blind forced me to stretch my budget 
> to the limits in order to have access to my cell phone's 
> features."Tony Claive, Winter Park, FL
> 
> Customer Service Is Inadequate and Accessibility 
> Features/Information are Unavailable
> 
> "I went to my local Sprint store, and explained that I was legally 
> blind and looking for an accessible cell phone. The salesperson 
> did let me know about getting my bill in large print format. 
> Sprint's representatives were unable to provide me with a 
> description of the accessibility and compatibility features of 
> their phones."Dennis Wyant, Melbourne, FL
> 
> ###
> 
> Media Contact:
> Adrianna Montague-Gray
> AFB Communications
> 212-502-7675
> amontaguegray at afb.net
> 
> Press Release at http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?DocumentID=3596
> 
> EDITORS NOTE: To file your complaint at the FCC about an 
> inaccessible cell phone, use FCC online form at 
> http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cib/fcc475.cfm (Tips: You must name a 
> company in 2a; Put zeroes in the boxes if you don't have the 
> company phone number; describe your concern in answer to Question 
> 2f  and you should ask for a remedy). For further information on 
> accessible telecommunications and technology, please contact AAPD 
> staffer Jenifer Simpson at aapdjenifer at aol.com
> 
> SOURCE: American Foundation for the Blind.
> ________________________________________________________________
> 
> For more telecommunications issues, see:
> http://www.aapd.com/News/telecomm/index_tc.php
> 
> # # #
> 
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