[Nfbnet-members-list] FW: National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery County Woman

Kuhnke, Kristian KKuhnke at nfb.org
Mon Feb 29 22:15:59 UTC 2016



Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Jury Verdict for Montgomery 
County Woman

Jury Finds County Discriminated Against Blind Employee

Greenbelt, Maryland (February 29,2016): The National Federation of 
the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for equal access to 
employment and technology for the blind, today applauded a jury 
verdict reached in the matter of Yasmin Reyazuddin vs. Montgomery 
County (Civil Action No. 8:11-cv-00951-DKC) in federal district court 
Friday afternoon. The jury found that the county failed to provide 
Ms. Reyazuddin, who is blind, with a reasonable accommodation, as 
required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, by refusing to implement 
accessible software so that she could continue to work as an 
information specialist in the county's 311 call center. Ms. 
Reyazuddin worked in the call center of the County's Department of 
Health and Human Services until the County consolidated that call 
center and others into its Montgomery County 311 Call Center. Ms. 
Reyazuddin had been using screen access software, which converts 
information on a computer screen into synthesized speech or into 
Braille that can be displayed on a device known as a refreshable 
Braille display, to access the computer programs with which she 
needed to interact in order to provide accurate information to 
callers, keep records of calls, and perform other tasks necessary for 
resolving the concerns of callers. When she learned that her agency's 
call center would be consolidated into the County's new 311 call 
center, she repeatedly inquired of County officials whether the 
software for the new call center would be accessible and provided 
information to the County about accessible solutions. The county 
ultimately procured call center software that was not accessibly 
configured. Thereafter, the County refused to implement the necessary 
changes. As a result, instead of being transferred to the new 311 
call center, Ms. Reyazuddin was transferred to make-work positions 
which, at best, involved duties that only filled roughly half of her 
eight-hour work day. Ms. Reyazuddin filed suit with the assistance of 
the National Federation of the Blind in April of 2011. In addition to 
its finding that Montgomery County failed to reasonably accommodate 
Ms. Reyazuddin, the jury found that the failure to transfer her to 
the customer service center was an adverse employment action. The 
jury rejected the county's defense that it would have been an undue 
hardship to make the customer service center accessible to Ms. 
Reyazuddin. Ms. Reyazuddin will now proceed before the Court to seek 
injunctive relief ordering the County to make the software accessible.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "Blindness does not define an individual or his or her capacity 
to contribute in the workplace, and this was demonstrated by Yasmin 
Reyazuddin's ten years of service to Montgomery County prior to this 
debacle. The only thing that prevented her from continuing to be an 
effective employee was the county's failure to provide the reasonable 
accommodation of accessible technology, as the jury found after 
careful deliberation. This case underscores the critical importance 
of accessible technology for the success of blind workers in the 
modern workplace. Generally, as in this case, procuring and deploying 
such technology does not place an undue burden on employers. I 
encourage all employers to take steps to ensure that their workplace 
technologies are accessible at the time they are first implemented so 
that the technology does not erect an artificial barrier to people 
who are blind."

Ms. Reyazuddin said: "I am grateful to the men and women of the jury 
for their time and their careful consideration of my case. My only 
desire throughout this litigation has been to work at my full 
capacity and serve the good people of Montgomery County by providing 
them with the information they need. Thanks to this verdict, I 
believe that I will soon be able to achieve this goal."

Ms. Reyazuddin is represented by Joseph B. Espo and Daniel F. 
Goldstein of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein, and Levy LLP, and 
by Timothy R. Elder of the TRE Legal Practice of Fremont, California.


About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the 
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise 
the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create 
obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life 
you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

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