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Young woman in wheelchair next to a city street.  Her arm is extended to hail a taxi.  There are two yellow taxis in the background.  She is smiling.

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Advisory Group on Blindness & Low Vision


In 2008, the Disabilities Network formed a Advisory Group on Blindness & Low Vision to coordinate citywide advocacy on visual disability issues.  Group Members voted to work for more a accessible pedestrian and transportation environment in 2008-2009.


Chair: Nancy D. Miller of VISIONS/Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Gregory Bell, Insights for New Housing

Michael Godino, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled and the American Council of the Blind

Karen Gourgey, Baruch Computer Center for Visually Impaired People

Ken Stewart, Citizens Council of Low-Vision Individuals


Blindness & Low Vision Advisory Group Sets Goal:

Strengthen Signage, Building Codes BEYOND the ADA

Group to Act as Coordinating Body for Visual Disability Advocacy

The 300,000+ New Yorkers with visual disabilities face a travel and pedestrian environment that can literally leave them trapped in their homes. Numerous subway stations are poorly lit and lack basic safety features such as detectable warning strips on platforms. Potholes and eroded curb cuts make it extremely difficult to walk using a white cane.

And while other cities are installing Accessible Pedestrian Signals and “talking signs” with audio and tactile cues, New York City has few.

In 2008, the Network formed an Advisory Group on Blindness & Low Vision to coordinate citywide advocacy on visual disability issues. It voted to work for a more accessible travel environment in 2008-2009. The Group will publish a set a recommendations to strengthen signage and codes beyond the requirement of the American with Disabilities Act.

One of the Group’s goals is to ensure that all Network campaigns are truly “cross-disability.” Its work informs our other standing committees such as Transportation and Housing.

We are currently seeking Members to organize a similar Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Advisory Group.



Message to Treasury:

Stop Discriminating Against the Visually Impaired

Decision is "an Equalizer," "Sensible," "Forward-Thinking"

The U.S. Department of Treasury must redesign U.S. currency with tactile or visual cues for people who are blind or have low vision, said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson and the Disabilities Network at a June press conference.

Several Network Members joined Thompson to call on the Treasury to accept the recent federal Court of Appeals decision that the currency discriminates against Americans with limited vision and must be changed.

The decision is "an equalizer for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Alberta L. Orr, Disabilities Network Executive Director, enabling them "to manage currency independently without human assistance or the assistance of costly technology such as specialized high cost paper currency identifiers.

“Human assistance means depending on other people, including merchants to identify the correct denominations without taking advantage of a blind customer."
Comptroller Thompson speaks at the press conference.  He stands at a podium.  Alberta L. Orr, Executive Director of the Disabilities Network, stands to the left of the Comptroller and Dawn Suvino of VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired stands to the right.  In the background, against a blue curtain, are the United States and New York City flags. The City seal is on the front of the podium.

"It's time for the United States to get in line with the rest of the world. Hopefully the Treasury will conform and decide to move forward for the good of all who are blind," said Mike Godino, representing Network Member Organizations American Council of the Blind and Brooklyn Center of for Independence of the Disabled.

"More than 100 countries vary the size of their paper currency, or add other features that can be distinguished by touch," said Thompson. He called the court's decision "sensible, forward-thinking and long overdue."

Tara A. Cortes of Network Member Organization Lighthouse International testified that "as baby boomers get older and diseases like diabetes and macular degeneration increase dramatically, millions more will be affected by vision loss.” She added that the change is "the right step to take."

Photo: Comptroller William Thompson calls for the Treasury to redesign the currency with Alberta L. Orr, Executive Director of the Disabilities Network (left) and Dawn Suvino of Network Member VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (right).  Photo courtesy of the Comptroller's Office.


Disabilities Network of NYC:

Shaping  Policy.  Building  Community. Expanding  Opportunity.