by Melanie Brunson

This month I just have a quick reminder for everyone. The ACB national office has moved. Our telephone numbers will remain the same, but we have a new fax number. It is (703) 465-5085. Our new street address is 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201. Happy new year to all, and may your advocacy pursuits prosper in 2009!

Speaking of advocacy, Iím keeping my message brief this month to ensure space for Lainey Feingold. See below.

Accessible Credit Reports Now Available

Thanks to ACB's settlement with three United States Credit Reporting Agencies, people who are blind or visually impaired within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act may now order Braille, large print or audio credit reports from any of the three national credit reporting agencies. Each person is entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the following three companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Reports in braille, large print and audio formats can be ordered by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

Free annual credit reports are also available online in accessible formats by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.

More information is available on Lainey Feingold's web site at www.LFLegal.com. The direct link to additional accessible credit report information is www.lflegal.com/2008/12/credit-announce/. Lainey and Linda Dardarian, ACB's lawyers in the structured negotiations that led to the accessible credit report settlement, can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or toll-free by phone at Linda's office, 1-800-822-5000.

New Talking ATM and POS Settlement Agreements

Dollar General has agreed to install tactile keypads at point-of-sale devices in over 8,000 stores in the United States. TCF Bank is installing Talking ATMs and providing alternative format banking materials throughout its midwest service area. Both companies reached agreements to improve accessibility for blind customers at the end of last year as a result of structured negotiations, without a lawsuit being filed.

The agreement with Dollar General was reached with ACB, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the California Council of the Blind. ACB's structured negotiations lawyers, Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian, negotiated the agreement. The Illinois Council of the Blind was involved with the TCF negotiations, and Equip for Equality in Chicago negotiated the settlement with Lainey. Both negotiations also involved individual blind customers.

These agreements are a reminder of the importance of accessible financial information and technology. No one should have to disclose confidential information if they want to use a debit card to pay for products or services. Financial statements must be available in accessible formats, and tens of thousands of Talking ATMs across the country show that ATMs can be made accessible. ACB has now been involved in agreements with seven national chains to guarantee that point-of-sale devices have tactile keys so visually impaired shoppers can enter their confidential information. The TCF Bank agreement is the 19th agreement negotiated by ACB affiliates about Talking ATMs and accessible information.

Both the Dollar General agreement and the TCF Agreement began when individual customers of these companies advocated for greater accessibility. Individual advocacy joined with ACB advocacy and resulted in agreements affecting people with visual impairments across the country. If you have been denied accessible information, technology or services, and have questions about how you can become involved in a structured negotiations effort, contact Lainey and Linda by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling Linda's office toll-free at 1-800-822-5000.

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