Friday, April 25, 2008

Now credit reports easily accessible to blind

Under an agreement announced on Wednesday the nation's major credit reporting companies will make on-line credit reports accessible to blind people's audio software. The program, scheduled to take effect by the end of the year, was negotiated by the American Council of the Blind, its California affiliate and the three largest credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The companies now make credit reports available on a single Web site, www.annualcreditreport.com. Under the agreement, at a blind customer's request, his or her credit report will carry a code that will enable the customer's computer to read the report aloud. Other provisions require the reports to be available in large print or in Braille. Lucy Greco, a specialist in assistive technology for the disabled, was one of three blind individuals taking part in the case, along with the advocacy organizations. She said the agreement would allow her to examine her credit report without sharing the information with others.

"I'm so fed up in my life with having to get someone to read things to me," Greco said, noting that such dependence also makes the blind vulnerable to fraud. "Now I can go online, get my credit report and read it ... and I can do it independently, and other people can do the same thing."

Melanie Brunson, executive director of the American Council of the Blind, said the agreement "will help people with visual impairments fight identity theft by independently monitoring and reviewing their credit reports." In a separate case, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that the Social Security Administration must accommodate the needs of blind recipients of benefits when announcing decisions that affect them.

Under the Social Security Act, the agency sends certified letters, makes follow-up phone calls, or takes other steps to communicate decisions to those who are receiving benefits solely because of their blindness, but does not accommodate visually impaired people who get Social Security because of their age or other reasons.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the agency is also covered by an anti-discrimination law that requires the federal government to provide access to disabled people in all federally funded programs, including audio recordings, Braille and other aids for the blind.

Link-Via-Sfgate

1 comment:

sam john said...

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