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Blind siblings sue FSSA alleging they failed blind Hoosiers

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 22:46:01-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A blind brother and sister filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration alleging they failed to communicate effectively with blind Hoosiers.

Blind siblings Christopher and Sarah Meyer and the National Federation of the Blind filed the lawsuit in the federal district court of Indianapolis.

The Meyers allege the print-only benefits communications they received from FSSA and their contractors not only forced them to rely on other people to intercept and read their private information but caused them to lose their benefits.

“Indiana agencies are required to offer communications with blind people that are as effective as communications with others,” Tom Crishon, managing attorney at Indiana Disability Rights, said.

The siblings have asked FSSA and its contractors to send notices and communications in Braille or electronically so that they can use text-to-speech screen readers to access their critical benefits information.

The Meyers also pointed out the Internet portal that consumers use to select benefits and update information is not accessible to the blind.

“State and federal agencies that administer government benefits and programs have been required to communicate effectively and accessibly with all current and potential beneficiaries for decades now,” Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said.

“Today, technology makes effective communication easier than ever, but agencies throughout the nation are still failing to meet this legal and moral obligation. The National Federation of the Blind is committed to fighting for blind people like Christopher and Sarah Meyer when state agencies flout the law.”

The Meyers are also represented by Indiana Disability Rights, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, and the Law Office of Jana Eisinger, PLLC.

Indiana Disability Rights (IDR) is the designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System and Client Assistance Program (CAP) for the State of Indiana, and their mission is to protect and promote the rights of individuals with disabilities.

A spokeswoman for the FSSA declined comment saying the agency does not comment on pending litigation.