The National Federation of the Blind and two blind individuals, Lisa Irving and Amy Bonano, have reached a court-ordered settlement of the lawsuit they filed in 2017 against the Social Security Administration (SSA). Under the settlement agreement, the SSA will make improvements to the visitor intake processing kiosks (VIPr kiosks) at its field offices so that blind visitors can use the kiosks privately and independently, without revealing personally identifiable information such as their Social Security numbers to third parties like security guards or other office visitors.

The agreement requires SSA to work with a mutually agreeable third-party kiosk accessibility expert to ensure that the kiosks are redesigned to provide an equal opportunity for blind users. Anticipated modifications include improved Braille and audio instructions and a headphone jack through which audio instructions and information can be spoken to blind users in English or Spanish, with other languages to be added as appropriate and available.

Blind users will therefore be able to enter required intake information, including their Social Security number, with complete privacy and independence. The redesigned kiosks will be deployed in field offices throughout the country by December 31, 2021 and, in the interim, SSA will report to NFB every ninety days on the status of the redesign and the expert’s work.

The agreement requires SSA to train its personnel on the nonvisual use of its kiosks, regularly test the kiosks to ensure proper functioning, track and monitor accessibility issues related to the kiosks, work collaboratively with NFB on outreach efforts, and report to NFB every six months on these efforts.

The legal team in this matter consisted of attorneys from Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP of Baltimore, Maryland; Disability Rights California; and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.