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In response to Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Left at the Curb, George wrote:
I’ll tell you my experience back in 1998. I had been on a long preaching tour visiting several churches over a 3 week period of time. I caught a flight out of Las Vegas and arrived home to Houston at the Hobby Airport at about 11:00 AM on a Saturday morning. I had my guide dog “Buck” with me. I located my luggage and went outside to where the cab lineup was. I went to the first cab in line which is the accepted procedure. The cabby met me and asked me in broken English where I wanted to go. I told him the address. He then told me that I would have to give him specific directions to get to my destination. I told him this was out of the question and that I did not know! He also informed me that I would have to put something down so dog hair wouldn’t get in his cab! I retorted, “Are you serious?”
I then proceeded to the second cab in the lineup. An “attendant” suddenly appeared and went to the first cabby and read him the riot act for not taking me (the fare) I stood by, smiled, listened and enjoyed the conversation between them. She asked me for my input and I told her. The cabby then turned to me and offered to take me for 1/2 the fare. I refused and told him that I wouldn’t go with him if he took me for free. The attendant made him go to the back of the line–about 12 cabs back. I smiled and got in the second cab and had no problem getting home.
One other time when I was in Boston I needed a receipt for my cab ride. The cabby gave me a receipt about the size of a postage stamp. I believe he tried this tactic simply because I was blind. I refused the postage stamp receipt and held out for a more suitable one.
Perhaps taking a quick picture of the cab’s license plate and/or the driver and then notifying the cab company might help with this issue.
Rev. George Gray
Mary wrote in to say:
I recently applied for retiree benefits via the online Social Security web site, and thought I’d mention a few things about how accessible the site is. I hope this information will help some readers out there.
I took early retirement after working for almost thirty years, and as the time to apply for benefits approached, I was a bit nervous. I imagined that I’d have to dig out old W-2 forms and go through all sorts of research and difficult questions. How wrong I was!
I took a quick look at the socialsecurity.gov site in January, and found that Jaws could read it very easily. I also use a Braille display, and Braille access was great. I created an online account because there’s a lot of information you can access via your account, including the annual statement that Social Security sends you.
One of the first things I discovered when applying for benefits was a page that lets you determine what format you want to receive notices that are normally sent to you in standard print. Blind people can receive information in standard print, Braille or large print with a standard print copy attached), or via CD. The CD can contain either audio, or a Microsoft Word document. All formats are sent via first class mail.
I found the retiree application very easy. The advantage of using the online method is that most of the required information is available, so you usually won’t need to fill in your income or employer history. The questions were clear and the process was painless. I could even set up direct deposit so the amount can be deposited into a bank account.
As I navigated the site, I noticed that supplemental security income (SSI) was mentioned, so I suspect there’s a way to get more information about this and other benefits.
There are a number of books on the NLS BARD site that discuss social security in detail. If you’re a BARD user, you can type “social security” as a search term and find some helpful information. There are a couple books in Braille and at least one audiobook.
I’ve probably missed something that needs clarification, so thanks in advance to other readers who have other pointers to share in Readers Forum.