Social Court Berlin: Device enables independent orientation
(jur). Blind people can claim a “GPS” -like GPS system from their health insurance company for better orientation in the vicinity of their home. In contrast to a long pole, the aid enables “looking ahead”, the Berlin Social Court decided in a judgment published on Monday, May 2, 2016 (file number: S 89 KR 1636/14).
A blind Berlin woman had sued and had unsuccessfully applied for a total cost of 953 euros for a GPS system from her health insurance company. The navigation system, specially developed for blind people, has a speaker, a keyboard and a voice output so that routes can be entered independently and device functions can be operated.
The “blind navigation system” also tells you which street you are on, where and what type of intersection you are at. Contact points for everyday life are also announced with addresses and distances, such as for supermarkets, banks or bus stops. In contrast to the long pole, the GPS system also provides orientation when it has got lost, the plaintiff says. The ophthalmologist had prescribed the GPS system for the woman.
The health insurance company advised the blind woman that she had already completed mobility training with her long stick in her childhood. She knows her way around her living area very well and therefore does not need the navigation system. The long pole thus fulfills their basic mobility needs. The health insurance company did not have to do more. It is also not possible to assume costs because the GPS system is a normal commodity that can also be used by healthy people.
However, in its final judgment of January 22, 2016, the social court ordered the health insurance to pay the costs. The GPS system should be seen as a necessary aid, which serves the indirect disability compensation. Health insurance companies would only have to balance the basic needs of the disabled. This also includes enabling mobility in the vicinity of the apartment. Spatially, this extends to an area that a healthy person can still reach on foot.
Nor can the applicant be referred to the sole use of its long pole. Because the GPS system enables more security and a completely independent movement in the vicinity. In this way, the applicant can not only "go ahead" by announcing the next crossing in good time. Unknown facilities and locations not previously needed, such as a new specialist or advice center, could also be displayed.
The system is also not a normal commodity. There are no more economical, cheaper alternatives. Special smartphone apps would not offer the same benefits as the GPS system. (fle / mwo)