What's New from the Northeast ADA Center:
Register for Upcoming Free Webinars
The Northeast ADA Center is offering several webinars in 2013 that focus on accessibility issues, new regulations, disability and wellness, diversity issues, and much more. Upcoming webinars include "New Regulations: Service Animals" on May 30th, and "Accessibility Update: Play Areas" on June 7th. To learn more, and to register for any webinars, go to: http://www.northeastada.org/t-other.cfm#upcoming.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Now Available on Our Website
The Northeast ADA Center technical assistance team has updated its website to include frequently asked questions and answers on a variety of topics, in both English and Spanish. Topics covered include building design, communication, education, employment, housing, access issues, service animals, transportation, parking, and much more! To read any FAQs, go to the following website and click on "Frequently Asked Questions" on the left sidebar to see the list of topics: http://www.northeastada.org/m-ta.cfm.
What's New in Our Region:
NY Rolls out Police Training for Interacting with Individuals with Disabilities
New York State recently implemented trainings for state police officers to better enable them to interact with individuals with disabilities, such as those with developmental disabilities. As part of the trainings, officers who attend agree to share information that they learn with their home agencies to expand access to the information. NYS's Developmental Disabilities Planning Council has funded the training initiative until 2015. The trainings have already been conducted in counties such as Westchester, Suffolk and Albany. The trainings also assist law enforcement agencies in meeting their obligation under the ADA. To read more, visit: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP8c487d649dbf4942a7ebc6978c7621de.html or http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/N-Y-rolls-out-police-training-for-handling-4452008.php
NJ Urged not to Abandon Workshop Programs for Individuals with Disabilities
New Jersey (NJ) wants to shift to matching people with developmental disabilities with minimum wage employment, which sheltered workshops do not have to provide. Members of NJ's Assembly Budget Committee have asked that the state not completely eliminate funding for the sheltered workshop programs, in order to still support those who cannot enter into competitive employment. The state's Human Services Commissioner stated that the new plans were partially motivated by the Department of Justice's recent enforcement actions against Oregon regarding its sheltered workshop programs. To read more, visit: http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/04/budget_panel_urges_christie_ad.htm
NYC Accepts Deal for FDNY Procedures to Protect Individuals with Disabilities
The New York City fire department (FDNY) recently entered into a settlement agreement concerning the department's treatment of a firefighter who was injured during the cleanup of 9/11. In 2006, after a firefighter was diagnosed with a variety of breathing conditions, he was first reassigned to a light duty position. However, shortly after his reassignment, he was declared permanently disabled by officials at the FDNY, who also filed an application for retirement on his behalf. The firefighter did not wish to retire and eventually filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC about the FDNY's actions. The settlement requires that FDNY provide training to its managers and give periodic reports on its efforts at reasonable accommodation to the US Attorney General. To read more, visit:
What's New in the Rest of the Country:
Largest Verdict in EEOC History- Jury Awards $240 Million for Long-Term Abuse of Workers with Intellectual Disabilities
The EEOC recently arrived at the largest verdict in the agency's history from a lawsuit, which it filed on behalf 32 men with intellectual disabilities. The men were based in Iowa, where they were employed by Henry's Turkey Service to process turkeys. For over two decades the men were severely mistreated by the company. The men were subjected to verbal and physical abuse. Additionally, they were forced to live in substandard housing and were denied access to adequate medical care. All of these actions by the company and its employees were found to be in violation of the ADA. This latest verdict follows previous enforcement action by the EEOC against Henry's Turkey Service for wage discrimination against the same group of men. To read more, visit: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-1-13b.cfm
EEOC Sues Toys 'R' Us for Failing to Provide an Interpreter for Job Applicant
The EEOC recently filed suit against Toys 'R' Us because it alleges that the company discriminated against a job applicant during the interview process. A job applicant who was deaf applied for a position at one of the company's stores and requested a sign language interpreter in order to participate in the interview process, but the company refused to provide the interpreter. The applicant's mother served as an interpreter during the interview. The company also failed to respond to the job applicant about the status of her application even though she had made inquiries with the company. According to the EEOC, a company the size of Toys 'R' Us should have provided the applicant with an interpreter, because given its size and resources, doing so would not have been an undue hardship. Read more at: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/eeoc_sues_toys_r_us_says_company_failed_to_provide_interpreter_for_deaf_job/
The Department of Veterans Affairs Aims to Reduce Its Backlog of Claims
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a new plan to reduce its backlog of claims for disability benefits for veterans. The plan, which comes after widespread criticism of the VA's backlog, would expedite 250,000 claims that are more than one year old. The total backlog is currently more than 570,000 which includes all claims that are more than 125 days old.
To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/us/veterans-affairs-aims-to-reduce-backlog-of-disability-claims.html?_r=0
Greyhound Joins Initiative to Provide Technology-Enabled Communications Channel to Support Consumers with Disabilities
Greyhound, the bus company, has launched a new online initiative to target individuals with disabilities as a market segment. The company's new online portal will highlight the company's accessible buses and travel arrangements. The company hopes that by highlighting its initiatives to accommodate and hire individuals with disabilities, they will be able to build brand loyalty among individuals with disabilities. The initiative is part of collaboration with eSSENTIAL Accessibility, which is a firm that specializes in creating accessible brand awareness initiatives. To read more, visit: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greyhound-joins-initiative-to-provide-technology-enabled-communications-channel-to-support-consumers-with-disabilities-2013-03-05
Federal Court Rules Those with Mental Disabilities Facing Deportation Have Right to Free Legal Help
A federal judge in California has ruled that illegal immigrants with mental disabilities facing deportation should have the right to a lawyer provided by the government. Traditionally, people facing deportation do not have the right to government provided counsel, as is required for criminal cases. The ruling resolves a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010. One plaintiff in the case, who had an intellectual disability, had been held in a detention facility for five years because his disability hindered him from being able to argue for himself in court. Though the ruling would have only applied to three states, it prompted the federal government to issue a new policy that expanded the provisions of the decision to the entire country. To read more, visit: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-mentally-disabled-immigrants-ruling-20130425,0,5342884.story
Opportunities for You!
ADA and Lodging Webinar on Service Animals June 13th
This webinar, to be held June 13th from 2:00-3:30 pm ET, is part of a series of webinars hosted by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, which focuses on the intersection of the ADA and Lodging. This particular webinar will focus on the Department of Justice regulations around service animals as well as a review of the obligations of hotels in relation to travelers with service animals. The restrictions on the accommodations of service animals and new regulations on service animals will also be discussed. To register, visit: http://adainfo.org/content/ADA-Lodging-Webinar-Series
Accessible Fire Alarm Systems Webinar June 6th
Accessible fire alarm systems are required where systems provide audible coverage under the ADA and the ABA. These systems are required to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72. This webinar will feature the representatives from the Access Board and the NFPA, who will provide an overview of the requirements contained in NRPA 72 including specific criteria for visible alarms such as flash frequency, color, intensity, placement, and synchronization. This webinar will be held on June 6th from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM EST. To register, visit: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/
Special Spotlight: Persons with Disabilities and their Employment Status
People with disabilities face barriers to securing employment, many of which relate to false attitudes and perceptions regarding their abilities. Research has shown that given the right supports, people with disabilities can be gainfully employed. The following links provide a snapshot of the current status of people with disabilities in relation to employment and some new approaches being undertaken to promote employment among people with disabilities.
Fewer disabled people have jobs, study finds
Finding meaningful employment a challenge for those with developmental disabilities
Breaking Down Barriers to Employment, For All Workers
Hiding the US Unemployed: Disability and the Politics of Stats
US Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy and Higher Education Recruitment Consortium join forces