May 14, 2013
We post our bi-weekly bulletin to keep you up to date on disability-related resources, news, and other items of interest. Make sure to also check our "News" section to find significant updates from previous bulletins that are still relevant. This information is being provided solely for non-commercial, nonprofit educational purposes, including news reporting and research. It is not intended for commercial purposes. Further, we understand that our readers generally read the articles and information online, at the Web sites provided in the hypertext links, rather than relying solely on our synopses or copies. We are not responsible for the accessibility or the content of other Web sites. Please be aware that some links provided are time sensitive, and may become inactive at any time.
We include links to articles, editorials and opinion pieces, press releases, and other materials that represent diverse perspectives. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any products, services, sources, information, or opinions expressed in these materials.
May is packed with national observances, from Allergy and Asthma Awareness to Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention (See NARIC Calendar of Events for a complete listing) The sponsoring agencies and organizations should all have related websites with media kits and schedules of events and happenings in your neighborhood.
In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) paid tribute to the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award winners at their annual meeting. Pioneer of women’s intercollegiate sports Ruth Alexander, Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA Kirk Bauer, 9th degree black belt Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee, physical activity activist and educator for special populations Emilio “Dee” DaBramo, and professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Antronette Yancey are this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. Honoree Kirk Bauer will be the keynote speaker at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center Update Conference to be held on September 18 &19 in Baltimore Maryland.
Many people with common mental health conditions have a right to a reasonable accommodation at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act. When requesting accommodations, clients may sometimes need supporting documentation from their mental health providers. A new Fact Sheet from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission briefly explains the law of reasonable accommodation and the mental health provider's role in the accommodation process.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has seen an increase in the number of cancer-related complaints over the past few years. Ten years ago, there were less than 450 cancer-related claims. Last year, it topped out at nearly 1000. Part of the spike may have resulted from cancer being specifically included as a disability under the American with Disabilities Act, but it could also be heightened awareness of rights among employees.
Youth Development (YD) is a process that prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them gain skills and competencies. Youth Leadership (YL) is part of that process. In order to control and direct their own lives based on informed decisions, YD/L need to be included as core components of transition programming for all youth, including youth with disabilities.
The NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC: RURAL) recently published “Developing methods for grading the accessibility of a communality’s infrastructure (abstract) in the Journal of Urban Planning and Development. The RTC: RURAL developed and piloted an assessment for estimating a community’s accessibility, observing randomly-selected businesses in rural and city settings. These businesses were scored across nine access categories, with urban settings scoring better for wheelchair access criteria. The article discusses the feasibility of expanding this approach to include other elements of community accessibility to develop report cards at the local and state levels.
Many employers in the United States have come to believe that establishing employee wellness programs can lower health costs and increase productivity. But key components common to many programs—especially disability-related questions and medical examinations—continue to prove problematic for employers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking steps to clear up the confusion.
On May 1, 2013, a Davenport, Iowa jury awarded the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) damages totaling $240 million — the largest verdict in the federal agency's history — for disability discrimination and severe abuse. The jury agreed that Hill County Farms, doing business as Henry's Turkey Service ("Henry's Turkey") subjected a group of 32 men with intellectual disabilities to severe abuse and discrimination, including verbal and physical harassment, substandard living conditions, and lack of medical care, for a period between 2007 and 2009, after 20 years of similar mistreatment. "The verdict sends an important message that the conduct that occurred here is intolerable in this nation, and hopefully will help to restore dignity and acknowledge the humanity of the workers who were mistreated for so many years," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
College students with disabilities across the United States are likely to benefit from a settlement signed this week by the University of California at Berkeley. The university will do more to make homework and research material accessible to students with visual and learning disabilities, an effort that may provide a model for disability rights advocates and university officials elsewhere.
Baltimore County said Thursday it has settled three disability lawsuits filed by former firefighters and a police officer who alleged they were illegally forced out of their jobs. The County Attorney said the agreements would allow the firefighters to return to work with light-duty assignments. The police officers will receive modified retirement benefits. They will get $20,000 each in damages, as well as a total of more than $47,000 in attorney's fees, the attorney said.
The United States' complaint was brought on behalf of a former Fire Department, City of New York: (FDNY) fire captain who suffered irreversible lung damage while participating in search, rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center site in New York City after September 11, 2001. The complaint alleges that the FDNY failed to reasonably accommodate his disability and forced him to retire despite his desire to remain with the FDNY in a non-firefighting capacity. The FDNY has agreed to create and implement written reasonable accommodation procedures that comply with the ADA, which will ensure that all disabled firefighters are offered the opportunity to obtain reasonable accommodation and not be forced to retire if they wish to remain with the FDNY and are qualified for available "off-line" positions that do not involve firefighting duty.
On May 1, 2013, ebook giant Amazon announced new accessibility features for the Kindle reading app, “making it easier than ever for blind and visually impaired customers to navigate their Kindle libraries, read and interact with their books, and more.” Amazon expects to have these features added to “additional platforms in the future”; however, it gave no specific dates. Amazon has been under increasing pressure from ADA-requirements as well as blind rights advocates to improve its products for the vision impaired.
Statutes passed last November in Colorado and Washington state seem straightforward enough: Anyone over 21 can possess up to an ounce of marijuana without facing any penalty. Now that 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana (and at least seven more are considering doing so), in most places for medical use only, a patchwork of different state laws clash with federal drug laws and raise questions about how to comply with other federal statutes like the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Equal Rights Center (ERC) Fights Housing Discrimination against Individuals Using Guide Dogs in DC and Maryland
The ERC has filed two lawsuits for violations of the federal Fair Housing Act and local laws that ensure individuals with disabilities who use service animals have equal access to housing. In each case, trained ERC testers who are blind and use a guide dog were either told by rental agents that their guide dog would not be permitted at the property, or that they would be subject to additional costs or requirements because of their guide dog.
General ADA News and Information
The ADA National Network has updated The ADA National Network Disability Law Handbook. The handbook, created by the Southwest ADA Center, is a broad overview of rights and obligations under federal disability law, individual state laws may impose more stringent obligations. This handbook is intended to inform rather than to advise, and the information provided is of a general nature.
The Carroll County Department of Economic Development paired with the Carroll Business Path for small businesses for a session on disability resources at Carroll Community College. The administrator of operations and small business development said the workshop was in high demand. Training was provided by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center.
Employees asking for ADA disability accommodations often end up providing very private details about their health. Carefully guard that information so only those who have a real need to know about it are privy to the employee’s condition. That means your business should establish a strict protocol for distributing health-related information.
According to this terrific profile of the Phoenix (Az.) Valley Christian School junior from the Arizona Republic, the athlete has had to develop a precise routine while competing in the pole vault event because she can’t see a single thing while approaching her run up and the pole vault pit. She isn’t technically 100 percent blind, though she was born that way. Instead, she now technically has 20-400 vision, which essentially rules out her ability to see anything beyond very vague shapes. That kind of vision could prove extraordinarily challenging for someone to compete in any event, let alone the pole vault.
A 16 year old girl was born with three congenital amputations: missing both legs and one arm. Her doctor recommended swimming as a form of physical therapy. And now, at age 16, she is literally breaking records, Massachusetts CNN affiliate KCPQ reports that the young woman already has competed in Brazil, Mexico and the Netherlands and has her sights set on competing in the next Paralympics in 2016.
Trainings and Conferences
The next Accessible Technology Webinar series session is Thursday, May 22, 2013 2:00 - 3:30pm EST Accessibility with Word Press with Speaker Joseph Dolson, Independent Consultant. He has been writing and working in web accessibility since 2004, when he founded the web development and accessibility consultancy Accessible Web Design. The series is hosted and coordinated by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center; members of the ADA National Network. Visit The ADA National Network for more information.
Next Session: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The ADA National Network, the National Center on Accessibility, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution have partnered together to bring you the Arts & Recreation Webinar Series. The goal is to share their acquired knowledge and expertise in creating equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities in the areas of Arts and Recreation with the broader community. Sessions are free and will focus on legal compliance issues, best practices in the field and practical "how to's" across a broad range of topics. The intended audiences include but are not limited to ADA Coordinators, Program Administrators and the Staff, Volunteer Program Administrators, Federal, State and Local Government Agencies and disability advocates.
Unlock the Mystery of ADA Accessibility: Lodging Information, Made Accessible
June 13 2013 - Service Animals, Beyond the Traditional Guide Dog
This series is presented by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and co-sponsored by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).
When: June 13, September 12, and December 12, 2013 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Where: Your office! The webinar format allows you to participate online from the comfort of your location!
How Much: The cost is $40 for each session or $110 for all 3.
From August 23-26, 2013, Pennsylvania will host the first-ever Living Well With a Disability Conference & Expo at the Lancaster Marriott & Lancaster County Convention Center. Headliners for the event include Last Comic Standing winner Josh Blue and Push Girls star Tiphany Adams. This conference will provide people with disabilities and their caregivers, educators and parents with an opportunity to meet experts and get tips on everything from traveling and employment, to dating and cultural opportunities. The expo is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, visit the link shown above.