September 26, 2014
We post our bi-weekly bulletin to keep you up to date on disability-related resources, news, and other items of interest. 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 hyperlinks, 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.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) announced a total of $8,422,574 in continued funding for organizations that develop models, provide technical assistance, and share best practices to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Among the funding recipients are several organizations based here in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (based in Arlington, Virginia), the National Disability Institute and the Institute for Educational Leadership (both based in the District of Columbia), the West Virginia University Research Corp. (which operates the Job Accommodation Network), and our parent organization here at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, TransCen, Inc., which participates in the “Add Us In Initiative.”
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced three new bills as part of his “Access for All” agenda to help Americans with disabilities achieve economic independence and reach the middle class. The bills include the Universal Home Design Act, the Accessible Transportation for All Act, and the Exercise and Fitness for All Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an informal discussion letter, responding to an inquiry as to whether an employer could “require employees who are alcoholics or perceived to be alcoholics to permanently abstain from drinking alcohol on and off the job as a condition of continued employment.”
The situation involves an employment policy where employees who have been identified as alcoholics would be restricted from after-hours drinking even when they have never tested positive for alcohol on the job, while other employees would not be restricted from after-hours drinking even in some cases where they have tested positive for alcohol on the job.
EEOC’s letter notes that these particular circumstances appear to indicate an over-broad policy that does not comply with Title I of the ADA.
This article provides some background on the guidance recently issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in relation to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).
This recent blog post from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) explores factors that contribute to successful outcomes when employees with disabilities use service animals as reasonable accommodations on the job.
A Review of Community College-Employer Partnerships and Initiatives:
Expanding Opportunities for Job Seekers with Disabilities
This new publication from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) reports on existing models of community college-employer partnerships and makes recommendations for improvements that can benefit individuals with disabilities.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge recently spoke at the Pennsylvania Disability Employment Summit, saying the new rules requiring federal contractors to be more proactive in hiring workers with disabilities has “enormous potential for a great impact.”
This article examines the interplay between the ADA, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), state laws, and insurance benefits and workers’ compensation programs.
Given the “skyrocketing” incidence of diabetes, all employers should know as much as possible about diabetes and its effect on the workplace, and the basics of the ADA.
This recent blog post from the Department of Labor highlights the importance of research and data collection to inform policy makers and establish effective programs that support employment of people with disabilities.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 in the case of Olmstead v L.C. that individuals with disabilities should not be unnecessarily isolated in institutional settings, but should receive services and supports in community-based settings whenever possible.
“The Promise of Olmstead: 15 Years Later” is a tribute to the individuals who have brought to life the Olmstead decision's promise of community integration for people with disabilities. The video features images and live interviews from disability rights advocates, including Sue Jamieson, the lead attorney in the Olmstead case, and people with disabilities who live independently and fully participate in their communities. The advocates whose stories are featured in the film – Melissa Taylor, Ricardo Thornton, Justin Duvall, Sharon Ledford, and Stefon and Shareen Young-Chavez – all reside in the DC Metro area and participate in their communities.
“Voices from the Olmstead Decision” features video clips submitted by individuals with disabilities, their family members, and other stakeholders from across the nation whose lives have been positively impacted by Olmstead's promise of community integration.
This article discusses some of the considerations and recommendations for improving emergency preparedness and response for people with hearing disabilities.
This Assessment provides information on core categories of services and supports needed by Virginians with developmental and related disabilities across the lifespan, and summarizes recent key changes in regulations, funding, and design of services and supports that are primarily funded, operated, licensed, regulated, or contracted by state agencies.
This article answers some questions commonly asked by operators of hotels and restaurants.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in a Rehabilitation Act case where a federal employee sought a flexible schedule as a reasonable accommodation. The court noted that “… nothing in the Rehabilitation Act takes such a schedule off the table as a matter of law. Quite the opposite, the Rehabilitation Act, through its incorporation of the Americans with Disabilities Act's standards … is explicit that a reasonable accommodation may include … modified work schedules."
A federal judge ruled that the state of Maryland has failed to provide adequate means for private and independent absentee voting for people who are blind or have other disabilities. Judge Richard Bennett ordered the state to implement a more accessible system in time for November elections.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin-based company, claiming that it violated the ADA by compelling workers to respond to disability-related questions and submit to medical exams as part of a wellness program. The EEOC has long held that wellness programs must be voluntary to avoid discrimination, but in this case the employer imposed “enormous” penalties on employees who declined to participate.
The lawsuit alleges that the company required an employee to assume the entire cost of her health care insurance coverage when she declined to participate in the wellness program, and then fired her when she objected.
John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC Chicago district, said "Having to choose between responding to medical exams and inquiries – which are not job-related – in a wellness program, on the one hand, or being fired, on the other hand, is no choice at all."
A coalition of disability rights advocates filed a federal class action lawsuit alleging that the District of Columbia’s emergency plans fail to adequately provide for the needs of individuals with disabilities.
“Redbox DVD rental kiosk class action settlement highlights
litigation risk presented by self-service equipment”
This article discusses the significance of a recent settlement agreement reached between Redbox and advocates for people who are blind in California. Redbox will be making wide-ranging accessibility improvements to its website and to its DVD rental kiosks in California.
A former teacher at the Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania alleges that he was ridiculed and ultimately terminated when he requested accommodations for PTSD symptoms triggered by a classroom break-in.
A Pennsylvania man claims he was fired within days of notifying his supervisor that he would need to take several months off for knee-replacement surgery.
A lawsuit was recently filed in California against Uber, the transportation network service that connects riders with drivers who provide transportation for a fee. The lawsuit claims that there have been numerous incidents across the country of Uber drivers discriminating against riders who use service animals.
This article offers advice for business owners who are faced with an ADA lawsuit.
PowerPoint presentations, Excel documents, web pages, and videos posted on federal websites must meet the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure the information is accessible to people with disabilities. 508 Compliance: Preparing Presentations, Excel Files, Websites, and Multimedia Products offers tips and tools to ease the process.
Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) conducted a survey of web accessibility practitioners and reports on a number of results, including the respondents’ opinions about accessibility advancements, and what motivates practitioners and their organizations to implement accessibility.
Fair Housing Act
DOJ Alleges Kent State Violated FHA
by Refusing to Allow Emotional Support Animals in Student Housing
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Kent State University in Ohio, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Department claims that the University refused to consider reasonable accommodation requests from students with psychological or emotional disabilities seeking to live with assistance animals in university housing.
Trainings, Participation Opportunities, and Other Time-Sensitive Items
ADA in Focus Webinar Series
- The ADAAA and Its Effect on Section 503 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act
October 9, 2014
- The ADA and Law Enforcement: There’s More to It than Ramps
November 13, 2014
The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities is a key part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which aims to help job seekers succeed in employment. The committee consists of both federal officials and private citizens. Nominations must be submitted by October 14, 2014.
The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities is asking individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, policymakers, advocates, and other concerned citizens to complete a survey that will help in planning future Board activities.