Newsletter: April 12, 2012

Northeast ADA Center April 13, 2012 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Resort Bluebeard's Castle Settles ADA Complaint:
Under a settlement agreement between the federal government and the USVI resort Bluebeard's Castle, three new wheelchair lifts will be installed over the next three years to make the resort's restaurants, bars, and swimming pool deck accessible and compliant with the ADA. Additionally, the resort will add proper signage, accessible parking spaces and ADA-compliant restrooms. Read more at: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/bluebeard-s-castle-settles-disabilities-act-complaint-1.1288578#axzz1pyMnpdTQ

New York State Faults State Agencies for Care of People with Disabilities:
A draft state report obtained by the New York Times critiques the problems of abuse, neglect and fraud at six state homes and institutions for children and adults with disabilities. The report cites that problems stem from conflicting regulations and lack of oversight, and displays inconsistent data and self-policing. Find out more about the report and Governor Cuomo's reform plan here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/nyregion/new-york-state-draft-report-finds-needless-risk-in-care-for-the-disabled.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share

New York Professor on Web Access for People with Cognitive Disabilities:
Peter Blanck, Syracuse University Professor and Chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) in Syracuse, New York, has authored a working paper on web access for people with cognitive disabilities. The paper, commissioned by the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, to be completed in 2012, discusses a right under the ADA to web access for people with cognitive disabilities. To read more and access the paper, go to: http://www.newswise.com/articles/burton-blatt-institute-chairman-syracuse-university-professor-authors-working-paper-on-web-access-for-people-with-cognitive-disabilities

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

ADA Requirements for Swimming Pools Extended Until May 15th!
The 2010 ADA Standards of Accessible Design went into effect March 15th for new construction and alterations to Title II and Title III covered entities. However the requirements for existing swimming pools were extended for 60 days. The Department of Justice is also issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking with a 15-day comment period on a possible six-month extension in order to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with these requirements. To read more, go to: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/March/12-crt-328.html  

International Code Council (ICC) Reintroduces Customer Call Center April 1st:
As part of its renewed approach to customer service, the ICC will reintroduce the Customer Call Center on April 1st. According to ICC CEO, Rick Weiland, "Our organization continues to provide the tools and resources our Members and all customers need to perform their vital duties...Call center staff will be able to answer your question or quickly direct you to the right person who can." To reach the customer call center, dial 1-888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233) ext. 0.

Report Shows Federal Government Still Lacking In Disability Employment:
A new report released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows that people with disabilities make up less than one percent of the federal workforce. This number is despite President Obama's executive order to increase employment of people with disabilities and falls short of the EEOC's two percent hiring goal. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/03/21/report-federal-employees/15219/

Department of Labor (DOL) Releases e-Laws Advisor on FMLA:
The Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses, or "elaws," was developed by the DOL to help employers and employees understand federal employment laws and resources. The most recent advisor reflects updated regulations and amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The online resource helps clarify which employers are required to provide FMLA leave as well as which employees are entitled to these benefits. Additionally, the advisor outlines valid reasons for leave, employer and employee notice requirements, and other responsibilities under the law. Learn more at:  http://www.dol.gov/elaws/.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Discusses Proposed Section 503 Rule:
Patricia A. Shiu, Director of the OFCCP which is the agency that monitors affirmative action and equal employment practices of federal contractors, discusses the proposed new rules that will require contractors and subcontractors to set a hiring goal of seven percent for workers with disabilities. Read more about the interview at: http://abilitymagazine.com/Patricia-Shiu-OFCCP.html  

Department of Justice (DOJ) Sues AT&T:
The DOJ has sued AT&T for failing to adopt procedures to detect or prevent fraudulent users from registering for services designed for use by the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The lawsuit aims to recover millions of dollars that AT&T improperly billed for the use of these services by international fraudsters. Read more at: http://newsok.com/government-sues-att-over-services-for-users-with-disabilities/article/3659921  

AutoZone Must Pay $415,000 for Disability Discrimination:
The Auto­­Zone chain of car-parts stores must pay $415,000 to a former manager for violating the ADA when it forced him to mop the store's floors despite a disabling injury. AutoZone maintained that mopping was an essential job function, although 80% of the manager's work involved managerial tasks. Read more at: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/29733/autozone-must-pay-415000-for-disability-discrimination 

Auto Dealership to Pay $50,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit:
Adams Jeep of Maryland, an auto dealership, will pay $50,000 to settle an ADA discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the company denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and subjected her to harassment and discharge for her record of disability after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Read more at: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-23-12.cfm   

U.S. Government Seeks Input in Strategy for Implementing Section 508:
The U.S. government seeks input from the public on how federal agencies can better comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which allows access to information for those outside the government. The public is invited to comment and make proposals at this site: http://section508.ideascale.com. Read more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/19/implementing-section-508-improving-access-government-information-and-data-persons-di 

Recent ADA Settlement Agreements about Reasonable Modification of Policy: 
Two ADA settlement agreements have been added to the Department of Justice's ADA.gov website, both involving reasonable modification of policies. The agreement with Mountain Valley Midget Football League involves allowing a child, who has ocular albinism and is very sensitive to sunlight, to wear a tinted visor on his football helmet, which would block out the sunlight and permit him to play.  The agreement with Shanghai Cottage at Fairhope, Inc. involves permitting the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability in a restaurant. Read both agreements at: http://www.ada.gov/settlemt.htm.  

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Federal Webcasts Archive Available: 
The JAN Federal Winter Webcast Series for 2012 includes three 1.5 hour programs that cover the hiring and employment of people with disabilities in the federal government, the interactive process, and best practices for federal agencies. Access the archived webcasts at: http://askjan.org/webcast/archive/indexfed.htm 

New Resource on Communication Skills for Young Workers:
The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy has released a free online resource, "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success," to help young workers develop communication and other essential skills for the workplace.  The exercises and activities are available in English, Spanish, large print, Braille, audio tape and disc. Read more and access the resource at: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/Pages/CommunicationSkillsKey.aspx 

Finding Long-Term Care in Your State:
The National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information has a database that helps you find long-term care services in your state. Most long-term care is not medical care, but help with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, like bathing and getting dressed. To find long-term care services in your state, go to:  http://www.longtermcare.gov/Main_Site/Finding/Index.aspx

 

Opportunities for You!

Free ADA Standards for Design & New York State (NYS) Codes Training:
On April 18th, United Spinal will present a four hour training program on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and how they differ from the accessibility requirements found in the 2010 NYS Building Code. This free event will be held at the Southern Tier Independence Center in Binghamton, NY.  To register, go to: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/ADADesignAccessibility-2012-04-18.cfm

Access Board Accepting Applications for Advisory Panel on Medical Equipment:
The U.S. Access Board is organizing an advisory committee to advance its development of new standards for medical diagnostic equipment and seeks applications from interested parties to serve as committee members by April 27th. This committee will provide assistance to the Board in finalizing standards for diagnostic equipment. For application instructions, go to: http://www.access-board.gov/mde/committee-notice.htm. Comments on the proposed standards will be accepted until June 8th and directions for submitting comments are at: http://www.access-board.gov/mde/nprm.htm.

Don't Forget to Register for the National ADA Symposium in Indiana!
The National ADA Symposium, the most comprehensive conference available on the ADA, will be offered again May 30-June 1st in Indianapolis, Indiana and will feature specialized program tracks related to building design/building code and recreational accessibility. Registration is $400. Learn more and register at: www.adasymposium.org

 

Special Spotlight-  New York City Taxicab Debate:

As reported in previous Northeast ADA Center News Bulletins, there has been an ongoing legal and philosophical debate in New York City (NYC) surrounding the low number of accessible taxis in NYC and whether the city's choice for the "Taxi of Tomorrow" needed to be accessible to travelers with disabilities. Disability rights advocates claimed the city was obligated to make 100 percent of the taxi fleet accessible since they constitute public transportation. In December, 2011 a lower-court judge had ruled that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) had violated the ADA because it did not offer travelers with disabilities "meaningful access" to taxis and demanded the TLC come up with a plan on how it would resolve this; however, he disagreed that 100 percent of the taxis needed to be accessible. In mid-March, NYC was granted a temporary reprieve from a federal court ruling that prevented it from selling any new, non-accessible taxi medallions or permits until it came up with a comprehensive plan to make its fleet comply with the ADA. On April 4th, the "Taxi of Tomorrow" arrived in NYC- a Nissan NV200 cab that looks like an undersized minivan. It has more legroom, special anti-microbial seats, a ceiling window, and outlets for charging cell phones...but it cannot accommodate passengers who use wheelchairs, earning it the name, "Taxi of Yesterday," by Jean Ryan of the Taxis for All Campaign. Read below for more information on this ongoing situation.

NYC granted temporary reprieve from federal ruling preventing city from selling non-accessible taxis:  http://www.dnainfo.com/20120322/manhattan/city-seek-appeal-of-federal-court-ruling-on-taxi-accessibility

NPR article on "Taxi of Tomorrow":   http://www.npr.org/2012/04/04/149987151/meet-the-new-official-cab-of-new-york-city

Article on lack of accessibility of "Taxi of Tomorrow":  http://gothamist.com/2012/04/04/handicap-handicapped_taxi_of_tomorr.php#photo-1

Taxis for All Campaign website:  http://www.taxisforall.com/