Newsletter: November 29, 2012

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin - November 29, 2012

What's New in Our Region:

Awareness Program Targets Gas Station Accessibility

The Rockland County Independent Living Center, located in New City, NY has partnered with Rockland County to bring the county's gas stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires that gas stations with more than one attendant provide full service fueling at no extra cost, to people with disabilities who request it. The law also requires that stations display a sign informing customers about this service. Due to the partnership, signs informing customers of their rights will be distributed among the county's gas stations. Additionally, the county will closely monitor for compliance with the law. To read more, visit, http://newcity.patch.com/articles/awareness-program-targets-gas-station-accessibility#c

AG, Yankee Trails Settle over the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The New York State Attorney General's office has reached a settlement with Rensselaer-based bus company, Yankee Trails, over violations of the ADA. The Attorney General found that the company's practices were violations of the ADA. Some of these practices include, requiring people with disabilities make requests for trips 7 days in advance of traveling, and also asking them to provide proof of disability. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to change its practices and provide employees with training on the ADA. To read more, visit: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/AG-Yankee-Trails-settle-over-Disabilities-Act-3972520.php

Trained Dogs Help Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Service dogs are being used to help returning veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to re-adjust to civilian life. The dogs help veterans to have better interactions with others and can act as a buffer in public places. In explaining the benefits of having a service animal, Debra Schaser, founder of Canine Hearing Companions in Vineland, New Jersey, stated that "A lot of them [veterans with PTSD] will have panic attacks, and the dogs will pick that up and lie on their chests until they calm down." The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently studying the effectiveness of the dogs in helping veterans with PTSD.

To read more, visit: http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2012/11/gannett-dogs-help-veterans-cope-ptsd-111212/#.UKP6dDrjW7I.facebook

Novartis Mentors Parsippany High Students with Disabilities

As part of National Disability Mentoring Day, a group of students from New Jersey high schools and colleges attended a panel at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in New Jersey. The panel featured employees with disabilities talking about overcoming obstacles in their careers and about their work at the multinational company. The students had the opportunity to learn about possible career options for the future and about how they could add to the diversity of the state's workforce. To read more, visit: http://parsippany.patch.com/articles/novartis-gives-career-mentoring-to-disabled-par-high-students

"Voices That Count" Policy Forum

Videos from the 9th annual "Voices That Count" policy forum at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas and St. Croix are now available.  The purpose of the forum was to highlight issues and concerns of people with disabilities in the Virgin Islands. Some of the issues covered included access to education, employment, and physical accessibility needs. It was hosted by the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

To view the videos, visit:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_pYE8Jcb4A&feature=plcp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXuN4TnHnsc&feature=plcp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKnjJeHpZmk&feature=plcp

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Congress Urged to Create Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts

Disability advocates and non-profit organizations such as the National Down Syndrome Foundation have been increasing their efforts to get Congress to pass the Achieving Better Life Experience Act. The legislation would allow people with disabilities to have savings accounts of up to $100,000 without losing access to government benefits such as Medicaid -the current cap for savings accounts before a person loses many benefits is $2,000. Advocates for the bill are optimistic that the bill will passed. The bill currently has 240 co-sponsors in the House and 38 co-sponsors in the Senate.

To read more, visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/11/13/congress-urged-savings-accounts/16833/

 Interstate Distributor Company to Pay Nearly $5 Million to Settle EEOC Disability Suit

Interstate Distributor Company has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) due to the company's discriminatory leave and return to work policies. For example, the company automatically fired employees who needed more than 12 weeks of leave. Under both policies, the company made no effort to determine whether it could reasonably provide accommodations to employees who requested accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  As part of the settlement, the company is required to perform many corrective actions such as reforming its discriminatory policies and providing training to employees on the ADA.

To read more, visit: http://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-9-12.cfm

Opportunities for You!

Rental Housing Search and Occupancy Experiences of Veterans with Military Associated Disabilities

-For participating in this study, veterans have the opportunity to enter into a drawing to win 1 of 4 money orders in the amount of $50.00!

Veterans with military associated disabilities who live in rental housing are invited to participate in a research study to bring awareness of their rental housing search and occupancy experiences. If you are interested in participating in this research study, please cut and paste the following link to your internet browser to access the electronic version of this study:

https://vtsurveycenter.us2.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5BVhEcHNiAKnXqB

Participants have until Saturday, December 15, 2012 to complete the survey.

For participating in this study, you have the opportunity to enter into a drawing to win 1 of 4 money orders in the amount of $50.00! The odds of winning 1 of the 4 money orders in the amount of $50.00, is 1 out of 32 individuals. If you have any questions regarding this research, contact Luz Semeah via phone or email at (561) 603-2350 or lmsemeah@vt.edu; lmsemeah@cornell.edu.

Participate: Survey of Emergency Communications and People with Disabilities

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is seeking participants for a new survey on emergency communication. The survey focuses on both components of emergency communications; contacting 911 emergency services for personal emergencies and receiving public alerts for community-wide emergencies and disasters. The survey also includes a section on social media. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Participants have a chance to win one of two $100 Amazon gift certificates. The survey will run through the end of December 2012.  To take the survey, visit: http://www.wirelessrerc.org/content/newsroom/just-launched-2012-survey-emergency-communications-and-people-disabilities

The Magic Wand of Positive Consequences

The University of the Virgin Islands-Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities is co-sponsoring the Magic Wand of Positive Consequences event.

This event will provide parents and caretakers with better understanding of children's behavior. Specifically, the event will focus on increasing understanding of why children misbehave, and the steps that parents and caretakers can take to improve children's behavior. The event will be held in St. Thomas on December 10th and on St. Croix on December 12th. For more information on the events, contact representatives in St. Thomas at (340) 776-9200 ext. 2334 or St. Croix (340) 692-4266.

Participate: New York State Inclusive Recreation Center Website Survey

The Inclusive Recreation Center is conducting a survey to better understand and improve the usefulness and accessibility of its website. The survey requires that participants browse the Center's website and database in order to best answer the questions; the website is accessible by following this link: http://www.inclusiverec.org. Participants must be at least 18 years old and the deadline for completion is December 7th. To take the survey, visit, http://survey.cortland.edu/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=983Jl86   

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD): Summer 2013 Internship Program

The AAPD has announced its 2013 internship program, which is open to people with disabilities that are undergraduate or graduate students, as well as recent graduates. The program is a paid, 10-week internship that offers both public and private sector opportunities. The internship offers paid travel to Washington DC as well as housing.  For more information, visit: http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/employment/internship-program/

Special Spotlight: Hurricane Sandy

The Northeast was greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy. Damages from the storm remain to be addressed. The storm posed particular challenges for people with disabilities, such as those who rely on electric equipment. These challenges are detailed in the following articles, which also help provide an idea of things that people with disabilities may want to consider as they plan for future emergencies.

Residents with Disabilities in NY and NJ weather Sandy

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57544754/disabled-residents-in-ny-and-nj-weather-sandy/

Federal Family and Partners Continue to Support States Impacted by Sandy

http://www.fema.gov/news-release/federal-family-and-partners-continue-support-states-impacted-sandy-6

In Sandy's Wake, Impact On Those With Disabilities Unclear

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/11/02/in-sandys-impact-unclear/16791/

People with Disabilities Face Difficulties After Hurricane Sandy

http://www.markhofflaw.com/news/disabled-people-face-difficulties-after-hurricane-sandy-20121107.cfm