Newsletter: December 18, 2013

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: December 18, 2013

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

 Northeast ADA Center Holiday Closing:

Season's Greetings from the Northeast ADA Center!  Please note that our Cornell offices will be closed from 4:30pm ET Monday, December 23, 2013 until 8:30am ET Thursday January 2, 2014.  The Cornell based Northeast ADA Center staff will be unavailable; however, during this time our Technical Assistance Call Center (1.800.949.4232 for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) and our Technical Assistance email (northeastada@cornell.edu) will operate and will be open only on Friday December 27th, Monday December 30th, and Tuesday December 31st from 8:30am-5:00pm ET.  When we are open, we will be happy to return any phone messages or emails/online TA requests you may have submitted to us during our closing.  The Northeast ADA Center Cornell based staff will be available again beginning Thursday, January 2, 2014, and normal ADA Center business hours and operations will resume at that time. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience regarding any potential delays in our response time to technical assistance, training, or materials requests.  The Northeast ADA Center wishes all of you a most enjoyable holiday season, and a very happy and healthy New Year!

What's New in Our Region:

NYC Agrees on Access to Taxis for People with Disabilities

New York City (NYC) recently agreed to settle a lawsuit regarding the accessibility of its taxicabs. The lawsuit was brought because NYC previously only had a small percentage of the city's 13,000 taxis accessible to persons in wheelchairs. A lawsuit contested this small percentage alleging that this was a violation of the ADA.  The city agreed to have half of its fleet of cabs be accessible within six years. In order to reach this goal, half of the new cabs put into service each year will now be required to be wheelchair accessible. To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/nyregion/city-agrees-on-access-to-taxis-for-disabled.html?_r=1&

Court Says New York Neglected Residents with Disabilities in Emergencies

A federal judge has ruled that NYC failed to adequately address the needs of its residents with disabilities by not accommodating them during emergencies. The lawsuit was filed in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Some examples of NYC's failure to adequately meet the needs of its residents with disabilities that were cited by the judge included the lack of an evacuation plan for people with disabilities living in high-rise buildings and a failure to provide accessible shelters. Hurricane Sandy also played a role in the case because the storm provided further evidence to regarding the lack of NYC's emergency preparedness in relation to people with disabilities. To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/nyregion/new-yorks-emergency-plans-violate-disabilities-act-judge-says.html?_r=0&pagewanted=all&pagewanted=print

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Supports Military Families

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new rules that expand the coverage of the FMLA for military families. The changes were implemented in order to help military families better cope with the challenges posed by military service. The FMLA provision on Military Caregiver Leave allows covered individuals to take up to 26 work weeks of unpaid leave in a year in order to assist current service members and veterans who have injuries resulting from their service. This, and other expanded provisions of the FMLA, affords military families the flexibility they need to adapt to the rigors of military service. To read more, visit: http://social.dol.gov/blog/the-family-and-medical-leave-act-supports-military-families/

No Nexus Required Between Requested ADA Accommodation and Essential Job Function

A federal court case recently dealt with the question of whether employers were only required to grant requests for accommodation if the request was related to performing the essential functions of a job. A government employee, who was acknowledged to have a disability, osteoarthritis of the knee, had requested free onsite parking as an accommodation. The employer denied the request because it believed that provision of on site parking would not affect her ability to perform essential job functions. The Appeals Court held that the employee did not need to show that there was a link between the accommodation requested and the essential functions of the job, particularly in light of the ADA's requirement that employers work to make their facilities readily accessible to employees. To read more, visit: http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/274736/Discrimination+Disability+Sexual+Harassment/No+Nexus+Required+Between+Requested+ADA+Accommodation+And+Essential+Job+Function

Clearing the Backlog and Facilitating Benefits for Veterans with Disabilities

It is well known that there are significant issues in the operations of the disability claims process for veterans with disabilities. In order to help address these issues, the National Council on Disability recently released a report regarding the ongoing backlog of veterans' disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The report involved integrating the perspective of many stakeholders in order to determine how the VA can work to improve claims processing in order to better serve veterans with disabilities.

To read more, visit: http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2013/11122013

Information on Extreme Chemical Sensitivity

New attention is being given to extreme chemical sensitivities, after more research has emerged to validate their existence. People with these chemical sensitivities have what has been termed "toxicant-induced loss of tolerance." This basically means that due to repeated exposure to chemicals such as volatile organic compounds, for example, found in carpets or fragrances and solvents, individuals become chronically ill with increasingly minimal exposure to common chemicals. The most severe cases of this phenomenon have resulted in individuals having to radically alter their lifestyles and careers in order to accommodate for their conditions. To read more, visit: http://discovermagazine.com/2013/nov/13-allergic-life#

Examining Recent Actions by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs

The Congressional Subcommittee on Workforce Protections recently held a hearing to discuss recent actions undertaken by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  One of the subjects discussed was the new Section 503 regulations issued by the OFCCP, scheduled to go into effect in 2014. At the hearing, testimony regarding the potential effects of the new regulations on contractors and people with disabilities was discussed. A recording of the hearing and the testimony given by various stakeholders is now available online. To read more, visit: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=362696

Opportunities for You!

Webinar: Emergency Response and Disability for First Responders

In order to best assist individuals with disabilities in an emergency situation, first responders must be aware of the preparation needed in serving this community. Flexibility and creativity may be called for in order to insure individuals who have disabilities are able to access emergency services and to do so effectively. This Northeast ADA Center webinar will address the issues of physical, communication, and programmatic access as well as the responders' need to understand the potential unique challenges facing this segment of the population and how to serve them in a respectful manner. First responders, community emergency preparedness teams, and individuals with disabilities will primarily benefit from this webinar, which will be held on January 8th. To register, visit: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/index.cfm?event=4484

2014 National APSE Conference: Proposals due January 15th

The APSE Conference is requesting proposals for sessions, workshops and events to be conducted at the conference. The APSE conference focuses on the integrated employment of individuals with disabilities. APSE's annual conference serves to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise and ideas on the latest and best innovations to "make employment a reality for all." This year's conference will be held from July 1st to July 3rd in Long Beach, California. The deadline for submitting proposals for the conference is January 15th. To learn more, visit: http://www.communityinclusion.org/apse/

Webinar: 2014 T&T: Results of the Third Annual Leave Management Survey

This webinar will review the results of an annual survey on the leave management practices of American employers, administered in part by the Disability Management Employer Coalition. The survey included a wide variety of leave types such as those provided under the FMLA and State Family and Medical Leaves. The webinar will also reveal the strategies and tools used by employers across different industries in order to successfully manage their leave obligations and the challenges associated with various categories of leave. This webinar will be held on January 23rd from 12:00-1:00pm EST. To register, visit: http://dmec.force.com/MN4__publiceventregistration?id=a0Sd0000003ykobEAA

Special Spotlight:  International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3rd was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, sponsored by the United Nations. The theme for this year's commemoration was "Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all." The theme called attention to the challenges that people with disabilities face around the world due to physical environments, transportation systems and information technologies that are inaccessible. The event called on member states and people around the globe to take steps to address these societal and structural challenges faced by people with disabilities through observing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and engaging in dialogue around these issues. Disability advocates in the United States also used the day to advocate for the United States to become a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Presidential Proclamation -- International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 2013

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/02/presidential-proclamation-international-day-persons-disabilities-2013

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1607     

Theme for 2013: Break Barriers, Open Doors: For an Inclusive Society and Development for All

http://www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday/

Group Advocates for UN Disability Rights Treaty

http://dailyorange.com/2013/12/group-advocates-for-un-disabled-rights-treaty/

A CDC Initiative: Including People with Disabilities

http://www.cdc.gov/features/internationaldaydisabilities/

Events Around the World

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1607#events