Newsletter: February 20, 2014

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: February 20, 2014

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

NEADA Center Free Webinar March 12th: Beyond Yellow Ribbon: Welcoming Veterans with Disabilities in our Communities, Workplaces, and Colleges

Clearly, there is a great deal of goodwill to welcome returning veterans and support them in their transition to civilian life. Since 2001, about 2.5 million veterans served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  About half of these returning veterans will have a disability.  Is this goodwill translating into real efforts to enhance the quality of life and work for returning veterans with disabilities?  This webinar will examine research studies on the status of veterans with disabilities in community participation, education and employment.  Then, review three MakingWorkHappen-Toolkits about veterans with disabilities:  One Toolkit for veterans, one Toolkit for disability service providers, and one Toolkit for employers. This webinar will be held on March 12th from 2-3PM EST. To register, visit: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/index.cfm?event=4488

What's New in Our Region:

Analysis of NY Governor Cuomo's 2014 State of the State Address

The Center for Disability Rights analyzed Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address from the perspective of individuals with disabilities. The analysis highlighted successes and unresolved issues from the past year related to disability issues. Additionally, it evaluated some of the proposals that Governor Cuomo has laid out for 2014 and the ways in which these could be more inclusive of people with disabilities. The Center applauded the Governor's efforts to ensure greater community inclusion for people with disabilities across the state.  The Center also highlighted the continuing need to address the employment needs of New York residents with disabilities, through policies such as expanding the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises program to people with disabilities or providing more tax incentives for businesses to hire people with disabilities. To read more, visit: http://www.cdrnys.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=771:state-of-the-state&catid=17:blogs-recent

New Website Geared at New York's Voters with Disabilities

The Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, New York launched the website named the New York Disability Vote Network. The website adds to the Center's efforts to help create a disability voting bloc within New York State. A key part of the New York Disability Vote Network is the creation of a database of voters with disabilities, which will help in promoting disability friendly policies by mobilizing voters invested in these issues. The project is funded by a grant from Adult Career and Continuing Education Services - Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR). For more, information visit http://www.nydvn.org/

Historic Broadway Theaters to Get Accessibility Renovations

As a result of federal lawsuit, nine historic Broadway's theaters will go through renovations to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities. Over the next 3 years, the renovations will entail adding wheelchair seats and aisle transfer seats. Additionally, in a settlement agreement, these theaters agreed to eliminate other barriers preventing individuals with disabilities from participating in the theater district. To read more, visit: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/broadway-receive-accessibility-renovations-article-1.1596243

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Justice Department Publishes a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently announced that it will be revising its regulations regarding Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The revisions are intended to bring the DOJ's ADA regulations in line with the requirements of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Some of the proposed revisions include changes to the definition of "disability" as a well as the definition of "major life activities" within Title II and Title III of the DOJ regulations. To read more, visit: http://www.ada.gov/nprm_adaaa/nprm_adaaa.htm

Federal Agencies Partner to Protect Veterans, Service Members and their Families Using GI Bill Education Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rolled out a new online complaint system. The purpose of the system is to help the VA and its partner agencies weed out fraud, waste and abuse among those organizations and educational institutions that serve student veterans. This is a joint effort between VA and the departments of Defense, Education, and Justice, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.  The system came after veterans' servicing organizations, like Veterans of Foreign Wars, expressed concerns that some educational institutions were out to exploit veterans and their lucrative benefits programs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Once a complaint is filed, the VA and its partner agencies can collect the information needed to identify and openly deal with unfair or misleading practices by an institution; as well as help ensure schools deliver quality academic, trade, and associated support services to student veterans.

To read more, visit: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2516

US Department of Labor Secures More Than $250,000 in Back Wages for Student Workers with Disabilities

The City of Providence, the Providence School Board and the Harold A. Birch Vocational Center have entered into settlement agreements with both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The settlements stem from violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the ADA related to paying students with disabilities less than $2 an hour for the work that they performed in school based sheltered workshops.  The settlements included the payment of $250,000 in back wages to the 60 affected student workers. This enforcement effort was part of a strategic initiative by the DOL and DOJ to ensure that workers with disabilities are fairly compensated and that the requirements for deviating from the minimum wage are met. To read more, visit: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20132358.htm

Congress Gives Special Education $500 Million Boost

The newly proposed government-spending bill specifies a $500 million increase in funding for special education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The increase in funds is beneficial because it will help to reverse the effects that sequestration related spending cuts have had on special education across the nation. Special education advocates are pleased that given the current political climate, funding for special education was not reduced in the new budget bill, though they say that more funding is required in order to successfully meet the needs of students with disabilities. For more information, visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/01/17/congress-sped-boost/19024/

NPR Piece on Jailed Persons with Mental Health Conditions

The National Public Radio (NPR) program "All Things Considered" covered the status of people with mental health conditions within prisons by highlighting the efforts of Cook County Jail to effectively house inmates with mental health conditions. Cook County Jail is well known for its leading practices in addressing the needs of inmates with mental health conditions. These practices include screening inmates, hiring doctors, and providing training to prison staff. Despite the recognition that the jail receives for its efforts, staff at the prison still feel that they face many challenges in effectively dealing with mental health and that more needs to be done to address the needs of inmates with mental health conditions. Also discussed was how the decreases in funding for mental health services across the country have contributed to a rise in the number of people with mental health conditions within prisons. To read more, visit: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/20/263461940/mentally-ill-inmates-often-locked-up-in-jails-that-cant-help

Fourth Circuit Holds that Temporary Disabilities May be Covered by ADAAA

In Summers v. Altarum Institute Corp, a recent Court of Appeals decision dealt with a government contractor who acquired mobility impairments that prohibited him from making a long commute to work. The employee requested working remotely as an accommodation while he recovered. The employer declined and suggested short-term disability instead. Subsequently the employee was discharged. The plaintiff then sued Altarum Institute Corp claiming that his discharge was due to his disability. The case was dismissed at the lower level because the district court held the temporary nature of the plaintiff's disability meant that he was not protected under the ADA. The Appeals Court reversed that decision finding that due to the more expansive definition under the ADA Amendments Act, temporary disabilities such as those experienced by the plaintiff were in fact entitled to protection. To read more, visit: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2014/01/fourth-circuit-holds-temporary-disabilities-may-be-covered-by-the-adaaa.html

Career Mentoring Youth with Disabilities as a Business Strategy

In this article, Jill Houghton, Executive Director of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) declares how mentorship programs can help companies to attract qualified employees with disabilities.  Additionally, Houghton discusses recent efforts by the USBLN to implement formalized mentorship programs for students with disabilities, in response to interest by the organization's business members. The successes of the mentorship initiatives and the benefits of the programs for both students and companies are highlighted. Mentorship programs help to position companies as employers of choice within the disability community, by signaling the value that a firm places on engaging with this group. http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2014/01/07/career-mentoring-youth-with-disabilities-as-a-business-strategy/

DOJ Settles with Rite Aid of Michigan over Alleged HIV Discrimination

The Justice Department (DOJ) publicized that it has obtained a settlement with Rite Aid of Michigan to resolve allegations that Rite Aid violated the ADA. DOJ found that a Rite Aid store pharmacist in Okemos, Michigan, discriminated against a client with HIV by refusing to administer a flu shot to the client in violation of the ADA. To read more, visit: http://www.ada.gov/riteaid.htm

Opportunities for You!

Webinar Feb. 26th: You've just Been Appointed a Federal Disability Program Manager--Now What?

This webinar will discuss tools a new Disability Program Manager (DPM) needs to be successful in their role. Effective techniques, strategies, and programs will be discussed, including the Schedule A appointing authority, targeted recruitment, free resources, and much more. It is common for agencies to appoint DPMs with little or no experience in the field, fail to provide appropriate training, and offer little guidance or support in carrying out the duties of their work. Presenters, Stephen M. King, Director of Disability Programs for the Department of Defense, and Michael Looney, National People with Disabilities Program Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, have over 20 years of combined experience in the federal disability field and have provided similar training to thousands of employees in federal and local government. This webinar will be held on February 26th from 2-3PM EST. Registration is open to individuals with a .gov or .mil email address. To register, visit: http://askearn.org/webinar_registration.cfm?activity_id=4645

Webinar: Making Online Application Systems Accessible

The new Section 503 regulations stop short of requiring federal contractors to make their on-line application systems accessible, but the regulations do codify the OFCCP's position that federal contractors must make reasonable accommodations for any applicants with disabilities who cannot access on-line systems. In light of this, many federal contractors are implementing changes to make their on-line application systems accessible. In this session, Job Accommodation Network Consultants will share practical tips and tools to help these contractors succeed in their efforts. This webinar will be held on February 26th from 2-3:30PM EST. To register, visit: http://askjan.org/webcast/indexfedcon.htm

Special Spotlight:  Office of Management and Budget Disability Self Identification Form

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the revised form for the self-identification of disability status by applicants and employees with disabilities who work for organizations covered by Section 503 regulations. The new form will help federal contractors to better track their progress in hiring and retaining employees with disability. In addition to asking about disability status, the form also informs job applicants and employees of their rights to reasonable accommodations to enable them to perform their jobs, regardless of disability. The following links will provide more information related to the new OMB form and its significance.

Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form

http://www.crowell.com/files/Self-Identification-of-Disability-form.pdf  

Section 503 Self-Identification Form

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewIC?ref_nbr=201307-1250-001&icID=200170

Soliciting Self-Identification Information

http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Discrimination/Affirmative-Action/OFCCP-says-dont-wait-solicit-self-identification

OMB Approves Form for Voluntary Self-ID 

http://askearn.org/exchange/omb-approves-form-for-voluntary-self-id/

OMB Approves Section 503 Voluntary Self-Identification Form

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/288950/Government+Contracts+Procurement+PPP/OMB+Approves+Section+503+Voluntary+SelfIdentification+Form