Newsletter: December 18, 2014

Northeast ADA Center New Bulletin: December 18, 2014

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 5:00pm ET Tuesday, December 23, 2014 until 8:30am ET Monday, January 5, 2015.  The Cornell based Northeast ADA Center staff will be unavailable; however, 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 be staffed on a limited basis during this time. 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 Monday, January 5, 2015, 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!

Free Webinar! Web Accessibility Regulations - Title II

1-14-15 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST. State and local governments have long had a requirement to ensure effective communication. People are familiar with providing sign language interpreters or alternate materials, but often don't realize that this requirement extends to information accessed through the web. We will discuss the need of local government and other Title II entities to create accessible websites and media. We will also cover developments in the Title II ADA regulations.

Register online at: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5052

What's New in Our Region:

Carlos Albizu University Publishes a Report on Mental Health in Puerto Rico

A group of professors from Carlos Albizu University recently published a report on the current status of mental health in Puerto Rico.  The report indicates that violence, problematic substance use and school dropout are intrinsically related to mental health disorders. This group of professionals emphasized that the Government of Puerto Rico needs to direct efforts to preventive programs and projects instead of remediation services.  To read the report you can contact Carlos Albizu University at: www.albizu.edu

Department of Justice Identifies Barriers to Accessibility in Public Transportation and Polling Place Access in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) stated that the USVI's are in violation of Title II by denying voters with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in the USVI voting programs, services, and activities, by failing to select facilities to be used as polling places that are accessible to persons with disabilities on Election Day. The Letter of Findings outlines the minimum steps that must be taken to improve access on Election Day. The DOJ also issued a Letter of Findings specific to the USVI Department of Public Works' public transportation system (VITRAN). The findings indicate that that VITRAN's fixed-route bus system is not readily accessible to people with disabilities, with deficiencies that include: not providing operable wheelchair lifts, stop announcements, or sufficient wheelchair securement devices, and not allowing passengers using the lift to board and disembark at designated stops. The DOJ also noted that the VITRAN's Paratransit system fails to provide service that is "comparable to the level of designated public transportation services provided to individuals without disabilities", noting issues such as a lack of sufficient vehicles to meet the demand for service and not meeting certain service criteria requirements that significantly limit the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons. Both Letters are available on the U.S. DOJ's home page, www.ada.gov under the "New on ADA.gov" Section.

Settlement agreement reached with Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey

The settlement agreement is a result of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey compliance review of certain casino/hotels in Atlantic City to determine whether these casino/hotels are operating in compliance with Title III of the ADA. The Department reviewed information provided by Resorts Casino Hotel and conducted a four-day site visit of the property in 2012. The settlement agreement outlines several areas for accessibility improvements, including visitor and employee parking areas, public toilet rooms, restaurant seating areas and guest rooms and suites. To view the settlement agreement, please visit: http://www.ada.gov/resorts_casino_sa.htm

Voluntary Compliance Agreement Reached between The United States and The Lehman College Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., Bronx, New York

The voluntary compliance agreement outlines accessibility improvements to the Lehman Center Concert Hall including providing an accessible route to entrances, improving the accessible entrances, and ensuring access to and within concessions, public toilet rooms and assembly seating. The Lehman Center will also purchase and maintain an assistive listening system for patron use. Read more at: http://www.ada.gov/lehman_college_vca.htm

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

ABLE Act Approved the U.S. House of Representatives

Since 2006, a bill known as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has been set before congress and has now been approved by the House. The ABLE Act is a proposed piece of legislation that, if passed, will allow people with disabilities and their families to save money in tax exempt accounts without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits and aid programs such as Social Security. Under the ABLE Act, people with disabilities could save up to $14,000 in any accredited financial institution annually with the money remaining tax exempt or up to $100,000 with continued coverage from Social Security. And, regardless of how much money is accrued, the act guarantees that Medicaid coverage would be retained. The bill is considered to be one of the most bipartisan pieces of legislation up for Congress to consider with 85 percent of members in the House and Senate collectively co-sponsoring it. However, since a new Congress will convene in 2015, it is crucial that a decision is made this year. The legislation now moves to the Senate. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/04/house-approves-accounts/19891/

Hasbro Commits to Making Their Toys More Inclusive for All Children

Hasbro Inc., Toy Company has recently announced its intention to ensure that their toys are also accessible and fun for children with developmental disabilities to learn and play with. To begin this new endeavor, Hasbro has launched a series of free, online videos known as 'ToyBox Tools' aimed at teaching children with disabilities how to engage with one of the lines of their toys as well as offer alternative ways to engage with the toys on their own or with their peers. ToyBox Tools is in its pilot stage now, but Hasbro has stated their intention to constantly update and adapt the videos, as well as develop similar videos for more lines of their toys in the future. For more information on Hasbro's ToyBox Tools visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/11/19/toymaker-playtime-inclusive/19860/

States Grappling with Rise in Accessible Parking Permit Fraud

A number of cities across the country are facing the issue of able-bodied individuals forging or illegally purchasing accessible parking permits to claim closer, and in some states, free, parking. This growing problem is typically apparent in larger cities where parking is more expensive and less available. States have had mixed responses when dealing with this issue ranging from charging anywhere between  $500 to $10,000 in fines or issuing up to 18 months in prison. Some states have begun requiring that accessible permits display a photo of a person they are issued to. However, the effectiveness of these methods is somewhat hard to determine. While the current rise of this type of fraud is believed to be clearly linked to the desirability of free parking, a thriving black market and ease of access, it is conversely unclear what the best solution to combatting it would be. For more information on the rise of accessible parking fraud and government responses to it, visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/11/17/states-parking-abuse/19851/

UN Disability Treaty Not Likely to be Reconsidered by the Senate

Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa had hoped to win over another six Republicans to reach the 67 votes necessary to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It now appears unlikely to gain the Republican support it needs to be ratified by the Senate. "I'm telling you, I'm really dismayed," Harkin said late last week. "I think it is just unforgivable that we don't join the rest of the world when we are the leader, when the convention itself was based on the ADA, that we don't join with the rest of the world in helping other countries change their polices, their programs and their structures to be more inclusive of people with disabilities." A committee of representatives from the 140-plus nations that have ratified the CRPD will oversee implementation of the treaty, but as Harkin said, "Our voices will not be a part of it." If the U.S. had ratified the CRPD, the international committee would not have enforcement authority in the U.S. and interpretation of the treaty would be left to the Supreme Court. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/11/24/senate-unlikely-treaty/19868/

Opportunities for You!

New Online Course: Employing People with Disabilities: A Business Perspective

This online course is designed for employers who want solutions to increasing disability workplace diversity. The aim is to help participants be better able to build a more diverse and inclusive culture by implementing a number of practical and forward-thinking strategies. The course runs from January 12 - February 6, 2015 and is presented by The Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, in collaboration with C5 Consulting, LLC and the National Organization on Disability (NOD). To learn more and to register, please visit http://www.worksupport.com/training/webcourses/business.cfm

Free Webinar! 1-8-15 - Accessible Hospitals and Medical Care Facilities - "Advanced Session" - Sponsored by Accessibility OnLine

Presenters will engage in a more "advanced" level discussion on patient room scoping for both medical and long term care facilities, special technical provisions for parking at specialized facilities, alarm systems and toilet rooms in intensive care units, etc. Presenters will also provide an update on the Board's rulemaking on Medical Diagnostic Equipment. Attendees are encouraged to review the previous session on this topic and submit questions in advance for this discussion. To learn more and to register, please visit: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/RegistrationInformation/

Free Webinar! 1-13-15 - Inclusive Workplaces/Disclosure

Sponsored by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). To learn more and to register, please visit: http://askjan.org/webcast/index.htm#Jan15

Special Spotlight: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2014 was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Since 1992, the annual observance of IDPD aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The 2014 commemoration of IDPD focuses on harnessing the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of sustainable development for all.

Additionally, IDPD recognizes that there are over 1 billion people worldwide with some form of disability. Globally, persons with disabilities not only face physical barriers, but also social, economic and attitudinal barriers. In spite of being the world's largest minority group, persons with disabilities and their needs are typically not adequately addressed.

Three sub-themes chosen for 2014 focus on the promise of technology in: Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals; Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses and Creating Enabling Work Environments. While events were held globally to mark IDPD, in the U.S. several programs took place at the United Nations Headquarters. To learn more about the programs that were held to highlight this year's theme, including the resources for technology promoting disability inclusion, please visit the United Nations Enable website at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1620

Additional Resources:

National Council on Disability Statement on IDPD: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/12032014

United Nations WebTV - Via this link you can view sessions held at the UN Headquarters to  Commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities http://webtv.un.org/www.unwomen.org/en/executive-board/watch/part-1-opening-of-idpd-2014-%E2%80%9Cdisability-inclusive-sustainable-development-the-promise-of-technology%E2%80%9D/3922158858001