Newsletter: January 21, 2015

Northeast ADA Center New Bulletin: January 21, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Save the Dates! The Northeast ADA Center will be providing training in St. Thomas on March 16 & 17 and St. Croix on March 19 & 20, 2015! Additional details will be sent to stakeholders soon and posted on our website at www.northeastada.org.

Free Webinar! The ADA and Accessible Transportation (Title II and Title III)

2-11-15 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

This webinar will provide an overview of how the ADA applies to transportation for both Title II and Title III entities. We will review the ADA Standards issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that apply to facilities used by state and local governments to provide designated public transportation services. We will also review the Title III regulations that impact private transportation, and discuss who is covered under these regulations. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5054

Free Webinar! Regional Issues in Transportation: Panel Discussion

2-25-15 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

This webinar will highlight recent case law and advancements in accessibility surrounding transportation (i.e. the New York City Accessible Taxi Settlement) and review regional transportation issues impacting people with disabilities in the Northeast ADA Center's region. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5055

NEADA Center Seeks New Technical Assistance and Outreach Specialist

The Northeast ADA Center, housed within the Employment & Disability Institute at Cornell University, is seeking candidates for the position of Technical Assistance and Outreach Specialist. This position will primarily provide phone and email based ADA related technical assistance throughout our region, and also assist the NEADA Center with marketing and outreach services, particularly social media efforts. To learn more about all the job duties, qualifications, and application process, visit the Cornell University job site at: https://cornellu.taleo.net/careersection/10164/jobdetail.ftl?job=26162

What's New in Our Region:

Documents on the PR Department of Education's Website Should Be Accessible by July 2015

The National Federation of the Blind, Puerto Rico Chapter, filed a complaint with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for accessibility of public documents on the PR Department of Education's website.  As a result of this complaint, the PR Department of Education agreed to complete the process of converting all their documents to accessible formats compatible with screen readers by June 30th, 2015.  For further information contact Mr. Alpidio Rolon, President of the NFB in PR at (787) 781-9071 or arguza@attglobal.net, or the US Department of Education's OCR at 646-428-3900 or OCR.NewYork@ed.gov.

New York State Justice Center Issues E-News for January, 2015

This update from the Justice Center includes several informative resources, including a new publication that provides information for staff members and volunteers who become the subject of a Justice Center investigation, titled "What to Expect if You Are Involved in a Justice Center Investigation". Read more at: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=930f191415e3092b75697f45d&id=ee5c47f3de&e=a6c19f5873

"Access for All" Advisory Groups Growing in Northern New Jersey

Just before the holiday break, The Board of Commissioners in Lyndhurst, NJ resolved to create an "Access for All" advisory committee comprised of residents with disabilities and key local government staff that will examine the barriers in the community faced by people with disabilities. To date, there are approximately sixteen municipalities in Bergen County that have formed "Access for All" committees. Read more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/lyndhurst-on-board-to-study-community-barriers-affecting-the-disabled-1.1172863

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Senator Tom Harkin, Leading Disability Advocate, Retires

After serving for forty years on Capitol Hill, Senator Harkin, D- Iowa, has decided not to seek re-election. Often inspired by the experiences of his late brother Frank, who was deaf, Harkin has long championed the rights of people with disabilities. He did so by authoring the landmark ADA and pushing for legislation that expanded opportunities for people with disabilities in education, independent living, employment and physical accessibility. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who worked side-by-side with Harkin on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, stated "Sen. Harkin's legacy is secure. He is the Senate's champion of Americans with disabilities. It'll be a long time before there's a greater champion of Americans with disabilities in this body and I salute him for that." Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/16/disability-champion-leaving/19924/

U.S. Access Board Sponsored Study Examines Impacts of Rough Surfaces on Wheelchair Traffic

A study funded by the U.S. Access Board was recently completed on how the roughness of pathway surfaces impacts wheelchair travel. This research, which was conducted by the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh, assessed the impacts of bumpy and uneven surfaces on people who use wheelchairs, including power chairs, by measuring the resulting body vibrations. Based on the test results, researchers recommend sidewalk roughness index thresholds for short and long distances (1.20 inch per foot for distances up to 10 feet and 0.60 inch per foot for distances above 100 feet). They also offer recommendations for a method and protocol to measure surface roughness, including the design of a measurement device. These and other recommendations are contained in a report from the study, Development of Surface Roughness Standards for Pathways Used by Wheelchair Users: Final Report

CDC Predicts Potentially Severe Flu Season

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) suggests that the 2014-15 flu season could be unusually severe and widespread. The CDC urges everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and recommends prompt treatment with antiviral drugs for people at high risk of complications who get the flu. Those at high risk, including older adults and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, should check with their doctor immediately if they have flu symptoms. Check out Disability.gov's "Guide to Health Information & Resources" for information about finding health care, staying healthy, health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and many other health-related topics at: www.disability.gov/resource/disability-govs-guide-health-information-resources/

U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Reaches Website Accessibility Settlement with the University of Cincinnati

The agreement, reached just prior to the holidays, requires that the school write and publish a notice of nondiscrimination, provide training to staff who work on websites and report back on its progress to the DOE. The DOE found that the University's websites violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA because they weren't fully accessible to people with disabilities. In early December, Youngstown State University reached a similar agreement with the DOE to settle a complaint over disability access. Read more at: https://www.disability.gov/education-department-settles-university-cincinnati-website-accessibility/

Peapod, LLC to Improve Access for People with Disabilities

Just prior to the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a far reaching settlement agreement with Peapod, LLC. Peapod is America's leading Internet grocer, delivering more than 23 million orders in 12 Midwest and East Coast states and the District of Columbia.  The agreement resolves allegations that www.peapod.com is not accessible to some individuals who are blind or have low vision, are deaf or hard of hearing, and/or who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity. DOJ noted that Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations to take necessary steps to ensure individuals with disabilities are not excluded, denied services, segregated, or otherwise treated differently because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, such as accessible electronic information, and further stated that the DOJ has long considered Title III and its implementing regulation to apply to the online services and communications of public accommodations. Read more at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-enters-settlement-agreement-peapod-ensure-peapod-grocery-delivery-website

U.S. DOJ and HHS Offices Remind States of Obligations under the ADA in Light of New Caregiver Pay Hike

Starting in 2015, most in-home care workers will qualify for the first time for federal minimum wage and overtime protections. In light of this, in a "Dear Colleague" Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the office of Health and Human Services (HHS), these federal agencies are reminding states not to place caps on the number of hours that caregivers may work, as this policy could be very problematic for people with disabilities. In 2015, most home care workers must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and qualify for time-and-a-half for working over 40 hours per week under a new Labor Department rule. The wage increase has led to concerns from states, industry groups and some disability advocates about added costs and unintended consequences for people with disabilities. The Department of Labor announced that in light of the concerns raised by disability advocates and states with the implementation of the new rule, it will delay enforcement through June 2015. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/19/with-caregiver-pay-ada/19932/

Opportunities for You!

Free Webinar! 2-5-15 - Accessible Play Areas - "Advanced Session" 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM EST

It's been over 2 years since the new accessibility standards have been required for all newly constructed and altered play areas. This session will focus on a more "advanced" level discussion regarding issues such as the selection of suitable playground surfaces, applying the scoping and technical provisions to altered sites, and other more frequently asked questions. Attendees are encouraged to review the previous session on this topic and submit questions in advance for this discussion. To learn more and register, visit http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/

New Barrier Free Employment Poster Available

A new poster developed by Meeting the Challenge, Inc. provides practical ideas to promote accessible work environments. The poster is high quality in full color and 18" H x 24". To order copies and learn more, please visit:

http://www.shop.adainformation.org/Barrier-Free-Employment-Poster-DOC06.htm

Special Spotlight: ABLE Act Becomes Law!

After eight years of work, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) was signed into law on 12-19-14 by President Obama. The goal of the ABLE Act is for people with disabilities and their families to be able to set up tax-free savings accounts to assist with financing their long term disability needs. ABLE amends the federal tax code to allow tax-free savings accounts to help finance disability-related needs. They are similar to Section 529 college savings accounts and eliminate, for ABLE accounts, the former $2,000 cap on savings for individuals with disabilities. According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, eligible expenses could include: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, financial management and administrative services, legal fees and other expenses to be determined by the IRS. The new law will allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. Perhaps most importantly, individuals can keep their Medicaid coverage no matter how much money is accrued in an ABLE account.

As for the timing of opening ABLE accounts, people with disabilities may be able to start opening accounts as soon as 2015. However, while the new law amends federal rules to allow for ABLE accounts, each state must now put regulations in place, similar to 529 plans, so that financial institutions can make the new offering available. Members of Congress have expressed that given the broad support of the ABLE Act and 529 plans, states will likely move quickly to bring ABLE Acts to reality. To learn more, please read below.

From Autism Speaks - "What You Need to Know About the ABLE Act in 2015":

http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/able-act-law-2015-what-you-need-know

From Disability Scoop: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/22/obama-signs-able-act/19935/

From The Arc: http://insider.thearc.org/tag/achieving-a-better-life-experience-able-act/

From USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/26/congress-able-act-passage/70099696/