Newsletter: February 18, 2015

Northeast ADA Center New Bulletin: February 18, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Announcing a FREE Training Event in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

ADA New Regulations & Emerging Issues 

St. Thomas 3-16 & 3-17 and St. Croix 3-19 & 3-20

The Northeast ADA Center is pleased to invite our US Virgin Islands residents to either St. Thomas or St. Croix for a two-day training event where you will learn about important ADA legislative and policy updates and recent issues that have been emerging in the disability field!  Topic areas include employment, physical accessibility and disability issues and trends. To learn more and to register for either the St. Thomas training or the St. Croix training, please visit: http://northeastada.org/register/ADA_New_Regs_2015.cfm

Free Webinar! Regional Issues in Transportation

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

Free Webinar! The Rights of People with Disabilities as Community Members

3-11-15 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

The ADA and other disability laws exist to promote the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of community life. This session will feature guest speakers who will discuss how the ADA and the Olmstead Decision have impacted the lives of persons with disabilities as community members. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5056

What's New in Our Region:

The Northeast ADA Center Welcomes New USVI ADA Coordinator Jamila Russell

Amelia Headley-Lamont, Director of the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands (DRCVI), the Northeast ADA Center's USVI affiliate, recently interviewed new territorial ADA Coordinator, Jamila Russell. Ms. Russell has been a lifelong advocate for persons with disabilities having grown up with an uncle with Cerebral Palsy, as well as being a parent of one child with a developmental disability and another child who recently acquired a physical disability. With a background in Human Resources, Ms. Russell plans to utilize her skills to communicate with employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities and help decrease the stigma that perpetuates a 'we can't' attitude concerning disability employment issues, in order to increase the employment rates of people with disabilities. Additionally she hopes to improve accessibility, education rights, and the community inclusion of persons with disabilities in the US Virgin Islands. Ms. Russell can be reached at (340) 772-1000 or via email at jamila.russell@go.vi.gov.

Natural Reserve with Accessible Trail System in Puerto Rico

The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA by its Spanish initials) of PR and a local community organization, The Committee for the Development of Maunabo, opened the first trail system in a natural reserve in Puerto Rico adapted to better serve people with disabilities. This was achieved through DRNA's Program for Coastal Zone Management in Puerto Rico and a grant with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For more information, visit (in Spanish): www.80grados.net/drna-inaugura-veredas-para-ciegos-sordos-y-personas-con-impedimento-de-movimiento/

 DOJ Reaches Settlement Agreement with the Erie County Jail

The Justice Department announced in late December that it reached a settlement agreement with the County of Erie, New York, to ensure equal access to the facilities and services of the Erie County Jail. The Justice Department initiated a compliance review of the Erie County Jail under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 after receiving complaints alleging that, because the Erie County Jail did not have a sufficient number of accessible cells and shower facilities, the jail housed inmates with mobility disabilities in its medical unit even though they did not require medical treatment. The settlement agreement requires a number of modifications, including providing a percentage of accessible cells within four years, revising accessible policies and procedures and instituting a grievance procedure. Read more at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-settlement-county-erie-new-york-prevent-disability-discrimination

NJ Holds Symposium to Address Employment of People with Disabilities

On January 15th, New Jersey's (NJ) Lt. Governor Guadago partnered with Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) Commissioner Harold J. Wirths to deliver a Symposium on Hiring People with Disabilities. In 2014 the DVRS's Vocational Rehabilitation Services program achieved a new record for the state by placing 4,439 people with disabilities in some form of both integrated and competitive employment. In attendance were 75 NJ employers and managers from both state agencies and training vendors, all with the goal of providing information on how to best assist employers with training and providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The Symposium also provided an expert panel to discuss state agency and training provider cooperation. Read more at: http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/lwdhome/press/2015/20150115_njSymposium.html

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Bank of America Resolves EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

After one day on the job, Bank of America terminated a data entry worker's employment at one of the bank's branches in downtown Chicago. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that Bank of America failed to accommodate the worker who has a visual impairment. Bank of America will pay $110,000 to the date entry worker and provide other equitable relief under a consent decree resolving the disability discrimination case brought by the EEOC. Read more at: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-19-14.cfm

ABLE Account Planning: Six Next Steps for 2015

The National Disability Institute has developed a brief informative video that will help individuals begin the planning process in order to be prepared when Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts become available later in 2015. To learn more, and to also view the "10 Things You Must Know about ABLE Accounts" video, please visit: http://www.realeconomicimpact.org/Public-Policy/ABLE-Act.aspx

Settlement Reached over Museum's Violations of Title III of the ADA

On January 13th the Department of Justice announced that a settlement had been reached with the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. over allegations of violating the ADA by not having certain areas of the facility accessible for all visitors. The settlement agreement requires the Crime Museum to ensure that all of their exhibits, facilities and programs are accessible to people with disabilities. For more information on the case and settlement please visit: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-settlement-national-museum-crime-and-punishment-improve-access

Federal Judge Strikes Down Minimum Wage for Caregivers - Obama Administration Files a Notice of Appeal

Recently under the request of the Obama Administration, the US Department of Labor attempted to push forth a rule that would require at-home caregivers for individuals with disabilities, the elderly and those in need of extra assistance to receive minimum wage and overtime pay as well as qualify for time-and-a-half pay if, as many caregivers do, they work more than forty hours a week. However, the Department of Labor's law was struck down by District Judge Richard Leon. Leon explained that his decision was primarily due to his firm belief that the law involved a complex issue that was better suited to be hashed out on the floor of Congress. The U.S. Department of Labor responded by filing a notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in late January, indicating that it will contest the federal court ruling that put a stop to the changes. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2015/01/26/feds-appeal-ruling-caregiver/19993/

JAN Quarterly E-News Now Available!

The latest Job Accommodation Network (JAN) E-News is now available at: http://askjan.org/enews/2015/Enews-V13-I1.htm. Topics in this month's newsletter include: Best Practices in Establishing a Centralized Accommodation Fund; The Significance of Dress Codes under the ADA; Leave and the ADA and Current Trends in the Workplace: Considering the ADA and Accommodations for Employees, as well as a number of other topics.

Recent Barriers and Successes for Disability Employment

Years after the landmark passage of the ADA, there still remains an uphill battle in the area of employment for many people with disabilities. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent report, it was found that 34.6 percent of males with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 that were both capable and desiring of work were unemployed. For women with disabilities that statistic was even lower with only 28.8 percent being employed. However, despite these less than favorable statistics, there has been considerable promise of remedying these numbers. This year a wide array of organizations have pledged new or continuing devotion to increasing the number of employed individuals with disabilities, including: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation., the Coca-Cola Foundation, the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, the Wal-Mart Foundation and the Kessler Foundation. Also very promising is the steady rise in the number of individuals with disabilities entering employment. December of 2014 marked the third consecutive month in which more Americans with disabilities were earning a paycheck. For more information please visit: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/25429-progress-and-challenges-in-employment-for-persons-with-disabilities.html

DOJ Reaches Settlement for Discrimination Against Woman with HIV

On January 15th DOJ reached a settlement agreement with Genesis Healthcare System in Ohio. Following an investigation, DOJ found that Genesis discriminated against a woman with HIV when one of its primary care physicians refused to accept her as a new patient because of her HIV. Under the settlement, Genesis must pay $25,000 to the victim of discrimination and $9,000 as a civil penalty. In addition, it must train staff on the ADA, develop and implement a non-discrimination policy, and report to DOJ every time a person with HIV is denied or discharged as a patient, with a written justification for the decision. Read more at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-ohio-healthcare-system-over-hiv-discrimination

Opportunities for You!

National ADA Symposium, 5-10-15 - 5-13-15, Atlanta, Georgia

The National ADA Symposium is a four day comprehensive conference on the ADA. The 19th annual ADA Symposium will offer an opening reception, pre-conference, keynote, 72 break-out sessions, advanced discussion groups, exhibits, and hands-on learning activities. The registration fee is $650.00 prior to March 20, 2015 and $800.00 after that date. To learn more, please visit: http://adasymposium.org/

Free Webinar! Open Q & A with the U.S. Access Board

3-5-15 - 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM EST

This is a regular session in the Accessibility Online webinar series that provides an opportunity to ask questions on any topic related to the U.S. Access Board's activities. Accessibility specialists will answer questions submitted in advance during the first half of the session, leaving time in the second half to answer questions in the live session. To register, please visit: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/

Special Spotlight: The Importance of Being Prepared for Emergencies

As many of you in the New York and New Jersey region know from the recent snow events we have experienced, Mother Nature can sometimes wreak havoc on your well-being. For those of you in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, you as well are likely all too familiar with the havoc that Mother Nature can bring in the form of hurricanes, tropical storms and other unforeseen weather events. No matter where you live, there are also other emergency situations that arise that require preparation for your safety. For people with disabilities, your ability to recover from an emergency tomorrow may depend on the planning and preparation you do today, so we wanted to share some resources to assist you with developing your own personal emergency plan. Please take a moment to review these resources and think about your personal emergency plans.

FEMA Guide: Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for People with Disabilities - http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1390849866881-33d608585d1e0e55ff6fbbb1ad6f4765/ready_Disabilities_R-6_2014.pdf

Tips on Power Loss for People with Disabilities from Ready.gov - http://www.ready.gov/blackouts

National Organization on Disability - Emergency Preparedness Resources - http://nod.org/disability_resources/emergency_preparedness_for_persons_with_disabilities

American Red Cross - Guide to Emergency Planning - http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/disabilities

From FEMA -Emergency Procedures for Employees with Disabilities in Office Occupancies - http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/fa-154.pdf