Newsletter: April 21, 2015

Northeast ADA Center New Bulletin: April 21, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

4-22-15 - Free Webinar! Building & Universal Design Q&A - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

The Northeast ADA Center staff will answer the ADA and Universal Design building accessibility questions from stakeholders and also address the most common questions related to building design that our Technical Assistance staff receives. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5059

5-27-15 - Free Webinar! The State of Employment for People with Disabilities: Opportunities and Challenges - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

It is more and more common that employers recruit, screen, and conduct much of the hiring process online. While this has given employers new ways of finding workers, it has presented challenges for employers and for people with disabilities. Joe Bontke of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will detail some of the pitfalls that employers may face regarding on line tools and processes under the ADA. He will also look ahead to potential emerging issues in online employment practices and the rights of people with disabilities. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5061

Come Join Us at the NY Metro Area Abilities Expo!

The Northeast ADA Center will be in attendance at the NY Metro Area Abilities Expo from May 1 - 3, 2015 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, NJ. For more than 30 years, Abilities Expo has been the go-to source for the Community of people with disabilities, their families, seniors, veterans, and healthcare professionals. Every event at the Expo opens your eyes to new technologies, new possibilities, new solutions and new opportunities to change your life. Come discover ability-enhancing products and services, play a few adaptive sports, learn new dance moves, attend informative workshops, and much more. Be sure to stop by the Northeast ADA Center's display- Booth #860 titled the "ADA Legacy Project" in Expo materials, to see the ADA Legacy Tour exhibit, a traveling exhibition designed to raise public awareness and generate excitement about the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. You can learn more about the Expo (which is free of charge) and register at: http://www.abilities.com/newyork/

Help Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA by Signing the ADA Pledge Today!

Celebrate the progress of the ADA and the 25th ADA Anniversary - July 26, 2015 - with the ADA National Network and its ten regional ADA Centers, including the Northeast ADA Center. Signing this pledge is part of a nationwide observance and recommitment to the ADA, with the goal of receiving 2,500 signatures from both individuals and organizations. By signing the Pledge, stakeholders are recognizing the progress that has been made, by reaffirming the principles of equality and inclusion and rededicating their efforts to reach full ADA compliance. You can learn more about the Pledge at: http://adaanniversary.org/pledgeon

Survey Participation Requested of Hotel and Lodging Industry HR Professionals:

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at TransCen, Inc., and researchers at the University of Maryland at College Park, are conducting a survey of HR experiences with providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities in the hotel and lodging industry. As a token of appreciation for participating in this 12-15 minute electronic survey, the sponsors are offering a voluntary opportunity to enter a lottery to win a $25.00 VISA gift card. You have a 1 in 3 chance of winning a card.  If you are interested, please click on the link below.

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1747298/Reasonable-accommodations-in-the-Lodging-Sector

What's New in Our Region:

New Advocacy Project in NJ, People First NJ

The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) is launching a new disability advocacy project, People First NJ.  Joining the international grassroots movement known as People First, NJCCD is working with self- advocates to establish a new disability rights organization in New Jersey, solely lead and maintained by individuals with disabilities. To learn more, please visit: https://www.njcdd.org/projects/people-first-new-jersey/about-people-first-nj

KPH Healthcare Services &Attorney General Schneiderman Commit to Equal Access

As part of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's recent initiative to ensure equal access to places of public accommodation in New York for people with disabilities, New York based KPH Healthcare Services, Inc. that operates Kinney Drugs chain of pharmacies, has entered into an agreement to ensure effective communication services for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The U.S. Census estimates that over 700,000 New Yorkers are either deaf or hard of hearing. With KPH Healthcare Services' agreement, each Kinney Drugs Store will provide assistive listening systems and provide qualified sign-language interpreters. KPH Healthcare will also pay $30,000 to Onondaga County to go towards programs that benefit individuals that are deaf or have other types of disabilities. New protocols will also be developed to ensure that the company is meeting the needs of individuals that require accommodations and employee training will also be provided. You can read more at: http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-secures-agreement-kinney-drugs-ensuring-accessibility-deaf-and-hard

New Report Highlights Extensive Accessibility Barriers to NYC Courthouses

New York City's courthouses and holding pens are rife with problems-from a lack of elevators to poorly marked, separate entrances-that make them inaccessible or unduly difficult to navigate for people with physical disabilities, according to a new report. Some detainees in Manhattan who use wheelchairs have been carried down flights of stairs by jail guards after arrest to be booked and processed, while in Staten Island improvised criminal court proceedings for defendants that use wheelchairs are moved to the first floor because there's no elevator to the second floor courtroom, the investigation by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest found. "One thing we found was that the only way for a person who has a mobility disability to access a courthouse is through a makeshift arrangement that negatively draws attention to his or her disability," said Navin Pant, a staff attorney and a co-author of the 20-page report which was released on March 24, 2015. You can read the full report here: http://www.nylpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Accessible-Justice-NYLPI-3-23-15.pdf

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

DOJ Delays NPRM on Title III Web Accessibility Requirements

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has postponed its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the accessibility requirements of websites for places of public accommodations under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, from March, 2015 to June, 2015. The DOJ has been working on two sets of website regulations - one applicable to state and local governments (Title II) and another for public accommodations (Title III). The proposed website regulations for state and local governments have experienced delays as well, and have been under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since July, 2014. Typically, OMB is the last stop for all regulations before they are published, so we expect to see a final rule for web accessibility for Title II entities before we see a final rule for Title III entities. You can view the full text of the Proposed Rule here: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1190-AA61

Justice Department Reaches Settlement Agreement with edX Inc. Provider of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

On April 2nd, The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with edX Inc., to remedy alleged violations of the ADA. The Agreement resolves DOJ's allegations that edX's website, www.edx.org, and its Platform were not fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity.

Under the Agreement, edX will significantly modify its website, Platform, and Mobile Applications to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, the industry guidelines for making web content accessible. EdX will also provide guidance and authoring tools to the approximately 60 universities and institutions that create and offer over 450 courses to more than 3,000,000 learners on its website. To view the entire settlement agreement, please visit: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/04/02/edx_settlement_agreement.pdf

DOT Final Rule - Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities; Reasonable Modification of Policies and Practices

The Department of Transportation issued the final rule on March 13, 2015 which revises its rules under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, specifically to provide that transportation entities are required to make reasonable modifications/accommodations to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure that their programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The real-world effect of this rule will be that the nature of an individual's disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to the entity's service unless some exception applies. For example, an individual using a wheelchair who needs to access the bus will be able to board the bus even though sidewalk construction or snow prevents the individual from boarding the bus from the bus stop; the operator of the bus will need to slightly adjust the boarding location so that the individual using a wheelchair may board from an accessible location. This rule is effective July 13, 2015. You can read more at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/13/2015-05646/transportation-for-individuals-with-disabilities-reasonable-modification-of-policies-and-practices

Judge Rules Service Dog is a Reasonable Accommodation in Elementary School

Last March, Monica Alboniga, mother of seven year old Anthony Alboniga, won a two year court battle against South Florida's Broward County School Board, allowing Stevie, her son's Staffordshire Terrier service dog, to accompany her son to school. Anthony has Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Paralysis, a seizure disorder and cannot speak. Stevie is his constant companion that is trained to help him in the case of a medical crisis. Ms. Alboniga single handedly paid for and trained Stevie to the specifications of the Assistance Dog International Standards. Stevie can alert caregivers when Anthony is having a seizure, help stabilize Anthony's head in order to ensure that his airway is not blocked and can jump on a sensor mat to activate an alert to signal help in addition to wearing a red service dog vest that contains medical supplies with a detailed list of instructions on how to respond in emergencies. Despite school administrators' attempts to claim that Stevie did not belong at the school or, if he did, there were to be severe regulations surrounding him, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled that Stevie could accompany Anthony to Nob Hill Elementary without the extensive list of requirements the school district insisted on. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2015/02/25/in-fight-service-dog/20090/

Opportunities for You!

Free Webinar! 4-28-15 - Disability and Employment: Research, Policy, & Practice

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Measurement (EPM-RRTC) at the Institute on Disability (IOD) is sponsoring this webinar for representatives from social, behavioral, and health research, policymakers, and anyone looking to enhance their understanding of the economic circumstances of people with disabilities. To learn more and register, please visit: https://www.events.unh.edu/RegistrationForm.pm?event_id=17639

Free Webinar! 5-7-15 - Application of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards

Accessibility On-Line is hosting this webinar on the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards that apply to a wide range of facilities in the public and private sectors. This session will cover how the standards apply in new construction, alterations, and additions and review scoping requirements, general exceptions, and other provisions relevant to application. Examples of different types of facilities will be used to illustrate application of the standards. To learn more and register, please visit http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/

Special Spotlight: Filing ADA Complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice can now be Done Electronically!

As this year marks the 25th Anniversary of the ADA, providing an additional option for filing ADA complaints that reflects advances in technology, will hopefully assist many people with disabilities and other stakeholders as they take steps to contact the Department of Justice (DOJ) when they note areas that violate the DOJ's ADA regulations. Through lawsuits and settlement agreements, DOJ has achieved greater access for individuals with disabilities in hundreds of cases. Often, the first step in these victories for the disability community is the filing of a complaint with the Department.

Given this, DOJ is pleased to announce that individuals wishing to file ADA complaints with the Department are now able to complete a complaint form on-line and submit the form electronically. Those individuals who file complaints will also immediately receive a "reference number" that can be used whenever contacting the Department about that complaint.  The electronic form is available in both English and Spanish and can be accessed here: http://www.ada.gov/complaint/. As of March 15, 2015, e-mail complaints are no longer accepted by the Department, however, complaints will still be accepted by U. S. mail. You can contact the Department's ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (v); 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to request a paper complaint form by mail. To learn more about DOJ's enforcement activities around the ADA, please visit: www.ada.gov.