Newsletter: July 16, 2015

Northeast ADA Center New Bulletin: July 16, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

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 recommitting their efforts to reach full ADA compliance. You can learn more about the Pledge at: http://adaanniversary.org/pledgeon

Free Webinar! 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Where have we been and where do we still need to go in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

Presented By: Yessica Guardiola

July 26th marks the 25th anniversary of the ADA being signed into law. This webinar discussion will engage with William Sanchez, Director of Puerto Rico's EEOC office, and Noah Sacks, Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of the Virgin Islands, as they share their personal and professional perspectives on what have been the greatest successes of the implementation of the ADA, as well as what accessibility and enforcement challenges still remain throughout Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from the presenters, as well as to ask questions of their own!  Both the presentation and the PowerPoint slides will be provided in Spanish as well!  http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5066

What's New in Our Region:

Second Circuit Confirms That Providing "Effective" Reasonable Accommodation Sufficient Under ADA and NYS Law

JD Supra

In Noll v. Int'l Bus. Machs. Corp., 13-cv-4096 (2d Cir May 21, 2015), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the extent to which, under the ADA and New York State law, an employee must be provided with the precise accommodation he or she requests and whether, if the employer offers a different type of accommodation, its failure to engage in a further interactive process suffices to establish a disability discrimination claim. In Noll, the Court found the employer (IBM) did not have a duty to provide the most effective accommodation, but rather simply an effective one, and, given that it offered a reasonable accommodation, did not have a duty to engage in a further interactive process.  Read more at: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/second-circuit-confirms-that-providing-91549/

OCR Signs Effective Communication Dear Colleague Letter with Puerto Rico Hospital Association

The U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Puerto Rico Hospital Association signed a joint letter to Puerto Rico hospital administrators intended to raise awareness about accommodations for hearing impaired patients in healthcare settings. The letter emphasized the importance of clear communication between doctors and hearing impaired patients, as it facilitates clear and accurate diagnosis, symptom reporting, medical instructions, and warnings. In hospitals, hearing impaired patients often use friends and family members to help communicate with medical professionals; however, friends and family may lack the technical knowledge and impartiality needed for such communication. As required by the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-laws enforced by the OCR-doctors must assume full responsibility for clear and accurate communication with hearing impaired patients, the letter said.  To read more, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/hospitalcommunication/colleague_letter.pdf

Settlement reached with Winnewald Day Camp

Concluding a lawsuit concerning alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Winnewald Day Camp in Lebanon, NJ agreed to pay a $5000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury as well as to change camp policy around disability accommodation. The suit followed a complaint that the summer camp expelled an 11-year-old boy in 2014 because he had Type 1 Diabetes, a disease that the camp did not want to manage. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disabilities including diabetes, and requires that businesses like camps pay for reasonable accommodations for disabilities at no additional cost to disabled patrons. As such, Winnewald Day Camp agreed to publish a disability nondiscrimination assurance on its website and train all its employees in ADA compliance, in addition to the civil penalty.  To read more, visit Settlement Reached with Winnewald Day Camp

Service dog hit by bus trying to save blind owner in New York

In an act onlookers described as "amazing," a service dog leaped between an oncoming school bus and his legally blind owner as the two crossed a street in Brewster, NY. According to witnesses, the dog ran between his owner and the bus moments before it struck them both. Figo, the 8-year-old golden retriever, sustained injuries to his legs, and his owner, Audrey Stone, broke several bones and suffered a head injury. Both are expected to recover. For his heroism, Figo has received high praise and local media attention. "I thank him, I thank God that I have him, and that he survived, too, and I love him," Stone said. To read more, visit http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/09/us/feat-service-dog-bus-blind-new-york/

Register to Assist People with Disabilities during Emergencies in PR

A multi-sectorial alliance led by the PR Department of Health (DOH), the 911 Administration and Primary Health Association of Puerto Rico (ASPPR), has created a Register of Vulnerable Populations and functional, database that, as a census, keep all personal information, location and health status of People with Disabilities, with the main purpose of establishing plans, protocols and trainings to respond effectively to this population in emergencies. To register call 311.  For more information (in Spanish) visit:

http://dialogoupr.com/noticia/puertorico/crean-registro-para-asistir-a-personas-con-impedimentos-durante-emergencias/

Historic Agreement on Special Education Litigation in PR

The PR Department of Justice's Secretary, Atty. Cesar Miranda, announced the signing of the first damage compensation agreement in a long-running class-action regarding special education services in Puerto Rico.  Rosa Lydia Vélez, sued the Department of Education 35 years ago to demand for special education services for her daughter, Isamar Malaret.  When the stipulated sentence happened in 2002 she was an adult and did not qualify for the services; so she never received it.

After the stipulated sentence a monitoring process was established to verify compliance in providing services and on April 5, 2013, the Court validated the plaintiffs' right to separately claim damages.

The $125,000 damages award was specifically for only Rosa Lydia Vélez and her daughter Isamar Malaret and does not include other plaintiffs.  Under PR Law the government shall not pay more than $150,000 for damage compensations.

After signing the agreement Rosa Lydia said she was happy and pleased.

For more information (in Spanish) visit: http://www.wapa.tv/noticias/locales/historico-acuerdo-pleito-sobre-educacion especial_20131122257543.html

Is NFTA violating ADA requirements with bus cuts?

In this opinion piece, New York State Sen. Robert Ortt argues that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's (NFTA's) recent decision to eliminate two public bus routes-and the paratransit routes that go with them-will undermine the independence and quality of life of disabled people who rely on them for transportation. He further claims that NFTA's decision may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by local public entities including public transportation.  Read more, at: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/does-your-website-or-mobile-app-34481/

What's New in the Rest of the Country: 

Justice Department publishes new technical assistance document for State and local governments

The Department of Justice has published a new technical assistance document, ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments, to help State and local government officials understand how title II of the ADA applies to their programs, activities, and services. This 16-page illustrated guide addresses general nondiscrimination requirements, such as provisions relating to program accessibility, service animals, communicating with people with disabilities, other power-driven mobility devices, and policies and procedures. The document also addresses how the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply to the built environment, including existing buildings and facilities, new construction, and alterations.

To find out more about the ADA, visit ADA.gov or call the Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

DOJ Shifts Position on Web Access: Stating In Court Filings That Public Accommodations Have a "Pre-Existing" Obligation to Make Websites Accessible

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed two statements clarifying how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires "public accommodation" websites to be made accessible to people with disabilities. Departing significantly from statements made in 2010, the DOJ now claims that such websites are legally obligated to accommodate disabled audiences, even if there exist other accessible methods of obtaining the same services offered online, such as a 24-hour telephone line. Furthermore, this obligation exists even though the DOJ has not provided official regulations for website accessibility, which they say could be years from release. The two statements were issued in response to two ongoing federal lawsuits against private universities who allegedly failed to make some online videos accessible to the deaf. Read more at:  http://www.adatitleiii.com/2015/06/doj-shifts-position-on-web-access-stating-in-court-filings-that-public-accommodations-have-a-pre-existing-obligation-to-make-websites-accessible/

United Airlines to Pay Over $1 Million to Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Settling a high-profile federal disability lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), United Airlines Inc. has agreed to pay just over $1 million as well as to enact broad changes to company disability accommodation policy. The EEOC filed the suit in 2009, alleging that United Airlines' competitive transfer policy for disabled employees violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather than making reasonable accommodations for disabled employees as the ADA requires, the airline forced their disabled employees to compete for limited vacant positions that their disabilities did not interfere with. As a result, some qualified employees with disabilities were denied continued employment with United. In addition to the monetary settlement, paid to a handful of disabled former United employees, the airline agreed to end the competitive transfer policy.  "I am pleased this major decision also served as a springboard for the strong monetary and non-monetary remedies in today's resolution," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. To read more, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-11-15.cfm

When 'Reasonable Accommodation' Isn't

According to FBI statistics, 76 police officers were killed and 49,851 were the victims of line-of-duty assaults in 2013.  In addition to the danger that comes with the job, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) adds another layer of challenges for law enforcement agencies.  Under the ADA, police departments and officers are legally liable if they violate the law's mandate to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled persons who are detained or taken into custody.  This term the Supreme Court took up the matter of City and County of San Francisco v Sheehan, which raised the question whether Title II of the ADA requires law enforcement officers to provide reasonable accommodation to armed and violent mentally ill individuals.  The court sidestepped ruling on the issue and in doing so, missed an opportunity to help law enforcement agencies and personnel avoid the legal minefield created by the ADA. Read more at:

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/06/when_reasonable_accommodation_isnt.html

Opportunities for You!

ADA Anniversary Update: 25 Years Later

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
2:00 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. EST

Sponsored By: National Network of ADA Centers; Coordinated by the Great Lakes ADA Center

Mark the 25th Anniversary of the ADA by joining this audio conference as we listen to representatives of the EEOC and DOJ present an update on their litigation, technical assistance and enforcement efforts over the past year. Participants will have an opportunity to pose questions to the presenters regarding issues in their own workplace or community. Registration is free but you must be registered no later than July 20th 2015 to participate.  Sessions are 90 minutes in length starting at 2:00pm Eastern/1:00pm Central/12:00pm Mountain/11:00am Pacific unless otherwise noted. Sessions are offered free of charge. All sessions are closed captioned via the webinar platform.

Continuing Education Recognition available: Certificate of Attendance (Free); Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) (1.5 Contact Hours).

For further information you can contact the Great Lakes ADA Center,
Phone: 877-232-1990 (toll free) or 312-413-1407 (0)
Email: adaconferences@adagreatlakes.org

http://www.adasoutheast.org/eventscalendar.php?eventid=995

Special Spotlight:  

Does Your Website or Mobile App Discriminate?

As websites and mobile applications have grown in popularity, disability lawsuits filed against businesses with "non-accessible" websites and mobile applications have become more common. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that physical places of "public accommodation" such as businesses be made accessible to people with disabilities. Although the Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to clarify how the ADA applies to virtual spaces, it has suggested that businesses whose websites comply with World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) should be safe from legal penalties. Read more, at: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/opinion/guest-view-is-nfta-violating-ada-requirements-with-bus-cuts/article_ebc56762-0b61-583f-a097-c1a68da15f32.html