Newsletter: October 21, 2015

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: October 21, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Air Travel for Individuals with Disabilities: Intersection of the Air Carriers Access Act and the ADA-Free Webinar, November 18, 2015

Presented By: LaWanda Cook and Chris Sweet

1:00-2:00pm EST

A recent study by the Open Doors Organization revealed that in the past two years, more than 26 million adults with disabilities traveled for business or pleasure. While legislation such as the Air Carrier Accessibility Act (ACAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped to improve travel experiences for people with disabilities, many still face challenges in air travel. Some of the challenges may be due to misunderstanding about one's rights and responsibilities under relevant legislation. This session will provide an overview of the implications of the ACAA and the ADA on air travel - from booking a flight to boarding and deplaning. Issues such as emergency evacuation and traveling with a service animal will also be addressed.  To register, visit:  http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5544

What's New in Our Region:

Zero Transmission of HIV from Mother to Child in PR

In Puerto Rico there have been no reported cases of transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from mother to child since 2011, announced Carmen Zorrilla, Director of the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus' Center for Maternal and Child Studies (CEMI by its Spanish initials). "Puerto Rico is a pioneer in treatments and prenatal care for pregnant women living with HIV, in order to achieve that hundreds of children are born healthy and hundreds of families to live with hope." Zorrilla said.  You can read more information (in Spanish) at: http://www.elnuevodia.com/estilosdevida/saludyejercicios/nota/cerotransmisiondevihdemadreabebeenpuertorico-2069687/.

New Service for People with Epilepsy in PR

The Puerto Rican Epilepsy Society recently opened the Empowered Life with Epilepsy Support Center. It provides vocational and independent living services for people with epilepsy and other developmental disabilities who are 21 years old and older. For more information, you can contact them at: 787-782-6200.

Update: NJ Barrier Free Subcode Requirements

Stakeholders interested in the physical accessibility requirements for the built environment in New Jersey should take note that the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has updated the requirements for physical accessibility mandated by the NJ Barrier Free Subcode. Published on September 21, 2015, in the New Jersey Register, Vol. 47 No. 18, are the changes to the Uniform Construction Code, which provides a uniform system of construction standards throughout the State through the adoption of model codes. For physical accessibility, the scoping requirements adopted are located in Chapter 11 of the 2015 International Building Code (IBC) New Jersey Edition, and the referenced technical standard for accessibility is the 2009 edition of the ICC ANSI A117.1 Standard. There are a number of amendments made to Chapter 11 and ICC ANSI A117.1 that stakeholders should take note of that can be found here: http://codes.iccsafe.org/app/book/content/PDF/2015/New_Jersey/building/CHAPTER%2011%20ACCESSIBILITY.pdf. Should you have any questions about physical accessibility, whether under the ADA or State Specific requirements, please contact our Access Specialist, Jennifer Perry, at jlp359@cornell.edu.  

Rochester Gets Low Ranking on Wallet Hub: Report on Living Conditions for People with Disabilities

According to a new Wallet Hub study, Rochester's living conditions for persons with disabilities ranks 141st out of 150 cities. Some of the factors behind this low ranking are the lack of accessible taxis and accessible, yet affordable housing.  Stephanie Woodward, the Center of Disability Rights advocacy director, believes that while PWDs are part of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative they are not being fully included in the decisions being made. That is unfortunate, because as of now Woodward believes that Rochester is still not integrating PWDs by building better housing but is instead "making mini cripple ghettos."  

To read more, visit: http://wxxinews.org/post/rochester-gets-low-ranking-wallet-hub-report-living-conditions-people-disabilities

Feds sue Gates Chili over service dog

The DOJ is suing the Gates Chili Central School District for violating the ADA.  The school district has forced the Pereira family to pay for a handler to watch their daughter's service dog at school instead of letting her handle the dog with the assistance of her one-to-one aide or other school staff. So far the family has had to pay $25,000 for the handlers services, but the DOJ is suing to have the school district pay the family back that sum as well as to make the reasonable modification to allow the student to handle the dog herself at school.

To read more, visit: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2015/09/29/feds-sue-gates-chili-over-service-dog/73034998/

Youth Employment Services Program expands to help more people

Youth Employment Services Program (YES), is a program in New Jersey dedicated to "help individuals overcome barriers in their lives and achieve their goals of securing employment or continuing their education." The program helps PWDs along with high school dropouts and those with juvenile/criminal justice issues find employment or continue their education. As of October 1, the program has been expended to include people from 16 up to the age of 24 instead.  Previously YES was limited to 16-21 year olds but the grant from the New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development along with changes to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act has allowed YES to grow. To read more, visit: http://www.nj.com/hunterdon/index.ssf/2015/10/youth_employment_services_program_expands_to_help.html

I couldn't become a cop because of my multiple sclerosis: Man fights to pursue a law enforcement career

Randy Umanzor was told that he could not become a police officer because of his multiple sclerosis and is now suing the NYPD.  He is now showing no symptoms of MS and both he and his doctor feel that he would be capable of performing the tasks necessary for police officers. The original doctors decision that banned him from joining the force was "entirely based on the idea that [he could] present a potential threat to himself or others" and the city currently feels that not enough time has passed between his 2013 diagnosis to verify that he is indeed "medically stable." To read more, visit: http://nypost.com/2015/10/05/i-couldnt-become-a-cop-because-of-my-multiple-sclerosis/

Museum of disABILITY History Raising Funds for Improvements

The Museum of disABILITY is currently running a GoFundMe campaign to raise their goal of $100,000 for new programs and exhibits. The "one-of-a-kind museum" located in Buffalo stimulates awareness about disabilities while simultaneously showcasing the strides that have been made in our cultural perspective of disability.  Jeffrey Zeplowitz, who is in charge of this fund raising effort, mentions how the museums exhibits highlight the many accomplishments PWDs have had. To read more, visit: http://www.twcnews.com/nys/buffalo/news/2015/10/2/museum-fundraiser.html

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC Sues Cessna for Disability Discrimination

The EEOC has sued the aircraft manufacturer Cessna for violating the ADA.  Cessna has rescinded conditional job offers after becoming aware of applicants medical histories and disabilities.  This is illegal, though incorrectly believed they were allowed to do this because of high but irrelevant work standards and workers compensation standards.  Neither of those allows a company to rescind a conditional job offer however as companies must try to adapt and reasonably accommodate employees after learning about their condition.  Because of this, the EEOC is suing Cessna for damages and injunctive relief for the employees they rescinded offers to. To read more, visit: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/eeoc-sues-cessna-for-disability-61146/

EEOC Sues Safeway for Disability Discrimination

The EEOC is suing Safeway on the behalf of a Safeway employee Patricia Bonds.  Bonds suffered a significant work-related shoulder injury that limited her ability to do her job.  Because of that Safeway accommodated her by assigning her to a desk job at the customer service desk but has now put her on "unpaid, indefinite leave" claiming "she had exhausted her time limit for modified duty.  By doing so Safeway is violating the ADA since it is not providing Bonds with the reasonable accommodation of reassignment.  Reassignment is considered a reasonable accommodation and considering that Bonds can no longer preform her old job because of the injury and the fact that she had received satisfactory performance marks at the customer service desk the EEOC believes that this is a case of unlawful termination by Safeway. To read more, visit: http://www.natlawreview.com/article/eeoc-sues-safeway-disability-discrimination

Opportunities for You!

Accessible Trails: Free Webinar

Presented by: Bill Botten: US Access Board and Jim Huck: National Park Service

It's been almost 2 years since accessibility standards became effective for trails on Federal land covered by the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). Following the effective date, the Board published a guidebook to assist trail designers and operators when applying the provisions. This session will provide an overview of the federal trail provisions, highlighting some of the material in the new guidebook. A trail expert with the National Park Service, Flagstaff Area National Monuments will also offer some "on the ground experiences" of applying the standards to newly constructed trails and the alteration of existing trails. Session participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance. 

Continuing Education Recognition Available:

Certificate of Attendance (Free)

AIA CES (free) : 1.5 Learning Units/HSW

LA CES (free) : 1.5 Credits

AICP CES (free) : 1.5 Credits

To register go to: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/#nextSession

Campuses Debate Rising Demands for 'Comfort Animals'

The deluge of request made by college students for "comfort animals" has rapidly increased over the last few years which has led to both litigation and creative compromises. Students with anxiety and depression are increasingly asking to bring their comfort animals to college with them, and for the most part courts are ruling in favor of the students citing their right under the ADA to reasonable accommodations and services animals. This has raised some interesting problems for colleges and universities. One of the issues is that by allowing some students to have pets they may be endangering other students who may be allergic to these animals. To deal with that possibility some colleges have set aside washing machines specifically for students with animals to ensure that students with allergies do not have to share a washing machine with fur that could make them sick. Another difficulty for colleges is substantiating students' claims and verifying the disability is real especially given some therapist that will meet on skype and for a low fee diagnose students who may not be anxious or depressed. Perhaps the most forward thinking approach mentioned in this article comes from Ohio State, there they hold the animals to the same code of conduct as students are held, which requires students to make sure their comfort animal behaves. To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/us/four-legged-roommates-help-with-the-stresses-of-campus-life.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

Special Spotlight:

The 70th Annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a time to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for this year - which marks 70 years since the first observance - is "My Disability is One Part of Who I Am." To get materials and ideas for celebrating, visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/