Newsletter: December 16, 2015

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: December 16, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Northeast ADA Center Holiday Closing

Season's Greetings from the Northeast ADA Center!  Please note that our Cornell offices will be closed from 3:00pm EST Tuesday, December 23, 2015 until 8:30am EST Monday, January 4, 2016.  The Cornell based Northeast ADA Center staff will be unavailable; however, our Technical Assistance Call Center (1-800-949-4232 for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) and our Technical Assistance email (northeastada@cornell.edu) will operate and be staffed on a limited basis during this time. When we are open, we will be happy to return any phone messages or emails/online TA requests you may have submitted to us during our closing. The Northeast ADA Center Cornell based staff will be available again beginning Monday, January 4, 2016, and normal ADA Center business hours and operations will resume at that time. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience regarding any potential delays in our response time to technical assistance, training, or materials requests. The Northeast ADA Center wishes all of you a most enjoyable holiday season, and a very happy and healthy New Year!

Workplace Bullying, Harassment, and Disability-Free Webinar

Presented By: LaWanda Cook

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM EST

According to the 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute's U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 27% of employees have current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work and 72% are aware of workplace bullying. While our understanding of frequency and impact of this issue among the general population is increasing, workplace bullying is still legal in the U.S., and little is known about the abusive experiences of workers with disabilities. As members of a protected class, these workers may have legitimate cause to claim harassment, which is illegal.  This session will explore the definitional and legal differences between bullying and harassment, provide an overview of the impact of bullying in the workplace, describe the recourse available to abused workers with disabilities, and offer suggestions for how employers can foster safer, more accepting workplaces. Relevant findings from Cornell's Work-Life Balance and Disability Study will be shared. To register for this webinar, visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5546  

What's New in Our Region:

Rutgers Quentin Gause thriving despite learning disability

Despite a learning disability, Gause has a 3.28 GPA at Rutgers, second on the football team in tackles with 87, and has been named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar-athlete in the nation. Gause is a journalism and media studies major, and he hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting, but it is entirely possible that he has an NFL career before then.  Read more at: http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2015/11/rutgers_quenting_gause_thriving_on_and_off_field_a.html

Arc of Somerset County receives Disability Advocate Award

The Arc of Somerset County's Jerry Davis Center for Children and Families was awarded the 2015 Somerset County Disability Advocate Award, an honor in recognition for "Outstanding Service" demonstrating significant impact in meeting the needs of Somerset County citizens with disabilities and also for making a commitment to promote positive awareness to the needs of Somerset County citizens with disabilities. The Manville NJ-based center has provided special education; therapeutic programs and child care to children with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities ranging from 2 month to 6 months of age, and remains the only developmental daycare/ preschool in and around Somerset County. Read more at: http://www.nj.com/messenger-gazette/index.ssf/2015/11/arc_of_somerset_county_receives_disability_advocate_award.html

Disability advocate shares experience with New York Mills students

Teena Fitzroy, who was born with cerebral palsy, shared her life stories with the students. Her motto is that she's a person first, who just happens to have a disability. Fitzroy said her mission is to share her story with as many people as she can, saying that her experiences have helped her become more empathetic and sympathetic towards others. New York Mills has participated in Disability Awareness Day, which invites individuals that can help students learn to look past the disabilities of others, for the past 11 years. Read more at: http://www.wktv.com/news/local/Disability_advocate_shares_experiences_with_New_York_Mills_students.html

Fighting scoliosis and dreaming of having her own business again

Carmen Gonzalez has scoliosis, an abnormal curve in the spine, however, her case is more severe because the curve extends to her neck. She came to New York City from Puerto Rico and began working for an insurance broker who had lost his insurance license, forcing her to enroll in local classes and earn her own insurance license. She eventually opened her own insurance firm and began earning a steady living, however, her condition worsened in 2005 as her spine impinged upon her lungs, making it harder for her to breathe. She was forced to close her business and sell her home, and was granted disability insurance in 2008. In 2012, her son, Ricardo, who was forced to leave school to take care of her, moved out and her disability payments stopped. Despite financial trouble and constant pain, Gonzalez hopes to one day run her own company again. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/21/nyregion/fighting-scoliosis-and-dreaming-of-having-her-own-business-again.html

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

DOJ Delays Rulemaking on Website Accessibility

The U.S. Department of Justice has delayed for at least two more years regulations explaining how e-commerce websites can comply with the ADA. It also announced that the release of website accessibility regulations for businesses will be put off until 2018, but many expect the DOJ will put out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in early 2016. The DOJ has been considering since 2010 the extent to which Title III of the ADA applies to websites, and many people are frustrated with the DOJ, citing indifference to the rights of disabled individuals. Business owners desire clarity on whether or not it is legally required to make websites disability accessible because it is expensive and time consuming. Overall, both sides want resolutions. Read more at: http://www.bna.com/doj-delays-rulemaking-n57982063920/

Looking backward and forward: a review of key EEOC developments, successes and failures in FY 2015 and what to watch for in FY 2016

On November 19, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its annual Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) which highlights key EEOC developments in the past fiscal year. The agency celebrated its 50th year in existence, as well as the 25 year anniversary of the ADA. The EEOC began the fiscal year with significant court losses, and courts have found some of their litigation tactics so egregious that the EEOC has been forced to pay attorney fees for defendants in a number of cases since 2011. Despite these critiques, the EEOC was involved in two significant cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, EEOC v. Mach Mining, LLC, and EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. In other developments, David Lopez was approved for a second term as General Counsel, Charlotte Burrows was approved as EEOC Commissioner, and there has been a slight increase in the number of charges filed in both the private sector and systemic investigations. The EEOC's results during FY 2015 were far more mixed based on EEOC challenges to neutral employment practices having a disparate impact on a protected group. Going forward, the EEOC plans to focus on ADA issues, accommodating pregnancy related limitations, and coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.  For other cases, developments, and to read more, visit: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=25eb2251-355d-46b0-bde9-a70e76aab981

Autism Speaks House to Home Prize

Currently, more than 3 million individuals in the U.S. are living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and around 500,000 of these individuals will be entering adulthood over the next ten years. Autism Speaks is inviting people from around the world, from any background to submit innovative, breakthrough ideas in the following three home and residential support solutions:

  • For individuals who require 24/7 support
  • For individuals who require daily support
  • For individuals who require weekly support

Prize Details: The best solution in each of these categories will receive a $50,000 USD prize. The total prize purse is $150,000 USD.

Application Instructions: Last date for submission is March 1, 2016. No entry fee is required. Application information can be found at:  https://herox.com/HouseToHomePrize

Dispelling myths about service dogs

Anne Wicklund published a book called: Handbook for Service Dogs to clear up incorrect beliefs about service dogs. She and her husband trained two German shepherd guide dogs after her husband, Wayne, began losing hearing and developed lung disease in 2001. Wicklund stresses that service dogs can be fun, can be big or small, and can live in a house where a child is present or another dog lives. Her book also details legal protections, specifically how the ADA permits service dogs to accompany individuals into places the public is allowed to go.   Read more at: http://www.fhtimes.com/features/featured_stories/dispelling-myths-about-service-dogs/article_13759f90-92eb-11e5-b5e0-974b244118c9.html

Long Wait Times Plague Social Security Disability Process

Overburdened administrative judges are working through huge caseloads of these appeals all over America, but Miami has the country's longest average wait for a hearing, at 22 months. While they wait, many slip into poverty, burdening their families and dragging down the economy. The roughly $126 billion Social Security disability program is funded through payroll taxes and keeps many of America's most vulnerable people off the streets. One million hearings are pending, and it makes sense for them to keep pushing: Just under half of applicants eventually get the benefits, including millions who convince an administrative law judge on appeal that their disability makes a job impossible. Three years ago, the agency tried to resolve these appeals more quickly by limiting caseloads, but then judges felt pressure to approve more cases, and since approvals take far less time and paperwork than denials, the program's overall cost soared. Overall approval rates have decreased from 56% in 2011 to 44% this year. The agency's current goal is to reduce the wait to 270 days or less by 2020. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/28/us/ap-us-disability-benefits-long-waits.html?_r=0

Opportunities for You!

Protruding Objects-Free Webinar

Presented by: Rex Pace, Senior Accessibility Specialist and Technical Assistance Coordinator, U.S. Access Board; and Earlene Sesker, Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board

Protruding objects provisions (Sections 204 and 307 (F307)) in the standards, limit the projection of objects into circulation paths to prevent hazards to people with vision impairments. These requirements apply to all circulation paths and are not limited to accessible routes. Circulation paths include interior and exterior walks, paths, hallways, courtyards, elevators, platform lifts, ramps, stairways, and landings. This session will address more frequently asked questions about protruding objects such as post-mounted objects, drinking fountains, and more. To register for this webinar, visit: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/Schedule/

Special Spotlight:  

New Technical Assistance Document Addresses ADA Title II Obligations re: Curb Ramps when Streets are resurfaced

The U.S. DOJ and U.S. DOT have issued a new technical assistance document on Title II of the ADA requirements to provide curb ramps when streets, roads, or highways are altered through resurfacing. This document responds to frequently asked questions that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has received since the initial technical assistance document on this topic was published in 2013. In order to fully address some questions, the applicable requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that apply to public entities receiving Federal funding from DOT, either directly or indirectly, are also discussed in this Supplement to the original technical assistance document. You can view the document here: http://www.ada.gov/doj-fhwa-ta-supplement-2015.html