Newsletter: January 18, 2017

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: January 18, 2017

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Northeast ADA Center Operating Hours to Change

Please note that beginning on January 30th, 2017 the Northeast ADA Center's technical assistance line hours of operation will be changing to 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.  The Northeast ADA Center will still remain closed on all federal holidays. Technical assistance questions can always be submitted any time of day to us via email, at northeastada@cornell.edu and a response will be provided within one to two business days.

What's New in Our Region:

Princeton University reaches deal with U.S. Department of Justice on ADA compliance issues

Princeton University students with mental health disabilities will have better access to seeking "reasonable" housing and other accommodations, according to a settlement agreement that Princeton's Nassau Hall reached with the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal government said Monday that starting in May 2014, it had looked into, "among other things, policies and procedures Princeton had for dealing with students with mental health disabilities". The review came after a federal lawsuit was brought against the school two months earlier, although details of the suit were not disclosed.  The government said the outcome of its review, into the school's compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, was an agreement both sides reached calling for steps the university agreed to take including revising policies and updating websites to make it easier for students to get the information they need.

To read more go to: http://www.centraljersey.com/news/princeton-university-reaches-deal-with-u-s-department-of-justice/article_4c230ede-c64a-11e6-a6bf-27274f972d86.html

New Yorkers with Disabilities Fight to Text 911

New York City's failure to implement texting access for emergency 911 services inspired a federal complaint Tuesday by a disability-rights group.  Disability Rights New York filed the suit in Brooklyn on behalf of two New Yorkers who are unable to communicate by telephone.  The group's first client, Nicholas Dupree, underwent a tracheotomy and is on a ventilator. This past April, when Dupree experienced several health emergencies the complaint says he had to have other individuals call 911.  Similarly, co-plaintiff Deborah LeGerfo attempted to report a car fire while traveling on Route 135 North in Plainview, N.Y.  A resident of Farmingdale with partial deafness, LeGerfo was unable to communicate crucial information to the 911 operator because of her disability.  The complaint notes that both plaintiffs communicate primarily via text message as well as other mediums. Dupree can also use eye-tracking software, while LoGerfo reads lips, written notes, emails and closed captioning.  Saying that the city needs a text-to-911 service, the complaint describes several situations where such functionality would come in hand for individuals with disabilities, such as if they experience an emergency away from home, if they witness a crime, or if they detect a gas leak.  To read more go to: http://courthousenews.com/disabled-new-yorkers-fight-to-text-911/

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

YMCA agrees to administer medicine to diabetics in settlement of complaint

The YMCA of Metro Chicago has agreed to train its employees to administer the emergency medicine glucagon to diabetics who request it as part of a settlement to a discrimination complaint, the U.S. Attorney's office said on Wednesday.  The two-year settlement agreement, which took effect Dec. 21, 2016 also requires the YMCA of Metro Chicago to implement a comprehensive policy on diabetes management, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office.  In 2015, the parents of a 9-year-old girl with Type 1 diabetes requested that the YMCA train its staff to administer glucagon injections to their daughter, a member of the center's swim team, in an emergency situation. They later filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Attorney's Office after the center denied their request.  A federal investigation concluded that the YMCA of Metro Chicago discriminated against the girl by denying her the opportunity to participate in the program on the basis of disability and by failing to make reasonable modifications in its policies to administer the medication.  To read more go to: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-ymca-lawsuit-settled-met-20170104-story.html

University of Connecticut Teaching Hospital Settles ADA-Breach Claim

UConn's teaching hospital in Farmington has agreed to a federal settlement that improves the quality of services to its deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, authorities say. John Dempsey Hospital and Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly announced settlement terms Tuesday, including the hospital's agreement to a $20,000 penalty to resolve the matter.  According to federal investigators, a patient who is deaf and communicates via sign language lodged a complaint, alleging John Dempsey Hospital denied the patient a signing interpreter or access to other communications options for the hearing impaired during her emergency-room visit.  The patient claimed she had to rely on her boyfriend's limited signing skills to convey details of her illness to her, authorities said. Two days later, the patient's symptoms intensified, resulting in her going to another hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  To read more go to: http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20170104/NEWS01/170109982/uconns-hospital-settles-ada-breach-claim

Avoiding ADA Pitfalls: Navigating Employee Mental Illness

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) treats mental illness the same as physical disabilities for purposes of coverage. However, dealing with an employee's mental health condition can be particularly challenging for employers because the traits that confer protected status are not always visible or otherwise noticeable. An employee's diagnosis of depression or other mental illness can easily subject a well-meaning employer to potential liability.

According to charge data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the number of charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC based on mental health conditions are on the rise. During the 2016 fiscal year, the EEOC resolved almost 5,000 charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions, obtaining approximately $20 million for individuals with mental health conditions who were discriminated against based on a disability. The EEOC has responded by issuing a publication on the rights of job applicants and employees with mental health conditions to raise awareness about the protections the ADA affords individuals with mental health conditions and using its enforcement power to protect individuals with mental health conditions. To read more go to: http://www.natlawreview.com/article/avoiding-ada-pitfalls-navigating-employee-mental-illness

Opportunities for You!

ADA Coordinators: Roles and Responsibilities-Free Webinar

Thursday January 26th 2017
2:00pm EST - 3:30pm EST

An effective ADA Coordinator is critical to successful ADA implementation. However, the role and responsibilities of the ADA Coordinator are often both ill-defined and misunderstood. This session will clearly outline the functions of the ADA Coordinator position, the departments and community members the ADA Coordinator should interact with, and how the ADA Coordinator position should fit into the overall structure of a Title II entity.

Presented by Sally Conway, Former Deputy Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice. 

To register go to: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07edmipa0d5f62f52f&oseq=&c=&ch

Self-Evaluations and Transition Plans: Some Considerations-Free Webinar

Thursday February 16th 2017
2:00pm EST - 3:30pm EST

All public entities subject to Title II of the ADA must complete a self-evaluation, and those with 50 or more employees must also have a transition plan that addresses structural changes that are necessary for achieving program accessibility. Learn how to conduct a self-evaluation and how to integrate the information gathered into a transition plan.

Presented by Sally Conway, Former Deputy Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

To register go to: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07edo3a3f61059e082&oseq=&c=&ch

Special Spotlight:  

U.S. Access Board Issues Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment

The U.S. Access Board has issued new accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) under section 510 of the Rehabilitation Act. The standards provide design criteria for examination tables and chairs, weight scales, radiological and mammography equipment, and other diagnostic equipment that are accessible to people with disabilities. They include requirements for equipment that requires transfer from mobility aids and address transfer surfaces, support rails, armrests, and other features. The Board developed the standards in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration.

"The new standards will be instrumental in ensuring access to health care services," states Regina Blye, Vice Chair of the Access Board. "The Board is pleased to fill this gap in accessibility because diagnostic equipment has remained problematic for many people with disabilities due largely to the lack of design specifications for making such equipment accessible."

Barriers to diagnostic equipment include equipment height and other dimensions, the lack of supports and features necessary for transfer, and the characteristics of contact surfaces. The standards address these as well as other features such as operable parts and patient instructions. The provisions are organized based on use position (standing, lying down, or seated) and whether transfer from wheelchairs is necessary. In addition to the final rule, which includes a discussion of the requirements and background on how they were developed, the Board released an assessment of the benefits and impacts of the standards and an overview of the rule.

As issued by the Board, the standards are not mandatory on health care providers and equipment manufacturers. The U.S. Department of Justice, which has issued guidance on access to medical care, may adopt them as mandatory requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other federal agencies may implement them as well under the Rehabilitation Act which requires access to federally funded programs and services.

Visit the Board's website for further information or contact Earlene Sesker at sesker@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0022 (v), or (202) 272-0091 (TTY).