Newsletter: February 15, 2017

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: February 15th, 2017

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

 Northeast ADA Center Operating Hours Have Changed

 Please note that the Northeast ADA Center's technical assistance line hours of operation have changed 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:

University Under Investigation After Student Denied Service Dog

Fordham University denied a student's request for a service dog to live with her on campus, despite her documented disability with the Office of Disability Services. She submitted her request shortly after transferring to Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and moving into McMahon Hall in the spring semester of 2016. On August 4th, just before she began her junior year, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) opened an investigation based on her allegations. Since then, the university offered her $5,000 during settlement proceedings, which she rejected. Since the two parties have not reached a resolution, the investigation is currently still open.

Read more about this at: http://www.fordhamobserver.com/fordham-under-investigation-after-student-denied-service-dog/

Determined Teen Finally Allowed to Bring Service Dog to School

While Ben Shore, 16, and his service dog Charlie were standing outside Cherry Hill High School East Thursday morning, a woman he didn't know rolled down her car window.  "Ben, have a nice day at school," she said.  Shore said that he has had support from strangers and students in his fight to be able to bring his golden doodle service dog to school.  The fight apparently ended this week, when the school administration in an abrupt about-face, told Shore he could bring the dog without jumping through the hoops spelled out in their official policy.  After talking with reporters outside the school, a clearly excited Shore joined the flow of students heading inside, accompanied by his father, Eric Shore.  Asked what led to the district's decision to allow the dog, spokeswoman Barbara Wilson said only that it related to the Board of Education's upcoming vote Feb. 14 on a revised service dog policy.  "In the meantime, the district decided to allow a service dog to accompany a student to Cherry Hill High School East in advance of the adoption of the revised policy, as we work to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act," To read more about this go to: http://www.nj.com/camden/index.ssf/2017/02/school_allows_service_dog_in_school_after_months_o.html

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Employee Can Proceed On ADA Claim That He Was Discriminated Against On Account Of Severe Obesity

Mark Richardson worked for the Chicago Transit Authority as a Bus Operator from 1999 to 2012.  He took an extended medical leave from work and attempted to return to his job in September 2010.  The Authority sent him for a fitness exam, and the doctor cleared Richardson to return to work. He was next required to submit to a safety assessment, which he contended turned out to be different than the normal safety assessment required of bus operators.  The Authority eventually rejected his request to return to work.  Richardson then filed a charge with the EEOC, stating that the Authority discriminated against him based on his disability, namely severe obesity.  After the parties were not able to resolve the charge, Richardson sued in federal court. The Authority argued that obesity is not a disability unless it is due to a physiological disorder and further contended that since the plaintiff never alleged that there was a physiological basis for his obesity, his complaint must be dismissed. Ultimately, the court noted that the plaintiff's complaint was sufficient to allow him to move forward with discovery and to attempt to prove his case. This is an interesting case because obesity claims are likely to become a major area of litigation given both the near epidemic levels of obesity in the United States and the expansion of coverage of disability under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). To read more about the case go to: http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/workers-comp-blogwire/25275-employee-can-proceed-on-ada-claim-that-he-was-discriminated-against-on-account-of-severe-obesity-nwcdn-new-jersey-member.html

EEOC: Workplace Disability Discrimination Claims Set New Record

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said charges of job bias related to disability hit an all-time high, reaching 28,073 for the 2016 fiscal year. Of these complaints, 5,680 were resolved in favor of the person who brought the complaint. The EEOC also noted that nearly a third of the complaints they received cited disability. Read more at: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2017/02/06/workplace-disability-new-record/23274/

For the Traveler with a Disability, Strategies for a Successful Trip

Terry Scott Cohen, 42, enjoys roller coasters, mushing in Alaska and tobogganing in the Pyrenees Mountains. Though he gets about in a motorized scooter, he has not let his myotonic dystrophy, a disease involving progressive muscle loss, curtail his travels. His father, Barry M. Cohen, 72, a retired industrial psychologist, acts as his travel companion, and together the two Floridians have written a book, "Travel Near & Travel Far: Step Out of Your Disabled World!" that provides both encouragement for travelers with disabilities and practical advice on navigating the world from a scooter or wheelchair. The elder Mr. Cohen recently discussed the book. To read more about that conversation go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/travel/disabled-traveler-strategies-for-a-successful-trip.html

Opportunities for You!

Act Quickly - Must Register by 2-15-17!

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

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

2:00 PM EST - 3:30 PM 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.

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

Free Webinar - Employer Practices to Improve Employment Outcomes: Considerations Across the Employment Process-

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

2:00 PM EST - 3:30 PM EST

There is increasing interest in the business community in finding the best ways to hire and retain individuals with disabilities. New assistive technologies, features and applications are creating more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Virtual offices and mobile technologies enable work by anyone, anytime, anywhere.

This presentation provides an overview of effective workplace disability inclusive practices across the employment process and includes recruitment and hiring, career advancement and retention, compensation and benefits, accessibility and accommodation, diversity and inclusion, and metrics and analytics. The information is taken from research that examined the most effective ways to minimize disability discrimination and maximize workplace disability inclusion.

To register go to: https://adata.org/event/employer-practices-improve-employment-outcomes-considerations-across-employment-process

Free Webinar - Medical Diagnostic Equipment Final Rule

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

2:30 PM ET- 4:00 PM ET

 The Access Board, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has published a final standard addressing access for people with disabilities to medical diagnostic equipment. The standards provide design criteria that will allow independent access to diagnostic equipment, including types that require transfer from wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Provisions address transfer surfaces, support rails, armrests, compatibility with lift devices, and other features to facilitate transfer. This session will provide an overview of this important rulemaking. To register, go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ao/session/?id=110590

2017 Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship - Deadline to Apply: 3-15-17

 The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship managed by Rooted in Rights and AAPD provides the opportunity for an individual with a disability to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare participants for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design. The project combines hands-on training on cutting edge technologies with a strong foundation in developing the individual's voice and using story-driven videos in advocacy.  Upon admission to the project, Rooted in Rights will send a pre-tested, pre-assembled video production kit to the Fellow. The project kicks off with orientation sessions in which  Rooted in Rights creative professionals and AAPD staff lead workshops on the history of the disability rights movement, current policy issues, and the media's role in the disability rights movement as well as technical workshops focused on video technique, script writing, digital storytelling, basic camera composition, and video editing.

In addition to hands-on workshops, the Fellow will participate in video chats and Q&A's with media professionals, including people with disabilities, to receive advice on how to break into the media industry. AAPD will also work to connect the Fellow to internships and employment opportunities. Because work in the Storytellers Fellowship is not a full time commitment and can be completed from anywhere, the Fellow would have the opportunity to begin work or internships simultaneously.  To apply go to: http://www.aapd.com/disability-rights-storytellers/

Special Spotlight:  

Animation on Signs Now Available from the U.S. Access Board

A new animation on accessible signage is now available from the U.S. Access Board as part of its online guide to standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The 15-minute animated film reviews and illustrates requirements in the standards for signs and clarifies common sources of confusion. It covers provisions for visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.

"We're excited to make this resource available so that the provisions for signs are correctly understood and applied," states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board's Office of Technical and Information Services. "The Board receives many questions on this subject, and the new animation is very effective in answering them."

The signs animation is the latest in a series produced by the Access Board. Other animations address wheelchair maneuvering, entrances and doors, toilet and bathing facilities, protruding objects, and parking and passenger loading zones. The animations are viewable on the Board's site, and copies of them can be downloaded as well.

The Board's online guide to the ADA and ABA Standards also features technical bulletins that explain and illustrate requirements and address common questions. Bulletins are currently available on the first five chapters of the standards, including application and scoping, building blocks, accessible routes, accessible means of egress, parking and passenger loading zones, and stairways. The Guide to the ADA Standards covers design requirements for places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities subject to the ADA. The Guide to the ABA Standards addresses similar standards that apply under the ABA to facilities that are federally funded.

Future installments to the guides will be released as they become available. Users can sign-up to receive email updates on the release of other animations and bulletins in the series by going here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USACCESS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USACCESS_28