Newsletter: December 19, 2008

Northeast ADA December 19, 2008 News Bulletin

What's New in the Northeast:

New York City (NYC) Pilots Accessible Taxi Service Program:

The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), in partnership with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, the Mayor's Office of Operations, and the Department of Information Technologies and Telecommunications, has launched an Accessible Dispatch Program. This temporary pilot project will use a central dispatch system to match passengers who use wheelchairs with accessible taxis in an effort to help the city determine how to best provide accessible service. Read more about how this system will work at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2008/12/nyc-taxi-commission-pilots-accessible-dispatch-program.html

$4.7 Million Disability Transportation Research Grant Awarded to University at Buffalo (UB) and Carnegie Mellon University:

Researchers in UB and Carnegie Mellon will partner on a $4.7 million, five-year effort to advance public transportation for people with disabilities. This U.S. Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grant was awarded to father and son researchers at UB and Carnegie Mellon to fund a new Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC/APT).  Using elements of both computer science technology and universal design, this Center will research and develop methods to assist consumers and service providers in the design and evaluation of accessible transportation equipment, physical environments, and information services.  Learn more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2008/12/disability-transportation-research-granted-47-million.html.

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Bush Administration Set to Enforce New ADA Guidelines:

According to a recent electronic newsletter issued by the American Institute of Architects, on December 3, 2008 the White House gave the green light for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement new guidelines for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that were developed and announced by the U.S. Access Board in 2004.  These have been referred to as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).  The DOJ still needs to issue a final rule to make the new guidelines enforceable. Although it is unclear when the final rules will take effect, the AIA has learned that the rules may be "fast tracked" and put in place prior to January 20, 2009, when President Bush leaves office. 

Analog to Digital Television Switch Goes into Effect February, 2009:

On February 17, 2009, most television stations will switch from analog to digital broadcasting.  Viewers who watch and/or hear TV using a set that has "rabbit ears" antennas must either buy a new digital TV, pay for TV (cable, satellite, or phone company), or get a converter box if they want to be able to continue accessing TV  come February 17th.  This is critical to the disability community given that over one third of television households who use rabbit ear antennas include a person with a disability, including those who rely on captioning and video description of TV shows.  For more information on how to make this switch, go to:  http://www.aapd.com/AAPDRedesign/TTPI/dtvtransition.html.

Mental Health America Celebrates 100 Years:

Mental Health America announced the launch of its Centennial Year: "Celebrating the Legacy, Forging the Future".  Mental Health America and its over 300 affiliates nationwide have a 100-year record of achievement advancing the cause of people with mental health issues. It was the first association of its kind and the beginning of the organized mental health movement in America. The year-long anniversary will recognize major accomplishments, highlight the organization's continuing work and focus on the challenges and needs of Americans with mental health and substance use conditions. To read more about Mental Health America's accomplishments and work over the past century, go to: http://portland.bizjournals.com/portland/prnewswire/press_releases/national/Virginia/2008/12/15/DC51985.

David Capozzi Named Executive Director of the Access Board:

David M. Capozzi was named the Access Board's new Executive Director and approved unanimously by the Board. Capozzi, Director of the Board's Office of Technical and Information Services for over 16 years, has been serving as the Acting Executive Director since August. Prior to joining the Board in 1992, Capozzi worked at the National Easter Seals Society as vice president of advocacy and director of Project ACTION. He also served as national advocacy director at the Paralyzed Veterans of America.  To read Capozzi's comments upon being named, go to:  http://access-board.gov/news/capozzi.htm.

National Council on Disability (NCD) Celebrates 30 Years of Disability Policy Leadership:

For 30 years the NCD, an independent federal agency appointed by the President with approval of the Senate, has been providing advice to the President, Congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. To read more about NCD and access their November bulletin, go to: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/bulletins/2008/b1108.htm

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Announce New & Improved Standard for Accessible Web Content:

The W3C, an international consortium that works to develop Web standards and guidelines, announced a new standard that will help Web designers create sites that better meet the needs of users with disabilities.  These standards will advance accessibility across the full range of Web content including text, images, audio, and video.  Read more at: http://www.ibtimes.com/prnews/20081211/w3c-web-standard-defines-accessibility-for-next-generation-web.htm.

 

Special Spotlight:  New Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rules

After a long delay, the Department of Labor (DOL) released final regulations revising the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Revisions become effective January 16, 2009.  The revisions come after over 4,600 public comments were received by DOL in response to their proposed changes to the FMLA were released last February.  The document containing the final revisions is over 750 pages long and there are some significant changes as well as new military family leave entitlements.  Read more at:

DOL information on FMLA Revised Regulations, including links to the complete document in pdf and html, a Fact Sheet on the new regulations, information on the military family leave amendments, and additional resources for employers and individuals with disabilities: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/finalrule.htm

Experts Explain Important Changes in FMLA Regulations: http://hr.blr.com/whitepapers.aspx?id=79242

 

Opportunities for YOU:

DBTAC Northeast would like to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season filled with peace, love, and time for reflection.  We hope 2009 brings you many opportunities for personal and professional growth, happiness, and success!

 

See you in 2009!!!