Newsletter: September 18, 2009

Northeast ADA September 18th News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Judge Rules New York State Discriminated against People with Mental Illness: 
In response to a case filed by Disability Advocates, a nonprofit legal services group, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ruled that New York State was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by housing over 4,300 people with mental illnesses in privately run adult homes that were run like institutions, limiting the residents' independence and integration into neighborhood life. The ruling, which applies to people not considered dangerous to themselves or others, suggested that the state would have to begin finding individual apartments or small homes for virtually all adult-home residents who want one. Read the full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/nyregion/09mental.html?_r=2&emc=eta1.

Complaint Filed in New York against Non-ADA Compliant Bus Companies: 
The Federal District Court in Manhattan, NY reinstated a breach of contract action against ABC Bus Inc., and manufacturer Ricon Corporation, for selling buses equipped with wheelchair lifts that are not ADA compliant. Apparently the companies refused to fix the problem when it was previously identified, even though their websites boast that their lifts are fully accessible. Read more at: http://ca.sys-con.com/node/1109300.

NY Landlord Allegedly Violates Fair Housing Act by Banning Service Animals:
The federal government has filed a complaint against The Sunrise Villas complex in Lindenhurst, NY for violating the Fair Housing Act when it refused to rent to people with service animals, stating a no-pets rule and giving exception only for guide dogs for people who are blind.  The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the complex to change its policies, damages for the victims, and civil penalties. Read more at: http://www.newsday.com/columnists/other-columnists/suit-lindenhurst-apartments-unlawfully-ban-service-animals-1.1436217

People with Developmental Disabilities Employed at U.S. Open in New York City:
More than 50 graduates of YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities (NIPD) were employed by Levy Restaurants to work at the U.S. Open tennis championships, collectively working 1,700 hours.  The workers were hired through The Corporate Source, an agency that provides jobs to people with disabilities through outsourcing with the government and private sector. For over 50 years, the YAI/NIPD network has served more than 20,000 clients with learning disabilities throughout New York City and Puerto Rico. Read more at: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20368276&BRD=2731&PAG=461&dept_id=574902&rfi=1

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC Approves Proposed ADA Regulations for Public Comment:
On September 16th, the EEOC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) revising its ADA Amendments Act regulations. The NPRM carries a 60-day period for public comment which is expected to commence, and be published in the Federal Register, next week.  The NPRM is posted at www.eeoc.gov, along with a question and answer guide about the proposal and how to submit comments. The EEOC encourages the public to offer its views and suggestions! For the full press release, go to:  http://www.eeoc.gov/ada/amendments_notice.html

Labor Day Message from Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Assistant Secretary Martinez: Excerpt: "Advancing employment opportunities and expectations for people with disabilities strengthens not only America's economy, but our moral fiber. It creates a more inclusive America, one where every person is recognized for his or her accomplishments-and that should be our goal not just on Labor Day but every day".  To read the whole message, go to: http://www.dol.gov/odep/index.htm

EEOC Settles with Transport Services Company for Disability Bias: 
On September 8th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of a lawsuit in which trucking company KLLM Transport Services, Inc. was found to have violated the ADA by refusing to hire a qualified, certified, and experienced applicant because of his prosthetic leg. KLLM must pay $56,500 monetary relief, implement comprehensive policies and procedures for providing reasonable accommodations to job applicants and employees with disabilities, assign a senior human resources official to be the company's ADA Coordinator, and provide training to employees about prohibited discrimination and handling requests for reasonable accommodations.  Read more at: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/2517436/ 

Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers in 2010:
There is a new fact sheet, "Changes in the Law Could Make More People Eligible for Extra Help in 2010", which provides information about changes which will make it easier for some people to qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs beginning January 1, 2010.  At this time, the fact sheet is intended for community-based organizations, advocacy groups and other third parties who help people with Medicare.  You may link to the fact sheets in English at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10040.html  and Spanish at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/espanol/10934.html

Ban on Work-Release Programs for HIV-Positive Inmates Ended: 
The Alabama Department of Corrections announced the end of a long-standing ban against HIV-positive prisoners' participation in the state's work-release programs. This program, available to all other prisoners yet denied to those with HIV, assists in reintegrating inmates into society. The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations have been working for years to get the state to realize the ban was a violation of the Rehabilitation Act and ADA. To access the full article, go to: http://www.prattvilleprogress.com/article/20090909/PROGRESS01/909090320/1041/progress01

Unfavorable Job Market Continues for People with Disabilities: 
According to the Department of Labor, unemployment increased nearly 2 percent in August- to 16.9 percent- for people with disabilities, reaching a record high: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/09/04/august-employment/4831/.

Disability Leadership Met With White House Staff on Health Reform: 
On August 27th, disability representatives met with White House staff to discuss the Community First Choice Option (CFC Option), an option to make improvements on Medicaid home and community-based services and supports and to lay a foundation for the Community Choice Act.  Read the full article at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/08/disability-leadership-meet-with-white-house-staff-on-health-reform.html 

Reasonable Accommodation Requests should be an Interactive Process: 
Business Management Daily highlights the importance of employers taking reasonable accommodation requests seriously. The article refers to an EEOC case against Chevron for firing an employee after she was granted leave as a reasonable accommodation for her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that resurfaced after many years.  The court ruled in favor of the EEOC, stating that a disability that goes dormant is still considered a disability protected under the ADA. For more, go to: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/articles/19564/1/Dont-rush-to-judge-accommodation-requests-ADA-requires-interactive-give-and-take/Page1.html#

FCC Reports Increase in Captioning & Relay Service Complaints: 
On September 8th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported that it received 266 disability-related complaints in the first quarter of 2009, 112 more than the previous quarter. Due to the transition from analog to digital TV, there was a rise in complaints concerning closed captioning and emergency information on TV. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/09/fcc-reports-increase-in-captioning-relay-service-complaints.html

National Federation of the Blind Endorses Google Books Settlement:  
On September 11th, the National Federation of the Blind, the leading advocate for access to digital information for people who are blind, testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the proposed settlement between Google and authors and publishers regarding the Google Books project should be approved. The Google Books settlement will make millions of titles available to Americans with visual and print disabilities, providing more access to the printed word than ever before. The Department of Justice is also being urged to support this. To read more, go to: http://www.melodika.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9002&Itemid=50.

New Bill to Make Internet More Accessible: 
The "21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009", introduced in June, will soon be considered by Congress. This bill extends beyond current FCC regulations to make technology and internet features more accessible to those with disabilities by enforcing closed captioning, video description and real-time texting. Real-time texting in particular could benefit emergency response times for people who are deaf.  For more information, go to: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/09/01/2009-09-01_gov_bill_sends_the_digital_age_to_the_disabled_via_realtime_texting_and_other_in.html

September 15th Marks Start of National Hispanic Heritage Month:
This month recognizes and celebrates what Hispanic Americans contribute to our nation. Hispanics are the fastest growing racial minority, representing one of every three new members of the workforce. However they have the lowest representation in management and professional jobs. Lack of health insurance, the prevalence of acquired disabilities for workers in high risk jobs, and the disproportionate rate of health conditions, all contribute to this population's increasing rate of disability. But given that Hispanics are founding businesses at three times the national rate, these business owners are in a prime position to tap into the labor pool, and improve customer service, of Hispanics with disabilities. For more, go to: http://www.dol.gov/odep/bsense/bsense0909.htm  

Swine Flu Poses Greater Risk to Children with Disabilities:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 36 children have died from swine flu in the U.S. as of August 8th, two-thirds of whom were chronically ill or had a developmental disability. The CDC stressed seeking medical care as soon as a fever arises and said children with developmental disabilities will be among the first to receive flu vaccinations when available. Read more at:  http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/09/04/swine-flu-children/4826/

Opportunities for You!

Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) Conference October 10-12th in Puerto Rico:  The 15th Annual APRIL Conference, "Juntos Podemos!- Together We Can!", will be held October 10-12th at the El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. APRIL has extended their early bird deadline price of $250 for APRIL members and $300 for non-members all the way to the conference. They will also customize payment options for Independent Living Centers that may need to defer payment. For more information, go to either http://www.april-rural.org/ or http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/09/april-juntos-podemos-together-we-can.html

Register for Work, Stress, and Health Conference in Puerto Rico: 
The pre-conference workshops for the Work, Stress, and Health 2009 Conference, to be held November 5th in Puerto Rico, are now open for registration.  The five workshops, to be delivered by exceptional occupational health researchers, will offer knowledge and skill development in critical occupational health areas. For more information, go to:  http://www.apa.org/pi/work/wsh/2009/workshops.html.

Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State Annual Conference: 
This year's conference, "Real people. Realizing potential", will be held November 2-4, 2009 at Saratoga Hilton Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY. Information on the conference can be found at:  www.cpofnys.org.

 

Special Spotlight:  National Rehabilitation Awareness Week

Next week, September 20-26th is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, now in its 26th year of existence.  Allied Services healthcare system first celebrated National Rehabilitation Week in 1976. Since then the campaign has grown to see thousands of rehabilitation providers and health and human services agencies joining together to celebrate the powers of rehabilitation and share the message that through rehab there is hope, achievement, and success.

In 1990, Allied joined forces with rehab facilities across the country to secure a Presidential proclamation which officially designated the third week in September as National Rehabilitation Week.  In 1997, the observance grew even more when it was celebrated under the banner of the newly-established National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation. Under the foundation's sponsorship, the celebration has been elevated to a greater level of prominence as it has extended the tenets of National Rehabilitation Week from a week-long event to a year 'round rehabilitation awareness campaign. The official celebration time remains the third week in September. The foundation sets a theme, develops and distributes promotional materials and provides any assistance needed by participating facilities.  Through the National Rehabilitation Awareness Celebration, the foundation focuses the nation's attention on capabilities rather than disabilities; and increases awareness of the tremendous power and impact of rehabilitation!

For ideas for events for workplaces, a link to buy materials, and ideas for how to plan an event, go to:  http://www.nraf-rehabnet.org/  

 

See you in a few weeks!!!