Newsletter: April 09, 2010

Northeast ADA Center April 9, 2010 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

New York based University Explores State of Deaf Entrepreneurship:
Of the approximate four million individuals in the U.S. who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, nearly half are unemployed. Empowering these individuals to become entrepreneurs may help alleviate this unemployment problem and help the U.S. economy. But there has not been any research to explore the deaf entrepreneurial community. Therefore, groups who are interested in promoting deaf and hard-of-hearing communities are unaware of how best to empower them to become entrepreneurs.  For this reason, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), with a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has launched the Deaf Entrepreneurship Research Initiative to explore the current state of deaf entrepreneurship. "Deaf entrepreneurs will bring their own sensibilities and perspectives to the marketplace and thus add to the diversity of business perspectives...this is long overdue," says NTID Interim President Jim DeCaro. The initiative hopes to share research results by June 2011.

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Disability Community Pleased with Obama's EEOC Nominations:
President Obama has announced four nominees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), including Chai R. Feldblum who played a leading role in both the drafting of the ADA and the passage of the ADAAA. Tony Coelho, the Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities stated, "We are delighted to have disability law and policy expert Chai Feldblum begin her term as a Commissioner of the EEOC...I have worked with Chai Feldblum on the original ADA and more recently on the ADA Amendments Act, and I know that she will bring a wealth of expertise and experience in workplace civil rights". To read more, and to access the White House press release, go to: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2010/03/president-obama-announces-recess-appointments-to-key-administration-positions.html

National Temp Agency Agrees to Pay to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit:
Olsten Staffing Services Corp, a national temporary employment agency, will pay $75,000 to settle an ADA discrimination suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The suit alleged that an Olsten based in New York refused to refer a job applicant who was deaf for temporary employment, despite the applicant meeting all the job qualifications. EEOC regional attorney John Hendrickson stated, "This case is a reminder that employment agencies, no less than any other employer, have important obligations under the ADA...Decisions concerning whether to refer a job applicant must be based on qualifications, period-not on the basis of a disability". To read the press release, go to: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-18-10a.cfm 

Federal Agencies Lack Training on How to Manage Employees with Disabilities:
Even though they are committed to hiring people with disabilities, almost half of human resource officials responsible for hiring and retaining federal workers say they have not received adequate training on how to manage and retain employees with severe disabilities, according to a survey by the Telework Exchange and the Federal Managers Association. Many are also unfamiliar with mandates and noncompetitive hiring rules designed to promote hiring applicants with disabilities. This study, and the teleworking option for federal workers, will soon be presented to the Obama administration. Read more at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/28/AR2010032802856.html

Safeway Launches National Campaign to Support People with Disabilities:
Safeway Inc, in partnership with Easter Seals and the Special Olympics, launched its kickoff event for its "Support for People with Disabilities" campaign to raise funds during the month of April for a range of critical regional rehabilitation services, autism programs, and job training grants. The fundraising will also support athletes participating in Special Olympics. Safeway also honored its nearly 10,000 employees with disabilities and urged other businesses to "tap this otherwise overlooked and underutilized talent pool".  Read more at: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100329005283&newsLang=en 

Jobseekers & Employees with Disabilities Encouraged to Understand the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA):
In light of the ADA's 20th anniversary and the passage of the ADAAA in 2008, former head of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Neil Romano, tells individuals with disabilities that it is more important than ever that they take charge of their careers and get informed about the ADAAA. According to Linda Batiste, a consultant the Job Accommodations Network (a partner of ODEP), it is believed that the ADAAA will "help employees get the accommodations they need to be successful and employers to benefit from their employees performing at their top capacity. It is truly a win/win". To read more, go to: http://community.gettinghired.com/blogs/articles/archive/2010/02/26/amended-americans-with-disabilities-act-opens-up-new-opportunities.aspx  

National Council on Disability (NCD) Nominee Has Autism and Sparks Debate:
President Obama has nominated Ari Ne'eman to the NCD. Mr. Ne'eman would be the first person with Autism to ever serve on the council. This has sparked controversy between those who believe, like Mr. Ne'eman, that autism is a form of "neurodiversity" that should be accommodated and those who believe that it is a disorder that needs to be cured. Read more about Mr. Ne'eman and the debate at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/health/policy/28autism.html   

Access Board to Develop Medical Equipment Standards:
The recently passed health care reform includes provisions to address the accessibility of medical diagnostic equipment. The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" authorizes the Access Board to develop new access standards for medical diagnostic equipment including examination tables, weight scales, x-ray machines, and mammography equipment. Access to such equipment, which has been problematic, is not addressed by existing ADA accessibility standards. "The Board welcomes this opportunity to improve access to medical care for millions of Americans with disabilities," states David Capozzi, the Board's Executive Director. He said the new standards "will fill a critical gap by making sure that the equipment...is accessible to all". Read more at: http://access-board.gov/news/medical-equipment.htm  

Department of Justice (DOJ) Reaches Consent Decree in Service Animal Case:
A federal court has approved of a consent decree resolving the DOJ's Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination lawsuit against a Colorado attorney and his law firm. This was the result of a complaint filed by a woman with a visual impairment who alleged that she was barred from entering the law firm with her service animal. Read more at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/justice-department-reaches-consent-decree,1227188.shtml  

Bank of America Completes Installation of Talking ATMs:
Bank of America announced that every single one of its 18,000 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) has been equipped with voice-enabled technology which will assist people with visual impairments when performing their transactions. Read more at: http://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/index.php?s=43&item=8666   

March 2010 Disability Employment Statistics Released:
In March, the percentage of people with disabilities in the labor force was 22.5. By comparison, the percentage of persons with no disability in the labor force is 70.2. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 13.9 percent, compared with 10.1 percent for persons with no disability. To access all of the statistics, go to: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm

 

Opportunities for You!

"Service Animals: Legal and Practical Issues" Webinar April 22nd:
The Northeast ADA Center presents its fourth Next Steps webinar, "Service Animals: Legal and Practical Issues", on April 22nd from 1:00-2:30pm EDT. This session will review the different types of service animals, basic etiquette when interacting with these animals and their owners, and the legal and practical issues surrounding public, business, and workplace accessibility. The presenter is Erin Sember, the Northeast ADA Center's Technical Assistance Coordinator. Anyone who has the potential to interact with service animals should attend!  Register either online at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-NextSteps-webinars.cfm or by calling Barbara Sosna at 607.255.8660. CRC credits are available. Call in information will be distributed via email the day before the event.

Project ACTION seeks Training and Technical Assistance Specialist:
One of the United We Ride national Technical Assistance Centers, Washington, DC-based Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA), has a position open for a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist. This person will coordinate project-related research, develop and deliver curriculum and training, collaborate with national organizations to publicize ESPA technical assistance services, products, and training, and work closely with other staff to follow-up with customers. Résumés will be accepted until the position is filled. To learn how to apply, go to: http://projectaction.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ESPA_job_opportunities.  

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Webinar Series & Conference:
The ATIA 2010 Webinar series will continue through May 5th and covers a broad range of topics to enhance knowledge of assistive technology and how to assess products. Each webinar is 4:00-5:30pm EDT and presented by national leaders in their field. The next two sessions will be April 12th and 21st. To register, go to: http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3628.  Also ATIA has issued a combined call for presentations for its October 2010 event in Chicago and its January 2011 event in Orlando. May 19th is the deadline to submit for one or both: https://www.goeshow.com/atia/abstract/2010/abstract_submission.cfm

APSE National Conference June 8-10th- Early Registration Ends April 15th:
APSE, originally known as the Association for Persons in Supported Employment, is hosting its annual conference, themed "Employment First: Not Just a Slogan", June 8-10th in Atlanta, Georgia.  Early registration deadline is April 15th. For conference and registration details, go to: http://www.apse.org/training/lead.cfm

United Spinal's 2010 Independence Expo in Long Island, NY June 25-26th:
United Spinal's Independence Expo will be June 25-26th at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, New York. These Expos bring together a diverse group of consumers, family members, social service and health care professionals to share the latest in treatment strategies, adaptive equipment, lifestyle-enhancing information, and therapeutic breakthroughs. Register online and admission for you and two guests is free:  http://www.independenceexpo.org/

 

Special Spotlight:  Health Care Reform Bill!

On March 23rd, President Obama signed a new Health Care Reform law which takes effect immediately. It will require most Americans to have health insurance and prevent insurance providers from excluding those with pre-existing conditions or dropping people when they get sick. The reform will be phased in over the next four years and over time, the new law will expand Medicaid to include those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and mandate coverage of mental health care. Liz Savage, director of health and housing policy at the Disability Policy Collaboration, stated "This is far more historic for people with disabilities than it is for the average American...I think everyone in the disability community is thrilled because everything that we fought for was included".  To read more about this major legislation and how it will benefit the disability community, click on the articles below:

Obama Signs Health Care Bill (Disability Scoop March 23rd): http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/03/23/obama-health-sign/7414/

Final Health Care Votes Bring Boost for People with Disabilities (Disability Scoop March 26th): http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/03/26/health-care-reconciliation-bill/7450/

Health Reform Implementation: When, How and For Whom (AAPD blog March 31st):  http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2010/03/health-reform-implementation-when-how-and-for-whom-will-this-make-change.html

Health Care Ushers in Big Changes for People with Disabilities (Disability Scoop March 22nd): http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/03/22/health-care-vote/7388/

The Washington Post March 22nd article): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/22/AR2010032201817.html

  

See you in a few weeks!