Newsletter: June 25, 2010

Northeast ADA Center June 25, 2010 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Free Trainer Network Program in Ithaca, NY. August 10th-11th:
The DBTAC Northeast ADA Center is hosting a FREE two-day Train the Trainer program August 10-11th at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. This program is designed to certify participants as trainers in our ADA Trainer Network. You will learn how to implement our nine core ADA Trainer Network programs. You must participate in both days to become certified. Registration is limited to 50 people and deadline is July 26th. For more details or to register, go to: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-adatrainer-reg.cfm. Questions can be directed to Barbara Sosna at 607-255-8660 or bms8@cornell.edu.  Breakfast and lunch are provided but participants must pay for their own travel and/or lodging.

Updates to DBTAC Northeast ADA Center Website:
The Northeast ADA Center has been working with their Web Team to enhance our website. Please visit www.northeastada.org, particularly the About Us and Training tabs, to read about our staff and affiliates and learn about our Core Programs, Next Steps Programs, and how to request a training program in your area! Members of our Trainer Network should also continue monitoring the Trainer Network tab for new information on trainer network procedures as well!

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Hundreds of Work from Home Jobs Open for People with Disabilities:
Employment Options, Inc. is looking to hire people with disabilities for work-from-home jobs. The work involves customer service for national satellite media providers, Internet service providers and tech support systems. The company is looking for people who are receiving Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSDI) for a federally-sponsored, return-to-work program. The jobs are offered through the "Ticket to Work" program, which allows people with disabilities to return to work without risk of losing their benefits. Read more at:  http://www.9news.com/seenon9news/article.aspx?storyid=141477&catid=509

Starbucks to pay $80,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Suit:
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit alleging that Starbucks violated the ADA when it refused to interview a job applicant with multiple sclerosis, passing him over for several other applicants with less experience and availability. The EEOC was satisfied with Starbucks' response to the allegations, saying that Starbucks was cooperative in resolving the lawsuit and attempting to prevent future problems. The store agreed to provide disability training to its managerial staff, submit reports to the EEOC on the training and any complaints about discrimination, and to post a notice about the company's ADA-related policies. Read more at: http://arkansasnews.com/2010/06/15/starbucks-to-pay-80000-to-settle-discrimination-suit/

Manpower Aims to Improve Employment of People with Disabilities:
Manpower has launched "Project Ability", a national program to transition people with disabilities into sustainable employment with leading employers nationwide. A key component of Project Ability is the partnership with local community-based organizations that have the access to candidates with required skill sets.  Through local recruitment strategies, Manpower can work with local employers to identify and place candidates with disabilities. Manpower pledges to focus on people's capabilities, not disabilities, in order to match the right person with the right position. Read more at: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/06/15/2824965/manpower-launches-project-ability.html

IRS Collaborates with EARN to Improve Recruitment of People with Disabilities:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is now collaborating with the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) to promote the hiring of people with disabilities within the IRS. Under Management Directive 715, the IRS is now actively recruiting people with targeted disabilities, therefore EARN is working with them to develop strategies for promoting Schedule A hiring authority, obtaining resumes of qualified candidates, and educating key officials about the benefits and process for hiring individuals with disabilities. The IRS will be presenting a series of education/outreach presentations on this beginning in July.

Employer's Medical Questionnaire Ruled Illegal:
A medical questionnaire the U.S. Department of Homeland Security administered to a security officer violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal district court ruled recently. The decision should also serve as a warning to employers about the kinds of medical questions permissible under the ADA. The court said that the questions asked were not limited in time, were overbroad and ambiguous, and did not attempt to distinguish between job-related and non-job related impairments. Thus the employer could not establish that the questions were no broader or more intrusive than necessary to accomplish its goal of ensuring that the officer could safely perform his job. To comply with the ADA, which shares the same standards as the Rehabilitation Act, an employer's medical questionnaire must be narrowly tailored and limited in time and scope, to evaluate whether the employee can perform the essential job functions.

ADA Protections Extended to Maritime Passengers:
On June 17th, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the first federal rule to specifically provide ADA protections to people with disabilities who travel on boats and ships. The rule covers vessels operated by public entities, such as public ferry systems, and cruise ships operated by private entities. This rule ensures that people with disabilities are not denied access based on their disability and that once aboard, they are treated fairly. This would include not being charged extra for accessibility-related services, being informed of vessel accessibility and services, and that there is a knowledgeable staff person available to help passengers with disabilities resolve their concerns. This rule does not establish standards regarding building new vessels or altering existing ones. The rule will take effect in 120 days. Prior to that there will be a 90-day comment period. Read more at: http://fastlane.dot.gov/2010/06/as-20th-anniversary-of-ada-approaches-new-dot-rule-extends-protections-to-maritime-passengers.html#more

Disability Rights Enforcement An Uphill Battle According to Top DOJ Official:
The Department of Justice's (DOJ) top civil rights attorney told a group of disability rights attorneys that despite enforcement efforts, thousands of Americans remain unnecessarily institutionalized while accessibility continues to not be as universal as it should be. Despite an aggressive enforcement of the ADA over the past 20 years, it is difficult to change attitudes and stereotypes towards disabilities, which are every bit as destructive as racism, sexism and homophobia. Both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have indicated that civil rights enforcement is a top priority for the administration. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/06/10/perez-ndrn/9010/.

Senate Confirms Autism Self-Advocate to National Council on Disability (NCD):
After months of delay the Senate has unanimously confirmed Ari Ne'eman, the founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, to become the first known person with autism to serve on the National Council on Disability. President Obama had nominated Ne'eman in December but his confirmation was held up, possibly due to debate over Ne'eman's controversial belief that autism should not be cured, but instead accepted and accommodated by society. Ne'eman told Disability Scoop, "I'm very pleased...and I look forward to taking my oath...and to get down to work". Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/06/22/neeman-confirmation/9133/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=June+22%2C+2010&utm_source=YMLP&utm_term

New Remedies Under the ADA Legal E-Bulletin Available:
The Southwest ADA Center has released their latest Legal E-Bulletin, "Remedies Under the ADA", which is now available online.  The ADA is a complex civil rights law that may award different remedies depending on the discrimination that occurs. Some remedies are spelled out explicitly while others are established by case law interpreting the ADA and its sister law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This E-bulletin discusses what remedies are available under the ADA: http://www.swdbtac.org/html/publications/ebulletins/legal/2010/june2010.html.

Transportation to Work Toolkit for the Business Community:
The Office of Disability Employment Policy, in cooperation with the Community Transportation Association of America and the Federal Transit Administration, has created the "Transportation to Work Toolkit for the Business Community", an online resource that offers businesses practical information on how to build transportation programs that are easy to implement and inexpensive to maintain. Toolkit topics range from vanpools and shared ride programs to tax incentives and green transportation strategies. It also highlights companies that have successfully implemented transportation programs that benefit their employees, communities, and the environment and also make good business sense. To read more and access the toolkit, go to:  http://www.dol.gov/odep/bsense/bsense0610.htm

Senate Holds Successful Hearing on Accessible Communications Technologies:
On May 26th, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology & the Internet held a successful hearing entitled "Innovation and Inclusion: The Americans with Disabilities Act at 20." The hearing focused on the issues raised by the "Equal Access to Communications in the 21st Century Act (S. 3304)", a bill that is similar to the "21st Century Communications & Video Access Act (HR 3101)". Representative Edward Markey pointed out that the "wizardry of the wires is neither good nor bad but that we need to animate them with human values" so as not to leave those with hearing and vision disabilities behind as technology advances.  To read more, as well as access testimonies and a video of the event, go to: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2010/06/senate-hears-testimony-on-communication-access.html

Latest Access Currents from U.S. Access Board:
The May/June issue of Access Currents, the U.S. Access Board's online newsletter,  is now available. This issue reports on the anticipated updated ADA regulations from Department of Justice, an upcoming Access to Medical Equipment forum, and the Board's proposal to update ADA Guidelines for Buses and Vans. Read it at: http://www.access-board.gov/news/Access%20Currents/May-June10.htm

Disability.gov Integrates Innovative Personalization Features:
Disability.gov, a Web site managed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with 21 federal partner agencies, provides information about disability-related programs, services, laws, and benefits. Recently added personalization tools make Disability.gov the first federal government Web site of its kind, enabling visitors to vote and comment on resources, participate in group forums and view additional resources that are recommended based on their previous site history. These new enhancements, which helped earn the Web site several awards recently, continue their year-long effort to use innovative social media and information-sharing technologies to connect and engage visitors. Read more at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/disability/ADA/prweb4124474.htm.

 

Opportunities for You!

Northeast ADA Center's ADA 20th Anniversary Event- Register Now! 
The Northeast ADA Center is holding a day-long event in Trenton, New Jersey on July 20th and Ithaca, New York on August 12th to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the ADA. Events will be held in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands at a later date. The theme for our event is "Celebrate, Contemplate, and Collaborate!"  We hope to bring together individuals, service providers, businesses, and employers who are committed to disability inclusiveness to celebrate how far we have come in 20 years, contemplate where we need to go from here, and collaborate with one another to achieve those goals!  This is a free event open to 50 people with breakfast and lunch provided. There will be guest speakers and panelists representing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, State Human Rights agencies, and Building Design professionals. Register now at:  http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/dbtacnortheast/r-news-view.cfm?NewsID=47

Special Spotlight:  How Has the ADA Impacted Us?

The 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is merely 1 month away. The New England ADA Center, on behalf of the National Network of ADA Centers, has produced an excellent video commemorating this landmark legislation. To enjoy the video, go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/ADANationalNetwork.

Meanwhile, the Northeast ADA Center has received commentaries from Kim Govak and Tara Arslanian, both of whom work for the Camden Center Independent Living Center in New Jersey and are also members of the Northeast ADA Center's ADA Trainer Network, expressing how the ADA, and being part of the Trainer Networks, has impacted their life.  We thank Kim and Tara for sharing their story!  We welcome others to submit their thoughts on how the ADA has impacted your life to dbtacnortheast@cornell.edu for publication in future News Bulletins!  Here are excerpts from Kim and Tara's submissions:     

 The ADA has impacted my life in a significant manner.  Four years ago my grandmother died from a form of ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease which affects the central nervous system by making it difficult for the brain's messages to get to the muscles. She beat the odds by living a whopping fifteen years after she was diagnosed.  Our family watched this vibrant, healthy woman, who spent her lifetime caring for others, deteriorate right before our eyes. We were able to get her disability benefits but didn't know anything about her rights provided and protected under the ADA. I like to think that our family did the best that we could with the information that we possessed at the time.

Three years later, I have become a certified ADA trainer, working for Camden City Independent Living Center, and am in a position to help others who may not have an understanding of the ADA or how it can affect their lives. People with disabilities, in this country, face insurmountable obstacles from housing to employment, public accommodations to communication and transportation.  It is important that they have a basic understanding of their rights under the ADA.  It is also crucial that those who work with people with disabilities understand the provisions under the ADA as well as communicating respectfully and effectively with people with disabilities.

I have had an opportunity to participate in different training sessions, and there is always that "aha" moment when someone recognizes both that they have been insensitive or impatient with someone with a disability.  Societal sensitivity, awareness, and treating people with disabilities the same way that people without disabilities are treated is the solution. 

Being an ADA Trainer has increased my sensitivity and makes me feel more comfortable when communicating with people with disabilities. It also makes me a better advocate for those with disabilities since I am familiar with the provisions under the ADA. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve and work with people with different types of disabilities.

Kim Govak, ADA Trainer/ Independent Living Specialist

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The ADA trainings have affected my thinking, thoughts, ideas and feelings on how I use to view people with disabilities.  I use to feel bad or have sympathy thinking that it was a tragic thing but come to find out this illusion has been crushed.  I now have a completely different take on how I view people with disabilities.  One example of this is last year when I went to the Abilities Expo. I was so emotional to see very small children in wheelchairs or baby stroller that were equipped for a special needs child.  I would feel bad for them like it was so sad.  Since then I have had the ADA training and I must say it was a whole different experience.  This time I had a wonderful visit to the Expo!  I view people with disabilities just as I would anyone else, no different.  They just have different needs than I do.  I understand now that they don't want me to feel bad or think of their situation as such a sad thing.

My personal experience with the ADA accommodations has been with a student in high school who has run into every obstacle while attending.  She uses a wheelchair during school.  Since we have been aware of the school not making the proper accommodations we have been through mediation, enforcement of mediation, we have connected with Disability Rights of NJ, South Jersey Legal Services are involved, and Span.  We have been advocating for this student to fight for her rights which are being violated. 

We have done an ADA training for a daycare center and they have been sharing their positive experience with other centers to see if they would be interested in receiving the trainings as well!  They said "they feel like everyone should get this training".

Overall this ADA training has given me the awareness to do my job in a more effective positive way.  I m also able to share what information I have learned with others that may not know any better.  This training was an eye opener for me!  What an impact this has been in my life and for others that I may come in contact with who has a disability.

Tara Arslanian, Administrator/Independent Living Specialist/ADA Trainer

  

See you in a few weeks!