Newsletter: July 09, 2010

Northeast ADA Center July 9, 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. You will learn how to implement our core ADA Trainer Network programs and become certified as trainers in our ADA Trainer Network. For more details or to register, go to: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-adatrainer-reg.cfm. Breakfast and lunch are provided but participants must pay for their own travel and/or lodging.

Free Housing Service Available in New York and New Jersey:
A free online housing service that helps people find a room, apartment, or house that best suits their needs is now available in NY and NJ. Users can search by rent amount, accessibility features, and housing vouchers, as well as get information on moving costs, assisted living, and financial assistance for rent. For the NJ service, go to: http://www.socialserve.com/tenant/index.html?state_id=4041&ch=NJ. For NY, go to: http://www.socialserve.com/tenant/index.html?state_id=4125&ch=NY.

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

PETCO to Pay $145,000 for Failing To Accommodate Pet Groomer:
PETCO Animal Supplies Stores, Inc. will pay $145,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC, in 2001 San Diego-based PETCO hired an employee who was deaf and had over 30 years of pet grooming experience. The employee was assured that other employees could help schedule appointments for her via telephone as a reasonable accommodation. However, eventually the manager refused to schedule appointments for the employee, despite specific requests from customers for her to be their groomer. She was also penalized during annual performance reviews for ineffective communication skills due to her inability to speak. The consent decree also requires PETCO to implement an internal policy and staff training to safeguard against disability discrimination. Read more at: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-29-10.cfm

Campaign Seeks to Change Attitudes about Disability and Employment:
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the ADA, a new public outreach effort is working to advance the law's spirit of equal opportunity by highlighting the skills and talents people with disabilities offer America's workplaces. The centerpiece of this nationwide initiative is the "I Can" public service announcement (PSA), which garnered more than $3.5 million in donated airtime from television and radio stations across the nation within its first three months of availability. Read more at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/i-can/disability-employment/prweb4191744.htm

Students with Disabilities Graduate from Federal Work Experience Program:
Nine high school students with disabilities have graduated from a new Department of Labor (DOL) work experience program, the Project SEARCH Federal Sector Program. This program features both a classroom embedded in the DOL worksite, and three work experience rotations. The Project SEARCH model, founded by Cincinnati Children's Hospital, has been very successful in assisting students with disabilities who might otherwise not be employed in competitive careers. These students received training and experience in office, computer, and general work skills during their senior year of high school. Seven graduates have since been hired by the DOL or other outside firms and two more federal agencies have approached DOL and Project Search- Cincinnati about starting their own Project Search programs. Read more at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/index.htm

Joint Letter from DOJ and DOE on Electronic Book Readers in Colleges:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education (DOE) have issued a joint statement expressing concern that colleges and universities are using electronic book readers that are not accessible to students who are blind or have low vision. A serious problem with some of these devices is that they lack an accessible text-to-speech function. DOJ and DOE are looking for cooperation in ensuring that this emerging technology is used in classrooms in a way that is legally permissible. Read more at: http://www.ada.gov/kindle_ltr_eddoj.htm

AAPD Launches Countdown to ADA Anniversary Web Site:
The American Association of People with Disabilities has a Web site devoted to the 20th Anniversary of the ADA. The site features interviews with people in the disability community as well as ADA anniversary events, news, and resources:  http://www.aapd.com/site/c.pvI1IkNWJqE/b.6076337/k.62D9/ADA_20th_Anniversary.htm

Social Security Disability Applicants Don't Understand Role of Work History:
Hundreds of thousands of people are denied disability benefits each year because they lack the work history needed for eligibility according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and Medicare plan selection services. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reported that the number of applications denied for non-medical reasons has grown dramatically in the past ten years and the most common reason is "insufficient number of recent work credits".  "Work history plays an important part in your application for disability benefits," said David Bueltemann, manager of senior claims representatives at Allsup. "The type of work you've done before will factor into the SSA's determination about your disability claim. First and foremost, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to be eligible to apply for SSDI". Read more at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/06/prweb4176064.htm

June Disability Employment Statistics Released:
In June, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 14.4 percent, down slightly from 14.7 percent in May. Unemployment among people without disabilities actually rose slightly from 9.1 percent in May to 9.4 percent in June. Access all of the statistics at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm

White House Appoints House Fellows, including Person who is Deaf:
Kubby Rashid, a member of the Gallaudet faculty since 1994, is one of 13 new appointees to the 2010-2011 Class of White House Fellows. Dr. Rashid served on the board of the World Deaf Leadership Program, was involved with the National Deaf Business Institute, and was the first coordinator of the Bernstein Leadership Institute's Deaf Women's Leadership Program. Read more about Dr. Rashid and the other fellows at:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/fellows/2010-2011-class

 

Opportunities for You!

Free July 23rd Webinar on Market and Disability Trends:
The Northeast ADA Center will present a webinar, "Open for Business: Market and Disability Trends", on Friday July 23rd from 1:00-2:30pm EST. Facilitated by Northeast ADA Center staff Hannah Rudstam, Wendy Strobel Gower, and Erin Sember, this webinar will examine what role people with disabilities are playing in consumer activity today and explore how being accessible and welcoming to customers with disabilities can improve business and enhance market share. Register for this webinar at: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-OpenForBusiness-webinar.cfm

Northeast ADA Center's ADA 20th Anniversary Event- Register Now! 
The Northeast ADA Center is holding a free 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. 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!  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

Survey Opportunity for Employees with Disabilities:
The WorkRERC has a survey underway that examines the relationships between functional ability, job requirements, and workplace accommodation use. Workplace accommodations refer to technology, physical changes to the workplace, or policy changes that employees use to be more effective in their jobs. The survey seeks participants who have a disability or loss of function and are employed or a volunteer. The survey is anonymous and takes about 30 minutes to complete. For more information and to complete the survey, go to: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/200473/workplace-features-that-aid-function. If you wish to complete the survey by telephone, please call 404.894.0561.

 

Special Spotlight:  Northeast ADA Center Constituents Benefit from the National ADA Symposium!

Recently the Northeast ADA Center sponsored 6 individuals from our region to attend the National ADA Symposium in Denver, Colorado. The Symposium had over 600 attendees ranging from individuals with disabilities to state and local government entities to business professionals to service providers, all there to learn more about the ADA and related regulations, as well as to network and forge new relationships with others across the country committed to disability inclusiveness. We asked our region's representatives to tell us about their Symposium experience and here are some excerpts from what they had to say:

From Kathryn Cappella, Executive Director, NYS Disabilities Advocacy Association & Network:

The ADA Symposium was a remarkable experience.  It provided a unique opportunity to meet with committed and engaged advocates from around the country, and to gain a wealth of practical knowledge on how to promote and apply ADA principles and practices.  The interactive seminars were excellent.

The fast pace of the four days allowed me to immerse myself in advocacy, and allow me to reconnect and revisit the scope and purpose of our advocacy work.  I was encouraged that the language of advocacy is continuing to shift around the nation and that more and more people are speaking about human and civil rights, disability rights, discrimination, integration, and universal design. The acceptance of disability as natural, normal, and simply another area of diversity in our society is growing.  This attitude shift can help "change our conversation" from "can we do it" to "how do we do it".

On a personal side, I was very glad that I attended the pre-session on Sunday where presenters offered a basic ADA Overview.  This session helped frame the conference, and offered a way to reconnect with the laws that I had been "surface" referencing for 20 years, and move to a deeper and more detailed understanding and greater appreciation. 

Also throughout the symposium was the understanding of using practical strategies to help each person achieve their goals:  the importance of building relationships, effective communication, understanding that the law is a vehicle for change, but that change comes from each person changing their attitude, their belief system, their habits and ideas.  ADA must be a "living document".  

In closing, it was a great opportunity to continue my education and actively participate. I am extremely grateful, and will incorporate the training into my work on a daily basis. I look forward to completing the coursework to earn my ADA Coordinator Certification.  It continues to be a great privilege to be an advocate and work with people to help them obtain the programs and services they need to be successful in their lives.

 

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From Margaret Thomsen, Human Resources Manager, YMCA in Rochester:

The ADA Symposium was an incredible experience, and one that I am fortunate to have attended to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disability Act. 

The City of Denver was a perfect choice as the city is one of the most accessible cities in the US.  The Hyatt where we stayed won an award for the employer and business of choice for people with other abilities.

Each of the workshops that I attended had highly acclaimed presenters from the DOJ, DOL, attorneys, senior staff from local and distant DBTACs.  I had the privilege of spending time with Sally Conway, DOJ, Randi Turner, J. Aaron McCullough and others. 

I attended the conference to gain competencies in my role of HR manager and ADA coordinator and to be a better advocate within my organization and community.  The conference participants that I met have made a life-changing impact upon me.  Little did I know that this experience was to become very relevant to my family.  I returned from Denver to New York on Thursday morning...on Friday morning I had surgery on my leg.  After surgery I could not walk or bend my leg, drive my car, climb stairs, dress myself, grocery shop.  I had to rely on others to do things that I have taken for granted my whole life. 

As I mend, which I will, I shared my experiences at the ADA Symposium and my story at a recent meeting that I chaired.  All of our meetings begin with an invocation or thought for the day.  My invocation was to treat everyone with kindness and respect, take nothing for granted in life, do a good dead each day, and be an advocate for those in need of our care and respect. 

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From Debbie Henry-Woodson, Ambiance Consulting, U.S. Virgin Islands:

It was my first ADA Symposium and I am so happy to have attended.  I learned so much more that I can't wait for the opportunity to share with members, groups and organizations within my community.  My focus would be to present cutting edge training programs to groups such as law enforcement, architects, construction contractors, the Public Works Dept. and those in the Department of Health, etc.  There was so much to learn that I really don't think 3 days was enough, but I understand all the elements that must be considered to put on such a magnificent conference. 

My experience was absolutely wonderful. It exposed me to laws, issues and how I can make a difference in my community when it comes to dealing with individuals with a disability and also sharing with others who are not disable the tools we must put in place.  I met so many wonderful people who opened up to me, gave me advice on training and also those who are interested in coming to St. Croix to help me with training in specific areas, to make a difference.  I have been and still are in the process of reaching out to members of my community who I know will benefit from what I've learned so that the disable in the Virgin Islands community are taken care of and those who do no have a disability will better understand the rules of engagement and the role each play in the process.

I can't thank you enough for the opportunity and I am looking forward to doing my part to sharing/training about ADA.

  

See you in a few weeks!