Newsletter: May 31, 2011

Northeast ADA Center May 31, 2011 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

U.S. Investigates New York City (NYC) Wheelchair Access in Taxis:
The United States attorney's office in Manhattan has opened an investigation into whether the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in NYC amounts to a violation of the ADA. Taxicab owners are currently not required by the city to operate vehicles that are accessible to people with disabilities. Federal lawyers are conducting an investigation to determine if this complies with the law, which prohibits local governments or private groups that provide public transportation services from discriminating against people with disabilities. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/nyregion/us-inquiry-into-wheelchair-access-in-new-york-taxis.html?_r=2

DOJ Announces ADA Settlement with New Jersey (NJ) Intercity Bus Company:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a comprehensive settlement agreement under the ADA with intercity bus service providers Megabus USA L.L.C., and Megabus Northeast L.L.C., which are both located in NJ. DOJ has been investigating accessibility of private transportation operations for individuals with disabilities.  Under the terms of the agreement, Megabus will ensure that all of the vehicles in its intercity service are fully accessible to travelers with disabilities, and alter its online reservation services so that passengers with disabilities are able to access schedule information using the same reservation system as others. Read more at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/May/11-crt-625.html.

Lawsuit over NY Medicaid Budget Cuts Affecting Home Health Services:
A federal lawsuit has been filed challenging arbitrary cuts in Medicaid Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) services, precipitated by changes in reimbursement enacted in the New York State budget. There have been numerous reports of some CHHAs sharply reducing hours of home health aide services, or of refusing to reinstate home health aide services after their patients were hospitalized or entered into short-term rehabilitation. A letter sent out by the State Commissioner of Health confirms that these changes in reimbursement alone do not allow CHHAs to reduce home health aide services that were previously authorized.  Similarly, if a CHHA client is hospitalized, or in temporary short-term rehabilitation, these changes do not allow the CHHA to abandon them. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/05/ny-medicaid-budget-cuts-triggering-illegal-cuts-in-home-health-services-federal-court-suit-filed.html

Legislative Package Protects New Yorkers With Disabilities:
In recognition of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day, a comprehensive package of bills focused on improving the quality of life for New Yorkers with disabilities has been passed. In an effort to combat discrimination, the Assembly passed legislation that would waive the state's sovereign immunity regarding the ADA, and certain other federal acts, as they apply to the protection of state employees, as well as requiring that the services of sign-language interpreters be made available upon request of a hearing-impaired individual at public hearings and meetings. The legislation also provides a tax credit to transportation companies for the purchase of new vehicles that are accessible to people with disabilities. Read more at: http://www.hamptons.com/News/For-The-Record/14419/Thiele-Legislative-Package-Protects-New-Yorkers.html

NY Independent Living Center Helps Make Mall Carousel Accessible:
People with mobility disabilities will now be able to ride the historic carousel at Carousel Center in Syracuse, New York thanks to Arise, a non-profit Independent Living Center. Following a 19 month renovation, the carousel now includes a portable ramp and wheelchair accessible spots. Read more and watch the video at: http://centralny.ynn.com/content/top_stories/543445/carousel-becomes-wheelchair-accessible/

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

AAPD Launches Job Connection Service for Jobseekers with Disabilities:
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has started to forward job availability notices to email lists of interested people who have contacted AAPD looking for job openings. In an effort to make sure this service is available to more people and to ensure everyone gets all the notices, AAPD has created the "AAPD Job Connection".  Anyone can sign up for this service to receive notices about jobs that the AAPD gets. Many of the jobs are related to disabilities and located in Washington, DC, but there are a variety of job notices. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/05/aapd-job-connection-sign-up-to-receive-job-postings-.html 

JAN Releases Updated Accommodation and Compliance Series:
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) regulations took effect May 24th. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has updated their Accommodation and Compliance Series to include information on the implementation of these new regulations: Get updated. 

Report Finds People with Disabilities Exploited at Work:
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) detailed a total failure of the disability service system to provide quality work for people with disabilities in a report released earlier this year. The report focuses on the problems with sheltered environments, segregated work, and low wages and highlights a huge breakdown between good federal and state policies and their implementation and oversight. The report recommends ending segregated employment and the subminimum wage, strengthening current and creating new tax incentives for employers to hire people with disabilities and increasing labor protections and enforcement of existing law. Read more at: http://www.ndrn.org/en/component/content/article/24-hompagestories/261-report-finds-exploitation-at-work.html 

Regal Cinemas to Improve Access to Theaters for Guests with Disabilities:
Movie theater chain Regal Entertainment Group has declared its intentions to equip its digital theaters with technology that helps guests who are deaf, hard of hearing and blind access the movies better. Innovations such as captions and descriptive narratives will take 12 to 18 months to complete. Regal hopes to provide these technologies in every one of their 535 nationwide theaters by the end of 2012. Read more at: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9N0RG101.htm 

Board Seeks Comment on Access to Shared Use Paths:
The Access Board seeks public comment about the development of accessibility guidelines for shared use paths which provide a means of transportation and recreation for pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, and others, including people with disabilities. The new guidelines will provide technical provisions for incorporating accessibility into the construction or alteration of shared use paths covered by the ADA and/or the Architectural Barriers Act. Comments are due June 27th.  Read more at: http://www.access-board.gov/news/sup-notice.htm

Harkin Slams Budget Proposal for Disability Cuts:
Senator Tom Harkin spoke to the Senate about the damages done by the House Budget Proposal.  Concern for the disability community was his key reason for opposing this plan which drastically cuts Medicaid funding and converts Medicare into a voucher system that will not cover the costs of medical care for older people.  He said that the new budget places almost the entire burden of deficit reduction on programs that support the middle class, seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/05/harkin-slams-budget-proposal-for-disability-cuts.html 

Starbucks Sued For Discrimination Against Employee with Dwarfism:
Starbucks is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for denying a reasonable accommodation for a barista with dwarfism.  According to the EEOC, Starbucks violated Title I of the ADA when it disregarded the worker's accommodation request and refused to consider her use of a stool or stepladder. On the same day that the worker requested the accommodation, Starbucks terminated her, claiming that she could pose a danger to customers and employees. Read more at: http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/starbucks-sued-for-discrimination-of-worker-with-dwarfism/

 

Opportunities for You!

Online Survey for Employers Could Win You $25 Gift Card:
The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and the University of Maryland are looking for employers and human resource professionals who are interested in workplace accommodations to complete a 15-minute online survey for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The purpose of this research is to improve the workplace accommodation process.  Please take the survey at: http://sgiz.mobi/s3/DBTAC

Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADAAA Webinar June 22nd:
The Job Accommodation Network is presenting a webinar June 22nd from 12:00-1:30pm ET entitled "Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADAAA: A Practical Approach for Your Agency".  Participants will learn what new requirements agencies face and what programs must an organization change to fit the regulations' parameters? For more information and to register, click here.

New York Independence Expo June 25-26th:
The 2011 Independence Expo, hosted by United Spinal Association, will be held at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, NY. on June 25th and 26th.  To learn more and to register, go to: http://www.independenceexpo.org/


Special Spotlight- Events and Trainings This Week!

Here are several great opportunities for training and education this week:

FREE 2011 Disability Leadership & Policy Summit Tomorrow!
The United Spinal Association, Hofstra University, and the National Spinal Cord Injury Association are holding the 2011 Disability Leadership & Policy Summit, "Protecting Our Rights to Jobs, Transportation, and Healthcare", tomorrow, June 1st, from 12:00-5:00pm at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Admission is free and registration and resource fair will be 12:00-2:00pm followed by presentations from 2:00-5:00pm. Learn more at:  http://www.unitedspinal.org/events/summit/ 

New York City (NYC) Supplier Diversity Roundtable Tomorrow!
The NYC Business Leadership Network (NYCBLN) is having a roundtable on supplier diversity June 1st from 8:00-10:00 a.m. The purpose of the roundtable is to demonstrate the value to businesses using supplier diversity programs, as well as relevant information from the perspective of a certified, disability-owned business and supplier diversity contracting requirements. Learn more and register at: https://s01.123signup.com/servlet/SignUpMember?PG=1534366182300&P=15343661911422790300&Info 

FREE Access Board Webinar on Accessible Doors June 2nd:
The Access Board's next free monthly webinar is June 2 from 2:30-4:00pm (ET) on accessible doors. Register for this free webinar at: www.accessibilityonline.org

Presentation on the new EEOC ADAAA Regulations June 3rd:
Cornell University, in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities, is presenting a program on June 3rd from 10:00am-12:00pm EDT on "Implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act: the EEOC Regulations". You can attend in person at the Cornell University Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C. or via a free Webinar. Please indicate on your registration whether you'll be attending in person or via webinar.  To learn more and to register, go to: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/policyforum.cfm.

 

See you in a few weeks!