Newsletter: June 29, 2011

Northeast ADA Center June 29, 2011 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Free Webinar on Inclusiveness of Veterans with Disabilities Tomorrow!
Tomorrow from 1:00-2:30pm EST, the Northeast ADA Center will present a free webinar, "Beyond Yellow Ribbons: Workplace Disability Inclusiveness for Veterans with Disabilities".  Findings of two studies, one conducted with employers and one with veterans, regarding workplace issues for returning veterans with disabilities will be presented.  This webinar is suited for anyone in the human resources, business, vocational rehabilitation, military, disability, or service provider fields.  Register at: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-disability-inclusiveness-jun30.cfm

Bibliotecas Inclusivas en Puerto Rico (PR):
Todas las bibliotecas de los recintos de la Universidad de Puerto Rico,  Instituciones privadas de educación superior, y municipales, deben ofrecer servicios inclusivos de asistencia tecnológica a personas con discapacidades, de acuerdo a la Ley Núm. 63 del 2011 aprobada por la Asamblea Legislativa de PR. Los requisitos generales con los que tienen que cumplir las bibliotecas bajo esta ley son: 1) tener equipos de asistencia tecnológica disponibles para hacer sus servicios completamente accesibles, 2) adiestrar al menos uno de sus funcionarios en el uso de la asistencia tecnológica ; y 3) levantar datos estadísticos anuales en relación a los servicios inclusivos ofrecidos por ellas. El Programa de Asistencia Tecnológica de PR (PRATP) adscrito a la Universidad de Puerto Rico será la entidad principal que capacitará al personal y proveerá asistencia técnica para el cumplimiento de esta Ley.  Para más información puede llamar al PRATP al (787) 764-6035 o visite su página de Internet: www.pratp.upr.edu.

Progress Claimed in Reporting Abuse in Group Homes:
According to Courtney Burke, the new Commissioner of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, almost 40%, down from 83% in March, of alleged physical abuse of people with developmental disabilities at group homes and institutions were not reported to authorities. The Cuomo administration feels that 40% is still too high. In an effort to reduce this more, Burke has put in place a number of measures to raise hiring standards and improve the reporting of abuse. In an effort to decrease the number of sexual assaults against people with disabilities, she also proposed that the agency be barred from hiring people convicted of violent crimes or sexual offenses. Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/nyregion/gains-seen-in-reporting-abuse-at-new-york-group-homes.html?_r=2

Another Disability-Bias Lawsuit Against the Law School Admission Council:
Barely a week after a man who is blind filed suit alleging that the American Bar Association essentially requires a discriminatory test, a would-be Law School Admission Test (LSAT) taker with attention deficit disorder and processing speed disorder sued the Law School Admission Council, which administers the exam. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, claims that the Council violated the ADA by denying a request for testing accommodations. Read more at: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202495832350&Two_more_disabilitybias_suits_attack_the_LSAT&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country: 

New Olmstead Decision Guidance from Department of Justice (DOJ):
The DOJ has released a new technical assistance document describing public entities' obligations and individuals' rights under the integration mandate of Title II of the ADA and the 1999 landmark Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C.  Additionally, in commemorating the 12th anniversary of this decision, the DOJ launched a new section of its ADA website to provide information and resources about the decision and its enforcement. The site contains briefs filed by the DOJ, as well as other materials relevant to this area of law. The DOJ also expanded its existing ADA.gov E-mail subscription service to include Olmstead enforcement.  Access this new website at: www.ada.gov/olmstead 

New Research Group to Remove Employment Barriers for those with Disabilities:
The Conference Board announced the formation of a new Research Working Group, "Improving Employment Outcomes for Employees with Disabilities."  Partially funded by Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School and the Department of Education, the group will bring together human resource and line executives with outside experts to study the significant disparities that still exist between individuals with disabilities and the rest of the American workforce and establish best practices for counteracting them. Several Fortune 500 companies have joined the research team and membership remains open. The group will meet throughout the next six months and issue a final report. To learn more, click here.   

First Ever World Report on Disability:
In the first World Report on Disability, from the World Health Organization and the World Bank, it is suggested that more than a billion people experience some form of disability. The report outlines issues facing people with disabilities, such as poorer health, lower education achievement, and fewer economic opportunities. By providing the best available evidence and concrete recommendations, this report can be an asset in implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and shaping legislative decisions in the future. Read more at: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.html   

Walgreens Wins Big with Unique Employment Program:
Walgreens has launched an extraordinary program to employ people with disabilities at its Distribution Center (DC) in Anderson, S.C. In fact, Walgreens committed to the plan even before selecting a site for the facility. Today, workers with disabilities make up 40 percent of the work force at the Anderson DC, performing the same work as their nondisabled co-workers for the same pay. Most importantly, the Walgreens example has inspired other companies, including Lowes, Best Buy, Meijer, and Sears, to make similar efforts. Read more at: http://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/20110606walgreens_disabilities_employment/ 

Latest News from the U.S. Access Board:
The latest issue of the Access Board's "Access Currents" online news is available and includes information on proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way, Obama's new appointees to the Access Board, the 2010 ADA Standards and related guidance, and the accessibility of playground surfaces. Read the news at: http://www.access-board.gov/news/Access%20Currents/May-June11.htm 

Project SEARCH Ends Successful Year with Graduation:
For the first time in its 15 year history, Project SEARCH was hosted by the federal government in three agencies including the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services. Project SEARCH strives to prepare high school seniors with disabilities for employment by sending them off to work every day in one of the federal agencies. Their days are divided into receiving an education for part of the day, and working as interns for the rest of the day. Read more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/06/20/making-history-students-developmental-and-intellectual-disabilities 

Report on Medicaid's Effectiveness in Meeting Needs of Those with Disabilities:
With serious budget cuts imminent, a new report outlines the effectiveness of the Medicaid program, giving special attention to how it addresses the health and financial needs of vulnerable populations. The report details Medicaid's success in increasing health insurance coverage for children and strengthening access to medical, health, and developmental services. It also calls attention to the 2012 budget resolution, which would effectively end the Medicaid program due to substantial cut backs, by pointing out reasons to keep Medicaid going. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/06/new-bipartisan-report-reviews-medicaids-effectiveness-in-addressing-health-needs-of-children-and-adu.html

Tens of Thousands of Soldiers Denied PTSD Care and Benefits:
For many years, the Army used the wrong standard to determine the degree of disability and the amount of benefits due to Soldiers with mental health conditions, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The correct standard was updated in 1996, but for 12 years after, the Army used an inaccurate standard to deny benefits to those who need it most- service members with injuries so severe they could not continue to serve. This resulted in the denial of health care and compensation to many people in need and steps have been made to address and fix the problems. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/05/tens-of-thousands-of-soldiers-denied-ptsd-care-and-benefits.html 

Whirlpool Introduces New ADA-Compliant Ranges:
Whirlpool has introduced two new cooking ranges that are ADA-compliant in an effort to make cooking easier for all homeowners. Now that many "baby boomers" are retiring, the need for accessible home appliances is larger than ever. These new ranges are not the only Whirlpool appliances to be ADA-compliant. The company has produced over 150 models to help make kitchens more accessible. Read more at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/whirlpool-brand-meets-homeowner-accessibility-needs-with-new-ada-compliant-ranges-122945273.html 

People with Intellectual Disabilities Struggle with Budget Cuts:
A report presented by the Arc, an advocacy organization, shows that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are faced with increasing difficulties due to the recession and budget cuts. Many services provided by social workers have been cut back or eliminated altogether. Over 60% of families who were surveyed reported some degree of cut backs. One out of five families reported that a family member has had to quit their job in order to provide support. The Arc has launched an awareness campaign in an effort to bring attention to these issues. Read more at: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/flexicontent/item/21586-people-with-intellectual-disabilities-struggle-with-budget-cuts-and-recession/ 

Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion for Employers:
At its April 12th Corporate Disability Employment Summit, the Office of Disability Employment Policy's Alliance partner U.S. Business Leadership Network and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new publication, "Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion," which employers can use to improve their workforce and increase their customer base.  Click here to read "Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion."

 

Opportunities for You!

ADA Federal Update: 21st Anniversary of ADA Audio Conference July 19th:
Mark the 21st anniversary of the ADA by joining this audio conference, presented by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the National Network of ADA Centers, to listen to representatives of the Federal Agencies present an update on their litigation, technical assistance, and enforcement efforts over the past year. This year has held a lot of "new" focus on the ADA with the release of the final regulations for the ADA Amendments Act and implementation of the revised Title II and III Regulations. Participants will have an opportunity to pose questions to the presenters regarding issues in their own workplace or community. To learn more, go to: http://www.ada-audio.org/Schedule/

 

Special Spotlight- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission!

There have been several resolutions to EEOC disability discrimination lawsuits recently, as well as information shared by EEOC officials around the recently released ADA Amendments Act regulations.  Read below to learn more:

EEOC obtains $600,000 verdict against AutoZone for failure to accommodate an employee with a disability:  http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-3-11e.cfm

Surveying company settles disability discrimination lawsuit with EEOC for $77,000:   http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-20-11.cfm

Englobal Engineering settles lawsuit with EEOC for $100,000 for allegedly firing an employee because the employer assumed the employee's disability would substantially limit his ability to work:  http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-17-11.cfm

Apparel retailer, Finish Line, settles disability discrimination lawsuit with EEOC for $38,000:  http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-16-11a.cfm

The archived webinar from the June 3rd Disability policy forum "Implementing the ADAAA: The EEOC Regulations" is now available. This forum was held by the Employment Policy Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in collaboration with the American Association for People with Disabilities:  http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/p-eprrtc-policyforum.cfm

   

See you in a few weeks!