Newsletter: August 15, 2011

Northeast ADA Center August 15, 2011

What's New in Our Region:

Clasificado Virtual de Equipos de Asistencia Tecnológica en PR:
El Programa de Asistencia Tecnológica de Puerto Rico (PRATP), mediante su Programa de Reciclaje y Reuso de Equipos, ha desarrollado la iniciativa de "Clasificado Virtual de AT" para facilitar el reuso de equipos de AT.  Se trata de una página de Internet donde las personas pueden anunciar los equipos de AT que ya no utilizan y estén en buenas condiciones, con el propósito de venderlos, intercambiarlos o donarlos.  Además, las personas interesadas en obtener algún equipo de AT pueden comprarlo o solicitarlo en la página.  El servicio es libre de costo.  Puede accesar esta página en: http://cv.pratp.upr.edu/

New Jersey Respite Care to Get Boost From Federal Government:
Caregivers in New Jersey, and five other states, will have an easier time accessing respite care services in the future due to a series of federal grants. The $1.1 million grants are designed to strengthen the federal Lifespan Respite Care Program, which helps to improve and establish community based respite care initiatives. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/07/27/respite-care-boost/13617/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=July+29%2C+2011%3A+News+from+Disability+Scoop&utm_source=YMLP&utm_term=

Former New York (NY) Governor Helps in Fight Against Sub-Minimum Wage:
The Workforce Investment Act, which allows companies to pay some select workers with disabilities less than minimum wage as long as they're receiving training, is up for reauthorization next week. Former NY Governor David A. Paterson has been protesting these sub minimum wages and, with the help of the National Federation of the Blind, he hopes to make some positive changes to the system. Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/26/disabled-workers-minimum-wage_n_909991.html  

NYS Governor Signs Law to Create Missing Vulnerable Adult Alert System: 
On July 26th, New York State Governor Cuomo signed a law to create a statewide alert system to help locate missing persons with cognitive disabilities, similar to the Amber Alert for missing children program already in place. The new system will allow information to be disseminated very quickly regarding people with dementia, Alzheimer's and other cognitive impairments. The program will expedite the distribution of photographs and posters, begin a 24 hour toll free hotline and provide a curriculum for training new law enforcement personnel.

What's New in the Rest of the Country: 

On ADA Anniversary Obama Recommits to Civil Rights of All:
 
Although the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains uncomfortably high, the Obama Administration is making serious attempts to turn the federal government into a model employer for individuals with disabilities. Looking ahead, the Obama Administration hopes to release a strategic plan to improve compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 requires that the assistive technologies used in federal agencies be readily available for people with disabilities both inside and outside the government. Read more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/07/26/anniversary-americans-disabilities-act-obama-administration-recommits-en   

Pepsi Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit:
Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. has reached a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to end a discrimination lawsuit. Pepsi will pay $120,000 and implement preventive measures to settle the case involving one of their drivers. Allegedly, the driver was laid off when he informed his superiors that he required some reasonable accommodations. EEOC noted that "since recent amendments to the ADA have broadened the definition of disability, forward-thinking employers may want to re-evaluate their policies on workplace accommodations." Read more at: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/8-2-11a.cfm   

Senate Committee Discusses Strategies to Increase Disability Employment:
Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a meeting recently to identify policies and practices that are improving job opportunities for people with disabilities. Many practices that are implemented to promote employment of people with disabilities are also financially sound business decisions. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of providing a competitive edge through flexible workplace strategies, return-to-work practices, and access to new technologies. A need to change the federal government's view of disabilities was also noted. In order for individuals with disabilities to be eligible for social security disability benefits, they must declare they cannot work which can have a negative effect on workforce participation. Read more at: http://blog.govdelivery.com/usodep/2011/07/senate-help-committee-convenes-hearing-on-proven-strategies-to-increase-employment-of-people-with-di.html   

DOL Announces $1.6 million in Funding for the 'Add Us In' Initiative:
The Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis has announced that approximately $1.6 million of funding will be allocated to three cooperative projects in the "Add Us In" initiative, with each project receiving somewhere between $500,000 and $550,000. The "Add Us In" initiative aims to employ people with disabilities by developing and implementing models, strategies, and policies designed to target four specific business organizations. Read more at: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20111141.htm

ODEP and EARN Launch New Websites:
In honor of the 21st ADA Anniversary, Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) have both launched new and improved websites, both in terms of look and  functionality. Visit www.dol.gov/odep and www.askearn.org today!

Medicare Prescription Drug Premiums Will Not Increase in 2012:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare average prescription drug premiums will not increase next year. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), people with Original Medicare can receive recommended preventive benefits and a new annual wellness visit without paying an additional penny out of pocket.  In addition, the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole by providing increasing discounts on covered drugs in the donut hole. To read the HHS press release and obtain additional state-by-state information, go to: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/20110804a.html

NCWD/Youth Posts Blogs during ADA Anniversary Week:
The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD) honored the 21st anniversary of the ADA by posting daily blogs during the week of July 25th celebrating progress made thus far and acknowledging the distance our country has yet to go. These blog entries include: "The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - An "ADA Generation" Perspective" , "Getting My First Job: If Only... What If??? (Reflections on the Anniversary of ADA)" , "The Disability Rights Movement and 21 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act" , "Navigating ADA in the Private Sector: A Driver's Lesson (Reflections on the Anniversary of ADA: Part 2)", and "A Vision for the Next 20 Years of the ADA".

Insurance Available for People with Preexisting Conditions:
The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to promote the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), which makes insurance available to people with preexisting conditions at low cost. The ACA requires that, after 2014, all health insurance cover preexisting conditions. Until then, each state will have to create a Preexisting Condition Insurance Program (PCIP) or participate in the federal program. To qualify for PCIP, one must prove that they have not had insurance for at least 6 months. Individuals on Medicaid will likely not want the PCIP. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2011/08/health-care-reform-insurance-available-for-people-with-preexisting-conditions.html

A Practical Guide for People with Disabilities Who Want to go to College: 
A new publication released by Temple University outlines opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue a higher education at colleges or career institutes. The publication reviews the challenges facing people with disabilities from financing an education to assessing your interests and skills. The report also provides references to other publications that give more depth to each topic. The guide is available at the website of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities (www.tucollaborative.org) or from: http://tucollaborative.org/pdfs/education/College_Guide.pdf.  

Report on Students With Learning Disabilities:
The National Center for Learning Disabilities has issued a report indicating that too few students with learning disabilities (LD) graduate from high school while the overall number of students identified as having a learning disability is reducing. The past decade has seen the number of students with disabilities who graduate increase from 52% to 64%, while the percentage of students diagnosed with LDs has been declining, due in part to more effective early education and changes in how students with disabilities are classified. Read more at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2011/07/a_new_report_from_the_1.html   

Inclusive Employment Model Gaining Steam:
Following in the inclusive employment footsteps of Walgreens, Proctor & Gamble has opened a new packaging facility that will employ at least 30% of its employees as people with disabilities. Employees with disabilities will be working side by side with other employees, and will be held to the same standards while earning equivalent wages. Proctor & Gamble executives will be watching this project closely, and if it is successful they may consider expanding it to other facilities. Read more at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/08/04/inclusive-employment/13678/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=August+5%2C+2011%3A+News+from+Disability+Scoop&utm_source=YMLP&utm_term=   


U.S.
Office of Special Education Programs Invites Public Comments on IDEA:
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has requested suggestions from the public on the future of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part D investments in the areas of Transition to College and Careers, Deaf-Blind, and Early Childhood. OSEP wants to hear about challenges and emerging issues in supporting these three areas, recommendations for supports and systems needed to meet challenges, and ways OSEP can meet the needs of students and their families with limited IDEA Part D resources. OSEP will consider the suggestions as it develops its future investment strategy; however there will be no formal response from OSEP to suggestions provided either in person or by electronic submission. Suggestions may be emailed to OSEPPartDsuggestions@ed.gov.  

AH&LA Quizzes Hoteliers on Upcoming ADA Changes:
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has launched another phase of its informational campaign to assess whether hoteliers are familiar with the current ADA Title III regulations. The survey asks hoteliers questions covering a broad range of issues, like reasonable accommodation and essential functions. AH&LA hopes to increase knowledge and awareness of timely issues by providing answers and explanations to the questions for the hotel operators and owners. Read more at: http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/154000320/4052287.html

 

Opportunities for You!

PAS Survey Closes September 1st:
The Center on Disability the Public Health Institute along with the Center for Personal Assistance Services at UC San Francisco is conducting a research study to determine promising practices in preparing for emergencies among individuals with disabilities who use personal assistance services (PAS). If you use PAS and have been through an emergency or disaster where you either had to shelter in place or evacuate, please go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZTXYZ69 to describe your experiences before September 1st.  Respondents will be entered into a drawing for which 5 individuals will each win a $50 gift card. If you have questions, please contact Lewis Kraus, Project Director at deputy@adapacific.org

Webinar on Making Online Applications Accessible September 15th:
Many employers require job candidates to submit applications online. However many online application processes are inaccessible to people with disabilities. On September 15th from 1:30-3:00pm ET, the Southeast ADA Center will provide a free webinar on how to make online applications fully accessible. Deadline to register is September 14th. To learn more and to register, go to:  http://sedbtac.org/webinars/eventTemplate.php?eventid=533

 

Special Spotlight-  The Debt Deal:

Earlier this month, Congress agreed to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling to avoid a global financial crisis, and President Obama signed this debt-limit bill into law. A new legislative committee was formed to investigate ways to control the increasingly large U.S. debt in the long term. Initial numbers suggest that they plan to cut about $1 trillion from federal budgets. Social Security officials are reassuring the public that disability benefits will continue to be paid. Concern does still remain over the upcoming cuts to Medicaid and other entitlement programs. Read more below about this significant national situation:

Debt Bill is Passed and Signed (The Washington Post):  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-passes-debt-limit-bill/2011/08/02/gIQAIp2kpI_story.html

Debt Deal Leaves Disability Benefits Alone for Now (Disability Scoop):  http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/08/03/debt-deal-unscathed/13670/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=August+5%2C+2011%3A+News+from+Disability+Scoop&utm_source=YMLP&utm_term=

  

See you in a few weeks!