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The Other Movement That Rosa Parks Inspired
How Close Are We to Equality?
Lessons of Katrina
Medicare Part D in New York State
In Need, They'll Feel The HEET
Visually Impaired People Use The Web, Too
Employers and the ADA: Myths and Facts
College and the Disabled Student
Holding Nyla - An inclusion classroom becomes the stage for learning and acceptance
Social Security Revamps Disability Benefits
Brooke Graduated Harvard, And?:
THE OTHER MOVEMENT THAT
ROSA PARKS INSPIRED
by Charles Wilson
By Sitting Down, She Made Room for the Disabled
October 30, 2005 - Washington Post - On an unseasonably warm September day in 1984, about a dozen men and women rolled their wheelchairs in front of a city bus that was pulling onto State Street in Chicago. Then they sat there and didn't move. The group had no secret agenda; they simply wanted to make a point. Days before, the Chicago Transit Authority had announced that it was purchasing 363 new public buses -- and that none of them would be equipped with wheelchair lifts to serve disabled passengers because the lifts had been deemed too expensive. This ragtag group of wheelchair riders, who were affiliated with a disability rights organization called ADAPT, or Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit, decided to protest that decision by obstructing a bus until the police carted them away. Every one of them wore a simple paper name tag, the sort that you would normally see at a meet-and-greet. They all said:
Rosa Parks' act of courage in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 did more than dismantle the system of racial segregation on public transportation. Her refusal to give up her seat to a white man also created a legacy she never could have foreseen. It was through Parks' example that the disabled community transformed its own often disorganized cause into a unified disability rights movement.
The disability rights movement could in no sense have been called a movement when Parks refused to yield her seat. At that time, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities reached over 70 percent, and organizations that rallied for rights for people with disabilities focused on solutions that were specific to a single disorder.
Parks's action offered these separate communities a strategy that unified their various wishes.
By the 1960s and '70s, many cities had introduced paratransit services that picked up disabled patients. The officials who controlled city budgets, though, typically stipulated that these buses could be used by an individual only a few times a month and that the buses could be used only by appointment. So, in the late '70s and early '80s, some activists began to extend the logic of Parks' silent act of defiance to their own cause: Buses that divided people into separate categories, they said, were inherently unequal. Disabled people shouldn't be limited to using paratransit buses. They deserved to ride the city buses, just like everyone else.
Parks's method of dissent -- sitting still -- was well suited to a community in which many people found themselves having to do that very thing all day long. Within two decades of her refusal to give up her seat, disabled people in cities across the country began staging their own
Some of the sit-ins were individual acts of defiance. In Hartford, Connecticut, 63-year-old Edith Harris parked her wheelchair in front of 10 separate local buses on a single day after waiting nearly two hours for an accessible bus. Increasingly, though, the sit-ins were organized by ADAPT and involved many wheelchair users at a single location.
These actions began to change both how disabled people were perceived and how they perceived themselves.
The sit-ins also began to bring about concrete changes in the policies of urban transportation boards. In 1983, the city of Denver gave up its initial resistance and retrofitted all 250 of its buses with lifts after 45 wheelchair users blocked buses at the downtown intersection of Colfax Avenue and Broadway. Similar moves were made by Washington's Metro board in 1986 and by Chicago's transit authority in 1989. And in 1990, when the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act cleared Congress, the only provisions that went into effect immediately were those that mandated accessible public transportation.
If Rosa Parks left a lasting legacy on the disability rights movement, it is important to recognize that it is a legacy that is largely unfinished. A restored version of the bus that Rosa Parks rode in Montgomery recently went on display at the Henry Ford Museum near Detroit, the city where Parks lived her last decades and died last Monday. Detroit's mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is up for reelection on November 8, memorialized Parks by saying that
Kilpatrick failed to mention a further irony, though: The Justice Department joined a suit against his city in March. It was initially filed in August 2004, by Richard Bernstein, a blind 31-year-old lawyer from the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, on behalf of four disabled inner-city clients. His plaintiffs said that they routinely waited three to four hours in severe cold for a bus with a working lift. Their complaint cited evidence that half of the lifts on the city's bus fleet were routinely broken. The complaint did not ask for compensation. It demanded only that the Motor City comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The city recently purchased more accessible buses, but the mayor didn't offer a plan for making sure the buses stayed in good working order. He has publicly disparaged Bernstein on radio as an example of
Mayor Kilpatrick is not going to the wall, and neither are many other mayors in this country. A 2002 federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics study found that 6 million Americans with disabilities still have trouble obtaining the transportation they need. Many civic leaders and officials at transit organizations have made arguments about the economic difficulty of installing lifts on buses and maintaining them. But they are seeing only one side of the argument: More people in the disability community would pursue jobs and pay more taxes if they could only trust that they could get to work and back safely.
Public officials who offered elaborate eulogies to Parks' memory last week should evaluate whether they are truly living up to the power of her ideas. During a visit to Detroit in August to speak to disabled transit riders for a project I was working on, I met Robert Harvey, who last winter hurled his wheelchair in front of a bus pulling onto Woodward Avenue after four drivers in a row had passed him by. (He was knocked to the curb.) I met Carolyn Reed, who has spina bifida and had lost a job because she could rarely find a bus that would get her to work on time. Her able-bodied friends had also recently stopped inviting her to the movies. She guessed why: A few times over the past months, they had found themselves waiting late at night with her for hours to catch a bus with a working lift.
None of this should be happening in America.
HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO EQUALITY?
by Paula Wolff
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In July, 2005, Carr Massi, Ellen Nuzzi, Elliot Schloss and I did a workshop at the Disability Film Festival at Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. I was the moderator and started the panel with this opening speech. Since the passage of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) we now see signs for assistive listening devices in some movie theatres, electronic wheelchair door opening devices in many public buildings such as at Lincoln Center, and departments to provide accessibility to persons with different types of disabilities at museums and other public facilities. Our struggle for accessible public transportation has resulted in bus lifts on MTA buses, making it possible for people with disabilities to get to events (although our fight for accessible taxis, car services, and ferries and improved subway accessibility continues). We see more people with disabilities out on the buses, at cultural events, and around the community. Unfortunately, the increased awareness that the ADA and other events have helped lead to have not yet lead to the full equality that is our goal. We see this when we look at the employment figures for persons with disabilities which have remained at an unemployment rate of approximately 70% for working age persons with disabilities, the same level as it was prior to the enactment of the ADA. In spite of the vast improvements in assistive technology including computer technology that enable persons with disabilities to perform tasks that were previously impossible without assistance enabling people with disabilities to live and work more independently, relatively few persons with disabilities have such equipment provided by their employers if they are able to overcome the attitudinal barriers that still keep most of our community unemployed, although studies have shown that accommodations for most employees cost under $500. Employment is not the only area in which we see that we still have to struggle to achieve equality. We see continued attacks on the Americans With Disabilities Act in the Supreme Court which has sought to limit its interpretation of the law and its enforcement. A Supreme Court decision, the Olmstead Decision, which requires that persons with disabilities receive treatment in the most integrated setting is now often thought of in our community as a type of declaration of independence for many thousands of persons with disabilities currently living in nursing homes and other institutional settings who wish to return to living in the community. But the promise of independence of the Olmstead Decision will remain unfulfilled if the government fails to provide accessible housing that people can afford on a Supplemental Security Income level income and the support services persons with disabilities need to live in that community. To date, the Olmstead Decision demonstrates increased awareness of persons with disabilities without the resources for full equality.
In July, 2005, Carr Massi, Ellen Nuzzi, Elliot Schloss and I did a workshop at the Disability Film Festival at Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. I was the moderator and started the panel with this opening speech.
Since the passage of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) we now see signs for assistive listening devices in some movie theatres, electronic wheelchair door opening devices in many public buildings such as at Lincoln Center, and departments to provide accessibility to persons with different types of disabilities at museums and other public facilities. Our struggle for accessible public transportation has resulted in bus lifts on MTA buses, making it possible for people with disabilities to get to events (although our fight for accessible taxis, car services, and ferries and improved subway accessibility continues). We see more people with disabilities out on the buses, at cultural events, and around the community.
Unfortunately, the increased awareness that the ADA and other events have helped lead to have not yet lead to the full equality that is our goal. We see this when we look at the employment figures for persons with disabilities which have remained at an unemployment rate of approximately 70% for working age persons with disabilities, the same level as it was prior to the enactment of the ADA. In spite of the vast improvements in assistive technology including computer technology that enable persons with disabilities to perform tasks that were previously impossible without assistance enabling people with disabilities to live and work more independently, relatively few persons with disabilities have such equipment provided by their employers if they are able to overcome the attitudinal barriers that still keep most of our community unemployed, although studies have shown that accommodations for most employees cost under $500.
Employment is not the only area in which we see that we still have to struggle to achieve equality. We see continued attacks on the Americans With Disabilities Act in the Supreme Court which has sought to limit its interpretation of the law and its enforcement.
A Supreme Court decision, the Olmstead Decision, which requires that persons with disabilities receive treatment in the most integrated setting is now often thought of in our community as a type of declaration of independence for many thousands of persons with disabilities currently living in nursing homes and other institutional settings who wish to return to living in the community. But the promise of independence of the Olmstead Decision will remain unfulfilled if the government fails to provide accessible housing that people can afford on a Supplemental Security Income level income and the support services persons with disabilities need to live in that community. To date, the Olmstead Decision demonstrates increased awareness of persons with disabilities without the resources for full equality.
LESSONS OF KATRINA
by T.K. Small
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It would almost be cliche to write a column offering the usual heartfelt sympathies to the recent victims of Hurricane Katrina. Certainly everyone has been moved by the scenes of devastation and despair, and has contributed to the recovery effort in some way. Beyond assisting people in the Gulf Region with donations and prayers, there are some important lessons about disaster preparedness that people with disabilities must understand.
The Disability Community needs to get involved with all levels of disaster preparedness planning. Whether it is the city, state or federal Government, there are (or should be) plans for responding to disasters either natural or manmade. Part of any official disaster plan must deal with people with disabilities. If the official recommendation is for citizens to evacuate, and the Government is providing transportation, are the vehicles accessible? A person that uses a wheelchair is more likely to ask this question than an able-bodied person. Also, people generally are unaware of the poverty that most people with disabilities experience. Allowing and encouraging people to stockpile medications and supplies would help people survive a disaster. Although it would cost Medicaid and insurance companies some money, it is definitely a worthwhile expense and should be part of disaster preparedness in New York State. When we are part of the planning process, we are more likely to get a better result.
We also need to hold public officials accountable for the failure of disaster plan development and the failures of how they respond in the midst of a crisis. It is not acceptable that in one nursing home alone in New Orleans, more than 30 people perished because they were not evacuated. Last year in July, 2004, President Bush signed Executive Order 13347 which mandated that the Department of Homeland Security create an Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/07/20040722-10.html). Somehow I don't think that the promise of Executive Order 13347 has been fulfilled when it is discovered that a large percentage of the those who lost their lives had some form of disability.
Probably the most important lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that we must take more personal responsibility for our own safety. Regardless of what comprehensive disaster plans that the Government may have prepared, when the crisis hits, anything can happen. As one NYC official told me
For our community, even under the best circumstances, transportation is difficult. In the middle of a disaster it is possible that you will get stuck wherever you are for a couple of days. In locations where you spend most of your time, you should gather the things you will need to survive. During the blackout two years ago, my telephone didn't work and I didn't have any water. Now I have a telephone that works without electricity and I always keep bottled water on hand. Perhaps I should make this recommendation to FEMA.
Editor's Note: Everyone, disabled or not, is also advised to keep an ICE entry (under ICE) in your cell phone. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. Put there the several numbers you would want people to contact should anything happen to you: such as your family member, your doctor, your friend. You should also keep an ICE card in your wallet.
Let's build in access as we go
September 20, 2005 - Bradenton, Florida - Herald Tribune - Already the homes are going up in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast.
Thousands of mobile and manufactured housing units are being hauled to sites. There's talk of a new federal agency to oversee the rebuilding of businesses and homes.
We saw the pictures of the evacuees. We saw the wheelchairs, the canes, the people lying on makeshift conveyances because they couldn't walk. We've heard the stories of the people trapped in their homes, disabled, unable to negotiate stairs to get out, or drowned, unable to climb to the attic.
Wake up, America. People need housing they can get in and out of.
Is anyone in the Katrina rebuilding effort giving any thought to this most basic design need -- the need for wheelchair access?
There's a growing movement in this country called
But all too often, when people are poor, their own homes are old and barrier-ridden as well. We have now seen the awful consequences of being unable to get out of one's home.
Smith says all new homes should simply be built with three modest, virtually no-cost features to make them
The movement has gained steam in recent years. Because it's practically cost-free and because
Visitability should be a requirement in the rebuilding of Katrina- devastated areas. Figures provided by the National Council on Disability, a federal agency, show that up to a quarter of the residents of New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., are considered by census figures to have disabilities; in New Orleans, 61 percent of that group are people 21 to 64.
The people who lost everything -- the ones needing the new housing -- were by and large from these populations. Yet if the past is any indication of the future, the most rudimentary basic-access requirements -- the ones spelled out by the visitability movement -- are again being overlooked. Why? There should be no clearer mandate for providing safe and accessible housing than the knowledge that so many people found themselves trapped in this last disaster.
Whatever it's called -- accessible housing, universal design, visitability -- basic access in all homes is an idea that's long overdue. We are taking about making all new housing basically accessible. This is not about creating
It's about correcting current building practices, which have disabled people desperately seeking ways to manage in homes that have turned into virtual prisons.
The visitability movement has produced an Inclusive Home Design Act, now before Congress. But no federal law yet requires single-family housing to include basic wheelchair access.
Those rebuilding the Gulf Coast shouldn't need a federal law to act, though. They have a moral obligation.
Editor's Note: Mary Johnson is the editor of The Ragged Edge Online at www.ragged-edge-mag.com, a wonderful source of disability rights information and opinion. Her latest book is
MEDICARE PART D
MEDICARE PART D
DO YOU HAVE MEDICARE & NO DRUG COVERAGE?
DO YOU HAVE MEDICARE & NO DRUG COVERAGE? (includes EPIC)
MEDICARE DUAL ELIGIBLES (MEDICARE & MEDICAID)
DO YOU NEED ASSISTANCE?
WHAT TO DO IF A DUAL ELIGIBLE IS AUTO ASSIGNED
EXTRA HELP / LOW INCOME SUBSIDY (LIS)
General Instructions for Completing The SSA Application (SSA 1020 form):
More Information on Part D:
Information and Action for People With Disabilities:
HUMAN RIGHTS BILL ADDS SAFEGUARDS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND OTHERS
October 3, 2005 (source unknown) - Today, Mayor Bloomberg signed Intro 22-A, legislation introduced by Council Member Gale A. Brewer (D-Manhattan) that strengthens the City's existing Human Rights Law (HRL). The bill, known as the Local Civil Rights Restoration Act of 2005, increases protections for New York City residents, including adding domestic partners to the list of protected classes of people, increasing safeguards against retaliation, and requiring that the City's HRL be construed independently of similiarly worded State and Federal laws.
As it currently stands, the City's residents are protected agaisnt discrimination as a result of the
Intro 22-A clarifies the City's standard for retaliation cases brought under the HRL. It is currently illegal to retaliate against a person for voicing opposition to someone who is violating the HRL. This bill ensures that any amount of retaliatory action that would be
Finally, the provision that may have the farthest-reaching ramifications is the Restoration Act's requirement that the City's HRL be interpreted independently of its federal and state counterparts.
In practice, this means that those laws will be used as a floor below which civil rights protections cannot fall, not a means by which local protections are unfairly restricted.
Intro 22-A allows the courts to award legal fees to lawyers for their participation in cases in which there is no final judgment or court-approved settlement, including
Intro 22-A is sponsored by 40 Council Members and the Public Advocate, and has the support of 40 organizations, including the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Disabled In Action; Habitat for Humanity - NYC Chapter; Lambda Legal; the New York Civil Liberies Union; and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. It will go into effect immediately upon enactment.
IN NEED, THEY'LL FEEL THE HEET
Newsday.com - October 24, 2005 - The remote-controlled bombs were to be concealed in suitcases and baby strollers. At least that's what an overseas informant told authorities about a recent terror plot against the subway.
But Lynn Zelvin's dog, a German Shepard named Kona, may have been mistaken for the world's first suicide pooch the other morning. A police officer followed Zelvin, who is blind, into the 110th Street station on the Broadway line.
Zelvin turned and walked to the platform.
Kona was no bomber. The Broadway line was safe.
But the misunderstanding occurred in a city that Zelvin described as the most accessible place in the nation for a blind person comfortable with using public transportation.
Still, Zelvin and other advocates for disabled riders said the subway's increasing reliability on High Entrance/Exit Turnstiles, or HEETS, is putting lives in danger. Also known as high-wheels, the turnstiles are impossible to crawl under or scramble over. They were designed to keep the transit agency from losing even a single fare as it permanently shuts down station booths throughout the city.
For people stuck in even a small fire underground, the immediate reaction is to rush to the nearest exit. Now imagine the nearest exit for a throng of panicked riders is a wall of HEETS. Now throw in a rider with a motorized wheelchair and another with a guide dog.
On Friday morning, seven subway lines were halted by an electrical fire at the West Fourth Street station in Manhattan. The smoky fire started in an underground storage room. Seven firefighters had minor injuries. Riders complained of confusion and conflicting instructions from transit workers.
Harris said NYC Transit's own evacuation information offers little help.
Lawrence Reuter is president of NYC Transit, the architect of the booth closing plan. In fact, a half dozen booths were shuttered last month on the fourth anniversary of 9/11.
TRANSPORTATION BILL ENHANCES TRAVEL OPPORTUNITES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE VISUALLY DISABLED
San Francisco, California - PRNewswire -- By signing the Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users, (TEA-LU), the President authorized the funding of a major project evaluating remote infrared audible signage (RIAS). This project is another important step in the efforts to make the built environment accessible to people with disabilities originally launched by the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
The technology operates by the installation of infrared light transmitters that broadcast repeating, human voice messages, providing directional, wayfinding information that can be heard by visually, cognitively, or learning disabled users through small, hand-held receivers. RIAS systems have proven effective for navigation in transit stations, bus shelters (providing the user the destination and time of arrival of the next bus), and at street crossings. They enable a user to tell what bus is coming when it is up to one hundred feet away and to locate its entrance. In addition to transit applications, the system has been installed in libraries, city halls, convention centers, museums, and parks; primarily in the U.S. and Japan.
The project, entitled the Remote Infrared Audible Signage Model Accessibility Project (RIAS MAP) authorized in the new act, will provide funding for a regional, multi-modal/intra-modal evaluation of the technology. The impact of RIAS on education, work, personal economics and quality of life will be studied. Its use for emergency egress will also be evaluated. The Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to spend a minimum of $500,000 annually on the RIAS program from 2006-2009.
Congressman Richard Baker, 6 District, Louisiana along with Representatives Eleanor Holmes-Norton of Washington, D.C. and Stephen LaTourette, District 14, Cleveland, Ohio, championed the inclusion of the RIAS MAP.
Invented in 1981 at the Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center in San Francisco, the technology was researched, developed and evaluated through the next two decades.
Today, Henry Metz, Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute said:
RIAS is currently being installed in the U.S. and Canada by Talking Signs, Inc. of Baton Rouge, LA and in Japan and Norway by Mitsubishi Precision Co., Ltd. of Tokyo.
Contact: Bill Crandall, Ph.D., Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute
VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE USE THE WEB, TOO
October 25, 2005 - Huntington (WV) Herald Dispatch - Despite high gasoline prices and security concerns, Americans are traveling in record numbers and using the Internet to do it. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, about 30 percent of the U.S. adult population uses the Internet for travel planning each year.
And why not? The multitude of travel Web sites offers a host of benefits such as comparing discounts, viewing hotel rooms online and reserving tickets to hot attractions. But not everyone gets to share in the fun. Millions of Americans with vision loss are unable to reap the benefits of the Web.
Last summer, the New York attorney general took notice and announced settlements with two major travel retailers to make their Web sites more accessible to users with vision loss. The attorney general successfully argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) means all places of
While these specific sites have made changes, the Internet is still largely inaccessible to the millions of Americans with vision loss.
Visually impaired people depend on
But too often, Web designers fail to consider accessibility and label pictures blankly as
With the Internet becoming increasingly important for employment and educational opportunities, timely access to news and connection to communities around the world, it's imperative that businesses start taking action now.
Today, 7.3 million older Americans report some form of vision impairment even while wearing glasses or contact lenses, according to the National Vision Rehabilitation Association. As Baby Boomers age, this number is expected to increase significantly. Organizations need to start implementing adaptations to technology now -- many of which are uncomplicated and not cost prohibitive -- so they can retain these older, computer savvy consumers.
What's more is that the same accessibility tools that benefit people with vision loss help other segments of the population. We've come to rely on Blackberries and cell phones to do everything from checking e-mail to monitoring stock prices. Consumers would be able to get information more quickly and efficiently on these devices if viewing content without graphics and pop-ups was the norm.
As we approach travel planning and gift shopping for the winter holidays, we're hoping more companies will take the time to assess their Web sites -- and other technology products -- for accessibility. It's not just the right thing to do for people with vision loss. It's a smart business decision.
Carl R. Augusto is president and chief executive officer of the American Foundation for the Blind.
EMPLOYERS AND THE ADA:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities by eliminating barriers to their participation in many aspects of living and working in America. In particular, the ADA prohibits covered employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full range of employment-related activities, from recruitment to advancement, to pay and benefits.
The foundation for the ADA is America's promise of equal access to opportunity for all citizens.
Being inclusive of people with disabilities - in recruitment, retention, promotion, and in providing an accessible environment - gives businesses a competitive edge. Below are some of the common myths about how the ADA affects employers and research and facts that negate them.
Myth: The ADA forces employers to hire unqualified individuals with disabilities.
Fact: Applicants who are unqualified for a job cannot claim discrimination under the ADA. Under the ADA, to be protected from discrimination in hiring, an individual with a disability must be qualified, which means he or she must meet all requirements for a job and be able to perform its essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations.
Myth: When there are several qualified applicants for a job and one has a disability, the ADA requires the employer to hire that person.
Fact: An employer is always free to hire the applicant of its choosing as long as the decision is not based on disability. If two people apply for a data entry position for which both speed and accuracy are required, the employer may hire the person with the higher speed and level of accuracy, because he or she is the most qualified.
Myth: The ADA gives job applicants with disabilities advantages over job applicants without disabilities.
Fact: The ADA does not give hiring preference to persons with disabilities.
Myth: Under the ADA, employers must give people with disabilities special privileges, known as accommodations.
Fact: Reasonable accommodations are intended to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities have rights in employment equal - not superior - to those of individuals without disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to a job, work environment or the way work is performed that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.
Myth: Providing accommodations for people with disabilities is expensive.
Fact: The majority of workers with disabilities do not need accommodations to perform their jobs, and for those who do, the cost is usually minimal. According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, two-thirds of accommodations cost less than $500, with many costing nothing at all. Moreover, tax incentives are available to help employers cover the costs of accommodations, as well as modifications required to make their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities.
Myth: The ADA places a financial burden on small businesses that cannot afford to make accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
Fact: Businesses with fewer than 15 employees are not covered by the employment provisions of the ADA. Moreover, a covered employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation that would cause an
Myth: ADA lawsuits are flooding the courts.
Fact: The majority of ADA employment-related disputes are resolved through informal negotiation or mediation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the ADA's employment provisions, carefully investigates the merits of each case and offers many alternatives to litigation as a way to resolve any potential problem. The number of ADA employment-related cases, whether filed privately or by the EEOC, represents a tiny percentage of the millions of employers in the U.S.
Myth: The ADA is frequently misused by people with vague complaints or diagnoses.
Fact: If an individual files a complaint of discriminatory treatment, denial of accommodation or harassment under the ADA and does not have a condition that meets its definition of disability, the complaint is dismissed. While claims by people with false or minor conditions may get considerable media attention, the reality is that these complaints are usually dismissed.
Myth: The ADA protects employees who have difficult or rude personalities or are troublemakers.
Fact: Improper behavior in and of itself does not constitute a disability, and having a disability does not excuse employees from performing essential job tasks and following the same conduct standards required of all employees. The courts have consistently ruled that
Myth: Under the ADA, an employer cannot fire an employee who has a disability.
Fact: Employers can fire workers with disabilities under three conditions:
A number of resources are available to assist employers in understanding their responsibilities under the ADA:
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) http://www.jan.wvu.edu/
JAN is a free, confidential service from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that provides individualized accommodation solutions and technical assistance on the ADA. Among the areas that JAN can address are:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) http://www.eeoc.gov/
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ADA Home Page - www.ada.gov
ADA and IT Technical Assistance Centers www.adata.org
U.S. Department of Labor
REACHING OUT TO CUSTOMERS WITH DISABILITIES
An online ADA course for businesses from the
As a business owner or operator, or someone thinking about opening a business, you may have wondered what you have to do to comply with the Americans with Disabilites Act (ADA) This course explains how the ADA applies to businesses in ten short lessons. Putting these lessons into practice will allow you to comply with the ADA and welcome a whole new group of customers to purchase your goods, products, and services. And you may find that making your business more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities is not as difficult as you thought.
Did you know?
More than 50 million Americans with disabilities - 18% of our population - are potential customers for businesses of all types across the United States.
This group has $175 billion in discretionary spending power, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That figure is more than twice the spending power of American teenagers and almost 18 times the spending power of the American
Accessibility attracts not only people with disabilities but also their families and friends. Like others, these customers often visit stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses accompanied by family or friends. This expands the potential market exponentially!
This market is growing fast. By the year 2030, 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over the age of 65 and demanding products, services, and environments that address their age-related physical changes.
This huge customer market can represent additional business and profit for your enterprise. The course will help you learn how to attract and successfully provide your services to this market.
To make this course easier to fit into your busy schedule, we divided it into individual lesson modules. Go through the lessons at your own pace, and as your time allows. As you progress through the course, you will find links to additional information, but you can also access a wealth of information by visiting the ADA Website at www.ada.gov. If you have questions about a specific situation.
A key point to remember as you start the course: everyone benefits when businesses give customers with disabilities an equal opportunity to obtain their goods and services. By positively addressing the issues discussed in this course, businesses can make it easier for people with disabilities as well as other customers to access and purchase the services or products they have to offer. Accessibility pays dividends and makes good business sense.
To visit this course go to http://www.ada.gov/reachingout/intro1.htm.
COLLEGE AND THE DISABLED STUDENT
Inside Higher Education - July 29, 2005 - Nearly a third of young people with disabilities have taken at least some postsecondary classes within the first two years after they leave high school, according to a U.S. Education Department study released Thursday. The study finds that disabled students over all are less than half as likely as their peers to have attended college in the two years after high school, but the college-going rate varies greatly by type of disability: Students with hearing or visual impairments are as likely as nondisabled students to have done some postsecondary work.
The report of the study,
The study looked at a group of students who were in high school in 2001 and who had finished or left high school two years later.
Of those, 31 percent of disabled students had attended a postsecondary institution since leaving high school, although a small proportion of those were attending college exclusively (most were working, too). Nearly 20 percent of the students were attending college currently at the time the study was conducted in 2003, just under half of the proportion for the general population.
Disabled students were far less likely than their peers to attend a four-year institution: 5.7 percent were enrolled at a four-year institution in 2003, compared to 28.3 percent of all students. But disabled students were nearly as likely as other students (9.7 percent versus 12.2 percent) to be enrolled at a community or two-year college. Another 5 percent of disabled students were attending postsecondary vocational, business, or technical schools in 2003.
Among the study's other key findings:
In one other noteworthy way, disabled students were very much like their peers: They show a gender gap in college-going rates. Female students with disabilities were 6 percentage points more likely than male students to have enrolled in college since high school, controlling for other differences.
Source: Inside Higher Ed (www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/07/29/disabled)
HUD STUDY SHOWS PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FACE DISCRIMINATION IN UP TO HALF OF RENTAL INQUIRIES
New study the most comprehensive disability housing discrimination study conducted
July 25, 2005 - Washington - Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a groundbreaking study, Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities - Barriers at Every Step, that showed people with disabilities are often discriminated against when trying to rent apartments. The agency plans to use the comprehensive study to educate consumers and landlords on their rights as well as provide fair housing advocates with new guidelines and strategies that will allow them to investigate and detect discrimination against people with disabilities. In addition, the study will assist the agency in continuing to monitor the progress of discrimination against persons with disabilities in the Chicago area and nationwide.
In the Chicago-based study, hearing-impaired people were discriminated against approximately 50 percent of the time when using a telephone-operator relay to search for rentals. Mobility impaired people using wheelchairs faced discrimination about a third of the time when they visited rental properties.
The study, conducted for HUD by The Urban Institute, is the most comprehensive effort to date to measure the extent of housing discrimination in the United States against people with disabilities. It specifically provides statistically valid measures of the level of discrimination faced by two groups in the Chicago metropolitan area: deaf persons using a TTY (text-telephone) relay system to inquire about apartments advertised for rent and persons in wheelchairs visiting rental providers in person in response to an advertised rental unit.
Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities - Barriers at Every Step uses
Highlights of the study include:
Based upon the methodology and results, HUD is releasing with this report, Guidance for Practitioners for fair housing advocates and include the study as part of the Fair Housing Academy's core curriculum. The findings of the study were also a major consideration when HUD recently decided to continue running its highly successful fair housing public service announcements.
HUD has also placed a greater emphasis on combating disability discrimination in recent years. The Department has invested over $5 million in the Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST initiative, which has trained over 3500 builders, developers, and others on the how to design and construct apartments and condominiums with legally required accessibility features. Earlier this month, the Department announced a landmark settlement of a disability discrimination complaint, where a California developer will pay $1.2 million to help retrofit units and common areas at San Diego condominium complex that allegedly failed to comply with the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act. Under its authority to enforce Section 504, the Department has also conducted over a hundred compliance reviews of recipients of HUD funds in the past eighteen months, resulting in the creation of thousands of accessible dwelling units.
Copies of the study are available as a free download on the HUDUSER.org website at http://www.huduser.org/publications/hsgspec/dds.html or in printed form for a nominal charge by calling 1-800-245-2691.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws.
Anyone who believes they have experienced housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or TTY 1-800-927-9275 or visit HUD's fair housing website at www.hud.gov.
Nyla came into our Head Start classroom wheeled by her special assistant and surrounded by three early intervention (EI) specialists. I could barely see her for the equipment, adults, and silence that encapsulated her.
I was completely overwhelmed. My Head Start class had just merged with the early intervention program. It was 1992, and we were embarking on our first experience with inclusion classrooms, and although Nyla's special assistant and her three EI specialists had all been through the necessary training, I was one of her classroom teachers and I was intimidated.
Realities of Inclusion
The model we developed for our newly formed Head Start service was to merge the traditional
The special education teachers and the early childhood teachers merged into a classroom team of four to plan for and address the needs of all the children.
I mostly loved the idea of inclusion. I had been struggling to teach about diversity and social justice in a northeastern corner of Oregon where there was almost no racial, linguistic, or economic status diversity. I thought including kids with disabilities in our classroom would help the preschoolers make meaningful connections with people who are different from them. I had no clue what we were getting into.
After the second week of school, I have a tradition of spending the weekend thinking of each child in my class. I review what I learned about them, what I want to learn more about, and the ways I am beginning to feel connected to them. When I thought of Nyla, I drew a blank: a blank instead of a child with an emerging story, instead of a smile or a funny anecdote. I was surprised at myself, mad at myself, disappointed in myself. How could I have a child in my classroom for two weeks and not have one story or even an irritation to reflect on? What was this really about?
Then I had a memory. The summer I turned five, my family went on our annual family vacation to visit relatives in Colorado. We went to the nursing home to see my Great Granddaddy Greenwell. We had on our church clothes. It was hot, and my brothers and I were grouchy about having to dress up. Almost 50 years later, I can still remember the odor when we walked through the doors of the nursing home. We hovered in the hallway and eventually saw a nurse wheeling Great Grandpa toward us. He was a tall man, more than six feet, but in the wheelchair, he looked old, very wrinkled, and very scary to me. And he smelled even worse than the hallway. As the only girl child in our family, I suddenly became the designated representative.
Recalling that memory, it struck me: That was the only close encounter I had ever had with a person using a wheelchair in my entire life up to that point. I was avoiding Nyla because I was afraid. It may sound odd, but once I realized this, I knew what to do. I had faced fears before.
On Monday morning, I went into the classroom and told the early intervention team that I wanted to take both the handling and feeding trainings for Nyla's caregiving. I completed both of those, but I had serious doubts when they introduced the feeding topic by telling us how many children had died in feeding incidents the prior year. When I was approved for safe caregiving, I asked the specialists if I could get Nyla out of her wheelchair and hold her for circle time. They were hesitant because this was not standard practice but decided we could try it.
As soon as I had Nyla in my arms, my relationship with her began. From that day on, for circle time, Nyla was either in my arms or in her
As soon as I changed my behavior and began a relationship with Nyla, the other children began to see her as a classmate. I have never had a clearer lesson about the power of the teacher as a role model.
Our class talked often about all of Nyla's equipment. The kids were really interested in her wheelchair and all of the equipment she used. We all talked together each time she used a different piece of equipment or if we were going to try to make her safe and comfortable on any of the traditional
We began to address the ways her equipment got in the way of her connection to the other children. I started asking questions like,
Sometimes those questions led to my education about her fragile muscle system. Other times they led to the EI/special ed team's education about the value of Nyla's relationship to the other children or to play. These conversations and experiences transformed us all.
After learning how to integrate Nyla and other special-needs children into the classroom community, we found that our inclusive classroom provided opportunities for students to question and address things that are unfair in the world.
For example, we ordered a set of rubber people dolls for children to play with in the dollhouse. We were all excited when we found the Lakeshore Learning Materials Company sold dolls that represented people with disabilities. When the toys arrived, we brought the boxes to circle time and opened them up together. Joshua unwrapped a man in a wheelchair. He exclaimed,
Sure enough, there was about a half-inch gap between the guy's feet and the footrests.
Another student said,
Then another child shouted,
Several kids went scurrying over to the woodworking table and grabbed small scraps of wood. We were eventually able to craft a little wooden filler for the gap. The children were delighted with their invention and very pleased that the
I wanted to take things one step further, so the next day I asked the children,
Nyla was there in the circle, and although she did not have any formal expressive language at that point, she showed her excitement by squealing.
Eventually we wrote a letter to Lakeshore, saying we thought they made a mistake. We sent them a picture of our redesigned wheelchair and asked them if they knew how uncomfortable their wheelchair would be. We also said that we would not be buying more Lakeshore toys until they fixed this problem. We all went together to the post office to mail the letter, Nyla leading the way in her wheelchair with Mikey, the proud young engineer, helping to push her.
By the way, we never got a response from Lakeshore, but they have now fixed the gap problem with the wheelchairs. Another day, our class started out on a field trip to the local feed store. It was a trip we had made the year before and loved. When we arrived, I had the horrifying realization that Nyla would not be able to visit the second floor, which had all the great farm tools. (This was part of our machines study.) I gathered up the children and said,
I was going to ask the children what they thought we should do when one of the children interrupted me and said,
Nyla's Best Friend
In the process of developing the inclusion model, there was a great deal of questioning and, in some cases, trepidation on the part of parents. Nyla's mother, in particular, had expressed concerns about Nyla leaving the
We were not always able to answer these questions to Nyla's mom's satisfaction. After about five months of indecision, she decided to pull Nyla out of the program. When we could not talk her out of her decision, I asked that we at least have a few days of closure and time for the children to say their good-byes. It was a very hard few days.
On the last afternoon, Nyla's mother came to pick her up and we were finishing our
Andy, a student who had overcome initial fear of Nyla's differences, got up from his seated space, knelt by Nyla and said,
Later, Nyla's mom told me that in her wildest dreams, she had never believed that Nyla would have a best friend. And she was moved to see a whole classroom of children welcoming her daughter into their community.
I made important discoveries in those first years of working in an inclusion classroom. By facing my own fears and connecting with Nyla, I became a better role model for my students, who quickly grew to love and accept her. I realized that solidarity is something we can nurture from the youngest ages.
From Rethinking Schools Online, Vol. 19. No. 3. Spring 2005. Katie Kissinger is an early childhood education consultant and part-time college instructor. She lives in Boring, Oregon.
SOCIAL SECURITY REVAMPS DISABILITY BENEFITS
AP - July 26, 2005 - WASHINGTON - People seeking disability benefits from Social Security can expect to spend less time waiting for a decision under changes rolled out Tuesday on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilites Act. Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said people who are clearly disabled could be approved for benefits in as little as 20 days under the new procedures, which the agency expects to start putting into action next spring.
The rest of the roughly 2 million people who seek disability benefits each year can expect to spend less time working through thr process for appealing decisions when benefits are denied.
The Social Security disability insurance program pays cash assistance to people who cannot work for a year or more because of a disability. To qualify, an individula must have worked long enough, paid Social Security taxes and met the criteria for disability assistance. More than 11 million people, including some family memebers of disabled workers, receive benefits.
Among the changes, the new procedures will screen applicants for cases of clear disability that can be quickly approved for benefits by a special unit. For other applicants, the changes replace a step that sent cases back to a state agency for review if the state agency had denied a claim.
Barnhart said that state review rarely overturned a decision and is considered a
Under new procedures, the claim would be sent to federal reviewing officials, a standardized unit within the federal Social Security system. Barnhart said the federal review means many applicants could get a more meaningful reconsideration of their claims more quickly.
The new process also establishes a unit of medical and vocational experts available to those evaluating disability applications at all stages of the process.
When designing the new system, the Social Security Administration determined that it could take an individual 1,153 days to move through the entire application and appeal process if the claim had been denied at each step.
Combining the new procedures with an electronic system that alleviates the need for Social Security officials to mail paper files around the country, Barnhart said that process should shrink about 25 percent.
The Social Security Administration plans to publish proposed regulations for public comment on Wednesday and issue final regulations by the end of the year. The administration expects it will take a couple years to implement the new system throughout the country
On the Net:
BROOKE GRADUATED HARVARD, AND?: "THE BROOKE ELLISON STORY" A REVIEW
I recently rented The Brooke Ellison Story on DVD (Christopher Reeve's last directorial effort). It's one of those syrupy based-on-actual-events Lifetime cable movies.
Brooke becomes disabled at a young age as the result of being hit by a car and is severely disabled. She can do nothing by herself whatsoever. Fortunately, her cognition is not affected. She is so bright, as a matter of fact, that she attends Harvard University for undergraduate and graduate studies. This is where the story gets sickening.
Brooke's mother serves as her Personal Care Attendant throughout her college years. She leaves her husband and children behind to ensure her daughter makes it at Harvard. Excuse me, but I fail to see the achievement here on Brooke's part. Her mother is her PCA. It's important to mention that Brooke's mom is an educated woman (she was a teacher).
Anyone who depends on PCAs knows what a fine line he/she must walk (pardon the pun). It's all about communicating one's needs and working together. If you hire your own PCAs, like I do, you have the responsibility of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, supervising, and, when necessary, terminating/replacing. The process never ends. Sometimes (actually, most of the time) this happens when it's least convenient. At any given moment, the situation may become unbearable with your PCA and you know you need to find someone else. I call it a sixth sense since I'm almost always able to predict when the end is near for me and a PCA. Brooke didn't have to worry about that. Her mother would never quit on her and leave.
Additionally, Brooke's mother was able to meet her daughter halfway intellectually in regards to doing research. I've been in situations where I have had to do research for school and I'm providing Orientation to Library Services to a PCA who has never been in a library and wouldn't know a call number from a telephone number! I've needed my PCA to be with me since I'm not physically able to handle books, journals, and magazines to make copies, nor can I physically manipulate a microfilm reader. Brooke had her mom beside her all the way.
Apart from screwing up any chance of having a social life, having your mother as your PCA ensures you have dependable care available all the time. That's because a parent performs the duties out of love, not for the money.
I'm sure Harvard could have paid for her to have student aides which would have assisted greatly in her quest to become independent, if she truly desired to be independent. Brooke required a high-level of care, but so do most disabled folks who have 24 hours of service per day.
I tip my hat, not to Brooke, who had an ideal arrangement, but to the many disabled individuals who have learned to work with their PCAs and have acquired the crucial skills of interviewing and articulating one's personal needs over and over and over.
REVIEW OF "39 POUNDS OF LOVE"
The documentary movie,
Who is the 39 Pounds of Love? A 34-year-old man named Ami Ankilewitz who has a form of SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy II, a congenital disease which is a form of muscular dystrophy. Ami lives in Israel and was born in Texas, where a doctor predicted that he would only live to be six years old. His mother has devoted her life to him at the expense of her other son and her grandchildren. But Ami also has attendants and he lives a very full life for someone who can only move one finger.
Ami hangs out in bars with his friends and loves to party. He's also a 3-D computer animator and we see some of his very expressive, wordless cartoons, especially about his love for a beautiful and vivacious former attendant, Christina.
A large part of this interesting, thought-provoking, touching, and funny movie shows Ami with his friends and family on a cross-U.S. road trip. One of my favorites was the scene in the RV where everyone was dancing to
This movie does not pretend that Ami's whole life is rosy, and it shows his physical suffering when he pushes himself to the limit. We also glimpse some of the care that Ami needs. We learn of the affects that Ami's condition had on his whole family.
Some of the blurbs about the movie call it inspirational, but I wouldn't call it that. I would call it more a slice-of-life movie that is about a man with a severe disability and his family and friends. Why is it supposed to be inspirational when a person with a disability has a
Go see this movie and see what you think about it. I guarantee that it will make you think.
FALL 2005 ELECTION RESULTS FOR DIA OFFICERS AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Moving Right Along
AMTRAK Can Charge Disabled Extra
by Patrick Walters
AP - Philadelphia - June 22, 2005 - A federal judge ruled that Amtrak can charge a group of wheelchair users extra to ride in the same car together.
The wheelchair users, members of Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania, travel to Washington regularly to lobby. They sued after Amtrak told them that they could ride together on a Philadelphia-to-Washington train but that some of them would have to pay $200 more than the usual ticket price to cover the cost of removing seats.
The group sued, saying the policy violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said Friday that under federal law, Amtrak must have one space to park a wheelchair and one space to store an unoccupied chair per passenger coach. It can charge extra for anything beyond that, Bartle ruled.
About three-quarters of those who were to go on the February trip are on fixed incomes of about $600 a month, the group said. Executive director Nancy Salandra said the charge on top of the $90 round-trip ticket price was too much for them to bear.
Amtrak spokeswoman Marcie Golgoski said the policy of charging for the removal of seats does not apply to just the disabled. If people wanted to have party on a train and seats had to be removed, they would be assessed the fee, too, she said.
DOT Launches New Website to Assist Persons with Disabilities For Emergency Preparedness
Thursday, July 21, 2005 - The U.S. Department of Transportation today launched a new web site containing information to help ensure safe and secure transportation for persons with disabilities in the event of a disaster or emergency.
The new site includes advice on emergency preparedness, transportation accessibility, and evacuation methods for certain modes of transportation, such as rail and transit systems. Disabled individuals can learn how to react in situations ranging from evacuations of mass transit systems to being trapped in a car during a blizzard or hurricane.
The site also includes links to Department of Homeland Security web pages that provide information on preparing for specific emergencies, including natural disasters such as severe weather, fire and earthquakes, as well as man-made disasters such as spills of hazardous materials. In addition, the site also provides information for transportation providers on how to respond to the unique needs of people with disabilities during an emergency.
The new site was developed in response to an executive order issued by President Bush on July 22, 2004, which directed federal agencies to support safety and security for individuals with disabilities during natural and man-made disasters.
The web address for the new site is http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/asp/emergencyprep.asp.
Disability Rights Online News
Disability Rights Online News is a bi-monthly update about the Civil Rights Divisions activities in the area of disability rights. The Division enforces laws prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment, housing, access to businesses serving the public, access to government programs and services including voting and public transportation, and unconstitutional conditions in institutions of confinement.
To view the Online news visit: http://www.ada.gov/newsltr1005.htm
Source: U.S. Department of Justice www.ada.gov
New EEOC Publication Addresses Employment Rights Of People with Cancer under Disabilities Act
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a question-and-answer document on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to persons with cancer in the workplace. The new publication is available on EEOC web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/cancer.html.
Barry Winthrop Dies
by Marvin Wasserman
It is with great sadness that I report to you the passing on August 17, 2005, of Barry Winthrop, activist and former Executive Committee member of both the 504 Democratic Club and Disabled in Action.
Barry, who was 71 years of age, had multiple disabilities and was legally blind. Despite this, he had several advanced degrees, including one in law and a doctorate in psychology. He went into long term rehabilitation following an accident in which he slipped in the snow about two and a half years ago, around Thanksgiving. Since then, he had spent much time in Cabrini Rehabilitation Center and, most recently, in Coler Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island. At the time of his passing, he was at Bellevue Hospital.
He has no close relatives, but warm friends such as Ed and Gerry Law of Upstate New York, Sam Brown of Brooklyn, and Robert Furman from Coler Hospital.
Applying for Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE)
The Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities will be handling the application process for DRIE. They have advised that individuals start contacting them at the end of September to request applications. Below is their contact info:
Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
A New Disability Law Blog
A new disability law blog can be reached at: http://disabilitylaw.blogspot.com. What is a blog? A blog is short for weblog and it is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles, often written by one person. They may be on one topic or many topics.
$55 Million Pool and Ice Skating Complex in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Complex Will Include Special Features to Accommodate People With Disabilities
September, 28, 2005 - (adapted from press release) Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Executive Director Matthew P. Sapolin to break ground on a new pool and ice skating complex in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The $55.2 million project will include an Olympic-sized indoor pool and an NHL regulation-sized skating rink, and will be completed by Fall 2007. The site, which will be utilized by schools, leagues, and community members of all ages, will be Parks and Recreation's first in Queens. The complex includes a number of special features to allow for recreation activities designed for the physically disabled.
During the planning phase of the project, the City engaged the Mayor's Office of People with Disabilities and the United Spinal Association to review the facility and implemented their suggestions to ensure it would best accommodate people with disabilities.
Updated Information on Pooled Trusts (Supplemental Needs Trusts)
Updated information on pooled trusts, including HRA Medicaid Alert from July 7, 2005, is available at: http://www.wnylc.net/pb/docs/Medicaid.pdf
Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Walkway Being Made ADA Compliant
In late September, 2005, work began on the pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge to make the 26 expansion joints ADA compliant. Previous to this, the expansion joints were several inches high like little steps instead of being low and beveled. Bicyclists and people with disabilities were having a hard time going over them, and ended up tripping or falling, and some bicyclists lost control and flipped over, getting injured. United Spinal and Transportation Alternatives, a bicyclist advocacy group, teamed up with other organizations, including DIA, to have the bumps pared down to an almost-smooth level.
Hurricane Emergency Funds for People with Disabilities
The U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announced in October, 2005 that they were committing emergency funds to help people with disabilities in the states most affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. One of their goals was to move people with disabilities out of nursing homes. The announcement said,
Editor's Note: Wouldn't some of this been obvious beforehand? I hope they also help get people out of nursing homes who were already there and wanted to get out.
New ADA Transportation Guidance From DOT
Recently, four new guidance documents interpreting the Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations were released by DOT. These four guidance documents faithfully carry out the intent of the ADA and its regulation to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. For example, one of the documents states that transit agencies must provide paratransit service in a way that goes beyond
The documents are entitled:
The new DOT documents can be found at www.fta.dot.gov/ada under the first heading,
EEOC Explains Employment Rights of Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired - New Document Answers Frequently-Asked Questions, Challenges Stereotypes
October 25, 2005 - WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a question-and-answer document on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to people in the workplace who are blind or who have vision impairments. The new publication, is available on EEOC's web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/blindness.html.
The latest Q&A document is the fifth in a series of fact sheets issued by the EEOC for persons with disabilities, and/or focusing on the ADA and specific disability issues, in accordance with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. It is the second ADA document made available by the Commission in the past two weeks, in observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Among the issues the new Q&A document addresses are:
The fact sheet helps to advance the goals of the President's New Freedom Initiative, a comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities, and community life for people with disabilities. An important part of the New Freedom Initiative's strategy for increasing employment opportunities involves providing employers with technical assistance on the ADA. Information about other EEOC activities under the Initiative also is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.
In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, EEOC enforces laws prohibiting race, sex, color, national origin, religion, and age discrimination in employment.
Report Available on Wheeled Mobility Study
A report, Standards and Anthropometry for Wheeled Mobility, is now available from a study the [Access] Board commissioned on wheeled mobility and human measures. The report was prepared by the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) at the State University of New York at Buffalo which is undertaking a major multi-year project to collect human measures data on people who use wheeled mobility aids. Started in 1999, this work will continue at least through 2006. The research team is gathering data at various locations across the U.S. to ensure a representative sample.
According to Dr. Edward Steinfeld, Project Director, sufficient data has been collected to start a dialogue on some of the findings, which suggest that current accessibility standards may not be adequate for today's population of people who use wheeled mobility aids. Drawing upon information collected and developed in completed phases of the project, the report reviews research conducted in other countries (Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada) and its influence on their access standards. The comparative analysis developed for this report provides a framework for the future comparison of research findings and standards and offers a foundation for improving the utilization of research for standards development. The analysis highlights the importance of integrating research with standards development, organizing international research collaborations, and developing international standards, all of which the IDEA Center is helping to advance with support from the Board in addition to its ongoing work collecting human measures data. The report is available on the IDEA Center's website at http://www.ap.buffalo.edu/idea/Anthro/index.asp.
Upcoming Research on Detectable Warnings
Detectable warnings, a distinctive surface pattern of domes detectable by cane or underfoot, are used to alert people with vision impairments of their approach to streets and hazardous drop-offs. Under the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), they are required at curb ramps, which remove a tactile cue otherwise provided by curb faces, and other areas where pedestrian ways blend with vehicular ways. They are also required along the edges of boarding platforms in transit stations. In its rulemaking on public rights-of-way, the [Access] Board is revisiting the requirements for detectable warnings on curb ramps and other sidewalk areas. In light of some of the questions and issues raised, the Board has promoted the need for research on various aspects of detectable warnings which can help inform its rulemaking. One project on durability is to be undertaken and another on visibility issues is underway.
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