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Updated April 11, 2014

Lex Frieden to Speak on Social Justice Panel During Civil Rights Summit

United Spinal Association

Lex Frieden, a United Spinal board member who played an integral role in the development, passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will participate in a social justice panel discussion at 2:05pm central, Thurs., Apr. 10 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas as part of the Civil Rights Summit, Apr. 8-10.

Watch Live Stream Here

Frieden will talk about the linkage of the ADA with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, why disability rights are civil rights and how the discrimination faced by people with disabilities is similar to that faced by people of color, women and LGBT individuals. He will emphasize how important community integration is to the over 50 million people with disabilities living in the US today.

The panel discussion will immediately follow the keynote speech by President Barack Obama. Other panel participants include former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; humanitarian Maria Shriver; athlete and philanthropist David Robinson; and businessman Steve Stoute on the panel.

This panel, like the rest of the Summit, will be live streamed at http://www.civilrightssummit.org.

Under immense national pressure from disability rights advocates to include disability rights as part of the Civil Rights Summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and main organizer of the Summit personally reached out to Frieden and invited him to participate on the social justice panel as a civil and disability rights activist.

Frieden has been involved in the disability community for 45 years. He is one of America's pre-eminent disability activists and leaders of the independent living movement. He is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas at Houston, and is past Chairman of the National Council on Disability (NCD), a presidentially-appointed body. He was the 1998 winner of the Henry B. Betts Award for outstanding achievement in disability rights. He is also director of the independent living research utilization program (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Disability rights and ADA supporters will also be having a press conference on Tuesday, April 8th at 11am central in Austin at Red River and Dean Keeton celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For more information, contact Bob Kafka at bob.adapt@sbcglobal.net or 512-431-4085.

 

Updated March 20, 2014

Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Man Denied Accommodation for Diabetes and Heart Conditions and Then Fired, Federal Agency Charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 13, 2014) - The operators of a residential nursing home in Albuquerque violated federal law by denying accommodation to and terminating an employee because of his disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed March 11.
According to the EEOC's suit, Doug Johnson, an employee of Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, LLC, Alpha Healthcare Properties, LLC, and LaVie Care Centers LLC, d/b/a Consulate Health Care, has diabetes and heart conditions. Johnson requested to work eight-hour days instead of longer ones as a reasonable accommodation. Instead, the EEOC said, the company fired Johnson -- while he was on approved leave and recovering from a heart attack -- because of his disabilities and/or because he requested accommodation for them.

Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability, including the need for reasonable accommodation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, LLC, Alpha Healthcare Properties, LLC, and La Vie Care Centers LLC, d/b/a Consulate Health Care, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00235-GBW-KBM) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

"The law is clear: Employers have a legal obligation to explore reasonable accommodations for disabilities -- and limiting Mr. Johnson to eight-hour days was certainly in that category, " said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. "Companies cannot refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees unless there is an undue hardship to the company."

The lawsuit asks the court to order these operating companies to provide Johnson with appropriate relief, including back wages, prejudgment interest, compensatory and punitive damages, and to grant a permanent injunction enjoining the companies from engaging in any further discriminatory practice because of disabilities. The EEOC also asks the court to order the companies to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.
EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick Newton said, "Employers have an important responsibility to honor approved leave requests and refrain from discriminating based on disability while an employee is recuperating. One would expect that health and rehabilitation companies at least would understand that. We found, after our investigation, that terminating Mr. Johnson while he was out on approved leave and obtaining medical treatment violated the ADA."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.


Updated March 10, 2014

Update on the U.S. Access Board's Refresh of the Section 508 Standards and Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines

The U.S. Access Board is in the process of jointly updating its Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology and its Telecommunications Act (Section 255) Accessibility Guidelines. On February 23, the Board submitted a proposed rule to update these standards and guidelines to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. OMB has 90 days to review the rule under Executive Order 12866. Once cleared by OMB, the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register and will be available for public comment for a specified period of time.

Further information on this rulemaking is available on the Board's website.


Updated March 4, 2014

Veterans and Bootz’s Law: Service Animals and Persons with Disabilities in Texas

A new informational video from the State Bar of Texas explains Texas House Bill 489, “Bootz’s Law,” relating to the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities, including the use of service animals.


The ADA National Network launches new informational website

February 10, 2014

The ADA National Network launched its new, user-friendly national website this week at adata.org. The NIDRR-funded ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. The new website allows visitors to explore resources about the ADA by audience and topic, to learn about the services offered by the ADA National Network, and to locate their regional ADA Center.

Visitors to the website can read publications developed by the ADA National Network as well as by other ADA-focused organizations, browse an extensive FAQ (frequently asked questions) database, search for information through a focused ADA Portal, read current ADA news, and locate training and awareness events about the ADA. The website is designed to meet and exceed section 508 standards. Visitors are encouraged on every page to provide feedback on ways to improve the website.

About the ADA National Network

The ADA National Network consists of 10 regional centers and an ADA Knowledge Translation Center. The regional centers are distributed throughout the United States to provide local assistance and foster implementation of the ADA. Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. The Network is not an enforcement or regulatory agency, but a helpful resource supporting the ADA's mission to "make it possible for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality."

The 10 regional centers along with the ADA Knowledge Translation Center, work together to develop projects and events of national significance. Each regional center also focuses on the specific needs of the residents who reside within its service area. The regional nature of the ADA National Network is critical to ensuring the network can adequately support the diverse population of ADA Stakeholders throughout the country.

To learn more about the ADA law and implementation, you can search for comprehensive ADA information, services, products, training and guidelines on the National Network website (http://adata.org/), or visit your Regional ADA National Network Center Website (http://adata.org/national-network) for information about local events and support. Journalists should visit our Media Kit (http://adata.org/media-kit).


Updated February 3, 2014

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (Department) is issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA Amendments Act or the Act), which took effect on January 1, 2009. Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act in order to revise the ADA definition of “disability” and to ensure that the definition is broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis. In this NPRM, the Department is proposing to add new sections to its title II and title III ADA regulations at 28 CFR parts 35 and 36, respectively, to provide detailed definitions of “disability” and to make consistent changes in other sections of the regulations. The ADA Amendments Act authorizes the Attorney General to issue regulations consistent with the Act that implement the definitions of “disability” in sections 3 and 4 of the Act, including the rules of construction set forth in section 3. The Department invites written comments from members of the public on this proposed rule.


Updated January 31, 2014

News and Resources Related to the ADA

Updated December 18, 2013

Articles and News about the ADA

 

Updated November 26, 2013

Experience Preference Theory as a New Way to Understand and Respond to Diversity

The ADA National Network is pleased to announce the upcoming session in the Arts n Rec Webinar Series, a collaborative between the ADA National Network and the LEAD Program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Accessibility Program at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Center for Accessibility.

The upcoming session is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10th from 2-3:30pm ET and will feature Andrew J. Pekarik - Senior Research Analyst, Smithsonian Institution discussing Preference Theory as a way to understand and respond to diversity in your audience.

Session Title:  Experience Preference Theory as a New Way to Understand and Respond to Diversity

Session Description: 

This session will describe recent research on a new theory of the types of experiences that people prefer. The theory is called IPOP after the four key dimensions it addresses: Idea (conceptual), People (emotional), Object (visual/aesthetic), and Physical (somatic sensation). Data collected from thousands of Smithsonian museum visitors shows how these preferences influence behavior and responses in museums. A museum that wishes to serve all its visitors, including those with disabilities, needs to be aware of these preferences among its visitors, to realize how the experience preferences of staff affect what is made available, and to find ways to use this new understanding to serve visitors better.

Presenter bio:

Andrew J. Pekarik is Senior Research Analyst in the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Policy and Analysis. He began his career as a curator and museum administrator, and for the past 20 years he has been studying visitors in Smithsonian museums. The IPOP theory grew out of this direct experience with visitors and is being developed scientifically in collaboration with James B. Schreiber, a Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Research at Duquesne University, and former Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Experimental Education and The Journal of Educational Research.

Registration:  FREE   Go to www.adaconferences.org/ArtsnRec  (you will need to establish an account on this website to register for the session)

The session is closed captioned and will be recorded.

This session will be delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing tool.  More information regarding this tool can be found at:    http://www.adaconferences.org/Accessibility/FirstTimeUsers.php

Questions regarding this session should be directed to:

ADA Conferences Team
877-232-1990 V/TTY
info@adaconferences.org


Updated November 11, 2013

New DOT Rules Make Flying Easier for Passengers with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its ongoing effort to ensure equal access to air transportation for all travelers, is requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.  In addition, DOT will allow airlines to choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment on new aircraft or strapping them to a row of seats, an option that will ensure that two manual, folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time.

The new rules are part of DOT’s continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.

“All air travelers should be treated fairly when they fly, regardless of any disabilities they may have,” said Secretary Foxx.  “These new rules build on our past work in ensuring that our air transportation system is accessible for everyone, while balancing both airlines’ and passengers’ need for flexibility.”

Under the new websites-and-kiosks rule, covered airlines are required within two years to make pages of their websites that contain core travel information and services accessible to persons with disabilities, and to make all of their web pages accessible within three years.  Websites are required to meet the standards for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).  The requirement applies to U.S. and foreign airlines with websites marketing air transportation to U.S. consumers for travel within, to or from the United States.   

The rule also requires ticket agents to disclose and offer web-based discount fares to customers unable to use their sites due to a disability starting within 180 days after the rule’s effective date.   Airlines are already required to provide equivalent service for consumers who are unable to use inaccessible websites.  Under the new rule, airlines must also offer equivalent service to passengers with disabilities who are unable to use their websites even if the websites meet the WCAG accessibility standards.

In addition, any automated kiosks installed at U.S. airports for services -- such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags --must be  accessible to passengers with disabilities until at least 25 percent of all kiosks at each airport location are  accessible.  Even if no new kiosks are installed, 25 percent of kiosks at each airport location must be accessible within 10 years.  The standards for accessible kiosks are based on those set by the U.S. Department of Justice for ATM and fare machines in its 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act rule as well as the Section 508 standards for self-contained closed products, such as copiers.

DOT’s wheelchair rule provides airlines with more flexibility because it permits airlines to transport passenger wheelchairs by strapping them across a row of seats using a strap kit that complies with applicable safety standards, in addition to stowing them in a closet or similar compartment.  In 2008, DOT issued a rule prohibiting airlines from using the seat-strapping method on new aircraft as an alternative to stowing the manual wheelchair in a closet or similar compartment.  In that same rule, DOT allowed the use of a seat-strapping method on existing aircraft.  Based on a fuller evaluation of the costs and benefits, DOT has now revised its position to also allow the use of seat-strapping on new aircraft subject to certain conditions.   For example, if an airline chooses to use the seat-strapping method to stow a wheelchair, it must transport two wheelchairs in the cabin if requested unless stowing the second wheelchair would displace other passengers.  

If an airline chooses to use a closet to stow a wheelchair, then it will still be required to stow only one wheelchair in the cabin.  However, in this case it must install a sign or placard prominently on the closet indicating that a wheelchair and other assistive devices are to be stowed in this area with priority over other items brought onto the aircraft by other passengers or crew, including crew luggage. 

The rule on accessible websites and kiosks is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2011-0177.  In addition to accepting public comments on the web and kiosk rule through this website, the Department partnered with Cornell University’s eRulemaking Initiative (CeRI), Regulation Room, designed to improve the public’s ability to understand and participate in the rulemaking process. A goal of the CeRI team is to make Regulation Room as accessible to as many users as possible.  This partnership supports President Obama’s open-government initiative.  The final rule on wheelchairs is available at the same website at docket DOT-OST-2011-0098.

NCD Releases Annual Survey of Federal Disability Policy – “Strength in Our Differences”

October 31, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC —The National Council on Disability (NCD) – an independent federal agency that recommends disability policy to the President, Congress and other federal agencies – releases its yearly report on the nation’s progress in achieving equality of opportunity, independent living, full participation and economic self-sufficiency for an estimated 57 million Americans with disabilities.

In keeping with the maxim “Nothing About Us Without Us” widely adopted by U.S. disability advocates two decades ago, NCD consulted with the broad disability community in determining its findings, and the expertise of advocates, stakeholders and service providers provided the foundation for NCD's policy recommendations. NCD offers this status check of disability policy in federally funded programs in the United States and abroad through a combination of insights gleaned by the experiences of individuals with disabilities interviewed for this report, combined with analysis of data indicators where available.

“NCD's 2013 Report on National Disability Policy: Strength in Our Differences returned to its traditional roots by seeking input from the broad and diverse disability community to survey what progress has been made and what obstacles continue to be encountered in achieving full integration and participation in all aspects of American life,” said NCD Councilmember Janice Lehrer-Stein. “As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), NCD's report is intended to support continued progress toward achieving the goals of full equality, liberty and opportunity for Americans with disabilities. As always, the Council remains ready to work with the Administration, Congress and all Americans as we progress toward realizing the promise and potential of the ADA.”

NCD's report highlights federal achievements from August 2012 to September 2013 and identifies areas where changes in public policy and additional steps are needed.  

For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, please contact Public Affairs Specialist, Lawrence Carter-Long at 202-272-2112 or 202-272-2074 TTY.

Full report along with a comprehensive executive summary and overview of highlights is available on NCD's website at http://www.ncd.gov/progress_reports/10312013.

For Disabled Voters, Long Lines Are Only the Beginning, Suggests New Federal Report

October 24, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC -- 

The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency, released a new report, “Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle”, to gauge the effectiveness of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The report was prepared in partnership with the National Disability Rights Network and EIN SOF Communications.

Enacted by Congress in 2002, HAVA sought to ensure that Americans with disabilities could vote independently and privately alongside their non-disabled peers. But has the law succeeded? 

To answer that question, NCD gathered the experiences of nearly 900 voters with disabilities across the nation during the 2012 election cycle using an open-ended questionnaire which became the blueprint for the report. Experience of Voters with Disabilities also provides a comprehensive overview of how federal funds were used in an attempt to increase and insure voting access in the United States.

The Experience of Voters with Disabilities reportexplores the physical barriers, attitudes, technological gaps, legislative hurdles, and polling place practices encountered by voters with disabilities in 2012,” said Jeff Rosen, NCD Chairperson. “By detailing how HAVA has improved voting access for Americans with disabilities in the past decade, we hope this report will be used  to enhance civic participation in future elections and that our recommendations will be adopted by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration as part of its report which is scheduled to be released later this year.”  

“People with disabilities make up approximately 1 in 5 of our nation’s population,” said Clyde Terry, Chair of NCD’s Policy Development & Program Evaluation Committee, “and yet 70% of polling places are still not accessible. A decade after the Help America Vote Act was signed into law meaningful action by election officials to guarantee the most fundamental right of all Americans – including those with disabilities – is not only warranted, it is long past overdue.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Physical Barriers: Americans with disabilities continue to face barriers in exercising their right to vote privately and independently due to architectural and physical barriers at registration and polling sites.
    • Nearly 40% of respondents to the NCD’s questionnaire encountered physical barriers at their polling places.   
  • Technology: Voters with disabilities do not have equal access to voting systems because states and localities have not invested adequate resources, planning, and training to provide reliable, accessible voting technology.
    • 45% of respondents reported barriers inside the polling place involving voting machines. 
  • Discrimination: Voters with disabilities face discrimination at voter registration and polling sites resulting from poorly trained election personnel and volunteers.
    • Nearly 54% of respondents encountered barriers, including attitudinal, inside the polling place.
    • 20% of respondents said they were prevented from exercising a private and independent vote.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Accountability: State and local election officials must comply with all accessibility provisions of HAVA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other relevant voting rights and civil rights laws.
  • Access: States should upgrade and/or maintain voting equipment to assure fair, equal, and universal access for voters with disabilities.
  • Training: State and local election officials must invest in adequate training for all election personnel, staff and volunteers.
  • Adoption: The Presidential Commission on Election Administration should endorse the recommendations in NCD’s Experiences of Voters with Disabilities report when submitting its proposals to the President later this year.

For more information or to arrange for an interview with NCD members or staff, please contact NCD’s Public Affairs Specialist, Lawrence Carter-Long at LCarterLong@ncd.gov or by phone at 202-202-2112. 

Mayor Annise Parker Presents 2013 Disability Advocate of the Year Awards

Four Houstonians honored for exceptional service to the disability community

October 22, 2013 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker, joined by City Council member Wanda Adams, presented the 2013 Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Awards today in City Hall Council Chambers. Coinciding with the citywide celebration of Disability Awareness Month in October, the awards were presented before City Council members and an audience made up of members of the disability community, nonprofit agency leaders and other citizens.

The Mayor presented four awards, including one posthumous award, recognizing individuals for their exceptional volunteer service and contributions benefiting the disability community of Houston. The awards honored three adult advocates, including one recipient with a disability, and one youth advocate.

"We extend our gratitude to these advocates and honor them for their dedication to serve citizens with disabilities," said Mayor Parker. “They are not only making a difference in the lives of persons challenged by disabilities, but they are also inspiring us to do what we can to help. Their work reflects that spirit of caring, inclusiveness and equal opportunity for all citizens that we so much value as Houstonians."

Selected by an awards committee from a pool of nominees submitted the by public by open invitation, the award recipients are as follows:

Donald Whitehead - Community Advocate of the Year (Advocate with a disability)
Left paralyzed from the waist down due to a motorcycle accident at age 23, Donald Whitehead went on to graduate with honors from Sam Houston State University and launch a successful career in the financial services industry. He volunteers at TIRR Memorial Hermann and Quentin Mease Community Hospital. As a former athlete, Mr. Whitehead is a firm advocate of rehabilitative sports and therapeutic recreation. He organizes handcycle rides, golf and fishing tournaments along with other volunteers. He also serves as a mentor to people who experience life-changing injuries. Mr. Whitehead was nominated by Jasmine Harrell, a team member at the Whitehead Group at Morgan Stanley, who wrote: “His persistent smile, warm handshake and great sense of humor provide comfort to those in the midst of devastation. He is a committed role model and seeks to help patients feel comfortable and confident in public. He helps raise awareness for many of the issues that people with disabilities face.”

Kimberly Brusatori - Community Advocate of the Year
Kim Brusatori has been raising awareness about disability issues for over a decade—creating solutions to obstacles and being the voice of those who are not able to effectively advocate for themselves. In September 2000, Ms. Brusatori and several other parents of children with disabilities founded Village Learning & Achievement Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a day habilitation program, employment services, transportation, respite, after-school care and family support services. The day habilitation program encourages people with disabilities to increase academic skills, participate in community service projects and enjoy recreation activities with friends and peers. The client base has grown from six people to over 180, growing steadily since 2000. The Village now features four facilities—Village at Plum Valley, Village Community Center, Village at Stoney Glen and Village at Hickory Glen. Their mission is to create the support and services to affect positive changes in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and the local community so that these individuals can reach their maximum potential and a level of independence. Kim Brusatori was nominated by Devon Alexander and ten other individuals, who wrote: “Kim’s struggle to raise a child with developmental disabilities has been the city of Houston and the Greater Lake Houston’s gain. Kim found that there were no childcare or adult care centers that would accept Kyle [her son] or private schools that would enroll him. Over the years it became evident that services and programs were lacking in the community, so Kim took it upon herself through The Village. She has worked tirelessly with families, the community and organizations to make a difference in the lives of adults and children with disabilities. Kim’s energy knows no boundaries.”

Alexandria Toledo - Youth Advocate of the Year
Alexandria Toledo is the embodiment of what a good sister should strive to be. For the last ten years, she has been an advocate for children with autism. She helped teach her older twin brothers with autism how to read and solve math problems. Every night, she would train them on how to perform life skills like how to tie their shoes or make their own lunch for school. Her experiences with her brothers inspired her to write a book when she was in the 5th grade, entitled 25 Times to Love My Autistic Brothers. In the book, Miss Toledo details the work required to help teach her brothers independent living skills. She also wrote and starred in her own video to raise awareness about bullying of children with disabilities. In middle school, Miss Toledo volunteered to help children with disabilities improve their reading skills, including at the Dan Center for Autism. As a result of her efforts, Miss Toledo was invited to be a speaker and panel member at two United States Autism and Asperger’s Association (USAAA) World Conferences, at which she spoke to audiences of over 400 people. Alexandria Toledo was nominated by Jerry Blum, who wrote: “For the last ten years, Alexandria has been a sister, teacher, advocate, presenter—and most importantly—someone who cares deeply about the challenges that are faced when autism is in the family. Her work has improved the lives of countless autistic children and their families in the Houston area and beyond.”

Barbara Craig - Community Advocate of the Year, Posthumous Award (accepted by husband Arthur Craig)
Barbara Craig, who passed away in August, dedicated most of her life to improving the conditions and opportunities for people who are deaf. In 1980, Ms. Craig and her husband Arthur Craig moved to Houston, where they ministered to people who are deaf for 33 years. She served as secretary at Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church for the past two-and-a-half years, and she supported her husband's work at the only correctional facility for people who are deaf in the nation. She helped to create and support open doors to rehabilitation and a bridge from incarceration back into the community. Ms. Craig was nominated by Dr. Julie Howard, who wrote: “Her heart and soul was in working with the Deaf community and she truly believed that they too were an essential part of God’s family. Her dedication to this community and her eagerness to bridge the communication gap sets her apart from many.”

The Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Awards are administered by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Houston Commission on Disabilities. For more information, visit www.houstontx.gov/disabilities or call 832-394-0814.

News & Resources


Updated October 21, 2013

We Have Moved!

The Southwest ADA Center and its parent organization, ILRU, moved this week to new offices in the heart of The Texas Medical Center (Houston). This is a return to the campus of TIRR, The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, ILRU's original home when founded in 1977. ILRU's offices will be located in the newly completed TIRR Research Center, which will also house ILRU's IL-NET, New Community Opportunities Center, Participatory Action Research Center on the ADA, along with TIRR's Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC), TIRR's spinal cord injury projects, and others.

ILRU's staff may be reached at the same telephone and email addresses. The new mailing address will be:

ILRU at TIRR Memorial Hermann
TIRR Research Center
1333 Moursund Street
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 520-0232

News and notes about the ADA


Updated October 2, 2013

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task."

Harkin Unveils Report on the ‘ADA Generation,’ Offers Bold Steps to Improve Employment of Young People with Disabilities and Fully Realize the ADA’s Promise of Equality

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Harkin Report Shines Spotlight on Barriers to Employment, Sets High Goal for Increasing Workforce Participation of the ‘ADA Generation’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today released a report on the ‘ADA Generation’—the young men and women who have come of age since the Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted—that offers bold steps to improve the employment of these young Americans as they seek competitive employment. Chairman Harkin was the Senate author of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 23 years ago, helped grant the promise of equality to Americans with disabilities. But today, more work remains to be done to knock down one of the last remaining barriers—the gap in workforce participation that exists for millions of young adults,” Harkin said. “A ripe opportunity exists for Congress, the federal government, and the business community to work hand-in-hand to make competitive, integrated employment the first choice for individuals with disabilities. The goals of equality of opportunity, full participation in American society, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency are the birthright of this young generation, and we must work together to ensure this promise is met.”

Chairman Harkin’s report identifies four key areas of opportunity to improve support for members of the ADA generation as they seek competitive employment.  These areas are: 

  • Increasing support for high school students as they plan for their transition into the workforce
  • Improving the transition of the ADA generation as they enter postsecondary education and the labor market
  • Changing the assumptions in disability benefit programs that discourage young people with disabilities from working
  • Leveraging employer demand, correcting misconceptions about employing people with disabilities, building strong pipelines from school to the competitive workforce, and establishing supportive workplaces.

Harkin also sets a high—but achievable—benchmark for increasing the workforce participation of young people with disabilities, to 250,000 by 2015. In 2011, Harkin worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to establish a goal of increasing the workforce participation of people with disabilities by more than 20 percent, from 4.9 million workers to six million workers by 2015. To accomplish these goals, Harkin reiterates that that the public and private sectors must work together to provide young adults of the ‘ADA Generation’ with quality work and internship experiences while they are still in school.

Harkin also calls for enactment of several key pieces of legislation—including a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act­ (WIA)—to create opportunities and incentives for young people with disabilities to work. The HELP Committee recently passed by a bipartisan vote of 18-3 a WIA bill that reauthorizes the Rehabilitation Act, including vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. Harkin worked on a bipartisan basis to make improvements to the Rehabilitation Act—Title V of WIA—aimed at making sure that young people with disabilities have increased preparation and opportunities for competitive, integrated employment. The bill requires state VR agencies, in conjunction with local educational agencies, to make “pre-employment transition services” available to students with disabilities.

The bill will also require individuals under the age of 24 with a significant disability to make a serious attempt at competitive, integrated employment—including getting pre-employment transition services and utilizing VR services—before he or she can consider working at a segregated workshop or sheltered employment setting. For individuals who are currently in sheltered employment settings, the bill will increase opportunities to move into competitive, integrated employment by requiring ongoing career counseling, information, and referrals about programs that offer employment-related services and supports. Updates to the bill also focus on creating better alignment of government programs at the national level that are focused on employment and independent living for people with disabilities.

Read Chairman Harkin’s full report here.

ADA News and Notes


Updated September 20, 2013

Southeast ADA Center Announces the First Broadcast of WADA "ADA Live!" on BlogTalkRadio

(Atlanta, GA – September 16, 2013) – On October 2, 2013, the Southeast ADA Center will launch “ADA Live!” on WADA, the Center’s internet-based radio station.  For the past 22 years, the Southeast ADA Center, a member of the ADA National Network and a project of the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, has provided free, confidential and accurate information, training and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to individuals who have rights under the ADA as well as to those who have responsibilities under the Act.

WADA “ADA Live!” will broadcast live on the first Wednesday of each month from 1:00 pm -1:30 pm ET/12 Noon-12:30 pm CT.  “ADA Live!” programs provide the opportunity for everyone to get up-to-date information on the ADA and call in with their ADA questions whether on the go, while at work, or in the comfort of their homes. “ADA Live!” will also expand the Center’s outreach to youth, young adults and members of racially/culturally diverse communities throughout the Southeast Region.
WADA “ADA Live!” is supported through a fully accessible and interactive website at www.adalive.org.  The public can get up-to-the minute program information, submit questions for upcoming “ADA Live!” episodes, and participate in the online group discussions. Real-time captioning will be available during the live shows. Recordings of past episodes, including a transcript, resources and more information will be available at www.adalive.org.

Contact:

Southeast ADA Center
ADAsoutheast@law.syr.edu
404-541-9001 (voice/tty)

ADA News and Notes


Updated September 9, 2013

Lex Frieden Employment Awards Tickets Available

Office of the Governor (Rick Perry) sent this bulletin at 09/04/2013 02:09 PM CDT

Please join us in recognizing this year’s outstanding winners of the Lex Frieden Employment Awards (see the description of winners on our LFEA website) on Friday, October 18, 11:30am, at the Waco Convention Center. The Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities is the host of this year’s ceremony and they have quite an event planned.

Space is limited, so please place your ticket request ASAP at the link below. For questions or more information, contact Jo Virgil at jo.virgil@governor.state.tx.us or 512-463-5740, or contact Kelly Yarbrough at Kelly.yarbrough@dars.state.tx.us or 254-214-7253.

All attendees need to register for tickets at: http://tinyurl.com/2013LFEATickets

Randall Ford in Fort Smith Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Company Refused to Accommodate Manager, Then Fired Him Because of Disability, Federal Agency Charges

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A car dealership in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law when it failed to accommodate its used car manager and then terminated him because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed.

The EEOC's suit alleges that Randall Ford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to accommodate the used car manager's disability following his spinal surgery.  The manager asked for the use of a golf cart, which the company had, and for help in test-driving vehicles in order to determine the trade-in value.  Randall Ford did not engage in any discussions with him about the suggested accommodations but simply fired him, supposedly for alleged misconduct that had occurred about three months prior. 

Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 13-2206, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.   The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.

The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve success in the workplace by being provided with reasonable accommodations in order to perform the essential functions of their job, unless doing so would be an undue hardship for the employer.

"This employee had performed his job successfully for over one year, and only after his request for an accommodation did Randall Ford make the decision to fire him," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi.  "Fighting disability discrimination is a priority for the EEOC."

Randall Ford sells new and used cars.  The company's website states that it ranks in the top 10 percent of the Memphis Region in new vehicle sales and ranks #2 in pre-owned vehicle sales. 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Labor Department Announces Final Rules to Improve Employment of Veterans, People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced two final rules to improve hiring and employment of veterans and people with disabilities. One rule updates requirements under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974; the other updates those under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Section 503 rule introduces a hiring goal for federal contractors and subcontractors that 7 percent of each job group in their workforce be qualified individuals with disabilities.

News and Notes


Updated August 22, 2013

Disability Connection: 10 Things You Need to Know for Back-to-School (Disability.gov)

1. Reduced-Price/Free Breakfast or Lunch. Each year, thousands of public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions serve nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals to children from low income families through the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

  • Who is eligible? Use this Income Eligibility chart from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service to find out if your child can get free or reduced-price meals this school year.
  • Do you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits? Your child automatically qualifies for free meals.
  • Want to sign up? You can apply at any time during the school year, but keep an eye out for the 2013/2014 application, which may be sent home with your child during the first week of school. For more information on Child Nutrition Programs in your state, visit www.fns.usda.gov/office-type/child-nutrition-programs

2. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) Fact Sheets are a great starting point for anyone who is living or working with a child who has a disability. Written specifically to meet the needs of parents and educators, NICHCY’s fact sheets on specific disabilities (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome) cover definitions, causes, characteristics, educational considerations and helpful organizations to contact for further information. Most also include available supports (by age group), tips for parents and teachers and a brief story about a child who has that particular disability.

3. Individualized Education Program (IEP). AnIndividualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that sets reasonable learning goals for a student with a disability and documents the services and supports that will be offered by the school district to meet his or her unique educational needs. Any child who goes to a public school and receives special education and related services must have an IEP, which is developed by a team of key school staff, the student’s parents and the child, when appropriate.

4. Power Up! Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences is aneducational guide that was created by Common Sense Media to help parents choose the best online supports for kids who struggle with traditional learning. The apps are organized into six different categories: Communication, Social Interaction, Organization, Reading, Mathematics and Motor Skills, and vary by the level of difficulty (i.e., Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). For each category, an overview is included with a list of the typical challenges that kids face, how to choose apps that match their needs, additional resources and suggested activities.

5. Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), such as Braille, large print, audio and digital text, are given to students who are unable to read or use standard print materials to do their schoolwork. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004, schools are required to provide AIM in a timely manner to K–12 students who are blind or have print disabilities in order to help them participate and achieve in the classroom. The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials  offers technical assistance to ensure state and local education agencies do their part to implement the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. The website also includes a Q&A section for families and educators.

6. Teaching Resources. There are many online resources available for teachers who have students with disabilities and want to help them succeed in the classroom and beyond. One example is Do2Learn, a website that offers free social skills activities, songs and games, as well as transition guides for employment and life skills. The site’s Disabilities section covers four topic areas: Definitions; Evaluation and Identification; Characteristics and Strategies; and Parents and Teachers. Another resource, Edutopia, has a blog, Addressing Bullying of Students with Disabilities, which offers recommendations on how to deal with this troubling issue. We Are Teachers compiles lessons and resources, including some that pertain specifically to students with disabilities (e.g., resources on assistive technology, inclusive activities and self-advocacy skills).

7. Physical Education. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released guidance on its regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which require public elementary and secondary schools to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate, alongside their peers, in extracurricular athletics. Under these regulations, students with disabilities cannot be excluded from trying out for and playing on a team. This does not mean schools should change the essential rules of a game or provide an unfair competitive advantage to a student with a disability – rather, they are required to provide reasonable modifications (e.g., using a laser instead of a starter pistol to start a race so a runner who is deaf can compete).

8. Reading Help. Many kids struggle with reading. It is estimated that nearly one million American children (ages 6 through 21) have some form of a learning disability and receive special education in school. That’s where Reading Rockets can help. Launched in 2001 as an education initiative of WETA, a public television and radio station in Washington, D.C., the website contains information for parents and teachers about reading strategies, lessons and activities that can help young children learn how to read and build comprehension skills. Reading Rockets also produces award-winning television programs for national broadcast on PBS, including A Tale of Two Schools, hosted by Morgan Freeman, and the Launching Young Readers series.

9. Accessible Libraries. Individuals who are blind or have a physical disability may be eligible to receive books and magazines in alternate formats, such as audio (talking books) and Braille, delivered free of charge through the mail by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Playback equipment, such as digital recorders and cassette machines, can also be borrowed at no cost. NLS, which is part of the Library of Congress, provides these services through a network of 113 regional and sub-regional libraries across the country. Library patrons have access to more than 320,000 book titles, including bestsellers, romances, classics, children’s books, biographies and mysteries. Visit the NLS website to learn more about signing up for the program, find out if you are eligible or locate an NLS library in your community.

10. Disability.gov offers many resources, including those listed in this newsletter, for students with disabilities, their parents and educators. The site’s Education section features information on evaluating children for disabilities, accommodations and supports in the classroom, getting ready for college, making the transition from school to work and services for infants and toddlers. Stay connected to Disability.gov through FacebookTwitter and Disability.Blog

Read the Disability Connection newsletter on Disability.gov.

Accessibility Coffee Break: Lists and Columns

Office of the Governor sent this bulletin at 08/19/2013 08:00 AM CDT

If you already viewed the “Requirements to Make a Word Document Accessible” module through our Accessibility Coffee Break series, you learned that properly formatted lists and columns are accessibility requirements. In this module, you will learn how to use the tools included in Word 2010 to make lists and columns readable by everyone. There are added benefits to using these tools to make your work accessible – it is easier to do, and easier to make changes.

YouTube Video: Lists and Columns
Download Audio MP3 File: Lists and Columns
Download Instructional Word Document: Lists and Columns
Download Instructional Adobe PDF: Lists and Columns

About the Accessibility Coffee Breaks:

The Accessibility Coffee Break features short accessible video learning opportunities about an aspect of accessible technology and documents. The videos are meant to be consumed in the same time it would take to enjoy a cup of coffee. The videos were created by a multidisciplinary group of Texas state employees dedicated to accessibility over a year’s time and hosted by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities on its website. The purpose of the Accessibility Coffee Break is to increase and enhance communications with people with disabilities across a wide variety of civic, emergency and employment perspectives. The Accessibility Coffee Breaks will be featured twice monthly through 2013 and early 2014. To view all the Accessibility Coffee Breaks, go to http://governor.state.tx.us/disabilities/accessibledocs/

2013 Lex Frieden Employment Awards winners announced

Office of the Governor sent this bulletin at 08/12/2013 04:12 PM CDT

We have compiled our team of judges’ scores and comments, and we are ready to announce this year’s winners of the Lex Frieden Employment Awards!

The winners, along with a brief description of their practices, will be posted soon on our Lex Frieden Employment Awards website, but we wanted to go ahead and get the word out in order to spotlight the winners’ passion and commitment to making our State inclusive to ALL. We will let you know when more detailed info is posted online. A formal press release will go out in early October.

Please join us to honor these winners at the Lex Frieden Employment Awards ceremony on Friday, October 18, 11:30am, at the Waco Convention Center, hosted by the Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. More details on ticket purchases will come soon.

2013 LEX FRIEDEN EMPLOYMENT AWARDS

THE GOVERNOR’S TROPHY:

Carroll Schubert
PCSI Inc

Austin

LARGE EMPLOYER
:

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Dallas

MEDIUM EMPLOYER:

Target Medallion Center
Dallas

SMALL EMPLOYER:

Stencor Corporation
Jacksonville

NON-PROFIT EMPLOYER:

RISE Center
Beaumont

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD:

Rebecca Page
Livin’ My Dreams Art Studio and Co-Op

Alpine

MARTHA ARBUCKLE AWARD:

Panhandle Coalition for Transition Services
LITE Project (Living Independently Through Education)
Amarillo

News and Notes


Updated August 6, 2013

News and Notes