Newsletter: August 15, 2018

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: August 15, 2018

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Survey Opportunity

Did you know that small businesses (with fewer than 500 employees) constitute more than 98% of New York and New Jersey businesses, and account for over 50% of the private workforce within region 2: New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Small organizations with at least 15 employees experience a unique set of challenges in ADA implementation as compared to larger organizations. Yet, our understanding of supporting the needs of small businesses is limited. To answer these critical questions, the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University is conducting a study of small organizations who have responsibilities under the ADA, specifically organizations with 15-500 employees. We want to understand how the ADA is currently implemented in small business, many of whom do not have a dedicated HR department. We also want to know what gets in the way of ADA implementation so we can help to support these businesses as they do this work.

We have started to build our knowledge of small employer ADA (Title I) implementation by studying the work of others. We've done an extensive literature review and conducted an analysis of secondary data related to employment and ADA implementation within small organizations. We have conducted in-depth interviews with small business representatives and are now getting ready to distribute a survey to help confirm what we learned in our interviews. This is where you could help. In upcoming months, we will begin to reach out to our ADA Network and ask for your support to help us share the study! More details to come, stay tuned! If you are interested in learning more about our current study, please contact us at northeastada@cornell.edu

Free Webinar-Accommodations for Health Care Workers

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 1pm-2pm
When people think of accommodations in a health care environment, they often think of patients and visitors. However, healthcare professionals also have disabilities and may require a reasonable accommodation in their role as employee. This webinar will discuss the rights of healthcare employees under the ADA, examine scenarios, and respond to questions from participants. To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=6739

What's New in Our Region:

Five Years In, Critics Say NY Agency Offers Little Justice for Disabled

Over a recent three-year period, 10,117 vulnerable New Yorkers died while in state care or the care of a program overseen by the state. In at least 140 of those, the state Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs determined abuse or neglect likely occurred. In a five-year progress report posted on its website this month, the agency contends it has met its mission of making New York a safer place for its most vulnerable citizens. Critics of the agency maintain it is much more interested in protecting the due process rights of state employees than it is in pursuing criminal justice for victims and that lack of action on abuse and neglect cases likely stems from an inherent conflict of interest at the agency's core: It's a state agency overseeing state agencies. To read more about this go to: https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/5-years-in-critics-say-NY-agency-offers-little-13098350.php

New State Ombudsman for People With Disabilities Meets Critical NJ Need

A vulnerable population that has been left behind in recent years now has a new lifeline in New Jersey, thanks to the appointment of Paul Aronsohn, the new Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and their Families. His appointment ensures that people with disabilities can access services they need without delay. To read more about this go to: http://www.senatenj.com/index.php/tomkean/psa-new-state-ombudsman-for-people-with-disabilities-meets-critical-nj-need/39221

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Provides a List of Accessible Recreation Destinations Organized by County

The NY agency encourages visitors to contact the DEC's Access Coordinators directly to discuss their individual needs and recreation pursuits with knowledgeable staff. For Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westschester counties call Eva Faster at 845-256-3099. For a listing of all accessible recreation destinations go to: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/34038.html#putnam?utm_source=July+13%2C+2018&utm_campaign=July+16%2C+2018&utm_medium=email

New York State Offers an Access Pass

Access Pass is for NY State residents with a disability as defined in the application process. It allows for free or discounted use of state parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The pass holder may have free or discounted use of facilities operated by these offices, for which there is normally a charge. To get information about these passes go to: https://parks.ny.gov/admission/access-pass/?utm_source=July+13%2C+2018&utm_campaign=July+16%2C+2018&utm_medium=email

Paid Family and Medical Leave and Disability Study

The Arc is inviting people who live in California, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina to participate in a study on paid family and medical leave and disability. The goal of the study is to look at how workers with disabilities and families that include people with disabilities use, need, and can benefit from paid family and medical leave programs. These are programs that allow people to take time off from work and receive full or partial pay to welcome a new child or new baby, to address their own serious medical condition, or to care for a family member experiencing a serious medical condition. To participate, call 929-900-5398 or send an email with ‘The Arc' in the subject line to paidleavestudy@outlook.com

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

California Judge Clears One Million Dollar EEOC Deal in Disability Bias Case

A California federal judge has signed off on a $1 million deal between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and HVAC component manufacturer Mueller Industries Inc. to end a suit alleging the company's attendance and leave policies discriminated against workers with disabilities. The agreement, which will remain in effect for two-and-a-half years and applies to all of Mueller Industries' facilities nationwide, requires the company to pay $1 million to a class of aggrieved individuals. The company will also be barred both from taking any adverse employment action against employees who are absent due to their disability and from retaliating against workers who turn to the EEOC with complaints about alleged discrimination, according to the consent decree. To read more about this go to: https://www.law360.com/articles/1063732/calif-judge-clears-1m-eeoc-deal-in-disability-bias-row

U.S. Access Board Releases Animation on Sales and Service Counters

The U.S. Access Board has released an animation on accessible sales and service counters as part of its online guide to standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The 12-minute animated film shows how access can be achieved to different types of counters, including sales counters and hotel check-in counters. It also covers access to teller and service windows, queues and waiting lines, check-out aisles, food service lines, self-service shelves, and food and beverage dispensers. "On this day 28 years ago, the ADA became law," states Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi. "Providing guidance that helps businesses and agencies to be more welcoming and inclusive of all their customers is a great way for the Board to mark the anniversary of this landmark law." This animation is the most recent in a series produced by the Access Board. Other animations address wheelchair maneuvering, entrances and doors, toilet and bathing facilities, protruding objects, parking and passenger loading zones, and signs. The animations can be viewed or downloaded through the Board's website. They are also available on the Board's new YouTube channel along with videos about the Board and its work. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/guide-to-the-ada-standards/animations

Opportunities for You!

NEW JERSEY CONFERENCE ON DISABILITY AND EMPLOYMENT

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (EDT)

Raritan Valley Community College
118 Lamington Road
Branchburg, NJ 08876

The New Jersey Conference on Disability and Employment returns in 2018 to Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg. The conference is developed with the input of educators, service providers, families, employers and others who are committed to the concept of Employment First, which is premised on the assumption that individuals with significant disabilities are capable of full participation in integrated employment. For registration information go to: https://www.disabilityandemployment.net/register/

Free Webinar-Federal Facilities & the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABA) - a Refresher

Thursday, September 6th, 2018
2:30 PM EDT - 4:00 PM EDT
This is an important session if you are responsible for Federal facilities or do design and construction work under the ABA. We will provide an overview of the ABA Accessibility Standard (ABAAS). A compliance specialist with the Board will discuss the ABA complaint investigation process and the steps involved in resolving complaints. You will also learn about the most common barriers to accessibility in complaints received under the ABA and the status of compliance over the past five years. To register go to: https://adata.org/event/federal-facilities-architectural-barriers-act-accessibility-standard-aba-refresher

 

Special Spotlight:

Effective Communication and the ADA

The ADA requires that Title II entities (State and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.
Several recent settlement agreements have been reached that highlight the importance of effective communication, so we are sharing a few of these settlements below that highlight effective communication requirements in the employment, law enforcement and healthcare contexts.

EEOC Settles with Pacific Bell for Allegedly Refusing an Employee who is Deaf, Requests for an Interpreter

Pacific Bell has agreed to a $15,000 settlement after the EEOC alleged the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. As part of the settlement agreement, Pacific Bell will provide effective accommodations for the deaf employee in addition to the monetary relief. The company will also provide an interpreter and provide training to supervisors and human resource personnel on proper handling of disability complaints. To read more about this go to: https://legalnewsline.com/stories/511489500-eeoc-settles-with-pacific-bell-for-allegedly-refusing-deaf-employee-s-requests-for-interpreter

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the Philadelphia Police Department to Ensure Effective Communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals

On August 3, 2018, the Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) to resolve allegations that it violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying deaf and hard of hearing individuals full and equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from PPD's programs, services, and activities. Specifically, the Department alleged that PPD did not take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with deaf and hard of hearing individuals were as effective as communications with others, and did not provide auxiliary aids and services that were necessary to ensure the provision of effective communication.

The Department initiated an investigation in response to a complaint that PPD had not provided effective communication to a deaf detainee. In the course of its investigation, the Department interviewed a number of deaf individuals-ranging from detainees to crime victims-who contended that PPD denied them effective communication. The Department also interviewed PPD representatives and reviewed PPD's policies and practices relating to the provision of auxiliary aids and services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Based on the investigation, the Department determined that PPD had not met its obligations to provide effective communication as required by the ADA. You can read the settlement agreement here: https://www.ada.gov/ppd_sa.html

Settlement Agreement between the United States of America, Bhupinder S. Mangat, M.D., and Seminole Neurology Associates, P.A

This complaint involved the denial of interpreter services to a patient who is deaf, when the patient tried scheduling a medical appointment. The office receptionist asked whether the complainant needed an interpreter for the appointment and, after she responded yes, told the complainant that she would be responsible for bringing her own interpreter. The complainant then explained to the receptionist that the office is responsible for providing an interpreter under the ADA. The receptionist ultimately responded, "No," and then hung-up the phone on the complainant. To read the settlement agreement, you can visit: https://www.ada.gov/mangat_sna_sa.html

Additional Resources:

Effective Communication fact sheet from the Department of Justice
https://www.ada.gov/effective-comm.htm

To learn more about Effective Communication for students with disabilities in public school settings, this document from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services provides clarity on these regulations: https://www.ada.gov/doe_doj_eff_comm/doe_doj_eff_comm_faqs.htm