Newsletter: April 17, 2019

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: April 17, 2019

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Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Check out the Northeast ADA Center's New Infographics!

Did you know that the Northeast ADA Center makes infographics with easy to understand facts, statistics, and tips about disability and the ADA? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for our weekly infographic posts on everything from employment rates for people with disabilities to the rights of those who use service animals. To view a few of our infographics go to:

What's New in Our Region:

Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, NY Spent $609,000 in 7-year Fight over Students Service Dog

The ongoing battle between the Gates Chili Central School District and the U.S. Department of Justice over a service dog for a student with a disability has so far racked up more than $600,000 in legal fees. The federal Government got involved because they allege the district's actions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The overall story begins back in 2012, when the student's mother began fighting the district over her then-kindergartner daughter's use of a service dog to help her walk and sit still and to detect her life-threatening seizures. The issue was not whether the student could bring Hannah, a white Bouvier des Flandres, to school, but rather whether the girl was capable of handling the dog on her own. While her mother said she was, the district said the student wasn't and insisted Pereira provide and pay for a dog handler throughout the school day. To read more about this go to: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2019/03/27/gates-chili-school-district-lawsuit-service-dog-devyn-periera/3266859002/

NYC Agrees To Make All Sidewalk Curbs Accessible to People with Disabilities

In a landmark victory for disability rights advocates, the de Blasio administration has agreed to survey and ensure that all of the city's roughly 162,000 sidewalk curbs are accessible for New Yorkers with mobility and vision disabilities. A U.S. District Court judge issued preliminary approval of a settlement that resolves two class action lawsuits brought by disability rights activists, the first going back as far as 1994. Susan Dooha, the Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, the lead plaintiff in the most recent case from 2014, called the agreement with the city "long overdue." Her organization sued the city for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act after finding that more than 75 percent of the 1,066 curbs in Lower Manhattan had barriers that presented safety hazards for those with mobility and vision disabilities. More than a quarter had no curb cut whatsoever. To read more about this go to: http://gothamist.com/2019/03/21/sidewalk_curbs_accessible_nyc.php

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Amazon Rolls Out Disability Hiring Initiative

On one afternoon shift, Michael Howard logged some 15,000 steps pushing a cart around the aisles of an Amazon Prime Now warehouse, gathering groceries, electronics and countless other items for one- and two-hour delivery to customers. Howard is one of scores of Washington State workers with disabilities employed directly by Amazon through a partnership with Northwest Center, a Seattle-based disability-services nonprofit. The partnership helped Amazon begin a much broader hiring initiative that over the last two years has resulted in several hundred people with disabilities hired across at least nine states. Leaders at Northwest Center, which has worked with Amazon quietly since 2002, think they have hit on a new model with the company that will demonstrate to other businesses the potential in this historically overlooked group of people. "The focus is on ability. It's not on disability. All of these people have talent and ability," said Gene Boes, Northwest Centers CEO. "We're the matchmakers between ability and need. I think that's what's helped us thrive at Amazon." To read more about this go to: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2019/03/27/amazon-disability-hiring-initiative/26275/

Facebook Charged With Disability-Related Discrimination

The federal government is accusing Facebook of illegally using its advertising platform to discriminate against people with disabilities and other groups. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged the social media company with violating the Federal Fair Housing Act. The agency said Facebook is "encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination" through its method of allowing advertisers to control who sees ads for homes. According to the charge, Facebook allows advertisers to exclude or include users from seeing ads based on various attributes including interests in "accessibility" or "service animal." To read more about this go to: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2019/03/28/facebook-charged-disability-discrimination/26293/

Access Board ABA Case Results in Improved Access to Historic Federal Building

The General Services Administration (GSA) has improved access to the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and United States Court House in Chattanooga, Tennessee in response to a complaint filed with the Board under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). Completed in 1933, the historic building is a notable example of the Art Modern style typical of government buildings of the era and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has several distinctive architectural features, including two main entrances at end pavilions that are approached by wide granite staircases. The only accessible way into the building was through a steep ramp at a loading dock that served a locked, unsupervised entrance. Visitors at this entrance had to wait until an employee passed to open the door for them.

In response to the complaint, GSA's Public Buildings Service, in consultation with GSA's Historic Buildings Program, undertook a project to improve access to the building. The work, which was recently completed, features a new compliant ramp at one of the main entrances. In addition, the entrance doorway and vestibule were enlarged and an automatic door opener installed. The result is a good example of how accessibility improvements can be integrated into a historic structure's existing architecture. To view the original article go to: https://www.access-board.gov/news/1950-access-board-aba-case-results-in-improved-access-to-historic-federal-building

Masterbuilt to Pay $60,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

According to the EEOC's suit, Masterbuilt denied Joshua Moore's request for an accommodation in the form of leave for a short period to undergo treatment and counseling for stress caused by his Asperger's syndrome. On several occasions in June and July 2017, Moore complained to the vice president of human resources about his supervisor's conduct, including, but not limited to, her repeated comments that Moore was "special." Masterbuilt fired Moore while he was on leave, despite his repeated requests to return to work and being cleared by medical professionals to return to work. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual's disability. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-2-19a.cfm

Opportunities for You!

U.S. Access Board Free Webinar: Accessible Sales and Service Counters

May 2nd 2019, from 2:30pm to 4:00pm Eastern

Counters can pose barriers to people with disabilities in accessing goods and services. This session will cover access to sales and services counters and review applicable requirements in the ADA and ABA Standards. Presenters will illustrate access to various types of counters, including sales counters, check-in counters, and food service counters. They will also address teller and service windows, check-out aisles, self-service shelves, and food and beverage dispensers. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ao/session/?id=110715

Free Webinar-Open Question and Answer Session on the Revised 508 Standards

April 30th 2019, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm Eastern

This webinar provides an opportunity for attendees to pose questions to the Access Board on the revised Section 508 Standards. The 508 Standards apply to information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector such as computers, telecommunications equipment, printers, software, websites, information kiosks and transaction machines, and electronic documents. Questions are welcome on all sections of the standards, including application and scoping, functional performance criteria, hardware and software requirements, support documentation and services, and referenced standards. Access Board ICT Specialists will also address questions about companion guidelines for telecommunications equipment covered by Section 255 of the Communications Act and any other topics related to the Board's activities on accessible ICT. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/session/?id=110701

Special Spotlight:

World Autism Month: Help Increase Understanding and Acceptance

April is World Autism Month, and Autism Speaks is inviting friends and neighbors around the world to come together to pledge to go blue to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism. Autism Speaks is asking people to pledge their support for a more inclusive world and get involved all month long! To pledge your support go to: https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month

You can also visit the Autism Society's website to learn more about ways to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month here: http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/national-autism-awareness-month/