Newsletter: May 31, 2012

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin - May 31, 12

What’s New in Our Region:

Wheelchair Friendly Taxi Ready For Street Hails In NYC

New York City’s wheelchair friendly taxicab, the MV-1, has formally hit the streets. According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the MV-1 is the first and single factory-built wheelchair accessible car in the nation. Additionally, the vehicle is powered by compressed natural gas. The availability of accessible taxicabs comes as a victory for persons with disabilities who have long advocated for improved access to taxi services. To read more about the wheelchair friendly MV-1, visit: 


State Ponders Relinquishing Its Oversight of People with Disabilities

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo is thinking carefully about a plan to surrendering much of the authority of the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities to a nonprofit agency. The commission is charged with monitoring the care of Individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness, as well as with overseeing the state agencies which regulate group homes. The proposal would solve the issue of the commission not being able to file lawsuits on behalf of individuals with disabilities or to lobby for legislation. To read more about the proposal, visit:


Advance in Access to Justice for People who are Deaf in Puerto Rico (PR)

In a criminal case in the Court of Caguas, Puerto Rico, where charges have been brought against an individual who is deaf who had not been formally educated in Sign Language or reading and writing, one of his lawyers, Atty. Juan J. Troche-Villeneuve, stated that this person cannot be criminally prosecuted because they do not understand the procedure as required by due process of law and that procedures should be videotaped in these cases to preserve the non-verbal testimony of the defendant and the interpretation of the sign language interpreters who are part of the process, because until that moment this information wasn't included in the Court file.  The court granted both requests and from that time ‌‌the same approach has been applied in other cases of deaf people in different parts of Puerto Rico.  This is an important advance for access to justice for people who are deaf in Puerto Rico.  For more information, contact the PR Court Administration Office at (787) 641-6600 or the office of Atty. Troche at (787) 250-3456.


Adults with Autism Lack Higher Learning & Jobs

Members from Autism New Jersey discuss a new study which appeared in the Pediatrics journal, stating that “one in three autistic young adults have no schooling or paid job experience nearly seven years after graduating high school.” Also discussed were ways in which parents can advocate for their children and how school programming for individuals with autism could be improved in order to improve employment outcomes. To read more, visit:


Accessible Theater Functions in Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican Culture Institute of Puerto Rico has established a new service for people with disabilities.  Every Sunday it will offer sign language interpretation and audio description at all of the theater productions by the Institute.  For more information about the theater functions and schedules, call (787) 724-0700 or visit:

Governor Cuomo Announced Proposal for a Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs

An unprecedented legislation would establish the strongest standards and practices in the country for safe guarding those with disabilities or special needs. Currently, more than 100 advocacy groups from across the state has signed onto the grassroots coalition in backing the Governor’s recommended legislation.  To read more about the Coalition for the Protection of People with Special Needs, visit:


What’s New in the Rest of the Country:

Company Awarded for Internship Program for People with Visual Impairments

Nobis Works recently awarded Southern Company, which is a power company based in Atlanta, GA, with the 2012 Visionary Award for Outstanding Employer. The award was in recognition of their internship program which provides job experience for individuals with visual impairments. Nobis Works provides rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities in Georgia. To learn more about the program, visit:


2012 Theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month Announced

According to U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, this year’s theme for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month will be: "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" The month of October is dedicated to help create awareness of employment for individuals with disabilities through a variety of events and meeting throughout the nation. To learn more about Disability Awareness Month, visit:  


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Makes $85 Million Available to People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of $85 million to fund housing for extremely low-income individuals who have a disability. This is the first time in the history of the Section 811 Supporting Housing for Persons with Disabilities program that funding will be offered to state housing agencies that qualify under new eligibility standards. To learn more about this provision, visit: 


Social Security Announces Expansion to Compassionate Allowances Program

The Social Security Administration recently announced an expansion of its Compassionate Allowances Program, adding 52 new medical conditions to the list. The program speeds up the benefits process for individuals with significant disabilities, shortening the decision process to days instead of months.  To read more, visit:


Court Upholds Severe Obesity as an ADA-Protected Impairment in EEOC Suit

Resources for Human Development, which is a treatment facility for chemically dependent women and their offspring, will pay $125,000 for discriminating against an employee under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by firing an employee due to her disability, severe obesity. The court concluded that severe obesity may qualify as a disability regardless of whether it is caused by a physiological disorder. Read more here:


Randstad to Pay $60,000 in EEOC Suit

Randstad, a global staffing firm, consented to pay $60,000 to settle an EEOC disability related lawsuit, filed by a job applicant. The company refused to hire a job candidate once he made known that he had Asperger’s Syndrome. As part of the settlement the company must alter its anti-discrimination policy and offer training to its employees. To read more, visit:

Consumer Action releases housing discrimination survey

Survey results released by Consumer Action shows that community-based organizations (CBOs) advocating for individuals with disabilities, immigrants, families with children, and other underserved consumers are reporting that housing discrimination remains a well-known problem in the United States. The results outline the challenges faced by underserved groups, as they attempt to obtain housing. The survey also provides tips to aid individuals as they conduct housing searches. To read more about the survey, visit:


Opportunities for You!

Society of Human Resources Management Annual Conference in June

This conference showcases HR innovations and includes keynote speakers for a well-rounded experience. The conference also will contain sessions addressing disability issues such as the ADA and creating an inclusive work environment. The conference is June 24-27th in Atlanta, Georgia. For more details call 800.283.7476 or register at:


Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Conference in June


The annual Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Conference brings together thought leaders and unique presenters to delve deeper into these challenges and opportunities through peer learning, networking, informal learning, and sharing of next practices such as; models that work; metrics that measure what matters; and strategies that enable transformational and sustainable progress. The conference is June 27-28th in Chicago, Illinois. Register at:



35th Annual AHEAD Conference held in conjunction with the PEPNet 2.0 Training Institute in July

The annual international Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) conference brings together professionals in the fields of higher education and disability for a week of information-sharing, networking, and theoretical and practical training. This year’s conference is July 9-14th in New Orleans, Louisiana. Register at:


Special Spotlight:  Swimming Pool Compliance Date Extended

The Department of Justice Extends ADA Compliance Date for Existing Pools and Spas Accessibility Requirements

The Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) releasing final ruling implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act to extend until January 31, 2013, the compliance date for the application of sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design for existing pools and spas. To read more about DOJ’s final ruling visit:


As a result of the final ruling, the Justice Department made available a new technical assistance document titledQuestions & Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and Other Public Accommodations” relating to the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to swimming pools. Additionally, the Justice Department also provided an up to date version of its “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Accessible Pools—Accessible Means of Entry and Exit.”