Newsletter: February 20, 2013

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin - February 20, 2013

What's New from the Northeast ADA Center:

Register now for our Free 2013 Webinars!

The Northeast ADA Center will be offering free monthly webinars on a variety of topics, including but not limited to web accessibility, new service animal regulations, worksite wellness and disability, disability disclosure in the workplace, and the intersections of territory laws and the ADA. Our first webinar, "Employment for People with Disabilities in 2013: Hot Button Issues", will be February 28th from 1:00-1:45pm EST.  To learn more about all upcoming webinars, and to register for any of them, please go to:

Veterans Making Work Happen Online Toolkits Launched!

The Northeast ADA Center is pleased to announce that we have launched our online Veterans with Disabilities toolkits. These three toolkits, one for employers, on for disability service providers, and one for veterans, provide strategies and practices for the full inclusion of veterans with disabilities in employment. All three toolkits can be accessed from our website ( or by visiting:

What's New in Our Region:

Rejected Disability Claims in Queens May be Reheard

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently settled a lawsuit filed by individuals with disabilities who had been denied benefits by certain SSA administrative law judges. The plaintiffs claimed that the judges who reviewed their claims in the Queens, NY branch of the SSA arbitrarily discounted the severity of their mental and physical disabilities as well as subjected them to excessively harsh questioning during their hearings. People who were denied benefits by certain judges from as far back as January 2008 could be eligible to have new hearings. The settlement is still awaiting approval from federal judges. To read more, visit:

Second Circuit Vacates District Court's Dismissal of ADA Claim

A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling, which dealt with a missed filing deadline for disability retirement benefits. The library employee in the lawsuit claimed that she was fired due to symptoms related to her mental health diagnosis. Furthermore, the employee asserted that her condition kept her from being able to meet the state deadline for filing for disability retirement benefits. When she missed, the deadline officials would not allow her to submit the application late as an accommodation. In overturning the denial, the Court stated that the ADA's broad aim to reduce discrimination could outweigh state laws when reasonable. To read more, visit:

U.S. Attorney Settles Lawsuit against NYC Restaurants for ADA Violations

The lawsuit and settlement against three locations of the popular New York City (NYC) restaurant chain Rosa Mexicano stemmed from the US Attorney's Manhattan Restaurants ADA Compliance Initiative. The lawsuit was the first one to result from the initiative. The initiative aims to evaluate and improve the ADA compliance of some of the most popular restaurants in NYC, derived from the Zagat Guide. Some of the violations found at the restaurants included inaccessible restrooms and entranceways. As part of the settlement, the restaurants will make major changes to improve accessibility, as well as pay a $30,000 fine to the federal government. To read more, visit:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

ADA Standards for Swimming Pools Now in Effect

January 31, 2013 marked the compliance date for the application of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design to swimming pools, wading pools, and spas that were built before March 15, 2012. Title II and Title III entities are expected to comply.  To access the full details on these regulations, and how public and private entities can comply, visit: First in Industry to Make Website Accessible, which provides job seeking, career management, recruitment, and talent management products and services, has worked with the National Federation of the Blind and the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office to enhance its website and mobile applications to be accessible to jobseekers who are blind. It will be the first job search and recruitment website in the industry to provide job seekers who are blind with full and equal access to all of its products and services. Read more at:

White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

The White House has announced the availability of an audio description for those taking a tour. This will give visitors who are blind, visually impaired, or have other print and/or reading disabilities the opportunity to listen to an audio described tour as they visit the public rooms within the White House. Read more at:

Food Servers More Vulnerable to Legal Threats

People with food sensitivities, such as Celiac disease, could now have protections under the ADA. This is one of the implications of a recent settlement reached by the Department of Justice with Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. The settlement was in regards to school's policy of making students with Celiac disease purchase a meal plan, even though the students could not eat many of the foods served by the school. As part of the settlement, the school will now provide gluten free options in its dining halls as well as provide training to its staff about food allergies. To read more, visit:

ADA Reasonable Accommodations Require an Interactive Process

A recent court decision involving the ADA highlights employers' obligation to engage in the interactive accommodation process, required under the ADA.  The case involved a teacher's aid in Texas, who requested further time off for a necessary surgery, after she had exhausted her FMLA leave. When her request was denied, she asked for various accommodations to allow her to continue working until she became eligible for more leave. Eventually, her school district terminated her employment without engaging fully in a good faith interactive process to provide the employee with a reasonable accommodation. To read more, visit:

Opportunities for You!

ADA Symposium Early Registration Ends March 30th!

The National ADA Symposium, hosted by the Great Plains ADA Center and the National Network of ADA Centers, will be May 12-15 in San Antonio, Texas. Early registration ends March 30th.  This is the most comprehensive conference on the ADA that provides practical, expert training and updates on ADA implementation from the country's top presenters. Learn more and register at:

Webinar: Building Inclusion Through Creative Hiring and Collaboration

The Southeast ADA Center will provide a webinar offering guidance on how to create a workforce that actively includes people with disabilities. The strategies presented will be useful for large corporations as well as small businesses. Some objectives of the webinar are to provide relevant data on the business case for disability inclusion, as well as to detail the steps involved in implementing a disability hiring initiative, such as engaging community groups of people with disabilities. The webinar will take place on February 21st at 2pm EST. To register, visit:

Webinar on Effective Disability Outreach & Recruitment February 28th  

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy recently published "Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion." The upcoming webinar will focus on the action area that most employers, public and private, report is critical to initiating or refining policies and practices for proactively recruiting and hiring qualified people with disabilities. During this webinar, you will learn about building relationships with academic and community organizations, developing internal developmental programs and policies, specific talent resourcing, and the value of formal tracking and reporting procedures.  This webinar will be held on February 28th at 2pm EST. To register, visit:

Web Conference on Transition and Career Development for Youth:

The Employment & Disability Institute at Cornell University is hosting a three-day web conference from February 27th -March 1st entitled, Making Careers Happen: Transition and Career Development for Secondary Education Youth with Disabilities in the 21st Century. Participants will learn about effective career development and transition practices for youth with disabilities and how school-agency collaborations can deliver these practices. To learn more and to register, visit:

Survey to Improve Your Access to Wheelchairs and Medical Equipment

The United Spinal Association is conducting a survey about access to wheelchairs and medical equipment. Feedback will be used to advocate for policy changes that affect mobility and independence, such as the Medicare bidding program. Access the survey at:

2013 Disability Policy Seminar

This seminar, sponsored by the ARC, will provide participants the opportunity to hear from leading public policy experts, disability advocates and Congressional staffer about current policies that are important to the disability community. Some of the topics to be covered will include Medicaid and Community Living, Federal Funding, as well as Social Security. The information presented will be relevant to many of the stakeholders in disability issues such as people with disabilities, their families, as well as public policy makers. The seminar will be held in Washington DC and will run from April 15-17th. To register, visit:

Special Spotlight: Sports and Students with Disabilities

The Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Justice recently issued guidance on schools' obligation to provide equal access to sports for students with disabilities. The new guidance comes after a 2010 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, which stated that students with disabilities do not have an equal opportunity to participate in sports and to receive the health and social benefits of participating in athletics. The following articles discuss some of the implications of this new guidance on the lives of students with disabilities.

Obama Administration: Playing Sports is now a Civil Right

Education Dept. Orders Sports Access for Students with Disabilities

Schools Urged to Make Sports More Inclusive:

OCR Order on Athletics and Students with Disabilities Could Affect Colleges

U.S. Department of Education Clarifies Schools' Obligation to Provide Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics

Arne Duncan: We Must Provide Equal Opportunity in Sports to Students with Disabilities