Newsletter: August 20, 2015

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: August 20, 2015

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Scenario Clinic: ADA and Higher Education-Free Webinar

Presented By: Joe Zesski

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM

The Northeast ADA Center receives calls and emails from university faculty, students, and offices for students with disabilities services, and administrators. This webinar will highlight some of the most commonly heard questions and difficult dilemmas that we have heard related to the postsecondary education setting.  To register for this webinar visit 

What's New in Our Region:

25 Years after the ADA, Navigating New York City Is Still Daunting For the Disabled

July marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, the first legislation in the U.S. to protect the civil rights of people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Across the country, the ADA has improved the equality of hiring practices and introduced architectural and transportation standards that ensure access for the disabled. But while cities such as Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Seattle boast newer public transportation systems built in compliance with the ADA, the state of public transportation in many older American cities leaves a lot to be desired. For Bartley and the 535,839 other New Yorkers living with an ambulatory disability, navigating the city's transportation system is beyond daunting. Read the full article at

NY to give $7 million to help disabled get federal benefits

State officials have agreed to provide more than $7 million to help provide legal assistance to people who have been denied federal disability benefits.

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced the funding on July 27, 2015.  Most of the money - about $6.8 million - is being awarded through the Disability Advocacy Program to 12 agencies to provide legal representation to people whose disability benefits have been denied or may be discontinued.  The funding makes sure applicants will have legal advocates through the federal appeals process. Services will be provided by not-for-profit legal services corporations, not-for-profit agencies serving the disabled, and local departments of social services.  Just over $4.2 million of the money will go to agencies in metropolitan New York.

V.I. Special Olympians Training Hard for 2015 World Games

St. Thomas athletes, Jahkiel Maynard and Jakisha Vanterpool, are excited to fly to Los Angeles on July 21 to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. Both will be competing against athletes from around the world in the 100-meter dash and shot put. Carol Mestemaker-a special education teacher at the high school from which Maynard and Vanterpool recently graduated-has been coaching them through two years of rigorous training for the games. The competition will be "a once in a lifetime experience" for the two athletes, she says. To read more, visit:

St. Croix Celebrates ADA Anniversary, Honors Local Activists

On Tuesday, July 14, stakeholders gathered at the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as to honor local activists who fought for broader compliance with the law in the 1990s. One activist, Lloyd Alfredo "Sonny" Barnes, remembers protesting in 1996 by parking his wheelchair outside of local businesses that failed to make themselves accessible to the disabled. Thanks in part to such activism, public accommodations for those with disabilities are vastly improved today-though as Barnes told the crowd, "there is still work to be done." To read more, visit:

232KNew Jersey residents could see their disability checks slashed next year

Some 232,000 New Jersey residents receive monthly checks from Social Security's disability trust fund - which trustees warned will run out of money by late next year if action is not taken. New Jersey leads the nation in the size of those monthly checks, which are based in part on previous income earned. While the national average is $1,146, the average for New Jersey's Disability recipients is $1,258.Nationwide, the 11 million people who receive Social Security disability face steep benefit cuts next year - unless Congress acts, the government said Wednesday.  If the fund were to run out of money, it would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits. That works out to a drop in monthly benefits of $239 for the average New Jersey disability recipient.  Read the full article at

Employment Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities in PR

A partnership between EDP University and the Association for a Better World for Disabled Persons (AMMI) will open new educational and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the West Region of PR.  AMMI is a nonprofit organization who actually provides employment and independent living training to 15 young adults with disabilities.  Through this alliance, AMMI participants will learn packaging and distributing disposable utensils at chain restaurants and other businesses.  For more information (in Spanish), visit:

Puerto Rican Special Olympics Athletes Won 53 Medals at World Games

The PR Special Olympics delegation ended its participation in the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles, California, wining 53 medals. Such an achievement surpassed its previous performance, when in 2011 in Athens, Greece, the delegation won 44 medals, according to its President, José G. Barea.

With grace and skill, Puerto Ricans rhythmic gymnastics athletes won 16 medals. The most prominent included: Valeria Vazquez who won a gold medal (ribbon), a silver medal (rope) and three bronze medals (hoop, ball, "all around"), while her colleague Eugenia Farinacci won two silver medals (ribbon and rope) and two bronze medals (ball and ring).

In swimming some of the most prominent are: David H. Torres who won three gold medals in 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke and 400m freestyle.  His colleague Eneida Torres won two silver medals (100m backstroke and 200m freestyle) and a bronze medal (100m freestyle), while the flag bearer Cristina De la Vega won a gold medal in her main competition (50m freestyle) and a bronze medal in 50m butterfly.  Luis Peña (50m freestyle), Wilbert Guzman and Carlos Miró (both in open water) also were medals winners.

In other sports, some of the outstanding athletes were the runner Natalia Márquez (50m) and the bowler Grace Santiago (simple). In team sports, Puerto Rico won the gold medal in men's softball. For more information (in Spanish), visit:  

PR Paralympic Delegation Demanded Equality

The PR Paralympic Committee (COPAPUR) held the Ceremony to give the flag to the athletes on July 31st.  Their delegation will participate in the Paralympics Games in Toronto with 28 athletes in eight sports, including athletics, wheelchair basketball, judo, swimming, goalball, tennis court, table tennis and archery.  They said they felt neglected by the press and through the governmental structures for sports, even though proportionately they perform better in medals than the regular delegation.  Their flag ceremony was held in the PR Recreation and Sports Department's press room, while the regular delegation ceremony was held in the Governor Office and he was present. However, James Torres, COPAPUR's President, said: "we have a great team. We're ready." 

(Puerto Rican athletes won two medals in this competition.  The swimmer Darvin Báez Eliza won bronze medal in the 50m freestyle event category S12 and the blind judo athlete Luis Jabdiel Pérez Diaz won bronze medal in the 66 kg category B2.

For more information (in Spanish), visit:

Atlantic City hotels settle claims over disabilities law

Five Atlantic City hotels that allegedly were not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act have reached settlements with federal officials.

The settlements announced this week culminate a review that lasted nearly five years. It also comes as the officials mark the 25th anniversary of the law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities that own or operate places of public accommodation.

Federal officials say the businesses that reached settlements include Resorts Casino Hotel; the Tropicana Casino and Resort; the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel; The Rainforest Café at the former Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal, according to a news release.  To read the full article go to

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features: 25th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this fact sheet lists a plethora of interesting facts about disability in the United States today. Drawing on recent U.S. Census data, the article describes various social and economic statistics relating to disability prevalence, services, accommodations, and regional differences. Read more at

The ADA and the U.S. Access Board: 25 Years of Progress

Following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25 years ago, the U.S. Access Board took on the critical role of helping to implement it. Incorporating extensive feedback from industry and the public, the Board authored the 1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which provided specific standards and recommendations for accessible design in transportation, communication, and the built environment. In addition to rulemaking, the Board provides technical assistance and training to the public through help lines, emails, webinars, and handbooks. Thanks in part to this effort, the ADA has established its legacy as groundbreaking civil rights legislation, and has reshaped public attitudes around disability as well as the world of accessible design. Read more at

New PSA Focused on People with Disabilities Preparing for Emergencies

The Ad Council and the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have launched a new public service advertisement (PSA) to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for emergencies. While the PSA targets all communities, We Prepare Every Day is the first in a series of videos that aim to deliver a strong preparedness message by showing people with disabilities taking charge to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies. Read more at

AT&T awards $100K for tech to help people with disabilities

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AT&T teamed up with New York University's Ability Lab to challenge app developers to use their network and technology to make life easier for people with disabilities.

Together they launched the Connect Ability Challenge, designed to spur innovation for people with physical, social, emotional and cognitive disabilities. Winners of the contest, which saw a total of 63 submissions, were announced Monday. Read the full article at

More Work Needs to Be Done to Prevent Exclusion of the Disabled:

New York Times

The Americans with Disabilities Act has made a dramatic difference for those of us who live with disabilities. But as often happens with collective wins for civil rights, after the law passed, the activist communities, the positive expressions of disabled identity and the collective energy that grew during the fight for the A.D.A. faded. Those of us with disabilities suddenly had legal rights. But we had to exercise those rights in isolation by filing individual claims with the Office of Civil Rights or by filing suits in federal courts.  Read more at

Opportunities for You!

FEMA Promising Practices Webinar: Preparedness for People with Chemical Sensitivity and People with Developmental Disabilities

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

11:30 AM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT


This webinar will cover important aspects to consider when developing a disaster plan for people with developmental disabilities and for those with respiratory concerns. It will cover the specific needs of those particular members of the community and how these two programs developed necessary steps to ensure the timely delivery of medical supplies, considerations for travel (public or private), where and how to make contact with appropriate parties, and how to prepare a travel kit.  This is a free webinar.  To register please go to

Special Spotlight:  

Woman with PTSD battles harassment for service dog

Heather Cooper of Shreveport, Louisiana relies on her service dog Briar to help cope with her PTSD. Briar calms her nerves when she suffers unpredictable panic and anxiety attacks, both at home and in public. However, Cooper says she now dislikes going out in public with Briar due to the harassment she suffers; "Employees and patrons of the businesses I've been to telling me that I can't have my dog there, that he is illegal there," she says. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in fact prohibits storeowners from complaining like this, and Cooper hopes to spread awareness that this sort of harassment is illegal.   Read more at