Newsletter: January 20, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: January 20, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Trends in Web Accessibility-Free Webinar

By Joe Zesski

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 from 01:00 PM to 02:00 PM

Much of work, play and community interaction happens online or via mobile apps. The web connects businesses, government and individuals with and without disabilities in numerous ways. How the ADA applies to the web is an essential issue that continues to develop. This webinar will look at the issue of the ADA and the web, consider recent changes, and examine other relevant regulations effecting web access for people with disabilities.

To register go to:

What's New in Our Region:

Most New York City Elementary Schools Are Violating Disabilities Act, Investigation Finds

A two-year federal investigation has concluded that 83 percent of New York City's public elementary schools are not "fully accessible" to children with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a blistering letter to the Education Department's top lawyer on Monday, the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that the investigation also showed that six school districts, which serve more than 50,000 elementary students, did not have a single school that is fully accessible.

"Nowhere is it more important to tear down the barriers to equal access than with respect to the education of our children," Mr. Bharara's office said. "But today, in New York City, 25 years after passage of the ADA, children with physical disabilities still do not have equal access to this most fundamental of rights." Mr. Bharara, in a brief statement, said his office had asked the city for a response to the findings, "including an outline and timeline of corrective actions that will remedy this unacceptable state of affairs." 

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Movie goer with disability says Regal, Fandango need policy change after trying to see 'Star Wars' at Destiny USA

A movie goer in Syracuse, NY says a "flawed" policy with Regal Cinemas and Fandango has prevented him from seeing the new "Star Wars" movie. Mike Rotella, who uses a scooter to get around, says he tried to buy tickets online for a screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Monday at Destiny USA's Regal theater. The show was not sold out, but none of the 50 seats available were the eight "companion" seats next to wheelchair spaces; they had already been reserved by advance ticket buyers who did not buy any of the handicap-accessible seats next to them. Essentially, Rotella would either have to see the movie "alone" -- friends or family would have to sit elsewhere in the theater -- or buy the tickets and prepare to ask people to move. "This wasn't a result of the popularity of the movie as this practice is always what Regal does," Rotella told "This practice makes it impossible for wheelchair users to plan ahead or to enjoy equal access to enjoy a film with even one friend. The theater told me to 'arrive 2 hours early' for a non-sold-out show in order to maybe get a spot."

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Disability advocates slam Statue of Liberty ferry as 'dangerous' for those in wheelchairs

A disability rights group has slammed the company that operates the ferry service to the Statue of Liberty, calling it "a nightmare for people in wheelchairs," according to a news report.  According to a Daily News report, the United Spinal Association sent a letter to the National Park Service stating Statue Cruises, which operates ferries to Liberty Island and Ellis Island from both Liberty State Park and Lower Manhattan, is "failing to live up to the Americans With Disabilities Act." Jim Weisman, president of the United Spinal Association, said accommodations for those with disabilities are "dangerous and inaccessible," citing the bathrooms and slopes, according to the report.  The organization took a video of a staffer in a wheelchair boarding a ferry. The staffer told The Daily News the ramp to the boat was especially steep, there was nowhere to secure the wheelchair inside the cabin, and the bathroom stalls were too narrow.

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What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Fliers with Disabilities Could See Airline Changes In Future

Federal airline regulators are taking steps to improve service for passengers with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Transportation said it was looking at ways to, among other things, ensure that fliers with disabilities have better access to in-flight entertainment and to bathrooms on single-aisle airplanes. The department, in a Dec. 7 posting in the Federal Register about service for people with disabilities, noted "the industry trend toward greater use of single-aisle aircraft that are not equipped with accessible" bathrooms on mid-length and longer flights.  "The disability community has expressed distress that single-aisle aircraft are increasingly used by airlines for longer flights but lack accessible lavatories," the department said in the register.

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FMLA leave may be ADA accommodation

Here's something to remember when an employee claims she has a disability that interferes with her ability to work overtime or even a full day. You can offer intermittent FMLA leave as a reasonable accommodation rather than restructuring the job or transferring the employee to another open position. Remember, the employer, not the employee, gets to pick the ADA accommodation. As long as it is a reasonable accommodation and is designed to let the employee perform his job's essential functions, you have met your ADA obligations.

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P.F. Chang's gluten-free disability lawsuit not over

Back in December 2014, a lawsuit was filed against P.F. Chang's for charging more for its gluten-free options. Anna Marie Phillips filed the suit in Santa Clara County superior court for discrimination and violation of the Americans with disabilities act. The suit claims that P.F. Chang's forces people with celiac disease to pay higher prices for gluten-free versions of their menu selections. This lawsuit is seeking class action status. According to the suit, over the past four years more than 3,000 people in over 39 states have been affected. P.F. Chang's adds a dollar charge to gluten-free items even if they are naturally gluten-free. Does P.F. Chang's Asian Bistro discriminate against people with celiac disease by charging more for gluten-free dishes than for their non-gluten-free counterparts? A ruling by a federal judge means that the lawsuit against P.F. Chang's over its gluten-free menu can't be dismissed just yet.

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Judge Approves Shift Away From Sheltered Workshops

A settlement in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit is set to reshape a state-run employment program for people with disabilities that has been heavily dependent on sheltered workshops. Under an agreement finalized just before the new year, 1,115 Oregon residents with disabilities who are employed in sheltered workshops will receive jobs in the community that pay at least minimum wage over the next seven years. An additional 7,000 individuals with disabilities in the state - including 4,900 between the ages of 14 and 24 - will receive employment services so that they will have an opportunity to obtain traditional jobs.

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Opportunities for You!

Attend the most comprehensive and affordable conference available on the Americans with Disabilities Act! The 2016 National ADA Symposium will be hosted by the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain ADA Centers on June 19-22 in Denver, Colorado.

The National ADA Symposium is designed to provide current, practical, useful information to a diverse audience. 100% of ADA Symposium attendees surveyed reported they gained knowledge and skills they could use in their profession and/or communities. 98% of ADA Symposium attendees surveyed reported that they would recommend the conference to a colleague. You will not find a more affordable or higher quality conference on the Americans with Disabilities Act!

Features of the 2016 National ADA Symposium
* Choose from 76 break-out sessions on a wide range of ADA related topics.

* Featured tracks targeted to the needs of the business community, post-secondary education, health professionals, and design community.

* Sessions presented by key agencies involved in ADA implementation including the US Dept. of Justice, EEOC, and the US Access Board.

* Networking opportunities with people from diverse professions across the US.

* On-line access to handouts from all sessions.

For more information and registration, visit or call 1-800-949-4232

Special Spotlight:  

Don't Ignore Reasonable Accommodations in the Application Process

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan. Large national employers provide the EEOC with a soapbox to broadcast this agenda. Thus, a lawsuit filed by the agency against McDonald's Corp. for its alleged refusal to interview a deaf job applicant is a perfect ADA-storm. According to the complaint, Ricky Washington, who is deaf, applied online for a job at a McDonald's restaurant. He indicated on his application that he attended a school for the deaf. When the restaurant manager learned Washington needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled the interview and never rescheduled it, continuing to interview and hire new workers. 

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