Newsletter: April 20, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: April 20, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Building Trust & Openness: The Human Side of Disability in the Workplace-Free webinar

May 11th 2016 1:00-2:00 pm EST

When many people think of disability in the workplace, they think of the law. This is understandable; there are several important laws prohibiting disability discrimination at work.  Yet, a key issue for both people with disabilities and employers is more on the human side of disability inclusiveness.  How can employers build a climate of trust in their organizations so that people with disabilities are willing to come forward?  Or, how can applicants and employees with disabilities make decisions about when to trust an employer to disclose a disability?  Trust is difficult to define, hard to build and easy to destroy.  During this webinar, we will discuss some basic concepts around trust-building and why it is important.  Then, we will review research on disability, trust and disclosure.  Finally, we will provide practical tips on trust and the disability disclosure decision for both employers and people with disabilities.  Register at:

What's New in Our Region:

N.J.'s autism rate higher than ever - but rest of the country catching up

According to a federal study, New Jersey's autism rate continues to climb and is still highest in the nation, with the number of children diagnosed with autism having increased 12% in a two year period.  However, experts still don't know if New Jersey families are more likely to have an autistic child, or whether New Jersey schools and doctors are simply better at diagnosing them.  While New Jersey looks at both school and medical records to come up with its number, some of the 10 other states in the ongoing study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don't have access to school records, which helps to explain some of the disparity in number of cases.  The study shows the way autistic children are diagnosed around the country is still inconsistent and subject to changes from year to year. To read more, go to:

A How to Guide for Disabled Housing Seekers

With her 33-year-old disabled daughter living happily in a supervised Phillipsburg apartment, Lorraine D'Sylva-Lee said "a piece of my heart tears whenever a family asks how can we do what you did."  Finding the right match for Aaliya's many needs took years of work and advocacy, D'Sylva-Lee said - right down to locating her daughter's skilled aide and dentist who figured out how to control her daughter's tantrums.  On Wednesday, the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey simplified the work for the tens of thousands of families in the state who struggle with these decisions and the complicated government bureaucracies that pay for them. Read more at:

Elevating New York: The MTA Needs to Lift Up Disabled and Elderly Passengers

Only 23 percent of New York City subways are accessible to disabled passengers. The Federal Transit Administration recently recommended that the MTA add more elevators to its 469 stations, making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the citywide upgrade would come at a cost of $1.7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, it would be a highly beneficial undertaking. As the FTA reports, New York paradoxically has the most ADA-compliant systems among the 10 largest subway systems in the country but the smallest percentage of accessible stations.  Dancer Claire van Bever learned this all too well after undergoing surgery and convalescing in New York.  When returning to the subway she found that no station near her Greenpoint apartment was ADA accessible. To read more go to:

National Disability Institute, Spring Bank and Bronx Independent Living Services Launch Assistive Technology Loan Program in New York

The National Disability Institute (NDI), in partnership with Spring Bank and Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS), announced today the launch of an Assistive Technology (AT) Loan Program in selected areas of New York. The NDI AT Loan Program will provide low-interest loans to people with disabilities, seniors and veterans through participating financial institutions. Spring Bank will be the first bank to pilot this groundbreaking loan program.  Assistive Technology (AT) loans include home and vehicle modification, ramps, computers, hearing aids and other equipment that will increase individuals' independence, productivity and quality of life. Loans will range from $500 to a maximum of $10,000 at eight percent interest, and with terms up to 36 months. Read more at:

United Spinal Association & New York City Reach Settlement on Curb Ramp Installation & Upkeep

United Spinal Association and New York City have agreed to expand a ground-breaking 2002 settlement in a class action lawsuit that requires the City to install and upgrade wheelchair curb ramps at all of its street corners.  Under the new agreement, the City will continue to spend $20 million per year and will spend another $87.6 million through Fiscal Year 2017 to finish installing and upgrading curb ramps City-wide - all in addition to the $243 million that the City has spent under the 2002 settlement to ramp 97% of its 158,738 corners, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Read more at:

ADA Accessible Puerto Rican Theater Festival

The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and the Puerto Rican Athenaeum are the organizers of the 57th Annual Puerto Rican Theater Festival from March to October 2016.  This festival is dedicated to Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, Founder of the Athenaeum and father of Puerto Rico's theater.  Every Sunday function will have audio-description, and sign language interpretation for attendees that have a visual or auditory disability.  For more information, please call 787-724-0700 ext. 1320 or 1324, or visit:  You can also read more details about the plays to be performed in the following Facebook page:

Sports games to be inclusive in Puerto Rico

The PR Department of Recreation and Sports will organize the Puerto Rico Games from May 28th to June 4th.  This event will consist of 35 sports, including 18 adapted sports.  Among the adapted sports are: athletics, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, swimming, volleyball, tennis, and martial arts.  For more information, please contact Lissette Ortiz, Recreational Events Coordinator at 787-721-2800 ext. 4329 or via email at  For registration, visit:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Spectrum of Options Seminar: Autism, Faith Communities and Inclusion

As its final free Spectrum of Options Seminar Series of this season, The Children's Institute will present "Autism, Faith Communities and Inclusion" on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.  This workshop, appropriate for parents, caregivers and faith leaders, will explore how all faith communities can become more inclusive of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  The event will feature a panel of religious and lay leaders from various religious traditions who have created inclusive faith communities that have successfully integrated individuals with special needs and their families. Discussion will focus on the practical steps faith communities can take to fully engage special needs families.  Read more at:

New push to keep seniors in home, community-based programs

The federal government is pushing states to keep more low-income seniors out of institutions and, instead, enroll them in home-and community-based programs.  By 2050, the number of seniors older than 85 is expected to triple to more than 18 million. These seniors tend to have the highest disability rate and greatest need for long-term care.  Demand for long-term care is rising rapidly.  Read more at:

Discrimination arising from disability: five examples from case law

These 5 cases: Griffiths v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Waddingham v. NHS Business Services Authority, Horler v. Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Pnaiser v. NHS England and another, Land Registry v. Houghton, and others all highlight different issues regarding treatment of employees with disabilities in the workplace.  When enacting policies, employers need to be careful to accommodate individuals with disabilities and to ensure said individuals are not being discriminated against.  Read more at:

New syndrome named, causes a rare intellectual disability

Pediatric researchers, using high-speed DNA sequencing tools, have identified a new syndrome that causes intellectual disability (ID). Drawing on knowledge of the causative gene mutation, the scientists' cell studies suggest that an amino acid supplement may offer a targeted treatment for children with this condition.  The study team analyzed DNA samples from 13 affected children from nine unrelated families, along with DNA from the children's healthy parents. "This work highlights how modern genetic approaches can uncover disease-causing variants in phenotypically heterogeneous samples that involve the same gene and molecular pathway," said one researcher.  Read more at:

Steps for parenting a child with a disability

The Sunday Gleaner in association with the National Parenting Support Commission provide a guide to parenting a child with a disability.  Their message revolves around how offering the appropriate parental support to a child with a special disability or to one who requires additional attention, but the extra effort put forth is done so in the name of love.  The creators of the guide understand the difficult situation facing parents and strive to alleviate some of the burden parents feel.  Read more at:

Disability Rights Ohio sues Gov. John Kasich, state officials

Advocates for disabled Ohioans filed a class-action lawsuit against Gov. John Kasich and the state of Ohio over what they say is illegal segregation of institutionalized people with disabilities. The lawsuit alleges people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who want to live and work in their communities can't because of limited state funding. Last year's state budget allocated millions of dollars for additional waivers, but Disability Rights Ohio Executive Director Michael Kirkman said the money won't fix problems with how the waivers are awarded. Read more at:

Disability Unemployment Rate Sees Improvement

An increasing number of Americans with disabilities are finding work, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Figures indicate that the unemployment rate for those with disabilities fell to 10.8 percent last month, down from 12.5 percent the month prior. Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. Unemployment for the general population remained largely unchanged at 5 percent as the economy added 215,000 jobs last month.  Read more at:

Opportunities for You!

Frequently Asked Questions about the ADA and Alternate Forms of Transportation-Free Webinar

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

2:00 - 3:30 PM EST

Have you ever wondered what your rights are as a person with a disability using a Transportation Network Company (TNC)? Or how much assistance a taxicab operator is required to provide to people with disabilities? Or the requirements under the ADA on level rail boarding? In this session, Easter Seals Project Action Consulting staff will discuss questions frequently received on the ADA with regard to the following alternate modes of transportation: Taxicabs, TNC's, Motor coaches, Shuttles, and Rail.  Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center.

Presenters: Julie Dupree, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, Easter Seals Project Action Consulting, Ken Thompson, ADA Technical Assistance Coordinator, Easter Seals Project Action Consulting, Donna Smith, Senior Director, Easter Seals Project Action Consulting

Registration deadline is Friday, April 29, 2016

Register at: (link is external)

Special Spotlight:  

Is disability a disadvantage or a mere difference?

In her new book The Minority Body, Barnes argues for a social constructivist conception of disability. This means that the disadvantages that accompany disability are the result of social injustice, rather than physiological or psychological disadvantages. Barnes suggests that, were the social injustices of the modern world to be remedied, the perceived disadvantages of disability would disappear. Yet Barnes's view is highly controversial, and has garnered widespread criticism. Critics present a series of cases that seem to show that it would be impermissible to cause disability in an individual. And yet, it would seem that the mere difference view would permit causing disability, which would seem to contradict Barnes' mere difference point of view.  Read more at: