Newsletter: May 18, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: May 18, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Reaching Employers about Disability Inclusiveness: The Just-in-Time Program-Free webinar

Presented by: Hannah Rudstam Wednesday June 8, 2016 1:00pm to 2:00pm EST

More than 25 years after the passing of the ADA, people with disabilities still face barriers and discrimination in employment.  One key to bringing about change lies in creating more powerful approaches to reaching employers.  The Just-in-Time (JIT) Program is based on the idea that we need to reach those key players who are most likely to make decisions that impact the employment lives of people with disabilities:  Managers and supervisors.  During this session, we will review research on employment discrimination, provide an overview of the JIT Program and discuss our evaluation findings.

To register, please visit:

What's New in Our Region:

New York City Enacts Accessibility Standards for Government Websites

On March 14, 2016 New York City became the first major municipality in the United States to adopt legislation mandating accessibility standards for all of its government agency websites, of which there are more than 120 agencies staffed by approximately 325,000 employees.  The website legislation (Intro. 683-A) was among three disability access bills that Mayor Bill De Blasio signed into law on the same day, along with legislation requiring that each city agency have a disability service facilitator, and another law requiring the city to publicize all available accommodations.  The new City law underscores that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA ("WCAG 2.0 AA") is increasingly becoming the de facto standard for website accessibility.

Read more at:

Federal judge: Religious Schools not Required to Serve Students with Disabilities

New Jersey Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez ruled Haddonfield Friends School was exempt from federal and state disability laws, because it was a religious institution.  He found that the small Quaker school had not discriminated against a 10-year-old fourth grader with attention dysfunction and dyslexia who was expelled in January 2014.  The parents of this young boy, Sky Rota, filed suit in 2014, alleging that Haddonfield Friends did not provide the recommended assistance and that Sky's teachers belittled him in class.  Furthermore, when his parents continued to press their concerns, Haddonfield Friends retaliated by expelling him, the suit contends.  Although Judge Rodriguez dismissed the portion of the suit dealing with the discrimination claims under disabilities laws, the part involving the alleged retaliation will continue in the federal court in New Jersey.

Read more at:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Netflix Agrees To Add Audio Description to Many of its Shows and DVD Rentals

Netflix has entered into an agreement with the American Council of the Blind, the Massachusetts-based Bay State Council of the Blind, and a blind individual, to add "audio descriptions" to many of the programs offered on its video streaming and DVD rental service.  Under the agreement, by December 31, 2016, Netflix will provide audio description for many popular titles in its streaming and disc rental libraries.  Netflix will also make its website and mobile application accessible to individuals who are blind and use screen-reading software to access its site and app.  The agreement is part of a continuing trend in which businesses are voluntarily taking action to make their websites and mobile applications more accessible.

Read more at:

UW Students Create Gloves Which Translate Sign Language into Spoken English

University of Washington Sophomores Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor have developed a product called "SignAloud" which involves gloves with built-in sensors that read the wearer's hand positions and movements, then wirelessly transmit them to a computer. The computer then runs the information through a gesture database, using an algorithm to determine the best translation, which is then spoken. While there are other sign language translation devices already on the market, many are bulky or awkward and difficult for daily use. Wanting the ASL community to have a practical translating device, Azodi and Pryor designed SignAloud to be an overall improvement of the alternatives.  Although designed with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in mind, the gloves have potential for commercial use in other fields, such as monitoring stroke patients and enhancing dexterity in virtual reality.

Read more at:

Jillian Mercado made it as a model with a disability. Here's what she wants next.

Mercado, who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a teen, was first hired as a model for a Diesel Jeans ad campaign two years ago.  Last year, Mercado signed with IMG Models, the powerhouse agency that represents top supermodels like Gisele Bündchen, Kate Moss and Heidi Klum alongside an increasingly diverse lineup of rising stars.  Mercado's rapid ascent has been cheered by major media outlets as a victory for the 53 million disabled American adults who rarely see themselves represented in high-profile advertisements.  She's not the first disabled model to find success in an industry driven by conventional beauty norms, but she is one of a handful exceptions to the rule that individuals with disabilities in the modeling agency, although the hope is that her success will continue to open the door for more opportunities to be presented in the modeling industry to people with disabilities.

Read more at:

Disability Awareness Assembly Encourages 'Different' Friendships

A high school in Schuylkill County PA held a disability awareness assembly on April 27, 2016 in an effort to teach its students how to interact with people considered "disabled."  The assembly brought attention to how students with disabilities often have schooling experiences that differ greatly from other students.   The goal is to help teach students how to embrace and include classmates with disabilities, how to strike up a conversation, new friendships.  The school plans to continue the event annually until the faculty believes it is no longer necessary to educate students on how to treat students with disabilities.

Read more at:

Study Suggests Inherited Learning Disability Could One Day be Treated with a Pill

An inherited learning disability similar to autism - called Fragile X - could one day be treated with a pill, a new study suggests.  Using an experimental drug originally designed to treat cancer, researchers in the US found they were able to restore the memories of mice genetically engineered to have the currently incurable condition.  While the research was carried out in mice, it is thought the drug could have a similar effect in humans.  Professor Xinyu Zhao, the lead researcher on the study, said it was more likely that a drug would be able to reduce the symptoms of the condition than provide an outright cure.

Read more at:

Opportunities for You!

Program Access to Historic Sites-Free webinar

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 2:00 PM EST - 3:30 PM EST

Ray Bloomer
Accessibility Specialist National Park Service
Director of Education and Technical Assistance National Center on Accessibility

This webinar will identify and discuss key issues of programmatic access specifically relating to historic sites. It will define program access and also discuss the key principles of program access as it relates to Section 504 and Title II of the ADA. Discussion will include methods and reasons for modifications of policies, practices, and procedures. It will also show examples by which access can be provided in historic areas while preserving the historic integrity of the site.

Register at: (link is external)

Special Spotlight:  

Department of Justice Announces New Website Feature

The Department of Justice has launched a new Accessible Technology section for, its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Web site, to further assist covered entities and people with disabilities to understand how the ADA applies to certain technologies, such as Web sites, electronic book readers, online courses, and point-of-sale devices.  Covered entities have longstanding obligations to make their programs, goods, services, and activities accessible-including those they provide online or via other technology.  The new Web pages compile in one place the Department's technical assistance and guidance about accessible technology, as well as information about the Department's accessible technology enforcement efforts, regulation development, and other federal accessible technology resources and initiatives.

To find out more about the ADA, visit or call the Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).