Newsletter: July 20, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: July 20, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Free Webinar: The ADA & Aging Americans

Presented by: Jeffery Tamburo & Jennifer Perry
August 10th 2016
1pm - 2pm EST

This webinar will discuss the intersection of America's aging population and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As the American population ages and more individuals join the ranks of senior citizens, more Americans inevitably will have disabilities, and in turn, benefit from this landmark civil rights law. Title I of the ADA, which covers employment, requires that reasonable accommodations be made available to qualified senior workers with disabilities. Titles II and III of the ADA mandate access to programs, goods, and services by people with disabilities, including requirements that largely benefit older American's as they participate in community life. We will review how these various ADA regulations benefit an aging population by discussing several key areas of the law that directly impact older Americans. To register go to:

What's New in Our Region:

Electronic Voting Machines are Not Accessible to Blind People in PR

When the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (CEE, by its acronym in Spanish) acquired the electronic voting machines, which it used for the first time during the June 5th Primaries, they didn't take into consideration blind people. The machines do not have the technology needed to guarantee the secret right to vote for some 300,000 voters who have some form of visual impairment. The recently acquired machines -purchased through a $38 million dollar contract- are not equipped with screen readers, or screen magnifiers, that would allow blind people to correctly cast their vote independently and in secret; when they insert their ballots into said electronic ballot box. This was publicly denounced by Nestor Alonso, house candidate by accumulation for the New Progressive Party (PNP, by its acronym in Spanish), who is visually impaired. To read more in Spanish, go to:

Amphibious Chairs for People with Disabilities Inaugurated at a PR Beach Club

The Mayor of the Municipality of Vega Baja, Marcos Cruz Molina, acquired 3 amphibious chairs to be used by people with disabilities at the Municipal Beach Club. This initiative emerged after Edwin Fernandez Lugo, a 43 year old Muscular Dystrophy patient, asked the Mayor for one. As part of the project a new access path was created from the parking lot to the sidewalk, close to the lifeguard tower. The schedule is from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The three chairs cost $4,957, and the total cost was approximately $7,000. The service is free of charge and may also be used by non-local residents. To read more in Spanish, go to:

Dwarfism Included as a Disability for the use of Accessible Parking in PR

Through Law 42 of 2016, the Government of Puerto Rico amended the Vehicle and Transit Act of PR to include dwarfism among the disabilities for which a removable authorized handicapped parking sign may be requested. The amendment also allows for people with dwarfism to not have to renew the medical certificate required to obtain said removable sign. The proposed act, filed on behalf of Maria Fernanda de Puig Muñoz, a fifteen year old teenager, was analyzed by the Commission for Infrastructure, Urban Development and Transportation of the Puerto Rico Senate at a public hearing and was backed by the organization, Little People of America. Dwarfism or dysplasia, which affects people who are 4 feet 11 inches (1.25 meters) or less, is one of the diversities for which no census is available in Puerto Rico. To read more in Spanish, go to:

N.J. Employers No Longer Able To Shrink NJLAD Lawsuit Time Limits

Overturning two lower court decisions, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Sergio Rodriguez in the case of Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co. Inc.  This case was about whether or not employers could shorten the period of time employees have to file discrimination claims under the New Jersey Law against Discrimination (NJLAD). The lower courts had held that the company was allowed to do this because they had made the provision extremely clear in the application signed by Rodriguez. The New Jersey Supreme court saw differently though and overturned the previous decisions unanimously. One of the reasons behind their reasoning is that the court felt that "this time limit and constraints ran contrary to the public-interest purpose of the NJLAD, designed to eradicate discrimination from New Jersey workplaces". The result of this decision is that employees will have the full two year statute of limitation that the NJLAD provides, if they want to pursue litigation. To read more go to:

It's official: New York is Making it Easier for Students with Disabilities to Graduate This Year

New York has recently approved new rules regarding its Regents exams. The Regents exams are standardized tests given to students before graduation. Students who pass the tests graduate with state Regents diplomas, while those who do not pass or do not take the test, graduate with a local diploma. The new rule that was implemented allows students with disabilities to earn their local diploma taking just Regents exams, English and math, instead of four to five tests previously required. It is expected that these new rules will impact approximately 2,200 students this year. There has been some backlash about this new rule in both directions. Some feel that trying to make it easier for students with disabilities to graduate sends the wrong message to those students, while others feel that this change does not do enough to help students with disabilities graduate. To read more go to:

Taxi Company Accused of Denying Service to Deaf Caller

A New Jersey taxi company has been accused by the state Attorney General's office of illegally denying service to a deaf woman who was using a telecommunications relay system to get service during a snowstorm. The report states that the plaintiff called the taxi service using a relay service three times, but was hung up on the first two times and asked to "please stop calling" on the third call. The complaint accuses the taxi company of failing to provide a "reasonable accommodation" for a person with a disability. To read more go to:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act by 2018 Comes with Big Price Tag for Jacksonville

In 2013, Jacksonville and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to a five-year settlement agreement that stipulates that Jacksonville must be in compliance with the ADA by 2018. Lori Boyer, a current city council member who will become president of the council starting July 1, has noted that even though the city has budgetary constraints stemming from the cities $2.87 billion debt, that "complying with the ADA requirements will be a top priority." To read more go to:

Attorney Carney Shegerian Comments on Disability Discrimination Suit Against Lowe's

A settlement was recently reached between the law firm Shegerian & Associates and Lowe's. The original lawsuit brought by Shegerian & Associates against Lowe's alleges that Lowe's refused to hire applicants with disabilities and refused reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. The lawsuit also alleged that applicants to Lowe's that were 'regarded as' having a disability were not hired, according to Carney Shegerian, the founder of the law firm. Lowe's agreed to a settlement of $8.6 million. To read more about this settlement, go to:

Kroger to Pay $33,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

The Kroger Company of Michigan is a large grocery store chain with stores throughout Michigan. The EEOC found that Kroger hired an employee as a stock person, but because of a back impairment, gave her the reasonable accommodation of working as a cashier. After a few months though, the company found out that the employee's restrictions were permanent and terminated her. Because "such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act" the EEOC filed a suit against Kroger. The three year settlement agreement provides for injunctive relief, training on the ADA, and reporting to EEOC, among other items. To read more, please visit:

BELL Program Helps Students with Disabilities Attend College

The BELL Program, (Bridge to Earning, Living, and Learning), just had its inaugural graduating class at Roberts Wesleyan College this year. The Bell Program, "is a two-year, inclusive postsecondary certificate program for students ages 18-26 with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood." The purpose of the program is to improve opportunities for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities after graduation from high school. To read more go to:

Paralyzed Veterans of America Releases Statement Calling for Air Carrier Access Act Improvements

This article highlights the Paralyzed Veterans of America and its pursuit to make air travel easier and more accommodating, not only for paralyzed veterans, but for all people with disabilities. Since Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act does not cover airlines, the statute in place to ensure airline accommodations for people with disabilities is The Air Carrier Access Act. While this is helpful, it can be improved upon because as of now, "unlike other civil rights laws, this law lacks a guaranteed private right of action. Consequently, people with disabilities typically receive little, if any, redress to their specific grievances." That is why the Paralyzed Veterans of America is currently pushing for additional provisions to be implemented. To read more go to:

Opportunities for You!

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is conducting a study of adults with physical disabilities.

We want to know about your barriers to employment as well as resources that you need to support your work/career goals. In addition, we are interested in knowing how you find information on employment services and supports. The target groups for the study are:

  • Adults with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or other physical disabilities;
  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 65; and
  • You may be employed or unemployed to participate.

To be eligible to participate, you must be a U.S. citizen and be able to provide legal consent.

Participants will complete an online survey requiring approximately 20 minutes. One hundred participants will be randomly selected to receive a $25 gift card. However, there is no guarantee that everyone who completes the survey will be selected to receive the gift card.

If you are interested in participating, the VCU-RRTC needs your consent. You may do this by following the link below to read more about the study, review the survey questions, and give your consent.

If you do not have a physical disability but know people who might like to participate, please forward this information.

If you have questions or need special accommodations to participate in the study, please contact:

Dr. Katherine Inge
P.O. Box 842011
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2011
TTY: (804) 828-2494

Special Spotlight:  

July Marks the 26th Anniversary of the ADA!

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. Throughout the year and on the ADA Anniversary, the ADA National Network participates in celebrating this landmark event as a way of bringing attention to the important work that has been done to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities and to highlight the work that is yet to be done. Please visit the following link to learn more about the timeline and history of the ADA and to access the ADA Anniversary Tool Kit.