Newsletter: August 17, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: August 17, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Free Webinar: State of the Community Virtual Conference: How the ADA Trainer/Leadership Network is Changing Local Communities

September 21, 2016
1-2pm EST
Presenters: LaWanda Cook & Joe Zesski

Since 2007, the Northeast ADA Center and its ADA National Network partners have trained hundreds of disability professionals, advocates, and others to present a carefully designed curriculum to affect change in attitudes and behaviors around disability inclusiveness. This national capacity building initiative is known as the ADA Trainer/Leadership Network (TLN).

Collectively TLN members have conducted ADA training for thousands of civic organizations, businesses, municipalities, employers, and community groups. Tune in to learn more about the TLN and hear about the awesome work TLN members have done to increase understanding and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in their communities! To register, go to:

What's New in Our Region:

Gala to honor champions of disability services

The third annual Evening of Stars fundraising Gala, hosted by Ability Partners Foundation, is being held in Rochester, New York on September 30th. This Gala celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to furthering the rights of those with disabilities as well as those who have had a major role in participating in the efforts of CP Rochester and Rochester Rehabilitation and in funding their missions. All proceeds from the Gala go directly to aiding individuals with disabilities through the programs provided by Happiness House, CP Rochester, and Rochester Rehabilitation, all of which are non-profit organizations dedicated to providing much-needed educational, housing, personal, health, and employment services to individuals with disabilities in upstate New York. To read more, go to:

Joint Board of Elections Says No to U.S. D.O.J.'s Disabilities Act Settlement Agreement

The U.S. Department of Justice found that a majority of polling locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands presented accessibility barriers to individuals with physical disabilities, thereby violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the Department of Justice called for a settlement agreement with The Joint Board of Elections, the Board rejected a settlement and instead opted to vote for an extension whereby polling locations could be adjusted to reflect guidelines set forth in the ADA regarding the accommodation of individuals with disabilities during elections. The Board is confident that polling locations will reflect the Department of Justice's outline of necessary accommodations long before the summer ends and election season begins. To read more, go to:

Puerto Rican Athletes Participate in International Competitions

In early August, the members of the Puerto Rico Federation of Wheelchair Basketball won gold in the "Spitfire Challenge" tournament held in Toronto, ON, Canada. To learn more about them, visit their Facebook page at:

On a similar note, the PR Paralympic Committee delegation will participate in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.  This delegation is comprised of three males and one female. The flag-bearer, Luis J. Perez, who works as a full time judo athlete joins Paola Acuña in swimming, Ricardo Rosario in archery, and Darvin Baez who was recently certified as a Paralympic athlete.

The Paralympic athletes will be accompanied by their three trainers: Lourdes Vega, Abderraman Brenes, and Jose Reyes.  The delegation is completed by Dr. Edwardo Ramos as Chief Physician, President James Torres, Dialma Ortiz, Secretary General, and German Perez as Head of Mission.

The members of the delegation were very pleased with the flag presentation activity, organized by the Hon. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla. They also thanked the Secretary of the Department of Sports and Recreation, Ramon Orta and his team for such an honorable activity.  Visit the PR Paralympic Committee's Facebook page:   

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican Federation of Blind Athletes seeks to identify one hundred blind persons in PR that wish to participate in a meeting next November. In this meeting, they will discuss adapted sports for the blind and the opportunity to eventually participate in international sporting events. If you are blind, have a vision disability or have a family member that has been diagnosed with any of these conditions, contact, at 787-364-4272, or through their Facebook page at:

Training for Employers and Supporting Back to School in PR

Support for Parents of Children with Disabilities (APNI, by its acronym in Spanish), which is the Center for Information and Training for Parents in Puerto Rico, will be carrying out trainings and focus groups funded by the State Council on Development Deficiencies (CEDD, by its acronym in Spanish) for employers with the goal of promoting labor inclusion of people with disabilities.

On another note, as part of the back to school, many parents of Special Education students have to participate in the Planning and Placement Committees (COMPU, by its acronym in Spanish) and the reviews of the Individual Educational Plans (PEI, by its acronym in Spanish). APNI can assist them in this process.  APNI relies on advocate mothers who voluntarily provide free support during these processes. They also accompany parents to meetings.  For more information, call 787-763-4665 or email:, or visit their web page: or their Facebook page:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC, Guardsmark settle allegations of ADA, GINA violations

Guardsmark, a major provider of security services in North America, Puerto Rico and the U.K., has recently chosen to settle allegations that they requested private personal medical history from job applicants, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination ACT (GINA) in the process. Guardsmark purportedly asked applicants for their family medical histories and asked them to disclose any disabilities prior to offering these applicants employment, thereby violating these individuals' civil rights. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is working with Guardsmark to ensure that they pay their $329,640 settlement and that they adjust their hiring process to prevent any kind of discrimination against applicants based on their medical histories and whether or not they have disabilities. To read more, go to:

Recruitment Program Participants Receive Judith C. Gilliom Award

An awards ceremony was held by the U.S. Defense Department at the U.S. Access Board in honor of exemplary interns participating in the Workforce Recruitment Program who were nominated by their superiors for their excellence in the workplace and eagerness to achieve. The Defense Department's Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity's Workforce Recruitment Program is a program for individuals with disabilities who are currently enrolled in college or have recently earned a degree that strives to match highly skilled and motivated young people with disabilities with hiring managers. The awards ceremony specifically honored three individuals with disabilities with the Judith C. Gilliom Award, an award named after the founder of the Workforce Recruitment Program who was an outspoken advocate of the employment of individuals with disabilities, especially in federal government. To read more, go to:

Workplaces Can Be Particularly Stressful For Americans with Disabilities, Poll Finds

A survey regarding job satisfaction and the relationship between individuals' health and work lives from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health indicates that people living with disabilities face significantly greater adverse health effects from working than individuals who do not have disabilities. Upon closer inspection, the physical obstacles associated with commuting to and from work are some of the most stressful aspects of working for many individuals with physical disabilities, particularly for workers that require accommodations in transportation. To read more, go to:

Work in progress: An inside look at autism's job boom

Finding and retaining employment has always been, and continues to be, a struggle for many individuals with autism spectrum disorders; however, many employers, from large companies to small not-for-profit startups, have recently begun heavily investing in the hiring and training of individuals with autism. Employees with autism are an untapped resource in many workplaces and as individuals with autism are increasingly exposed to more resources to guide and aid them in their career paths and job searches, more individuals on the spectrum are finding fulfilling jobs that allow them to be comfortable and productive in their work environment while maintaining independence through employment. While there has been a growth in opportunities for education and employment for individuals with autism, it is important to highlight that these opportunities are not universal and that there are countless challenges to bringing about greater diversity in the workplace. To read more, go to:

How tech companies are making their apps more accessible to people with disabilities

Tech giants are coming together now more than ever to improve software accessibility for individuals with disabilities. With companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft making massive strides in accommodating those with visual, hearing, mental, and physical impairments, the needs of individuals with disabilities are steadily becoming a larger focus for the creators of software and hardware around the world. The main challenge faced by experts working in accessibility labs is the overall lack of education that new hires have in terms of accommodating disabilities in that many individuals with technical expertise and various degrees in computer science, engineering, information science, etc. do not have a practical understanding of, or much exposure to, the needs of users with disabilities. However, major social media platforms and web developers are pushing for greater inclusion of those with disabilities and more widespread creation of accessibility technology, hopefully meaning that these technologies will soon become an industry standard. To read more, go to:

ADHD is now classified as a specific disability under federal civil rights law

With a soaring number of children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the issue of whether or not children with ADHD or ADD are being given proper accommodations and attention in school has become a major topic. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education has taken a stance on the topic and mandated that schools across the U.S. follow specific guidelines explaining the responsibilities that educators and schools have to their students in terms of identifying children who may exhibit symptoms of ADHD and in terms of the accommodations that these children require and are entitled to under federal civil rights law. Failing to diagnose ADHD in children can lead to serious emotional and intellectual harm as they are not receiving the proper care and attention that their disability requires for them to have full educational and social experiences at school. These guidelines aim to clarify the role and responsibility that educators have in ensuring the education and well-being of all students. To read more, go to:

"Am I Disabled?" For Millions, There's not always a Clear Answer

The legal term "disabled" and the personal identifier "disabled" have highly different connotations and respective struggles. Many individuals grapple with identifying as someone with a disability in a culture that seems to blame many people with disabilities for straying from what is perceived as "normalcy", both physically and mentally. In addition, individuals with less obvious disabilities, such as individuals with milder physical impairments or mental disabilities, often find themselves questioning whether or not the term "disabled" applies to them and whether or not they have "enough" of a disability to claim this identity. On top of this, many people struggle tremendously with admitting that they have disabilities and require accommodations, as many definitions of "disabled" exist and while one may qualify as someone with a disability in one context, they might be perceived as fully able in another context. Overall, the issue of who can claim having a disability and who can and cannot join this community can tend to obfuscate the greater goal of improving accessibility for all people, regardless of the type or extent of their impairment. To read more, go to:

Opportunities for You!

Free Webinar! Open Q & A with the U.S. Access Board

9/1/2016 2:30 PM ET

This is a regular session in the Board's webinar series that provides an opportunity to ask questions on any topic related to the Board's work and activities. Questions are welcome on the Board's accessibility requirements and rulemaking activities, including the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards, new standards being developed for medical diagnostic equipment, and other topics related to the Board's work. Accessibility specialists will answer questions submitted in advance during the first half of the session, leaving time in the second half to answer questions in the live session. To register, please visit:

Special Spotlight:

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

On September 7th, the opening ceremony will be held for the 2016 Paralympic Games. The opening and closing ceremonies are among the most waited for moments of the Games. They will set the tone of the event, paving the way to celebrate the competition schedule. Later on, when athletes bid farewell, they will reinforce their appreciation for the host city with a great social gathering. Famous for touching large audiences, they combine the sports tradition with the best cultural expressions of the city and country hosting the competitions. At the Paralympic Games, the opening ceremony will highlight the strength of Brazil and its people, who are used to overcoming challenges and demonstrating creativity. The closing ceremony of the Paralympic journey will be held on September 18th. It will be a new opportunity to celebrate Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, with that special feeling of looking back at the Games' best moments and handing over the Paralympic flag to Tokyo, next host of the Games in 2020. To learn more about the Paralympic Games, you can visit: