Newsletter: September 22, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: September 22, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

The Northeast ADA Center now has a YouTube Channel!

Check out our Northeast ADA Center YouTube Channel to learn more about what the Northeast ADA Center does and how we've made an impact in our region!  Each video is captioned with English and Spanish subtitles.  Visit: Northeast ADA Center YouTube Channel or go to and Search "Northeast ADA Center."

You can also view these videos on our Northeast ADA Center website with a featured video on the home page at, or browse all of them, at

Northeast ADA Center Archived Webinars

The Northeast ADA Center has a page dedicated to all of our previously live broadcasted webinars. Topics include Building Design, Employment, Research and Statistics, Veterans, Emergency Preparedness, Website Accessibility, Education, and more! To view an archived webinar, download the slides, listen to the audio, or view the transcript, visit,

What's New in Our Region:

Athletes Compete at Annual Special Olympic Games

In early June, The College of New Jersey hosted 2,500 athletes at the Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) Summer Games. Some of the events included powerlifting, softball, and gymnastics. Each athlete qualified for the SONJ through success at previous area and sectional competitions. The SONJ started off with the 33rd annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, where thousands of NJ law enforcement officers express support by carrying the torch over 750 miles while raising money for the SONJ. Further, the Youth Activation Summits foster opportunities for young people to be leaders in athletics, academics, and communities. The SONJ provides an exciting and inclusive atmosphere for people with disabilities to display their athletic achievements.  To read more, go to:

Phillipsburg Aims to Make More Sidewalks ADA Compliant

Phillipsburg, NJ town officials are seeking a $400,000 grant to improve the area's sidewalks and comply with ADA standards. The town has applied to the Public Facilities Fund portion of the Small Cities Community Block Grant Program, which helps municipalities meet important community development and housing demands. If accepted, the grant will be available for Phillipsburg's disposal in 2017.To learn more, go to:

New legislation aims to address adults with severe disabilities in PR

Puerto Rico's new Act No. 105 of 2016, "The Access, Training and Extended Support for the Social Insertion of People with Disabilities of 22 Years of Age or More Act", intends to address the needs of the adult population with severe disabilities; who up to now have lacked adequate services.

To meet this objective, the new Act creates the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Independent Living Division of the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. This Office will be responsible for offering the necessary services to empower people with disabilities, that are older than 22 years of age. It will also allow them to transition adequately to the work force, academic life, independent living, society and the community.

The new government entity will operate based on the Federal Innovation and Work Force Opportunities Act. And it will address those adults with functional diversity that are not eligible for the available programs at the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration (ARV, by its acronym in Spanish).

Regarding the allocation of funds, the law mandates the Department of Labor and Human Resources, Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Family, Department of Sports and Recreation, the ARV, amongst other government agencies; to include in their annual budget request the necessary resources to comply with the new public policy.

"The Office of Management and Budget will make the necessary arrangements to identify the mandatory funds to achieve the effective compliance with this law," states the legislation.

For more information in Spanish, visit:

Public hearings in the agency for the Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities in Puerto Rico

The Office of the Ombudsman for People with Disabilities (DEPI, by its Spanish acronym), agency in charge of the federal programs for the protection and advocacy of those with developmental deficiencies and disabilities in Puerto Rico, held public hearings on September 8, 2016; in all of its regional offices regarding their work plans for these programs during the next fiscal year. In addition, this government agency will receive a visit from the Federal Agency that monitors it, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), from September 12 through 16, 2016.  Any person that wishes to issue any comments on the functioning of the DEPI, may send them directly to the Federal Agency at:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Waterparks Work to be More Inclusive for Those with Autism

Waterparks create an environment where children with autism can have fun, learn social skills, and overcome the threat of drowning, which is one of the biggest causes of death for this group. Gary Weitzen, executive director of the nonprofit Parents of Autistic Children, describes the importance of exposing children with autism to water and teaching them to swim regardless of the potential embarrassment. Some waterparks offer services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to improve the park experience for people on the autism spectrum. For example, waterpark operators offer special line-skipping privileges at designated times. However, there has been a debate as to what are reasonable accommodations for guests with disabilities to give them an equal experience as guests without a disability. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, that employs hospitable and accommodating policies, experienced a recent lawsuit. The parks once used the Guest Assistant Card (GAC) which allowed visitors to board attractions through "Fastpass" lanes with minimal wait times or simple skip the line altogether if no Fastpass line was available. However, visitors quickly began to abuse this program. So, in October 2013 Disney started a new program called Disability Access Service (DAS) which would give users a specific time slot in which they could avoid the line at a ride. In turn, guests sued-and continue to do so-saying this new system is restrictive and violates the ADA. So, many waterpark operators watch Disney's actions closely and have noted to include great flexibility in their scheduling and park readmission polices. To learn more, go to:

LA Settles Largest Disability-Access Case Ever

In late August, a federal judge in Los Angeles approved the largest disability access settlement in history, a $1.4 billion settlement to fix broken sidewalks and crosswalks to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. Over the next thirty years Los Angeles will be working to improve and install sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, and walkways to meet ADA standards. This settlement will make Los Angeles more accessible for people with mobility disabilities to get to work, participate in the community, and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Further, under this settlement, people with disabilities can request improvements in their own neighborhood. To learn more, go to:

Regis Settles EEOC Claims over Claustrophobic Hair Stylist

SmartSyle, a Minnesota-based Regis Corporation, will pay $60,000 after allegations of federal disability discrimination in obstruction of the ADA. Jacquez, a hairstylist at Smartsyle, was denied accommodations for her claustrophobia and had a reaction that landed her in the emergency room. Reportedly, Smartsyle refused to assist Jacquez with her medical leave and fired her. The EEOC determined that the management's conduct violated the ADA and the settlement provides an avenue for the employer to change its approach and communicate its commitment to its employees with disabilities. To learn more go to:

Justice Department Focuses on Police Treatment of Mentally Ill

In Baltimore, MD, officers found themselves in violent confrontations with people with mental disabilities who, often times, have not committed any crimes. This was the first time the Justice Department has found that a police department's policies violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. This discovery will now lead to improvements within the police department's training and relationships with mental health specialists. However, there are still concerns that officers are being forced to act as the mental health system, facilitating society's reliance on arrests rather than seeking treatment for the mentally ill. Officers in other cities such as Seattle, Cleveland, Albuquerque, and Portland have also responded too quickly and violently in interactions with persons with disabilities.  To learn more go to:

Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and McLean Hospital

This Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice finds that McLean Hospital must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Facility, a three-story townhouse within McLean, denied "Ms. O" admission because of her need for wheelchair accessibility. So, "Ms. O" filed a complaint in violation of the ADA and received injunctive relief through this settlement. As a result of the settlement, the Facility needs to alter the first floor common area to meet ADA Standards to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Further, the Facility needs to provide alternative, off-site accessible housing for patients that cannot use the stairs and provide transportation for these patients to the Facility, their alternative housing, and any off-site locations. In addition, the Facility must train all of its staff on new policies. All of these policies must be implemented within the next 6 months. To learn more go to:

Opportunities for You!

Accessible Signage (a Refresher) - Free Webinar

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
2:30 PM EDT - 4:00 PM EDT

This session, presented by the Great Lakes ADA Center, will provide a refresher on requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for signs. Presenters will review provisions that address visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.    

Registration deadline is October 6, 2016.  You can register by going to:

Special Spotlight:

Playground Grants Available

To help your communities bring more play to children and families, GameTime has set aside significant playground grant funds toward the purchase of new playground systems. Through November 13, GameTime is offering up to 100% matching funds for new playground projects. Playground grant funds are available for PowerScape®, PrimeTime®, Xscape® and IONiX® play systems.

Apply now! Playground grant funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and only for a limited time. Don't miss out! To apply go to: