Newsletter: April 19, 2017

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: April 19th, 2017


Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:


Understanding the Word Disability in the ADA-Free Webinar!

 Wednesday April 26th 2017 1 pm EDT to 2 pm EDT. 

Presented by Joe Zesski

Disability is a term that is used by people in many different ways. Often when they call the Northeast ADA Center, individuals are not sure if they have a disability or might think that there is some special process to be "registered" as having a disability under the law. This webinar will address the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, what it is and what it is not, and how individuals and organizations can think through whether or not someone may be considered to have a disability under the law.  To register go to:

 What's New in Our Region:

 U.S. Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility

 The Access Board has released guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) to address questions that have arisen on the use of alternative symbols. Some cities and states have adopted a different symbol that was created to be more dynamic and suggestive of movement. The Board's guidance explains how use of a symbol other than the ISA impacts compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is important guidance for stakeholders in New York State where legislation has been passed requiring what is known as the "Active ISA". You can read this guidance material here:

 Allergic Reactions Caused by Mishandling Food in Dining Halls

 Students at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, who have severe food allergies are asking the school to provide a safer eating environment for them. One student recently had a reaction to tree nuts and is requesting increased training requirements for staff in the dining halls to prevent mislabeled or mishandled food in the future. For individuals with food allergies, mislabeled food can be life threatening. The school reports that it labels foods that contain the seven most common food allergens to help mitigate instances of allergic reactions from students. A food allergy is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, obligating colleges to make changes to their food services practices to accommodate students with food allergies. To read more go to:

 Community Care for Adults with Disabilities to Continue Through Fiscal 2021

 The federal government has given New Jersey the go-ahead to expand and reform work it has done over the past 45 years to provide community-based services to adults with serious disabilities to help them avoid institutional living.  Disability advocates welcomed the news that federal funding would continue to pay for critical nonmedical services that enable individuals to live independent, productive lives. But they raised concerns about the state's plan to change the way it pays those who provide these critical services, which they fear could lead to gaps in care.  The state's Department of Human Services announced Friday March 31st 2017 that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had signed off on New Jersey's Community Care Waiver, renewing the program through June 2021. The program covers services for some 11,000 residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities over age 21 and had been operating on a temporary extension since 2013.  To read more go to:

 What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Special Education School Vouchers May Come With Hidden Costs

 For many parents of children with disabilities in public school systems, the lure of the private school voucher is strong. Vouchers for students with disabilities have been endorsed by the Trump administration, and they are often heavily promoted by state education departments and by private schools, which rely on them for tuition dollars. So for families that feel as if they are sinking amid academic struggles and behavioral meltdowns, they may seem like a life raft. And often they are. But there's a catch. By accepting the vouchers, families may be unknowingly giving up their rights to the very help they were hoping to gain. The government is still footing the bill, but when students use vouchers to get into private school, they lose most of the protections of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To read more about this go to:

Parents of Children with Autism Use Benefits to Continue to Work

Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, and the RAND Corporation teamed up to research employment trends of parents with children with autism. The data came from the 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs and was compared with information about state Medicaid home and community-based services waivers. These waivers assist people with disabilities to receive services, such as home health aides, that allow them to live at home and be part of their local communities, rather than living in institutions. The study showed that parents were more likely to work if there were Medicaid waivers available to help care for their children. Medicaid waiver services are income based, meaning families' income levels determine what services they can receive. Some states have Medicaid waiver programs for families who have low incomes that offer more money for children to receive services. Others offer services to families with varied income levels but limit the amount of money each family receives.  To read more go to:

Sign Language Translating Kiosks Increase Accessibility at Restaurants

 Self-order kiosks are becoming more and more commonplace at restaurants. A new wrinkle to this type of technology, from manufacturer Juke Slot, includes the ability to set the language on the device to sign language. The new kiosk, called Oublié, features a virtual avatar, which translates customer's selections into sign language.  Kiosks in general provide a significant aid between the deaf community and the restaurant community. However, because many people who are deaf struggle to read above a third-grade level but can communicate in sign language, Juke Slot's ADA compliant software is a big step towards accessibility in restaurants for the deaf community. To read more go to:

Opportunities for You!

Accessible Fitness Facilities and Exercise Equipment-Free Webinar!

 Thursday, May 4th, 2017

2:30 PM EDT - 4:00 PM EDT

The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standard and the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard include provisions for health club and fitness facilities and equipment. This session will highlight provisions for exercise equipment, toilet and bathing facilities, locker rooms, and other fitness facility amenities. Registration deadline is May 3rd, 2017.  To register go to:

Open Call for Performers for the NJ Disability Pride Parade and Celebration

 The Alliance Center for Independence is putting out a call for performers with disabilities for the 7th annual NJ Disability Pride Parade and Celebration (NJDPP) to be held SATURDAY, October 7th at Mill Hill Park, Trenton! They are looking for performers (bands, dancers and/or solo artists) who would like to be promoted and given the opportunity to perform at this festival in the park. They anticipate 1,000 people to attend. Please fill out the performance application to be considered:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Carole Tonks at

Special Spotlight:  

 April is Fair Housing Month

 Happy Fair Housing Month! The theme for this year's Fair Housing Month commemoration is "Fair Housing Equals Opportunity," which emphasizes the fact that equality in housing provides the foundation upon which aspirations can be achieved and productive lives can be built, while reflecting on the continued relevance of the Fair Housing Act.  The Act protects the right of every American, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status, to obtain the housing of their choice. Much progress has been made since the Act was passed, but the law continues to be flouted. Annually, HUD and its fair housing partner agencies receive around 8,000 complaints alleging discrimination. The majority of complaints filed under the Fair Housing Act in FY 2016 were on the basis of disability with 4,908 complaints. As we celebrate Fair Housing Month 2017, let us demonstrate the true strength of America by recommitting ourselves to advancing fair housing in a meaningful way. To learn more about Fair Housing Month, please visit: