Newsletter: May 08, 2009

Northeast ADA May 8, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Free Trainings to be Held for Virgin Islands (VI) Constituents- Sign up Now!
The DBTAC Northeast ADA Center, United Spinal Association, VI University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD), the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the VI Independent Living Center are pleased to bring two FREE training opportunities to the VI community:

"Revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines" all day training will be offered on May 11th on St. Thomas and May 13th on St. Croix. This training, ideal for anyone charged with determining if the built environment complies with the ADA, will provide an overview of the revised ADA/ABA Accessibility Guidelines and its harmonization with model codes as they relate to accessibility requirements.

"Taking Action: How to be an Effective Self-Advocate" training will be 9am-12pm May 12th on St. Thomas and May 14th on St. Croix. This training, suited for disability advocates and service providers, will provide tools and techniques for effective advocacy.  NOTE: All trainings will occur on the University of VI campus. For more details and to register, contact Shammi Carr at

Settlement Reached in Two Atlantic City, New Jersey Discrimination Suits:
A New Jersey man who uses a wheelchair for mobility filed a series of ADA lawsuits last year against several casinos, restaurants, and other businesses in Atlantic City. He sued all but one casino, claiming that aspects of the facilities such as slot machines, gaming tables, and ticket counters, were full of architectural barriers for people in wheelchairs. He has recently reached a settlement with the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort and its sister property Resorts Atlantic City, but the terms remain confidential. The other cases are still under review.  Read more at:

New Report Says NYC School Reforms Left Students with Disabilities Behind: On April 23rd, New York City's ARISE Coalition, a local group of parents, educators, and organizations, released the Include! Educate! Respect! Report that reviews the past seven years of education reform initiatives and performance data under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. The report indicates that the reforms have not significantly improved outcomes, services, or experiences for NYC's public school students with disabilities. Most notably it was found that fewer than one in five students with disabilities graduates in four years and Black and Latino male students are more likely than their peers to be placed in self-contained classrooms and to receive IEP diplomas as opposed to traditional high school diplomas. To access the full report and press release, go to:


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC and JAN Help Employers Deal with Pandemic Flu Outbreak:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has created a short technical assistance document to answer basic questions about workplace preparation strategies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus (swine flu) that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This can be accessed at:

ODEP's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has just released a new fact sheet, Considering the Needs of Employees with Disabilities During a Pandemic Flu Outbreak, in both English and Spanish. Covering Critical Questions, Telework, and General Considerations, it also offers links to valuable resources you can use immediately. Because this is a developing story, the fact sheet will offer timely updates. To access the Fact Sheet, go to:

91 People with Disabilities Arrested for Protesting Outside White House:
ADAPT, a disability rights group, met with White House officials on April 27th to request the inclusion of the Community Choice Act into the current efforts of health care reform. This legislation would allow people with disabilities to use federal funding to pay for attendant services in the community rather than nursing home care. When the administration failed to ensure any such commitment, hundreds began demonstrating outside. Ninety-one of the protesters were arrested and given tickets for demonstrating without a permit.  Read more at:

Obama Judicial Nominee Draws Opposition from the Disability Community: 
ADA Watch, a national, cross-disability coalition of disability, civil rights, and social justice organizations, and the National Coalition for Disability Rights, the national association of state disability coalitions, have both declared their opposition to the confirmation of Judge Andre Davis to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  According to these groups, Davis' record as a district court judge in Maryland reveals a bias against plaintiffs with a disability, especially in regards to employment discrimination.  For the complete article, including synopses of prior ADA employment discrimination cases Judge Davis has ruled on, go to:   

Survey Shows Paralysis to Be More Widespread than Previously Estimated:
The first population-based survey to measure the national prevalence of paralysis, initiated by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and conducted by the University of New Mexico's Center for Development and Disability, was released on April 21st.  It shows that of the 33,000 households studied, 40 percent or more Americans were living with paralysis and over five times more Americans than previously estimated live with a spinal cord injury. Essentially this means that one in 50 Americans lives with some form of paralysis, making paralysis and spinal cord injury much more widespread and prevalent that previously thought. Findings also reveal that paralysis appears to be disproportionately distributed among minorities and low-income households. The results suggest many public health implications, including future steps needed to provide those affected with appropriate public heath supports.  For further details and analysis, go to:

New Brain-Computer Interface May Offer Hope to Paralyzed Patients:
On April 15th, Adam Wilson, a doctoral student in a biomedical engineering lab at University of Wisconsin, successfully posted two messages on Twitter using a brain-computer interface. Using a red cap fitted with electrodes that monitor brain activity, hooked up to a computer, he sent the messages by concentrating on the letters he wanted to "type" then focusing on the word "twit" to post the message. This instrument could be very advantageous for people whose brains function fine but who cannot speak or move. Although the technology is still being developed, it has the potential to open more doors for paralyzed individuals. Read more at:

Special Spotlight:  Disability Inclusiveness Makes Good Business Sense!

Whether you are an employer, business owner, state agency, or local establishment; whether your prime objective is to employ the best and the brightest, perform stellar customer service, make the most profits, or offer the most beneficial assistance to community members...incorporating disability inclusiveness into your goals and practice will help you!  With both the growing population of America and the struggling economy, we are realizing more and more that every single good employee and customer is worth retaining for the sake of the success and longevity of our businesses, companies, services, and agencies. Simply put, establishments who don't turn good profits, hire and retain quality employees, or achieve excellent customer service results will not survive in this economy.  Having said that, can you afford to turn away the third largest market segment in America? Can your business, company, or agency survive if you ignore 1 in 5 Americans who could be excellent employees and loyal customers?  If not, then you cannot neglect the 54 million Americans who have disabilities and their families and friends who, combined, contribute a trillion dollars in purchasing power. Read on for more information about how to utilize disability inclusiveness in your efforts to achieve success in your business:

A Positive Strategy for Expanding Market Share (ODEP article):

Business Case for Hiring People with Disabilities:

Frequently Asked Questions about Hiring People with Disabilities:

"An Underestimated Talent Pool": Society of Human Resource Management article about the underestimated talent pool that is qualified employees who are blind or visually impaired:

The Department of Justice has developed two new "Expanding Your Market" publications: "Accessibility in Museums" and "Planning and Conducting Accessible Meetings".  These are available to be downloaded in both html and pdf format at:



See you in a few weeks!!!