Newsletter: May 22, 2009

Northeast ADA May 22, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

NYS Offers Free Drug Discount Card to Individuals with Disabilities:
New York State launched a program called New York Prescription Saver (NYPS), a free prescription discount card that can lower the cost of generic drugs by up to 60 percent and brand name drugs 30 percent. NYS residents who are 50-64 years of age or have a disability as determined by the Social Security Administration can apply to receive this card.  The application can be accessed either by calling 1.800.788.6917 or online at

Fair Housing Lawsuit Filed Against NY Apartment Complex:
On May 6th, federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Berk-Cohen Associates at Tor View Village Apartments alleging that the complex violated the fair housing rights of people with disabilities. The complex has had an agreement with Loeb House, an organization working to provide people with mental disabilities housing,  in which Loeb House rents some apartments and guarantees the rent on others. In October 2008, Berk-Cohen said it intended to treat the Loeb House clients like any other tenant, regardless of their disabilities. The complaint states that this is discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. According to Acting U.S. Attorney General Lev L. Dassin, "Landlords must be ensure that people with disabilities have the same enjoyment of an apartment as others." A lawyer for Loeb House reported that since 2007, Berk-Cohen has engaged in a campaign to harass Loeb House clients to end their tenancies.  Read more at both: and

Public Service Announcement (PSA) Campaign to Increase Deaf Community's Awareness of Depression:
The Deaf Wellness Center is launching a PSA campaign aimed at increasing Deaf community awareness about depression.  The campaign is centered around three PSAs filmed entirely in American Sign Language (ASL) with no sound track. A 30-second and a 60-second PSA are each being broadcast on several television stations in the Rochester, NY area.  A 45-second extended version was produced exclusively for Internet dissemination.  Print advertisements supporting the campaign will appear in local Rochester newspapers.  This project was made possible by the American Psychiatric Foundation, the Advertising Council of Rochester, Roberts Communications, Inc., Linda Bove, Eastman Kodak Company, the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and many deaf and hearing friends.  All three PSAs can be viewed by clicking on this link:

New York City Street Named After Disability Advocate:
A Manhattan street is being renamed in honor of an advocate whose work made NYC more accessible for the disabled.  City officials, along with leaders from the disability community, have renamed a section of East 4th Street "Frieda Zames Way."  Zames, a longtime resident of the block, was a retired math professor who died in 2005. She was among those who fought and won a campaign to make the Empire State Building's observatory more accessible.


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

President's Budget Includes Increased Disability Spending:
President Obama's budget for fiscal year 2010 includes increased spending on disability programs and initiatives.  The budget areas include: special education, autism research, employment assistance, mental health care for kids and teens, efforts to decrease the backlog of Social Security disability claims, increasing the number of civil rights attorneys, and Centers for Independent Living. The budget must now pass through Congress before taking effect October 1st. Read more at:

HUD Awards $8 million in HIV/AIDS Housing Grants to Local Programs:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be awarding these grants to seven local programs in Alabama, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania that offer much needed housing and support services to extremely low-income people living with HIV/AIDS.  These grants, offered through HUD's "Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program", are designed to help this population find stable homes while receiving the necessary services for managing their illness. A full list of recipients and grant amounts can be found at:

April 2009 Disability Employment Statistics Released:
In April the percent of people with disabilities in the labor force was 22.8 compared with 70.9 for persons with no disability. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 12.9 percent. This is down slightly from a 13.1 percent unemployment rate in March but that is partly due to a decrease in the number of people in this population considered to be in the workforce, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), who began tracking employment for people with disabilities last October. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February and now reports are released monthly. To access the report, go to:

May is National Mental Health Month: 
This May, in honor of Mental Health Month, the Mental Health America organization is launching the "Live Your Life Well" campaign to provide people with ten specific, research-based tools that can combat stress and promote health and well-being. You can access these tools, as well as a variety of fact sheets and brochures, by going to:  In addition, the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability has created a fact sheet regarding depression and physical activity which can be accessed at:

Latest Disability Rights Online News from Department of Justice Now Available: 
This bi-monthly update about the DOJ's Civil Rights Division's activities in the area of disability rights is now available at:

National Council on Disability May Bulletin: 
This month's bulletin features information on the Disability Equity Act, National Summit on Disability Policy, and a funding/research opportunity:


Opportunities for You!

DBTAC Northeast Offers FREE Workshop in New York and New Jersey! 
This one-day workshop offers participants an opportunity to review updates to the ADA and state disability laws, discuss current "hot button" issues, and understand new visions for disability inclusiveness as competitive advantage.  This program will be offered only to 20 participants on a "first come, first served" basis.  It is free of charge and lunch is included.  The topics for the workshop include hiring trends; the economic downturn; disability inclusiveness and competitive advantage; service animals; transition issues for students; psychiatric disabilities; women and employment; state and federal disability law; housing issues; and others! Sessions will be held 8:30am-4:30pm on July 9th at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. and August 13th at the Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard in Trenton, NJ. To register or for more information, call or email Barbara Sosna at either 1.800.949.4232 or .

Deaf Initiative in Technology (DiiT) Workshops Offered in Sign Language:
DiiT provides up-to-the-minute technical training in an all sign environment giving workshop participants the benefit of direct interaction with the instructors without the need for interpreters.  This year, DiiT is offering new professional workshops in Graphic Communications, Information Technology, Engineering, English, and Business related topics.  All workshops are held at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.  For more information, to register, or to add your name to the mailing list, please visit or call 585-475-7545 (Voice or TTY).  Discounted rates are given to those who register either before May 22nd or with friends and/or co-workers!

Special Spotlight:
Air Carrier Access Act Amended (ACAA)!

The Department of Transportation (DOT) amended the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which took effect May 13th, strengthening protection for travelers with disabilities. Several new requirements have been mandated, including the legal extension of coverage of the ACAA to all commercial flights to and from the U.S., including those operated by foreign air carriers. Additionally, such foreign carriers must make sure that disabled passengers are able to navigate the foreign terminal where they will be arriving and/or departing, and all new aircraft must have accessible lavatories, moveable armrests, on-board wheelchairs, and wheelchair storage space. Airline carriers will also now be required to offer disabled passengers web-only fares by an accessible means if the fare is offered on an inaccessible web page.

United Spinal Association has released an updated version of the Accessible Air Travel- A Guide for People With Disabilities which includes the ACAA's expanded regulations.  This helpful booklet informs individuals with disabilities of their rights as passengers on commercial airlines and how to adequately prepare to ensure their air travel experience is enjoyable. It also provides valuable insight on a multitude of air carrier procedures, such as information about requirements for foreign airlines, what to expect in terms of equipment liability, how to file a complaint, and airport screening requirements.  "This guide has been a very useful resource to thousands of air travelers over the years that were not aware of their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act. It is our hope that this revised version continues to help people with disabilities across the country experience enjoyable and trouble free air travel," said Kleo King, senior vice president of Accessibility Services at United Spinal Association.  To access the guide, go to:

Visit the Disability Law Index to review the full set of ACAA regulations:

Article on ACAA:

Overview of the ACAA:


See you in a few weeks!!!