Newsletter: July 06, 2009

Northeast ADA July 6, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Equipment Loan Fund Available to New York State People with Disabilities:
The NYS Office of Children and Family Services provides an Equipment Loan Fund for which people with a wide range of mental or physical disabilities may qualify. A NYS licensed physician must certify that the individual is disabled.
Equipment that assists a person to overcome barriers of daily living is covered including, but not limited to, wheelchairs, wheelchair van lifts, ramps, prosthetic devices, communication devices for the deaf and hearing impaired, and devices which allow people with visual disabilities to discern printed material.  Loan amounts can range between $500 to $4000 and repayment period is 2-8 years.  For more information, contact the Equipment Loan Fund for the Disabled at 518-474-0197 or visit the website at


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

U.S. Access Board Issues Guidance on Accessible Pedestrian Signals:
The May/June issue of "Access Currents", a bulletin from the U.S. Access Board, is now available at  It includes information on the new Guidance on Accessible Pedestrian Signals, "Common Problems Arising in the Installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals". This uses case studies and field evaluations to illustrate various installation 'do's and don'ts' related to common site conditions and factors, and also includes an installation checklist.  To access the Guidance, go to:

Disaboom, Inc. Launches Disability Organizations Directory:
On June 22nd Disaboom, Inc., an important online resource for people with disabilities, announced the release of a directory of organizations relevant to people with disabilities. There are more than 450 organizations listed, ranging from local to international, and divided into three main categories: Major Disability Organizations, Disability-Specific Organizations, and Organizations for Living with Disabilities. The directory lists the type of services each organization provides, as well as their mission statements and pertinent contact information. Kim Dority, Disaboom's Vice President of Content and Strategy, said, "We hope that this directory...will prove to be highly useful to the Disaboom community and to people with disabilities at large." To read the full article, go to:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Considered a Disability:
Employers should be increasingly aware of the regulations associated with hidden disabilities such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which is characterized by excessive fatigue after ordinary tasks, inability to concentrate, and joint pain. The new ADA Amendments Act broadened the scope of physical or mental impairments that "substantially limit" major life activities, making more American workers eligible for reasonable accommodations. According to a recent court ruling, because "the consensus of the medical community is that CFS is a chronic disease of indefinite duration for which there is no known cure," it is covered as a disability under the ADA. To read the full article, go to:

Supreme Court Affirms Reimbursement for Special Education: 
On June 22, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that parents of special-education students may seek reimbursement from the government for private school tuition, even if the student did not receive special-education services while enrolled in public school. A case from Forest Grove, Oregon, examined a 1997 amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which stipulated that such tuition reimbursement would be made available to students who had been receiving special-education services in public schools. The Court ruled that this amendment does not mean that students who did not previously receive special-education services in a public school are ineligible for tuition reimbursement. To read the full article, go to:

Plug-and-Play Kit Makes Checkouts Friendlier for Hearing Impaired: 
On June 18th, Pan-Oston released Shop Hear TM and Service Hear TM upgrade kits that integrate with existing counter and checkout service technology in order to provide better experiences for customers who have hearing impairments. The products convert information from any service or checkout counter to a "Hearing Impaired friendly" form of communication, working with T-Coil technology that is built into most current hearing aids. To read the full article, go to:

Serotek Corporation releases Accessible Event TM
On June 23rd, Serotek Corporation released Accessible Event TM, an accessible online platform designed to make group meetings, webinars, lectures, and other events accessible to people who are blind and/or deaf. The product does not require installation, and participants in such meetings who do not require the use of accessible technology can access the material, unaware that Accessible Event TM is running for other participants. Accessible Event TM is fully ADA compliant and is available for use in schools, corporations, public entertainment forums, and other venues, and can be purchased for different periods of time based on intended usage. To read the full article, go to:

National Council on Disability (NCD) June Bulletin Available: 
This free bulletin brings you the latest news affecting people with disabilities.  This month's edition features information on emergency management and homeland security as well as a research and funding opportunity. To access the bulletin, go to:


Opportunities for You!

FREE Webcast on Jamaican Culture and Rehabilitation Issues:
The National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), in collaboration with the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program, is hosting this free 90-minute webcast on July 16, 2009 at 3:00pm (EST). The presentation will provide an overview of Jamaica and its sociocultural influences on disability. The information may be useful for rehabilitation service providers in the United States who serve Jamaican immigrants and their families.  For more information or to register, go to:

Courses and Certificates Available on Benefits Planning: 
The Cornell University Employment & Disability Institute is offering a new and improved Certificate in Benefits Planning series in September through ediONLINE. Benefits Planning Services have become an integral part of a social security beneficiaries return to work. There are unique needs of every disabled beneficiary who considers returning to work, however, "urban myths" persist and prevent many from reaching their full potential. This webinar series can help prepare those starting a new profession or help fill in the blanks that exist for service providers. You can sign up for either the Certificate in Benefits Planning series or individual webinars.  The cost of each course is $125. If you take a complete series you will receive a discount and a certificate of completion in SSA Advocacy and Post Entitlement Issues.  To see the complete list of certificate and course titles and to register, go to:


Special Spotlight:  Tenth Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision:

On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court decided in Olmstead v. LC and EW that states have an obligation to provide care for people with disabilities in a group home setting, where medically possible. The case centered on two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, with mental retardation and mental illness. The women sued the state of Georgia after being kept in an institutionalized setting for years even after doctors determined the women could be best cared for in a smaller community-based setting.  The Court held that the unjustified institutional isolation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the ADA.  Since that time, progress has been made.  While the Obama Administration acknowledges that progress, it also knows and accepts that there is much work yet to do in order to maximize the choices and opportunities for individuals to receive long-term services and supports in both institutional and community settings.

Now, ten years later, on June 22, 2009, President Obama commemorated the Olmstead Anniversary by announcing new initiatives, including "The Year of Community Living", to assist Americans with disabilities in gaining better access to housing, community supports, and independent living arrangements.  "The Olmstead ruling was a critical step forward for our nation, articulating one of the most fundamental rights of Americans with disabilities: Having the choice to live independently," said President Obama. "I am proud to launch this initiative to reaffirm my Administration's commitment to vigorous enforcement of civil rights for Americans with disabilities and to ensuring the fullest inclusion of all people in the life of our nation."  Below are several links to articles about the Olmstead anniversary and specific initiatives being launched to assist people with disabilities.

White House Press Release (June 22nd):

Disability Scoop article about President's commitment to progress (June 22nd):

10th anniversary of freedom for people with disabilities (The Progressive, June 21st):

Articles on U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Initiatives in support of "The Year of Community Living":

Press Release:

JF Activist article: 

Articles on U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development offering rental assistance to 4,000 families with disabilities:

Press Release:

JF Activist article:

"Nursing Homes Get Old for Many with Disabilities" (ProPublica, June 21st):

Pictures from 10th Anniversary March in Connecticut:,0,6352804.photogallery


See you in a few weeks!!!