Newsletter: August 07, 2009

Northeast ADA August 7, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Department of Justice (DOJ) Signs Agreement with Niagara Falls, NY: 
On July 30th, the DOJ announced an agreement with Niagara Falls that will improve access for people with disabilities throughout the city's public spaces. Physical modifications will be made to improve accessibility for parking, routes into buildings, entrances, sidewalks, curb cuts, public telephones, restrooms, service counters, and drinking fountains. Additionally, TTY relay service usage, voting accessibility, and the city's website will all be improved. This agreement is part of the DOJ's Project Civic Access initiative, which works to guarantee that people with disabilities will be able to participate equally in civic life. To read the full press release and agreement, go to:

EEOC Charged Food Service Giant Engaged in Disability Discrimination: 
On July 29th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that AVI Foodsystems, Inc. has settled its disability bias class action lawsuit. According to the suit, AVI violated the ADA by not permitting employees with disabilities to return to work without full-duty no-restriction medical releases, adversely affecting 80 employees in numerous states, including New York. The settlement states that AVI must pay over $90,000 in monetary settlements and offer jobs to those employees who were discriminated against. For the full article, go to:

Hundreds to Leave New Jersey Psychiatric Hospitals for Community Living: 
On July 29th, a settlement agreement was reached that will allow hundreds of New Jersey's psychiatric hospital patients, who were long overdue for release, the ability to live independently in the community. This settlement stems from a lawsuit brought in 2005 on behalf of close to 1,000 hospital residents who had been cleared for release but were unable to leave due to lack of appropriate support services in the outside community. The court declared that this was a violation of the ADA, and that the state was required to provide adequate housing and services outside of the hospital system. To read the full article, go to:

Lewisboro New York will sign ADA Agreement: 
The Town Board of Lewisboro, New York has notified the Justice Department of their intent to sign an act of voluntary commitment to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This decision follows nineteen years of complaints, debates, and delay, and signifies the town's intent to become fully compliant and accessible within the next two years. The agreement states, among other things, that the town must hire an ADA coordinator, provide communication aids for residents who have disabilities, and renovate public spaces to make them accessible. To read the full article, go to:


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

U.S. Signs International Disability Rights Treaty: 
On July 30th, just four days after the 19th anniversary of the ADA, the United States became the 142nd country to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is designed to improve employment opportunities community access, and the general standard of living, for the approximately 650 million people with disabilities throughout the world. Susan Rice, the United States' ambassador to the UN, signed the treaty saying, "Our work is not complete until we have an enduring guarantee of the inherent dignity, worth, and independence of all persons with disabilities worldwide. Let the signing of the an ongoing source of inspiration for us all."  To read the full article, go to: more on the UN Convention and President Obama's comments, go to the Special Spotlight section on page 5.

EEOC Legal Counsel Speaks About ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA): 
On June 17th the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission met to discuss and consider the proposed rulemaking to implement the ADAAA.  At this meeting, EEOC's Assistant Legal Counsel, Christopher Kuczynski, described the key provisions of the proposed regulations. Read his statement at:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme Announced: 
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that this year's Disability Awareness Month theme, honored in October, is "Expectation + opportunity = full participation".  The DOL urges employers to "embrace the richness of America's diversity by considering the talents of all workers, including workers with disabilities." The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which has led the nationwide recognition of this month since 2001, seeks to emphasize the ultimate vision of a world in which people with disabilities face no limitations when seeking employment. To view the full press release, go to:

What's New from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):
On the ODEP website readers will find the Society for Human Resource Management HR News interview with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about her goals and priorities for the DOL and the employment of people with disabilities as well as information regarding the launch of a revamped website,, that offers social media tools and upgrades to complement information from federal agencies on disability-related programs and services. To access, go to:

Two Flagship Hospitals to Improve Accessibility: 
Two of the most influential U.S. hospitals, Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, have pledged millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities and procedures to be more accessible to people with disabilities. "These hospitals are leaders within the medical community...we hope this will have an impact far beyond Boston" said Dan Manning, director of litigation for Greater Boston Legal Services. For the full article, go to:

Department of Transportation (DOT) Urged to Modify Truck Driver Rules:  
Current regulations can prevent people who are deaf and hard of hearing from getting jobs that require the operation of commercial motor vehicles, including interstate truck drivers, because they state that to obtain a commercial driver's license for interstate transport, a person must be able to perceive a "forced whisper" or have a hearing loss no greater than 40 decibels. At a recent DOT meeting the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) presented evidence that such requirements are antiquated and discriminatory, and requested a new system be instituted that would enable people who are deaf or hard of hearing to procure such licenses.  After this meeting, the DOT agreed to review its requirements. To read the full article, go to:

NCWD/Youth Updates Website:  
The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), which is funded by ODEP, recently released an updated, content-rich version of its website, which offers assistance in the transition to the workforce for youth with disabilities. Many new content areas have been added, including Workforce Development, Professional Development, and Youth Development and Leadership. The site has also been made more accessible and user-friendly providing easier search capabilities and numerous publications free of charge.  To access the website, go to:

New Hand-held Device Helps People with Visual and Hearing Impairments: 
Softeq has released a hand-held device designed to give hearing and visually impaired visitors to amusement parks and other venues the same experience as other patrons by providing audio and captioning as needed. The devices are currently in use at Disney World and various museums. "It's a really innovative device," said Ronald Milliman, a spokesman for the American Council of the Blind. "The people we know who have used it are very excited about it." To read more, go to:

A Guide to Resources for Accessible Homes for Senior Citizens: 
There are many services and resources available today that help senior citizens safely "age in place" in their homes. Home modifications to remove barriers and safety hazards are important, and there are many agencies available at the national, state, and local levels that can help senior citizens make their homes more safe and accessible. For a full list of available resources and agencies, go to:

National Council on Disability June Bulletin Now Available: 
June's newsletter features NCD's plans to make recommendations for emergency management, a technology research/funding opportunity, and NCD's study of emerging issues/trends affecting people with disabilities in which they are seeking  public input on, due by September 15th to the NCD:


Opportunities for You!

Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Conference & Training: 
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' 9th Annual LEAD conference will be held August 13th-16th in Washington, D.C. This conference is an opportunity for leaders in the field of access for individuals with disabilities to the cultural arts to meet with peers and learn what's new in technology and legal issues. For session and registration information, go to:

Online course on Career Development for Youth and Adults with Disabilities: 
Registration is now open for TRN, Inc.'s popular online course, which will be offered from September 10th - 23rd. Participants will experience 20 hours of training on innovative vocational assessment techniques, career development skills, and vocational profiling for people with disabilities, focusing on key topics such as self-determination, situational assessment, and the discovery process. The fee is $149 and those who complete the course will be issued a certificate of completion. For more information and to register, go to:

Special Spotlight:  ADA Anniversary Celebration Continues!

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 19th anniversary on July 26th.  During the past few weeks there have been events held, articles written, proclamations made, and treaties signed, all celebrating the progress of the past, and shaping the focus of the future, as related to the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the United States and worldwide.  Below you can access the many highlights, speeches, and interviews related to the ADA's anniversary:

Presidential Proclamation (July 24th):

President Obama's comments on the signing of the UN Convention of Persons with Disabilities:

More information on the UN Convention and its' signing: and

Former President George HW Bush's statement on the ADA Anniversary:

Senator Harkin Commemorates the ADA:

Secretary of Labor Solis's Message on the ADA Anniversary:

Summary of President Obama's meeting with members of Disability Community:

American Association of People with Disabilities Anniversary Celebration:

And don't forget- DBTAC-Northeast is inviting YOU to celebrate the ADA's 19th anniversary by sharing your stories of "How the ADA has impacted my life" to be posted on our website, and our Facebook page,   Stories should be sent to Larry Featherston at  


See you in a few weeks!!!