Newsletter: August 21, 2009

Northeast ADA August 21, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

NYS Office of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) Will Host Public Hearings on their Draft Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Services: 
The draft Statewide Comprehensive Plan for services 2009-2013 reflects OMRDD's Mission and Vision Statements and sets forth continuing plans for implementing a transformational agenda around supporting people with developmental disabilities to enjoy meaningful relationships with friends, family, and others, experience personal health and growth, live in the home of their choice, and fully participate in their communities. OMRDD incorporated input from the three public forums held in June 2009 and an online survey to update the statewide priorities. Beginning August 24th, the draft Plan will be available on OMRDD's website at www.omr.state. and a printed version can be requested through local offices prior to the public hearing on August 31st which will be held in Schenectady, Rochester, and New York City.  For more information about the Public Hearing, contact OMRDD's Bureau of Planning at 518-474-4904.  

Choice of New Executive Director of Buffalo Deaf Adult Services Disputed: 
The Board of Deaf Adult Services chose to hire Tom Burns as the new executive director causing debate given that he is neither deaf nor fluent in American Sign Language. The Board indicated they chose Burns based on his extensive contacts in Buffalo which will help businesses become more aware of Deaf Adult Services. However those who disagree with the decision say that this will stifle equal access to communication for office staff and members.  The full article can be found at:

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Judge Sotomayor Sworn In As Newest Supreme Court Justice: 
On August 8th, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sotomayor considered cases related to the ADA, IDEA, Social Security, and Medicaid.  "Judge Sotomayor's confirmation promises a brighter future for people with disabilities," said Robert Bernstein, executive director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. "For years people with disabilities have looked for a champion on the Supreme Court, someone who understands the importance of disability rights laws to the people they were intended to protect. We think Judge Sotomayor may be that champion." To read more, go to:

Disability Advocate Nominated to Key White House Administration Post: 
On August 6th, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Julie A. Reiskin, the Executive Director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, the only statewide organization of and for people with disabilities that focuses on systemic change, to a key Administration post. Ms. Reiskin has proposed and helped implement many solutions to create a sustainable and client friendly Medicaid program, acted as a respected advocate, trained on health advocacy and health policy, and taught extensively on disability rights, disability culture, and disability policy. To read more, go to:

Hire Disability Solutions (HDS) Brings Employees with Disabilities and Corporations Together: 
HDS, the leader in disability employment, is committed to seeing that every person with a disability finds employment. HDS was founded in 2004 in response to the increasing demand for employment services for individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. Through, HDS seeks to educate and connect all job seekers with disabilities with employers nationwide that value their experience and skills.  Read more at: Upgrades Their Accessibility: 
Thanks to the Smith v. lawsuit in which the plaintiffs, represented by Berkeley-based Disability Rights Advocates, sought injunctive relief rather than monetary restitution, and Expedia will start including details about accessible rooms on their Web sites and giving travelers with disabilities personalized attention during the reservation process, beginning in September. For the full article, go to:

CVS Stores to Make Accessibility Improvements: 
CVS, the nation's largest retail pharmacy, is implementing improvements to benefit customers with visual impairments and other disabilities. Tactile keypads for point of sale systems have been installed in all stores and the website is being enhanced. This initiative is the result of collaboration between CVS, the American Foundation for the Blind, American Council of the Blind, and California Council of the Blind:

Update Regarding Airport Screening Protocols for Travelers with Disabilities:
TSA has established a program for screening of persons with disabilities and their associated equipment, mobility aids, and devices.  As part of that program, TSA established a coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help represent the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into airport operations. Despite recent threat situations, TSA continues to allow all disability-related equipment, aids, and devices, as well as prescription liquid medications and other liquids needed by people with medical conditions and disabilities through security checkpoints once cleared through screening.  For more details, go to:

People with Disabilities Continue to be Ignored in Emergency Planning: 
The National Council on Disability (NCD) has submitted a report, "Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities" to the President which indicates that people with disabilities remain largely ignored, and rarely consulted, in emergency planning and disaster preparedness efforts.  In this report, NCD offers: information and advice to assist all levels of government in its work to establish evidence-based policies, programs, and practices across the life cycle of disasters; examples of effective community efforts with respect to people with disabilities; and an evaluation of many emergency preparedness, disaster relief, and homeland security program efforts deployed by both public and private sectors. To access the article and report, go to:

National DBTAC's Latest Online Resource: 
The DBTAC National Network of ADA Centers has launched, a project dedicated to accessible technology in the workplace. Its purpose is to build a partnership between the disability and business communities to promote full and unrestricted participation in society for people with disabilities through accessible technology for everyone. Visit today!

Transitioning from High School to College Podcast Now Available: 
On August 17th the Disability Law Lowdown podcast posted Part One of Transitioning from High School to College for Students with Disabilities which features an interview with Jean Ashmore, Director of Disability Support Services at Rice University. It is available for free at, and on iTunes. One can listen to it from a computer or download it to a MP3 player.

Record Number of People with Disabilities Voted in the 2008 Election; If You Were One of Them, Consider Sharing Your Story with AAPD! 
3.8 million more people with disabilities voted in the 2008 presidential election than did in 2000, and the voting turnout overall of people with disabilities was only 7 percent less than those without disabilities, according to a Rutgers University study. According to the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD), "The 2002 passage of the Help America Vote Act...created enormous energy in the disability community." Now AAPD and the U.S. Government Accountability Office are seeking testimonials about 2008 voting experiences, particularly stories from people who were able to vote privately and independently for the first time using accessible systems. Please send stories to  The full article is at:

July Disability Employment Statistics Released: 
In July, people with disabilities represented 23 percent of the labor force compared to 71.8 percent of persons without disabilities. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 15.1 percent, compared with 9.5 percent for those without. For further statistics, go to:

Opportunities for You!

Free Webinar- "Helping Businesses Incorporate the Value of People with Disabilities into Their Bottom Line" on September 1st
The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) will provide this free, employer focused webinar with Mr. Neil Romano, CEO of Integrated Process Solutions, founder of Americas Strength Foundation and former Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on Tuesday September 1st from 2:00-3:00pm EST. Mr. Romano will discuss why business needs to address the disability issue as an integrated part of their overall business strategy to strengthen their organization and help our nation move toward economic recovery. To register for the webinar, please go to:

Grant Available Related to Employment of People with Disabilities: 
ODEP announced a grant of up to $1.6 million to fund a National Technical Assistance, Policy, and Research Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Under this cooperative agreement, the Center will conduct research, assist in the development and promotion of employer-focused policy, disseminate information, and provide technical assistance to employers and employer organizations on the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. Applicants must be represented by a public/private non-profit or for-profit organization, educational institution, and national organization serving a network of employers or employer organizations with demonstrated experience in facilitating a business to business dialogue with employers on the business case for employing people with disabilities. Applications are due September 10th.  For more information, go to:

Contribute to the National Council on Disability (NCD) Public Consultation: 
The NCD is gathering public input for a study of emerging issues and trends affecting the lives of people with disabilities. Information gathered will be used in the development of NCD's next annual progress report and recommendations for legislations, regulations, policies, and programs to the President and Congress. The purpose of this public consultation is to gather input to inform NCD's assessment of the status of the nation in achieving policies that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, and empower individuals with disabilities to achieve independent living, economic self-sufficiency, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. NCD is seeking input from individuals with disabilities or organizations who represent or work with these individuals. For more details click on the July 27th entry at:

New Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Events and Trainings: 
ATIA will be providing assistive technology trainings via webinars throughout September covering such topics as accessible instructional materials, technology for people who are blind or visually impaired, software for students with learning disabilities, and more.  For more information, and to register, go to:  ATIA will also be hosting both a Leadership Workshop on Accessibility in October in the Chicago area and the fourth annual Leadership Forum on Accessibility in January 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Both events will focus on the business case for accessibility, its associated technologies, and provide insight from implementation success stories. For more details on the October Workshop, go to: (early Bird registration ends September 18th). For more details on January's event go to:


Special Spotlight:  The Health Care Debate

The Health Care Reform is obviously a huge topic of news and debate in the U.S. right now. The direction that health care moves will undoubtedly affect people with disabilities and their families greatly. Therefore disability issues are definitely among the health care issues being addressed, considered, and debated right now. Read below the various articles to help you decide where you stand on this issue:

Disability Issues at Center of Heated Health Care Debate (Aug. 14th):

How Health Insurance Reform will Help People with Disabilities (Aug. 18th):

White House Addresses Disability Community (Aug. 13th):

The White House Health Insurance Reform Reality Check:

The August Recess and Health Care Reform (Aug. 6th):


See you in a few weeks!!!