Newsletter: June 15, 2011

Northeast ADA Center June 15, 2011 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

Free Webinar on Disability Inclusiveness of Veterans with Disabilities June 30th:
Dr. Hannah Rudstam of the Northeast ADA Center will present another free webinar on June 30th from 1:00-2:30pm EST entitled "Beyond Yellow Ribbons: Workplace Disability Inclusiveness for Veterans with Disabilities".  Findings of two studies on workplace issues for returning veterans with disabilities recently conducted by the Northeast ADA Center in collaboration with the National ADA Network, the National SHRM organization, and the Kessler Foundation will be presented.  One study examined employers and the other centered on veterans, while both focused on knowledge, beliefs/expectations and behaviors around workplace disability inclusiveness for veterans. This webinar would be ideally suited for anyone in the human resources, business, vocational rehabilitation, military, disability or service provider fields.  Register at:

State Grants for Vocational Job Opportunities Help Jobseekers with Disabilities: Green Sports in New Jersey was founded by the Arc of Union County, a nonprofit that supports people with disabilities and has been at the forefront of a movement to help this population find more meaningful employment. Since 2009, the state Department of Labor has used $7.5 million in federal stimulus money to enable small independent businesses all over the country to train people with disabilities to become part of the workforce, taking over roles traditionally held by large nonprofits and social services agencies. This grant money has provided seed money for ten businesses in New Jersey alone. Read more at:

NY System of Treating People with Developmental Disabilities in Disarray:
New York (NY) Governor Cuomo's administration is undertaking a broad review of the state's care of those with developmental disabilities in response to increasing reports of abuse and neglect occurring in these facilities. NY has nine large institutions that house those with these types of disabilities, and the state spends two and a half times more money, per resident, than the thousands of smaller group homes that care for far more of the 135,000 New Yorkers with this disability. Yet the large institutions have tolerated physical and psychological abuse, knowingly hired unqualified workers, ignored complaints and failed to investigate cases of abuse and neglect over the past few years. Read more of the New York Times' ongoing investigation at:


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Huge DOJ Settlement Agreement with Wells Fargo & Company:
The Department of Justice has announced a comprehensive settlement agreement under the ADA with Wells Fargo & Company to ensure equal access for people with disabilities to Wells Fargo's services nationwide, including its nearly 10,000 retail banking, brokerage, and mortgage stores, over 12,000 ATMs, and its phone and website services. The following fact sheet contains more information on the agreement and how to file a claim for compensation from Wells Fargo:

Department of Education Issues Guidance on Use of Technology in Education:
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued Dear Colleague letters to elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, and a Frequently Asked Questions document, stating the legal obligations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to access technology.  This guidance supplements a letter issued by OCR and DOJ a year ago that stated technological devices must be accessible to students with visual and other disabilities, unless the benefits of the technology are provided equally through other means. This new guidance highlights what schools need to know and consider in order to ensure equal access to information and resources provided through technology. To read the Dear Colleague Letter to elementary and secondary schools, please click here.  To read the Dear Colleague Letter to institutions of higher education, please click here.  The Frequently Asked Questions document is available here.

White House Monthly Disability Briefing:
The May briefing was focused on updates from, and recent efforts by, federal departments on steps they are taking to implement and enforce non-discrimination of people with disabilities. The Department of Transportation is working with the U.S. Access Board on several rulemakings for construction guidelines for passenger vessels and on accessible public rights of way, such as streets, sidewalks and intersections. The Department of Education is trying to make any emerging technologies, such as E-book readers, fully accessible to people with disabilities. The Department of Labor has drafted a Proposed Rule on affirmative action and non-discrimination obligations of federal contractors and their subcontractors. Read more at:      

DOL Soliciting Grant Proposals for Disability Employment Initiative Funds:
The Department of Labor (DOL) released a solicitation for grant proposals for the Disability Employment Initiative, a joint project between DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy and Employment and Training Administration. These funds will improve educational, training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Programs will serve eligible individuals who are unemployed or underemployed, including those receiving Social Security disability benefits. Funds will be awarded to state workforce agencies, which will collaborate with workforce investment boards and local areas. Read the news release and federal register notice at:

OPM Launches Online Recruitment Tool for Federal Hiring Managers:
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has designed a Web tool for federal agency hiring managers that will ease their involvement in the hiring process.  USAJobsRecruit, is an online community for agencies to showcase their best practices, share marketing and outreach strategies, and post hiring events. This tool includes a way for hiring managers and HR staff to search for schools that offer specific degrees or academic specialties in order to better target their recruiting. OPM has also launched a pilot program to match managers with younger workers in an effort to promote mentoring to improve collaboration and innovation. Read more at:    

Mark Perriello Named AAPD's New President and CEO:
Mark Perriello, longtime civil rights leader and current Obama aide, was named President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country's largest cross-disability membership organization, by the organization's board of directors. Mr. Perriello took the helm June 6th and will host a series of virtual town hall meetings in order to talk with members of the disability community and allies from across the country on such topics as workplace employment, healthcare, housing and other issues. Read more at:¬oc=1    

Poll Shows Veterans with Disabilities Lag in Being Hired:
A recent study released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University found that 67% of HR professionals have included veterans in their organization's diversity plan or policy during the past 12 months. However, only 17% of the HR professionals said their organization hired a veteran who disclosed a disability either before or after time of hire. The survey also highlighted a lack of understanding by civilian employers in regards to several key resources available to help hire veterans with disabilities. Read more at:     

Research Identifies Successful Disability Employment Strategies:
The National Technical Assistance and Research Leadership Center at Rutgers University conducted research into the hiring, training and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace. The goal of the research, conducted across a six-month period, was to identify successful elements of employment strategies and offer lessons for success to employers, organizations, disability service organizations and federal, state and local policymakers. Here is the publication.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Officials Try to Ease Disability Exam Backlog:
Hundreds of veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabilities that make it hard or impossible for them to get a job. Many are eligible for disability benefits, but with having to wait months, or even years, the veterans are at risk of serious financial trouble. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a backlog of disability claims that numbers almost 800,000. Officials at the VA point to two main reasons: the wave of young veterans coming home injured and new rules allowing Vietnam veterans to apply for more compensation from Agent Orange exposure. Read more at:

DOJ Files Disability-Based Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Three States:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against the owners, developers and design professionals of nine multi-family housing complexes in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.  The suit alleges that the nine properties are inaccessible to persons with disabilities because they may lack accessible parking, pedestrian routes, kitchens and bathrooms, and/or have doors that are not wide enough to allow wheelchair access. The suit seeks a court order declaring that the defendants' actions violate the Fair Housing Act and the ADA and awarding monetary damages to persons harmed by the discriminatory housing practices. Read more at:

SSA Commission Admits SSI Program for Children is Flawed:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) commissioner for the first time publicly acknowledged that there are major flaws with the $10 billion children's disability program his agency oversees and said he was aggressively seeking congressional approval to conduct an independent scientific study of the program's weaknesses. Read more at:

Unemployment Rises Again in May:
After a reprieve in April, the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities rose again in May to 15.6%, up from 14.5% the previous month. The percentage of people with disabilities in the labor force was 21.1 compared to 69.7 for those without disabilities. Read more at:


Opportunities for You!

Free Webcast Series on VR Programs for People with Autism Begins June 21st:
The SEDL's Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders project is hosting a webcast series on vocational rehabilitation programs for people with Autism. The first webcast,
Effective Vocational Rehabilitation Programs for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders Featuring Job Path, will be June 21st from 12:00-12:30pm EST and feature Job Path, a non-profit agency that enables people with developmental disabilities to find employment, live independently, and participate in the community. To register, go to:

Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADAAA Webinar June 22nd:
The Job Accommodation Network is presenting a webinar June 22nd from 12:00-1:30pm ET entitled "Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADAAA: A Practical Approach for Your Agency".  Participants will learn about new requirements agencies face and what programs must an organization change to fit the regulations' parameters? For more information and to register, click here.

New York Independence Expo June 25-26th:
The 2011 Independence Expo, hosted by United Spinal Association, will be held at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, NY. on June 25th and 26th.  To learn more and to register, go to:


Special Spotlight- EEOC's New ADAAA Regulations!

On June 24th the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new ADA Amendments Act regulations become effective. The new regulations significantly impact the existing legal framework relating to disability law, and employers are well served to know how these changes will affect their current practices. Overall, these new changes shift the attention away from focusing on whether an individual meets the definition of disability to whether or not entities covered under the ADA/ADAAA have complied with their legal obligations.  Read more below about the new EEOC regulations:

Read how EEOC's Commissioner Chai Feldblum Steers People through EEOC changes.

Employment Law Monitor- EEOC Issues New ADAAA Regulations: What Employers Should Watch For:

EEOC hears from experts regarding Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation- accepting public comments until June 23rd


 See you in a few weeks!