Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chicago Commission on Human Relations Updates 2017 Disability Rights Regulations to Improve Access for All Individuals


Revised Regulations Align with ADA and Provides Clarity for Businesses to Become More Accessible to People with All Types of Disabilities
Jan. 12, 2017 - The Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) Board of Commissioners today approved updated disability rights regulations under the City's Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (CHRO). These newly revised regulations, effective July 1, 2017, are designed to improve citywide accessibility for all residents and visitors through added clarity to existing disability protections. These changes will, in turn, help businesses make their goods and services more accessible for people with all types of disabilities.
This latest action in a series of reforms and regulations by the Emanuel Administration is designed to ensure that people with disabilities can access the wide array of goods and services offered by Chicago businesses and fully enjoy the amenities our city has to offer.
"Our top priority is to ensure that Chicago is inclusive for all people, and these changes are intended to eliminate confusion on the law to make it easier for businesses to serve people with disabilities," said CCHR Chair and Commissioner Mona Noriega. "We believe the clarity will be embraced by businesses, and we are committed to working with them on implementation so they can better serve all of their patrons."
The revised regulations stand to improve citywide accessibility by spelling out what businesses must do to make their facilities, information, goods and services accessible to people with all types of disabilities. It does so, in large part, by adopting the requirements of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which have applied to these businesses since 1992.
The revised regulations specify requirements for businesses, including:
  • Provide auxiliary aids and services where needed to ensure effective communication with customers who are deaf or hard of hearing (i.e. these vary from customer to customer but include things such as sign language interpreters, captioning and use of TTY's and the telephone relay system);
  • Allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities into their establishments;
  • Provide documents and other information in alternative formats - such as electronic formats, Braille or large print, when needed by people who are blind or have visual impairments;
  • Remove any eligibility criteria that would screen out or tend to screen out people with disabilities who want to gain access to the goods and services they provide;
  • And, make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and procedures to ensure that people with disabilities have access to their goods and services. (This may be as simple as reading a menu to a person who is blind, or provided assistance getting objects off high shelves.)
The ultimate goal of this CCHR initiative, developed in partnership with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), is to help make the City of Chicago more accessible for people with disabilities, By providing businesses with a clear and precise set of local rules that govern the actions of covered businesses, the City hopes to encourage greater compliance with the CHRO and to increase opportunities for businesses to work with customers with disabilities.
"The revised regulations supports our goal of ensuring every single person with a disability living in or visiting our city has the resources they need to enjoy the quality restaurants, retail and other services that makes Chicago a top destination to live and visit," said Karen Tamley, Commissioner to the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. "By making the laws easier to understand, our businesses stand to improve their service, and in turn, the likelihood for people with disabilities to live more independently."
To prepare for the launch of the revised regulations, the CCHR has been coordinating efforts with MOPD as well as the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) to reach as many businesses as possible. The revised regulations apply to retail stores, restaurants, theaters, service businesses and commercial entities citywide. Coupled with a comprehensive outreach campaign to help businesses understand and implement the new requirements, the CHRO will better serve residents with all needs, and will avoid adding new or contradictory regulatory burdens to businesses by aligning its mandates with the ADA.
For more information on the new regulations, please visit http://www.cityofchicago.org/humanrelations.
For technical assistance on this regulation and the corresponding requirements of the ADA, residents can contact the MOPD's Accessibility Compliance Unit at (312) 744-4441.
SOURCE: Press Release
###

RELATED POSTS:   

Webinar January 19th: Modern Web Accessibility - revisiting fundamentals and looking at new challenges

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the Pacific ADA Center are pleased to announce January’s Accessible Technology Session titled “Modern Web Accessibility - revisiting fundamentals and looking at new challenges.” The webinar will be both a refresher course on tried and true accessibility techniques as well as a fresh look at web accessibility challenges facing today’s web design requirements. While awareness of web accessibility is increasing, it can often be an overwhelming thing to implement. This webinar will provide an overview of web accessibility with specific things that you can begin to implement today. It will also provide an overview of tools and resources for evaluating your site's current accessibility.

Speaker Beth Lund Technology Accessibility Specialist at Ashford University

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2017
Time: 2:00-3:30pm ET
Cost: No Charge

Registration: www.ada-accessibletech.org (if you don’t have an account in our system you will be prompted to set up an account prior to registration)

Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform.

Questions regarding this program should be directed to 877-232-1990 V/TTY or by email to webinars@adaconferences.org

ADA-Legal Webinar January 18th : Top ADA Cases of 2016

The Great Lakes ADA Center is pleased to announce January’s ADA Legal Webinar Session titled “Top ADA Cases of 2016”. Courts across the country decided a number of significant ADA cases in 2016, and this session will provide an in-depth review of the top ADA cases from the past year. In addition to reviewing the specific facts and ruling in each case, there will also be a discussion of the impact these cases may have on future ADA litigation. This webinar will cover a wide variety of ADA issues under Titles I, II and III. Start the New Year off right with a better understanding of the most important ADA cases decided in 2016!

Speakers:
Barry Taylor  Equip for Equality
Rachel Weisberg  Equip for Equality

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Time: 2:00-3:30pm ET
Cost: No Charge

Registration: www.ada-legal.org (if you don’t have an account in our system you will be prompted to set up an account prior to registration)

Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform.

Questions regarding this program should be directed to 877-232-1990 V/TTY or by email to webinars@adaconferences.org

Webinar Feb 3rd: Announcements from the Disability Employment field, Latest Jobs Report


The first episode of Season Two of the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series, detailing findings of the latest Jobs Report release, announcements from the Disability Employment field, and a guest presentation by Jane Boone, Employment Consultant and retired Washington State DDD, Jobs by 21 Partnership Project Manager, is now available online. It also marked the first episode of our new host, Michael Murray, from the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). You can view the webinar, download the audio and read the transcript of the webinar.

The next nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar will take place on Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12 noon EST
Learn more about the January Jobs Report and how it fits into longer term employment trends, hear about programs and research across the country addressing employment and disability, and listen to Emily Harris from the Chicago Community Trust talk about their work to increase disability employment through philanthropy.
Register for the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar
About the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar
The Employment Policy & Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC) at the University of New Hampshire, in partnership with Kessler Foundation and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) have launched a monthly webinar. On the first Friday of every month, corresponding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, we will be offering a live broadcast via Zoom Webinar to share the results of the latest nTIDE findings. In addition, we will provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host an invited panelist who will discuss current disability related findings and events. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #nTIDElearn.

WEBINAR January 17th: How ACA Repeal and Medicaid Reform Will Impact People with Disabilities And What You Can Do!

Join national and state-level disability advocates for a webinar focused on one of the most pressing issues facing people with disabilities: Congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants.

Advocates based in Washington, DC will provide a report on what they are observing on Capitol Hill, and discuss what will happen next.  Advocates based in various states will discuss their work to educate lawmakers and grassroots people about the importance of these healthcare programs for people with disabilities. The ADA Legacy Project's DisBeat will provide advice on collecting personal healthcare stories from people with disabilities and how to build a guerilla marketing campaign to call attention to our issues.  There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Time: 3:30-5 pm Eastern / 2:30-4 pm Central / 1:30-3 pm Mountain
12:30-2 pm Pacific / 11:30 am-1 pm Alaska / 10:30 am-12 noon Hawaii

National speakers: Lindsay Baran, National Council on Independent Living (others TBD)

State-level speakers: Florida, Massachusetts, Texas (still confirming)

Media: The ADA Legacy Project's DisBeat

You will not want to miss this! Those across the states interested in healthcare for people with disabilities will want to join in.  We can and will galvanize disability electoral power as we head into a new Administration by being informed and empowered. Join your brothers and sisters from across the nation.

This webinar is free of charge and made possible with support from the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), The ADA Legacy Project, Access Living, the NDLA Organizers Forum, and the Great Lakes ADA Center.

HOW TO JOIN THE WEBINAR:

This session will be available on-line via the Blackboard Collaborate System.   This system is accessible to individuals who use screen readers or other forms of assistive technology.   Closed captioning is available within the platform as well.  Individuals using assistive technology, especially screen readers are encouraged to review information about the platform and how it works available on-line at THIS LINK.

If you are unfamiliar with the webinar platform and wonder if your computer system will be compatible you can review information that is available on-line at THIS LINK. Instructions are available on this page for testing the configuration of your computer and the requirements.  We recommend you review this information prior to the session.

There is also a Blackboard Collaborate App available for Mobile Devices including Android, Apple and Kindle Fire HD.  You can download the app in advance of the session from either Google Play, Amazon or ITunes.  Note that there is limited accessibility of the App in terms of access to captioning, etc.    If using the app, launch the URL from your mobile device and that will open the App (if loaded on your mobile device).

TO CONNECT TO THE SESSION:  

Use THIS LINK  (This link is active 45 minutes prior to the start of the session)
Audio will be broadcast via your computer/app if you have speakers/headphones attached.
Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform (not accessible from the Mobile App)

TELEPHONE OPTION OR AUDIO:  1-866-854-6779  Passcode:  *3956839* (This is a toll free line)

ASKING QUESTIONS DURING THE WEBINAR:  Questions during the live webinar can be submitted via the chat area within the webinar platform or if you are listening by phone and not connected to the platform you can submit your questions by email to webinars@adaconferences.org and the organizers will receive your questions for consideration during the webinar.

If you experience technical problems accessing the webinar please call 877-232-1990 (V/TTY) for assistance.

Questions regarding the content of the webinar should be directed to Amber Smock at Access Living, at asmock@accessliving.org.

Justice Dept Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit Over Denial of Rights to Florida Inmates with Disabilities

Jan. 9, 2017 - The Justice Department announced today that it has moved to intervene in Disability Rights Florida Inc., v. Julie Jones, a private lawsuit alleging that the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) failed to protect the rights of inmates with disabilities in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In the motion, filed in the Northern District of Florida, the department seeks to join a case brought by Disability Rights Florida Inc. (DRF), a private protection and advocacy group. In the lawsuit, DRF alleges, among other things, that FDOC has excluded inmates with disabilities from its programs, services and activities. DRF also alleges that FDOC failed to provide the means for effective communication for inmates with hearing loss. In the motion, the United States highlighted its substantial legal interest in the outcome of DRF’s case because the department is the primary agency responsible for enforcing the ADA.
“The ADA and Section 504 afford all people with disabilities, including prisoners, the right to fair treatment and effective communication,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We believe our participation in this case will help to ensure a just outcome for all.”
For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov.

Florida DOC Motion to Intervene

Florida DOC Complaint in Intervention

SOURCE: Press Release 01/09/2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ACTION ALERT! We're all in the Healthcare Fight for Our Lives!

The U.S. Congress is on the fast track to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  There are many, many advocates fighting to preserve the insurance provisions of the ACA - known as ObamaCare, but virtually no one is talking about the disability-specific aspects of the law.  Here are four important provisions in the ACA that are critical for the Disability Community.

1. The ACA prohibited discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions by insurance companies.

2. The ACA extended Money Follows the Person, a Republican New Freedom initiative that is liberating thousands of disabled people from institutions, but that program is ending because of Congressional inaction.

3. The ACA established the Community First Choice Option a Medicaid option that incentivizes states to FREE OUR PEOPLE from nursing facilities and institutions.

4. The ACA authorized accessibility standards for Diagnostic Medical Equipment so people with disabilities could get access to preventative healthcare screenings and appropriate diagnostic testing.

Congress is acting swiftly to repeal the ACA, but most members of Congress have no idea that these provisions were even included in the ACA!  We cannot rely on other groups to defend our interests and issues.  The Disability Community - itself - needs to act now!

TAKE ACTION

1. Do this electronic action alert to tell Congress to preserve these disability-specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

2. PROMOTE and SHARE this link to get as many other people as possible to TAKE ACTION on this issue!

3. Sign on your ORGANIZATION to this letter urging Congress to save these disability-specific provisions in the ACA.

4. Send your OWN letter to Congressional Leadership and the people that represent you in Congress.  Use the text from the sign on letter to make this easy and send us a copy at mmoore@cdrnys.org.

TWEET!

Whether you like him or not, President-elect Trump demonstrated the power of Twitter.  US policy is now being made in 140 characters or less.  We should leverage our special media voice and our social media networks to get the word out.  Although Congressional leadership doesn't follow Twitter closely and respond, the President-elect does.  If we can't get through to Congress, we should ask @realDonaldTrump to help us make the case.

#ACA included Money Follows the Person- Republican initiative giving #NewFreedom to #disabled. @realDonaldTrump #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

#ACA included Community First Choice- giving #Liberty to #disabled. @realDonaldTrump #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

#Liberty of #Disabled shouldn't be culture war collateral damage. @realDonaldTrump help get Congress to #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

#ACA gave #Disabled women access to mammography. @realDonaldTrump help get Congress to #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

#ACA stops discrimination against #disabled by insurance. @realDonaldTrump help get Congress to #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

@realDonaldTrump #ACA's Community First Choice Option let Disabled people Stay in our homes! #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

@realDonaldTrump #ACA included the #GOP created Money Follows the Person Initiative giving Disabled ppl Freedom. #ReadB4Repeal #CripTheVote

ADDITIONAL ADVOCACY TOOLS

We know it is easier when you have a toolkit to work with.  We have crafted a press release you can use and are finalizing some talking points to reference when the press calls you.  We will add additional tools as this campaign continues.  Here is the toolkit link.

SOURCE: Center for Disability Rights, (CDR)
                  Access Living, Center for Independent Living in Chicago

Day of Mourning Vigils- Remembering People with Disabilities Murdered by Caregivers on March 1st 2017

In the past five years, over four hundred people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents, relatives or caregivers.

On Wednesday, March 1st, the disability community will gather across the nation to remember these disabled victims of filicide – disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.

In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost 100 more people to filicide. These are just the cases that we are aware of - since we began monitoring this issue, we learn about more murders every week. We read the victims’ names, see their photographs, and gather what information we can about their lives. The criminal justice system has continued to give lighter sentences to parents and caregivers who murder disabled children. And we have seen both news and entertainment media continue to portray these murders in a sympathetic light.

We hold the Day of Mourning vigils to draw attention to these injustices, to commemorate the lives of victims, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities. 

This would not be possible without the vital work of our volunteer site coordinators. Click here to learn about what site coordinators do, or to sign up to lead a vigil.

For the last six years, Autistic Self Advocacy Network , ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and other disability rights organizations have come together to send a clear message that disability is not a justification for violence. We’ll be at our local vigils on Wednesday, March 1st - and we hope to see you there.
If you're interested in leading a vigil in your area, please sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator.

SOURCE: Press Release - Autistic Self Advocacy Network
# As more information becomes available, we will update info.

USA.gov Offers Help To Find Government Services and Information Quickly

USA .gov searches only federal, state, and local government websites for the public. Its search box works like other search engines you're used to, but USA.gov only returns results from government web pages, most ending in .gov or .mil. This helps you be sure you’re getting official information you can trust--and there’s no advertising.

USA.gov is a online guide to government information and services. On the site you can:
  • Browse by topic
  • Search every U.S. government website
  • Directly contact federal government agencies
Search Tips
On your computer, find the search box at the top of every USA.gov page. On your smartphone, find it after touching the MENU button on the screen.

Your initial search will return results from a variety of government websites. You can get more specific results by then selecting “Only USA.gov,” “Images,” or “Videos” at the top of the page on your computer. On your smartphone, touch the three-lined button on the screen.

Directly Contact Federal Government Agencies
If you know the agency you want to get in touch with, use the A to Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. It features contact information and web addresses of hundreds of federal agencies, sub-agencies, and divisions, as well as state government contact information.

Need More Help with Your Search?
Ask an information specialist. Call toll-free 1-844-USA-GOV1 (1-844-872-4681) or web chat weekdays 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM ET, except federal holidays. You can also email anytime using the contact form.

USA.gov YouTube channel also has a catalog of helpful videos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Deciding Level of Education Do Public Schools Legally Owe to Students with Disabilities

Jan. 10, 2017 - The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in a dispute over the level of education that public schools must provide to millions of children with disabilities, a case that advocates describe as the most significant special-education issue to reach the high court in three decades.

article posted from The Washington Post, by Emma Brown
The question is whether public schools owe disabled children “some” educational benefit — which courts have determined to mean just-above-trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more: a substantial, “meaningful” benefit.

Lower courts are divided on the question, meaning that disabled children in some states can expect more from their schools than children in other states. Now the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to decide whether a uniform standard should apply nationally.

To advocates for children with disabilities, this should not be a difficult decision. Although the Supreme Court upheld the lower standard in 1982, Congress has since amended the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law — which outlines what states must do in return for receiving federal special-education funds — is meant not just to open the schoolhouse door to disabled children, they argue, but also to make sure that those children get an education that gives them a shot at equal opportunity, independent life and full participation in society.

That means schools must be required to provide students with a real, meaningful education, they argue. “I can’t even believe that this is really a question for the court to wrestle with,” said Gary Mayerson, a civil rights lawyer and board member of Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization.

But lawyers for Colorado’s Douglas County School District — the defendant in the case before the court — argue that the “meaningful” benefit standard is ambiguous, not grounded in law and not practical. Judges aren’t proficient in education policy and can’t be expected to decide whether schools are meeting such a vague and variable standard, they argue.

The case to be heard Wednesday is Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, brought by the family of a boy diagnosed with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. His conditions complicated his efforts to communicate and socialize, and that left him struggling with phobias and compulsive behaviors.

Endrew F., who goes by Drew, started attending schools in Douglas County — south of Denver — in preschool and began showing an increase in behavioral problems in the second grade, according to court records. He was yelling, crying and dropping to the floor. By fourth grade, the problems had become more frequent and severe; he was kicking walls, banging his head and bolting from the classroom. He went to the bathroom on the floor of a “calming room,” and he was able to escape from the school building and run into the street.

His parents said their son made almost no academic or social progress over that period, and they didn’t see a commitment from the district to find a solution. The goals in his Individualized Education Program (IEP) — a legally binding blueprint that laid out the services he would receive and the progress he was expected to make — hardly changed from year to year, according to court records, and there was little written evidence that he was making gains.

Drew’s parents withdrew him from public school at the end of fourth grade, in 2010, and placed him in a private school that specialized in educating children with autism. He made progress immediately, they said, achieving IEP goals in months that he had been working on for years.

It was a relief.

Drew, now 17, continues to attend the private school, his parents said, where he is learning vocational skills and preparing for life after high school.

Under federal law, Drew’s parents were entitled to seek reimbursement for the private school tuition, which approached $70,000 per year. But they had to prove that their son had been denied the “free appropriate public education” to which he had a right under federal special-education law. And to do so, they had to prove that he hadn’t been making adequate progress.

Jack Robinson, their attorney, has been working in special-education law for 20 years, and he thought that if any child could win a case like this, it was Drew. There was almost no documented progress in Drew’s educational records, he said in an interview.

But the Douglas County School District disagreed, arguing that while Drew was not learning as quickly as his parents would have liked, he was making some progress — enough to satisfy the law.

The family lost its case before an administrative law judge in 2012. They lost again in a suit in U.S. District Court and a third time at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

“This is without question a close case,” Judge Timothy Tym­kovich wrote in his opinion for the 10th Circuit. It is clear, he continued, that Drew is thriving at the private school. “But it is not the District’s burden to pay for his placement there when Drew was making some progress under its tutelage. That is all that is required.”

The court’s endorsement of that low bar was a blow to Drew’s parents. “What is the point of the law, if it doesn’t help the child?” said his mother, Jennifer.

In their briefs to the Supreme Court, Drew and his family argued that schools should be obligated to provide children with disabilities with “substantially equal opportunities to achieve academic success, attain self-sufficiency and contribute to society.” They won the support of the Obama administration, whose Justice Department submitted an amicus brief calling on the high court to find a requirement that children have an opportunity to make “significant educational progress.”

More than 100 members of Congress also support Drew and his parents, arguing in an amicus brief that the just-above-trivial standard is “vanishingly low” and runs contrary to Congress’s intent in IDEA.

The Douglas County School District disagrees, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in a 1982 case, Board of Education v. Rowley, should stand. In that case, the court rejected the argument that schools owed disabled children an opportunity to maximize their potential. The justices ruled that Congress intended to ensure “some educational benefit” for children with disabilities, the standard that has been explicitly adopted by five Circuit Courts of Appeals.

“This Court answered the question presented 34 years ago,” lawyers for the school district wrote in a brief last month. “That decision was correct.”

(In Rowley, the justice also said that Congress intended to make “access meaningful” for students with disabilities, giving rise to the “meaningful” educational benefit standard that has been adopted by two circuits.)

The school district’s lawyers have argued in briefs that Drew and his family are seeking a “sweeping new standard” that has no basis in IDEA and that courts would be unable to enforce given the complications of determining what that standard means in practice for children with different disabilities and circumstances.

The district’s supporters include the National School Boards Association and AASA, an association of district superintendents, which both argued that raising expectations of schools could encourage more litigation.

William E. Trachman, the district’s legal counsel, declined through a spokeswoman to discuss the facts of the case given the pending litigation.

“The District complies with every facet of federal law in making sure that students with special needs are not only provided services, but that educational experts and the student’s parents are maximally involved in the process, and that every Individualized Education Plan is personalized, holistic and ambitious,” Trachman said in a statement.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/supreme-court-to-decide-what-level-of-education-do-public-schools-legally-owe-to-students-with-disabilities/2017/01/10/3e8e14ca-d690-11e6-9f9f-5cdb4b7f8dd7_story.html?utm_term=.a9c3c36a970b

Disability and Civil Rights Organizations in Opposing the Nomination of Senator Sessions for U.S. Attorney General

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) joins with other disability and civil rights organizations in opposing the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States. Based on our review of Senator Sessions’ record throughout his career, we have serious reservations about his commitment to adequately and fairly protect the rights of all Americans, including people with disabilities.

AAPD has signed-on to the following letters of opposition:

Rights of People with Disabilities: Senator Sessions opposed efforts to implement Alabama’s obligation to provide community-based services to individuals with disabilities who were needlessly institutionalized. In addition, he called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s requirements to include children with disabilities in mainstream education “the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today” and “a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America.” This opposition to integration and inclusion is extremely concerning given the active role that the Justice Department plays in enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act to enable people with disabilities to live independent lives, be full participants in their communities, and to be educated in neighborhood schools and regular classrooms. Senator Sessions also opposed ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Before his election to the Senate, during his two years as Alabama’s Attorney General, Senator Sessions fought to eliminate two historic consent decrees protecting people with disabilities. These decrees, entered by Alabama following litigation challenging the state’s child welfare system and its system of services for people with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities, each reformed a major service delivery system for people with disabilities. One reformed the state’s child welfare system, which too often removed children with mental disabilities from their parents and placed them in institutional settings instead of providing effective services enabling them to stay in their homes and communities. The other reformed state’s mental health and developmental disabilities services agency, which needlessly placed thousands of individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities in institutions rather than in community settings. In addition, Sessions challenged a court order finding that the state’s school funding system violated the state constitution in part because it deprived students with disabilities who lived in poor districts of the services and supports they needed to succeed in school, such as ramps allowing physical access to school buildings and sufficient numbers of qualified special education teachers.
As a Senator, Sessions has made statements suggesting a lack of commitment to protecting the rights of children with disabilities. Senator Sessions said that implementation of the IDEA, which requires schools to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities, is “hurting public education,” is “the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today,” and is “a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America.” He has also endorsed the segregation of students with disabilities, stating that many of these children should be “put in an alternative setting where the disability could be dealt with.”5 And he has promoted troubling and unfounded stereotypes about people with disabilities, stating that students with mental disabilities “may often be the most dangerous ones, the ones most likely to come back in, say, six months from now and kill some innocent child in a classroom or shoot their teacher.”
SOURCE: Press Release AAPD

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WALMART DISCRIMINATES AGAINST DISABLED EMPLOYEES, LAWSUIT CLAIMS

A former employee of a New York Walmart says she was unlawfully disciplined and terminated because of her disability.

as published by Top Class Actions, by Paul Tassin  | Jan. 3, 2017
Plaintiff Mary L. says that after more than nine years of employment, Walmart suddenly fired her and took back its contributions to her 401k savings plan, all because her disability made her work slower than other employees.

She is raising claims for discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

Mary suffers from Turner Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that can cause many different problems like heart defects, learning disabilities, short stature, bone structure defects, and social adjustment problems. Individuals with Turner Syndrome generally need ongoing medical care throughout their lives.

Because of her condition, Mary developed scoliosis at a young age and stopped growing when she was only 4’7” tall. She also has swollen hands, a heart murmur and a minor nonverbal learning disability. According to the ADA lawsuit, Turner Syndrome limits Mary’s physical movements and causes her to move more slowly.

For most of the nine and a half years she worked at Walmart, Mary’s disability caused no significant problems at work. She starting working for Walmart in Lowville, N.Y. in November 2005, initially in the bakery and sometimes helping out in the deli department.

At the time she was hired, Walmart was fully aware of her disability, she claims. Mary says her supervisors regularly allowed her extra time to complete her assigned tasks to compensate for the way her disability slowed her down.

Mary says that for nine years she had a strong track record of good performance on the job, and her annual Walmart performance evaluations were all positive.

But in 2014, she says, a new assistant manager began to confront her about her slower pace and the extra time she needed to complete tasks.

In May of that year, Mary says she submitted a written request for a reasonable accommodation, asking for an extra 30 minutes per shift in which to complete her work. Walmart denied that request about a month later, offering no reasons or evidence to support the denial, she says.

Furthermore, Mary claims within a few weeks of that denial her supervisors began to pepper her with additional warnings and coaching in excess of what she had received in the previous nine years of her Walmart employment. Her performance reviews went from “solid performance” to “needs improvement” and “unsatisfactory,” she claims.

With no particular warning, Mary says Walmart terminated her employment in April 2015.

In addition to losing her job, Mary also says she lost valuable benefits. Upon her termination, Walmart allegedly withdrew all the funds it had contributed to her 401k savings plan over the nine-plus years she worked there – an amount totaling more than $12,000.
https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/372385-walmart-discriminates-disabled-employees-lawsuit-claims/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=110%20Newsletter&utm_content=110%20Newsletter+CID_410eb50016b22155155f7121c7597c16&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Link%20httpstopclassactionscomlawsuit-settlementslawsuit-news372385-walmart-discriminates-disabled-employees-lawsuit-claims

Mary further claims she lost the shares of Walmart stock that she had been able to buy with paycheck deductions. In addition, the lawsuit states that Mary lost her company-sponsored health insurance and now relies on Medicaid for her health care. She has also had to file for bankruptcy.

Mary argues the discipline and termination she was subject to constitutes unlawful disability discrimination in violation of Title II of the ADA. She accuses Walmart of unlawfully retaliating against her for requesting a reasonable accommodation.

She is asking the court for an award of damages and all other relief available under the ADA, including reimbursement of her attorney’s fees.

The plaintiff is represented by attorney Stephen Ciotoli of O’Hara O’Connell & Ciotoli.

The Walmart Employee Disability Discrimination Lawsuit is Mary L. v. Wal-Mart Stores East LP, Case No. 7:16-cv-1544, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

For the Top Class Actions Newsletter:  https://topclassactions.com/

Another Walmart settlement, disability-rights suit over payment machines

Walmart has agreed to settle a disability-rights suit by installing equipment in its California stores that will enable people in wheelchairs to read the screens at checkout display terminals and make credit-card purchases on their own.
Article from SFGate, by Bob Egelko | Jan. 9, 2017
Walmart has agreed to settle a disability-rights suit by installing equipment in its stores in California that will enable people in wheelchairs to read the screens at checkout display terminals and make credit card purchases on their own.

The proposed settlement in federal court in San Francisco is intended to make the point-of-sale machines at Walmart’s more than 200 stores in the state accessible to the more than 300,000 Californians who use wheelchairs or motorized scooters.

Full details have not been disclosed, but a person involved in the case said Monday that the company had agreed to install a device that would accommodate disabled customers.

Point-of-sale machines allow customers to use credit or debit cards to make purchases. The machines require customers to view the screens to check the transaction, enter their personal identification number or submit their signature, and approve the sale.

The suit, filed by disability-rights groups in July 2012, said the machines at many Walmart stores were positioned so high that disabled customers had to “stretch and strain” to see the screens, or simply were unable to view them from their wheelchairs.

“I can’t reach the payment device on my own, read the display screen, enter my PIN or sign the screen to complete the transaction,” one plaintiff, Janet Brown of Pittsburg, said in a statement released by her lawyers when the case was filed. “I have to share my private PIN with the cashier, which I hate to do.”

The disability groups said lower-mounted, adjustable terminals were readily available and were already being used by some Walmart stores and by many competitors. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund in Berkeley said it complained about the situation to Walmart in 2005 and requested settlement negotiations, but the company declined.

The lawsuit accused the world’s largest retailer of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Further details of the proposed settlement, including the timetable for installing the new equipment, may be released at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 20.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Walmart-settles-disability-rights-suit-over-10845642.php
Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @egelko

ACTION ALERT: DAY TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE on JANUARY 11, 2017

From DREDF*: DAY TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE

Congressional leaders have declared that one of their first goals in the new Congress is to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) and "replace" it. While Congress has passed many bills to repeal the ACA in the past, it was clear that President Obama would veto them. But this is not the case with President-elect Donald Trump who says he will sign an ACA repeal bill.

The Senate is planning to pass a budget that will begin the process of repealing the ACA as soon as JANUARY 11. This is the first step in taking health care away before having a plan to replace it.

We must educate our Members of Congress before January 11th about why the ACA is so important to everyone, but especially to people with disabilities.

There are key provisions in the ACA that support the health and well-being of people with disabilities that we cannot lose:

---Because of the ACA, health insurers can't deny you health insurance if you have a disability or chronic condition.
---Because of the ACA, there aren't arbitrary financial limits to how much health care you can get in a year or in your lifetime.
---Because of the ACA, more people with disabilities receive supports and live in the community, not institutions.
---Because of the ACA, 20 million adults and children now have health insurance, thanks to the Medicaid Expansion and the health insurance subsidies, and millions of young adults have been able to stay on their parents' health insurance.
---Because of the ACA, health insurers started to provide people with the services they need-like mental health services and rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices

There are countless other provisions in the ACA that are important to people with disabilities. The ACA has unquestionably improved access to care for people with disabilities and chronic conditions to help them live healthy, independent, and fulfilling lives.

TAKE ACTION

Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office. Tell your Senator:

    Vote NO on the budget package that leads to eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

    People with disabilities need access to comprehensive and affordable health care.

    Congress must include the disability community in any discussion about repeal and replace to ensure that any changes meet the needs of people with disabilities.
    
SAMPLE TWEETS TO YOUR SENATORS

Vote NO on Senate budget. People w #disabilities rely on #ACA for comprehensive health care http://bit.ly/2jjeZau

Affordable Care Act = affordable comprehensive care for people w/#disabilities. Don't repeal it! http://bit.ly/2jjeZau

11 million at risk of losing Medicaid if #ACA repealed http://kaiserf.am/2gacF4c

TAKE ACTION ONLINE
Access Living* (Chicago CIL) has set up an e-mail action alert at this link to build upon DREDF's alert. Even if you have already taken action, please do it again!

* DREDF - Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Access Living - Chicago Center for Independent Living