Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wal-Mart Stores Will Pay $72,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE | Oct 22, 2014
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Retailer Refused to Reasonably Accommodate Applicant With End-Stage Renal Disease, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., will pay $72,500 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, an assistant store manager at the Walmart store in Cockeysville, Md., offered Laura Jones a job as an evening sales associate, contingent on Jones passing a urinalysis test for illegal drugs. After Jones advised that she cannot produce urine because she has end-stage renal disease, the assistant store manager told her to ask the designated drug testing company about alternate tests, the EEOC said. According to the complaint, Jones went to the drug testing facility the same day and learned that the facility could do other drug tests if the employer requested it. Jones relayed this information to the Walmart assistant store manager, but management refused to order an alternative drug test. Jones's application was closed for failing to take a urinalysis within 24 hours.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00862-JKB) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-liti­gation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing $72,500 in monetary relief to Jones, the 30-month consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Wal-Mart from taking any future adverse employment actions on the basis of disability and failing to provide reasonable accommodations. Wal-Mart will revise its applicant drug screen form to advise applicants that alternate drug screens will be available as a reasonable accommodation for applicants to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made in the Cockeysville store whose physical condition prevents them from producing urine and how to request a reasonable accommodation. Wal-Mart East shall provide training on the ADA and the revised drug screen form to its market and regional human resources directors, as well as to people with hiring responsibility at the Cockeysville store. The company will also furnish other remedial and preventive measures. Wal-Mart East will also post a notice regarding the resolution of this lawsuit.
 "This is the fourth EEOC lawsuit alleging the employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation and refused to hire a qualified applicant when the solution-to provide a blood drug test during the drug screening process-was simple," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "We are pleased that Wal-Mart East is providing targeted training and disseminating a memorandum on its drug screen policy, and hope that this settlement encourages all employers to review their hiring and post-offer drug screening procedures to ensure that qualified applicants are provided with needed reasonable accommodations."
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "Most reasonable accommodations required under the ADA are free or inexpensive, such as this case, where the accommodation needed was an easy fix-the employer just has to offer alternative tests, such as a blood test, for applicants who need it for medical reasons."
Other EEOC lawsuits involving this issue are: EEOC v. Kmart Corporation; Sears Holdings Management Corporation; Sears Holding Corporation, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Civil Action No. 13-cv-02576), EEOC v. Fort Worth Center of Rehabilitation, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:13-cv-1736), which settled for $30,000 and equitable relief, and EEOC v. G2 Secure Staff, LLC, (Civil Action No. 5:11-cv-475), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District for North Carolina, which settled for $30,000 and equitable relief.
Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., of Bentonville, Ark., operates Wal-Mart's retail stores in the Eastern United States.
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. 
Further information about the Commission is available at its website,

Honeywell sued by EEOC over medical testing policy that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act

Associated Press | Oct 28, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Honeywell Inc. over a health care policy that requires employees and their spouses to take medical tests or face monetary penalties.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on behalf of two Minnesota employees. The case could define how far an employer can go in shifting health care costs to employees based on their behavior.
The EEOC claims Honeywell’s new health screening policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Star Tribune reported. The lawsuit is seeking a temporary injunction to stop the biometric testing, which can identify smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other health problems. The Honeywell employee testing was slated to begin last week at a handful of sites throughout the U.S.
The screening program is designed to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles and lower health care costs for them and the company, according to Honeywell. The company denies any wrongdoing because the screening and wellness program “are in strict compliance with both HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines,” it said in a statement.
The EEOC alleges the Honeywell program could cause up to $4,000 in penalties for employees if they and their spouses don’t submit to the blood and medical tests. The agency has filed two other lawsuits in the past few months against other companies that have set up similar medical or wellness programs, according to EEOC attorney Laurie Vasichek. In Honeywell’s case, the tests and potential penalties are unwarranted because they don’t align with any business-related necessity, she said.
“The thing that is important about these cases is not that they are wellness or health programs, but that the company is requiring testing and asking disability questions when it’s not job-related,” Vasichek said. “They can only do that in situations where it’s voluntary for the employee to answer.”
The Morristown, New Jersey-based company began in Minneapolis and is still a major employer in the Twin Cities area. Honeywell operates in Minneapolis, Plymouth and Coon Rapids, as well as at a Golden Valley research center.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A case for voting for Illinois Gov. Quinn; opinion by Mike Ervin

Opinion as shared by Mike Ervin, who is a writer and disability rights activist living in Chicago.

Frankly, the prospect of Bruce Rauner as governor scares the hell out of me. It goes far beyond the fact that he is another of those money-first billionaires who pushes for austerity for everyone except those in his income strata. What scares me is that Rauner made a chunk of his ridiculous wealth exploiting people with disabilities.
There is a lot of attention being paid to the accusations of abuse, neglect and wrongful death at the facilities of Trans Healthcare Inc., a nursing home chain once owned by GTCR, the private equity firm Rauner headed. But the treatment of the residents is not the issue. Even if the residents are well cared for, they are still being exploited because they are being treated as commodities. A company like GTCR invests in nursing homes for the same reason it invests in everything. It sees an opportunity to make a whole lot of money. It sees nursing homes as a “growth sector,” as it says on the GTCR website.
The way to make money in the nursing home business is to keep the beds full. And this is largely accomplished by rigged public policies that give people with disabilities who need daily assistance from others little choice but to surrender ourselves to the custody of a nursing home.
Most people dread the idea of living in a nursing home for good reason. You lose practically all control over your life. Your personal space is reduced to a few square feet. You only have the personal possessions you can fit in the drawers of a nightstand. You have no privacy. You share your room with a complete stranger. You have no say over what and when you eat or when and if you will get out of or go to bed. If you receive a monthly Social Security payment, the nursing home can garnish it, leaving you only $30 a month for spending money.
There are better alternatives. I’m 58 years old and I’ve used I wheelchair my whole life. I need physical assistance with everything from dressing and bathing to toileting and meal preparation.  But thanks to the Home Services program of the Illinois Department of Human Services, I live in my own condo and receive assistance from a crew of people of my own choosing. The state pays the wages of my workers.
But whereas the federal government requires state government to provide a nursing home placement for people who need assistance like I do, it does not require that home and community-based alternatives like Home Services be offered. The vitality and existence of programs like Home Services is completely at the whim of the governor and state legislature.
This s how nursing home owners like Rauner get very, very rich.  In Illinois and all over the county, people with disabilities like me who are perfectly capable of living in the community end up filling nursing home beds because they are offered no alternative. Nursing home owners work hard to insure that the funding system stays rigged through their lobbying organization, the American Health Care Association.
I fear what might happen if our governor is someone who profited enormously off this cynical system that sees people with disabilities as nothing more than a profit center. Anyone who thinks people like me must sacrifice our privacy, autonomy and assets to receive the assistance we need would likely see the middle-class lifestyle the Home Service program enables me to lead as extravagant. I fear Rauner would proudly squash programs like Home Services under his steamroller of faux austerity.
 Rauner says he has only an economic agenda and no social agenda. That’s nonsense. You can’t separate the two. State budget reflect the social priorities and values of state government leaders. If Rauner sees people with disabilities like me first and foremost as source of cash flow for the very rich, his budgets will be structured accordingly.

please visit Mike Ervin blog: Smart Ass Cripple

Chicago CTA Ventra Open Fare Payment System Ventra Vending Machine - Physical Description for public and accessibility

the information is shared by Chicago Transit Authority ADA Compliance Programs, update when available

photo: CTA Ventra vending machine

Ventra Open Fare Payment System

Ventra Vending Machine (VVM) Description

The purpose of this document is to provide a physical description of the Ventra Vending Machines (VVM) available at all CTA rail stations and a small number of off-site locations. These machines allow a customer to:
  • Buy a new, full fare reloadable Ventra Card. 
  • Buy disposable Ventra Tickets. 
  • Load CTA, Pace or joint CTA/Pace Pass to a card. 
  • Load transit value to a card. 
  • Check the transit account of a card. 
About Special Fare Programs 
 If you qualify for reduced fares as a senior or a person with a disability, you’ll need a special card from the RTA, who administers the Reduced Fare Program Cards (VVMs only issue regular, full-fare cards and tickets). Contact the RTA at 1-312-913-3110 or for information on how to apply.

  • The VVMs do not give change. 
  • If you’re buying a pass and only have large bills, the difference can be loaded to your account as value, which can be used after a pass runs out. 
  • All machines accept cash, coin and credit/debit cards. 
  • The VVMs also provide information in selected languages, in addition to English. 
Ventra Vending Machine Physical Description
Overview The purpose of the Overview section is to provide a brief description of the entire machine. Each section mentioned in the Overview will then be described in more detail following this section.

The Ventra Vending Machine (VVM) is approximately 70 inches tall and 36 inches wide. At the very top of the machine, there is a Scrolling Visual Message. Below that message is the Information Panel that runs the width of the machine. Below the Information Panel is the Main Display Section, which includes the Display Screen on the left and the Cancel Button on the right. To the right of the Main Display Section is the Coin Slot. Below the Main Display Section on the left hand side is the PIN Keypad. Underneath the PIN Keypad are the Audio Button and Audio Jack for earphones. To the right of the PIN Keypad is the Credit/Debit Card Reader. To the right of this section, in the middle of the machine, is the Contactless Ventra Card Reader. To the right of the Contactless Ventra Card Reader is the Bill Insertion/Return Slot. At the center bottom of the machine is the Return Cup.

VVM Section By Section Descriptions
Scrolling Visual MessageAt the top 6 inches of the machine, at 65 inches from the ground, there is a continuous visual message in red print that scrolls across the width of the machine. Generally, this message reads, “Chicago Transit Authority” and notes “No Change Given.” In the event that the machine can’t offer certain services, such as if something has jammed the bill collector and it can’t accept bills, this is explained in this area. These messages are also reflected on the home screen or through the audio component at the beginning of a transaction.

Information PanelMoving down the machine, the next section is called the Information Panel. The Information Panel is located 55 inches from the bottom of the machine and is 30 inches wide. This section also has a metal frame around it that measures 3/4 inches thick. This section has information on CTA fares and tickets, ways to pay fares, and a section named “More Information.” All information included in this section can be found on the CTA website at Information on Ventra cards and ways to pay fares can also be provided by calling Ventra at 1-877-NOW-VENTRA or by visiting their website at Information on Reduced Fare Programs and rates can be provided by calling RTA at 1-312-913-3110 and selecting Option 2, to speak to a live operator.

Main Display
Continuing downward, the next section is the Main Display section, consisting of the Display Screen and the Cancel Button. 

Display Screen The Display Screen is 51 inches from the bottom of the machine and is located on the left half of the Main Display Section. The screen is recessed and measures 11-3/4 inches wide and 9 inches high.

There are tactile and Braille letters on each side of the screen. On the outside of each letter is a corresponding button. The left top letter is “A” which is 46 inches from the bottom of the machine. Moving downward, the letters on the left go from “A” to “E”. The letters on the opposite, or right-hand, side of this same screen start at “F” and run through letter “J”. Buttons correspond to transaction options written on the Display Screen, which is explicitly noted on the screen.

Press the Cancel Button to be taken to the start screen in order to begin a transaction. To start with audio instructions, press the audio button which is described in detail later in this document. The VVM will let you know both visually or audibly if no bills can be accepted at the machine.

You can also select other languages (Spanish and Polish) for instructions. To change your language preference, go to the main screen and select button letter “I” or, if using the audio component, button number “9” on the PIN Keypad, which will be described later.

Note: If you are using audio, the machine will instruct you to use the numbered PIN Keypad to select your transaction options. Numbers on the Keypad correspond to the buttons next to the Display Screen (A is 1, B is 2, I is 9, J is 0, etc.).
Cancel Button
To the right of the letter “J” button is the Cancel Button. There is a tactile arrow above the button and a raised letter and Braille sign that reads, “Cancel.” The Cancel Button is 43 inches from the bottom of the machine. The button is recessed with a smooth inside and a raised edge around the button that is red. The diameter of the Cancel Button is 2 inches. Pressing the Cancel Button at any time during a transaction will void and stop the transaction. There is also an audio sound to alert the user that the transaction has been stopped.

Note: There is a large smooth circle above the Cancel Button which measures 3-3/4 inches in diameter. This is only a mirror and has no function in relation to any transaction.

Coin Slot
Continuing directly to the right of the smooth mirror is a Coin Slot which is recessed and 47 inches from the bottom of the machine. Only coins are accepted in this area. Coins accepted are nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar coins, NO pennies or fifty cent pieces. The coin return button is to the left of the slot and should be pushed to get coins back. Coins are dispensed at the bottom center of the machine, which is the same place where Ventra Cards, Tickets and receipts are dispensed. This section, called the Return Cup, will be explained later.

PIN Keypad Returning to the left side of the machine, directly below the Main Display Section, there is a numbered PIN Keypad, approximately 35 inches from the bottom of the machine. The PIN Keypad is identified in raised print with Braille underneath as “Payment Card.” The keypad (where the numbers are located) is recessed in the machine and on a bit of an angle. Starting at the upper left corner, moving left to right, the pad reads:
  • 12 3 Cancel 
  • 4 5 6 Clear 
  • 8 9 Enter 
  • * 0 # Button with no function 
There are also additional tactile markings available to assist you. Starting at the top left button and moving across Row 1, the Cancel button has a small “X”, on Row 2, the number 5 button has a dot and the Clear button has a dash, and on Row 3, the Enter button has an “O”.

Audio Button and Audio Jack
Below the PIN Keypad is the Audio Button. There are both tactile and Braille letters above the button. There is a symbol to the right of the button illustrating that the volume will increase each time the button is pressed, up to 3 times. The audio will read everything written on the Display Screen (as it is a mix of what is shown on the screen and what is in the audio files). Please note, the machine will instruct you to use the PIN Keypad to select your transaction options when using audio, instead of the lettered buttons next to the Display Screen. To the right of the Audio Button is the Audio Jack for headphones. Both the Audio Button and Audio Jack are in a recessed small rectangular box measuring 5 inches wide by 1-1/2 inches high, which, again, is located directly below the PIN Keypad. 

Credit and Debit Card Reader To the right of the PIN Keypad is the slot that accepts credit or debit cards as payment. The slot sticks out a little over an inch from the machine. Credit or debit cards need to be inserted horizontally with the raised number on the bottom left side of the card and the stripe on the top right. If the credit or debit card is put into the machine incorrectly, the machine will tell you that it cannot process your payment. The VVM accepts VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

Contactless Ventra Card Reader To the right of the Credit and Debit Card Reader slot is the Contactless Ventra Card Reader. The target is a large circle, approximately 4-1/2 inches in diameter. The center of the circle is smooth with a rough edge around the perimeter. Above the circle, there is a tactile arrow with raised letters and a Braille sign that says, “Tap Below.” 

The purpose of the Contactless Ventra Card Reader is to:
  • Read and display the current balance on a Ventra Card. 
  • Read and display the expiration date of a single ride or one day only ticket. 
  • Read the Ventra Card and then display the next screen which allows the customer to add value or buy a pass. 
In order to hear a card balance, you must first press the Audio Button, then tap your Ventra Card on the center of the circle and wait a couple of seconds for the machine to read the current value on the card. The machine will continue to provide audio directions regarding which PIN Keypad number button to press to continue a transaction. If the card is tapped but the Audio Button is not pressed, only visual balance information is displayed on the Display Screen above.

Bill Insertion/Return Slot To the right of the Contactless Card Reader is a rectangular section where only bills (cash) may be used to add transit value to a Ventra Card or pay for a pass. The rectangle measures 5-3/4 inches wide and 6-1/4 inches high. In the upper half of this rectangle is a slightly angled slot where bills can be inserted in any direction. REMEMBER, the machine does NOT give change. If you make a mistake and want your money back before the transaction is finished, push the Cancel Button (located directly above the insertion slot) and your bills are returned in a slot located just below where they were inserted. To the right of this area is a tactile arrow and Braille and tactile print which says, “Bills.” The VVM accepts $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills.

Note: Although not listed, the machine will accept $50 or $100 bills. But keep in mind the VVM does NOT give change.

Return Cup At the bottom center of the machine is the Return Cup. This section is 15 inches from the bottom of the machine. This section is labeled with a raised tactile arrow and tactile print and Braille sign that reads, “Card/Ticket/Receipt.” The area is a raised box framed in black measuring 17-1/2 inches wide and 11 inches high. Near the bottom of this box is a long slit which pushes in. This is where cards, tickets, receipts or coins are dispensed.
Note: To the right of the Return Cup is a keyhole used only by staff to open the machine for maintenance.


For more on Chicago Transit Authority ADA Compliance Programs: 

as a reminder:

Congressional Letter Urging increased representation of Autistic Adults in Autism CARES Act programs

as shared by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network

PRESS RELEASE | Oct 29, 2014

Autistic Self Advocacy Network applauds letter from Congressional champions urging increased representation of autistic adults in Autism CARES Act funded programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Autistic Self Advocacy Network applauded five leading congressional champions for autism services this morning for authoring a letter sent yesterday to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter, signed by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), expressed concern with lack of representation of autistic people in programs funded by the Autism CARES Act, recently passed legislation governing federal autism programs.

The letter notes the severe underrepresentation of autistic people on the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), which is responsible for overseeing all federal funds used on autism research, and in federally-funded programs on autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. The letter also expresses concern over the disproportionately small percentage of research funding that focuses on quality of services (2.4%) and adults on the autism spectrum (1.5%).

“HHS should take the opportunity posed by the Autism CARES legislation to address long-standing inequities in federal autism policy,” said Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “We applaud Rep. Schakowsky and the other signatories to this letter for their leadership in urging real inclusion of autistic people in federal autism policymaking.”

The signatories to the letter recommended increasing representation of autistic people and organizations run by them on the IACC, ensuring that autistic people participate in training programs funded through the law and other measures designed to enhance participation of autistic people in programs designed to serve them.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people. ASAN’s supporters include Autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators and friends. Its activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, leadership trainings, cross-disability advocacy, and the development of Autistic cultural activities.

For the Autistic Self Advocacy Network:

High-Tech Tablet offers a two way communication tool for the deaf and hearing Impaired

YouTube Published by MotionSavvy LLC  on Oct 21, 2014
With recent advancements in gesture recognition technology, it is now possible to provide the millions of deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide with a affordable tool to communicate with their peers.

article by The Washington Post | By Rachel Feltman | Oct 27, 2014
Soon, the deaf could use a special tablet to translate their sign language into spoken word. The device, developed by a start-up called MotionSavvy, is currently being crowdfunded with an IndieGoGo campaign.
Called UNI, the device itself is actually a tablet case -- one that contains a high-speed sensor, capable of sensing hand movements down to fractions of a millimeter. The accompanying software uses gesture recognition to track the hand motion of signers, then translates their signs into text. Words spoken in response are displayed as text onscreen, facilitating a two-way conversation even if the deaf speaker has trouble vocalizing and the hearing speaker doesn't know sign language.
UNI isn't meant to replace the need for human sign language interpreters. In fact, MotionSavvy CTO Alexandr Opalka told WIRED, he and his team hope UNI will lead to a boom in business for them: The idea is to help the deaf get past initial barriers, such as job interviews at companies that don't provide interpreters.
"If you can't communicate during an interview, you're not getting the job," Opalka told WIRED. Indeed, some estimate that half or more deaf adults in the United States are unemployed. "With UNI, we predict more people who are deaf will be able to get jobs and stay working, and that's how we'll get more people to hire interpreters. There will be more people in the workforce."
The IndieGoGo video shown above uses the more heartwarming example of childhood friendship, but the product's goal can still hold true: A child unafraid to introduce themselves is much more likely to convince their peers to learn enough sign language to play with them.
Opalka and his fellow co-founders are deaf themselves, having initially met and collaborated at Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf. So far, they say their feedback from others in the deaf community has been overwhelmingly positive.
And they're certainly committed to getting the technology into the hands of those that need it. After receiving feedback, they dropped the projected cost of the device from $799 to $200, plus a small monthly subscription fee for the software.
One of the most difficult challenges will be accommodating the many variations in sign language, Opalka wrote in an e-mail. "There are many different 'accents' and personalized signing styles, and this has to be accounted for," he said. But UNI will allow users to input custom signs and share them with the database, making the technology infinitely customizable.
*Rachel Feltman runs The Post's Speaking of Science blog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

U.S. Senate introduced Three Bills Addressing Economic Access, Transportation, and Fitness Issues for People with Disabilities

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa recently introduced bills in the U.S. Senate to promote economic independence for people with disabilities. The bills address access to housing, transportation, and exercise and call upon the U.S. Access Board to develop new accessibility guidelines and standards in each of these areas. They are based on findings from an investigation by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee into economic and employment issues faced by people with disabilities.

"To address the economic barriers Americans with disabilities still face, I am introducing three new bills as part of an 'Access for All' agenda to help them achieve the economic success necessary to be independent and lead full and fulfilling lives in their communities," stated Harkin who chairs the HELP Committee. "Today's report makes clear that even as more people with disabilities seek to enter the workforce, there are still too many barriers preventing them from becoming economically independent. When these Americans are not part of the workforce, they are much more likely to be stuck in poverty with no way of getting ahead."

The "Universal Home Design Act" would require certain accessibility features for single family homes and townhouses that are built or purchased with federal financial assistance. These include universal design features that would be established by the Access Board to ensure access to entrances, interior doors, environmental controls, and at least one indoor room, bathroom, and kitchen space. The bill also would create the Office of Accessible Housing and Development within the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The "Accessible Transportation for All Act" would require access to taxi services and ban discrimination based on disability by taxi companies and drivers. It would authorize competitions to create affordable and accessible taxi and car designs, require states to develop strategic plans to increase the availability of accessible cabs, direct the Access Board to issue accessible taxi standards and service standards, establish a new tax credit for access improvements undertaken by taxi companies, and create an Accessible Taxi Board at the Department of Transportation.

The "Exercise and Fitness for All Act" would require access to exercise and fitness equipment at gyms, heath clubs, colleges and universities, and other facilities, including treadmills, step machines, stationary bikes, rowing machines, weight machines, and circuit training and strength equipment. The Access Board would be tasked with developing new accessibility guidelines for such equipment within 18 months of enactment.

According to the HELP Committee report, people with disabilities often cannot participate in the workforce due to a lack of access to reliable transportation and to affordable housing, and they continue to report discrimination in the workplace, including wage inequality. The findings also address other economic issues and barriers faced by people with disabilities.

 Further information, including a summary of the introduced bills, is available on the Help Committee website.

Medicare’s 2014 Open Enrollment period is October 15 - December 7 - info, resources

as posted by "Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services"

October 15 to December 7 is when ALL people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. Information on 2014 plans will be available beginning in October. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit for plan information. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

YouTube Published by CMSHHSgov on Oct 9, 2014
It’s Medicare Open Enrollment from October 15 through December 7- have you compared plans yet? 
Use the online tools at or call 1-800-MEDICARE. You’ll never know unless you go.

General Market outreach material
Drop-in Articles
Spanish Language outreach material
Spanish Drop-in Articles
Spanish Social Media Content
  • Medicare Dates (Spanish)
    La inscripción abierta es del 15 de octubre al 7 de diciembre pero puede comparar planes hoy en #MedicareOE
  • Prescription Copay (Spanish)
    ¿Está satisfecho con los copagos por sus medicamentos recetados? ¿Podría tener más ahorros? Compare opciones aquí
  • Handbook
    Use el manual de #Medicare y Usted del 2015 para aprender más sobre cobertura. #MedicareOE
Asian American-Pacific Islander outreach material
Drop-in Articles
  • Coming soon
Medicare and the Marketplace
Fraud Prevention
Background Information
For More information, visit "Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services"

People With Disabilities Can Influence Election's

published by HuffPost Impact | Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, | Oct 2014

Candidates are spending millions to win hotly contested elections as key battlegrounds are being drawn. Dozens of governor's races are in play, as is control of the United States Senate. Now, according to a bipartisan battleground state survey commissioned by RespectAbility of 1000 likely 2014 voters, swing voters in Senate and Governors races are more likely to vote for a candidate who makes a high priority of "enabling citizens with disabilities to get jobs and become independent." Overall, voters are similarly more likely to support candidates for U.S. Senate making this a priority at 49 percent versus 5 percent, while for Governors it is 53 percent versus 3 percent. Key swing voter groups in these battleground states are also more likely to vote for senate candidates who support these policies.
Fully 56 percent of voters report having a family member or close friend with a disability, 43 percent do not. While conventional wisdom has long been that disability issues are the purview of the Democratic Party, the poll shows otherwise. Amongst likely voters with disabilities, 31 percent are Democrats, 31 percent are Independents and 36 percent are Republicans. Amongst their family members it is 35 percent Democrats, 33 percent Independents, 30 percent Republicans. For their close friends it is 36 percent Democrats, 38 percent Independents, and 24 percent Republicans. Thus this represents the ultimate swing voter group.
Said Stan Greenberg, PhD, "Issues of employment among people with disabilities can affect outcomes in competitive races for Senate and Governor. This community is far bigger than many people realize, including people in my profession."
Likewise, Republican Whit Ayres commented, "We are accustomed to thinking about "soccer moms", "Hispanics" or "values voters." But this poll shows that Americans with disabilities - and those who care deeply about them are a demographic we need to pay attention to in the future."
Today, 70 percent of people with disabilities (PwDs) are not employed, even though polls show that most of them would prefer to work. Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. This poll demonstrates that Americans on both sides of the aisle will vote for candidates who share their belief that people with disabilities deserve to beable to work to achieve the American dream, just like anyone else.
The U.S. recently passed the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA). However, WIOA has not yet been implemented. The next governor of every state will have the opportunity to dramatically shape these policies, and voters are demanding results. While voters are saying they want candidates who are committed to jobs and opportunities for citizens with disabilities, they don't feel they are getting it today.
A majority of Americans (54 percent) think that the state government is "not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough" to "help people with disabilities get jobs and become independent" while 28 percent think the state is "doing more than enough/enough." While a majority respond the government is "not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough", over 30 percent more Democrats (73 percent) believe the government is not doing enough versus 40 percent of Republicans feel the same.
The partisan split is more pronounced on the role of the federal government. Overall, likely voters respond similarly to the question of whether the federal government is doing enough to "help people with disabilities get jobs and become independent." More than half, 52 percent believe the federal government is "not doing enough/not doing anywhere near enough"(Dem 67, Rep 38), 35 percent believe it is "doing more than enough/enough" (Dem 19, Rep 49).
One of the biggest barriers for work is an outdated benefits system which was written for another time when it was assumed that people with disabilities would be dependent their whole lives. The Federal government literally called these programs "Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled." These days new technology, medical breakthroughs, and a recognition that people with disabilities want to work have destroyed this antiquated thinking.
There is strong bi-partisan support, nearly 8 out of 10 voters, for increasing the current caps on monthly income ($1,070) and assets ($2,000) of people with disabilities in order to allow them to earn more without risking their benefits. Fully 88 percent of Democrats support this increase, 9 percent oppose and 68 percent of Republicans support, 26 percent oppose. Beyond personal support for changing this policy, 71 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote for a candidate for U.S. Senate who supports this change. Only 5 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans are less likely to vote for senate candidates based on this issue.
Fully 88 percent feel that as a customer it is important "that the companies you do business with do not discriminate against qualified people with disabilities." Over 60 percent feel that this is "very important." And, despite the low levels of employment of people with disabilities, a nearly unanimous electorate (98 percent) is open and supportive to hiring more people with disabilities responding that if they were an employer, manager or small business owner, they would be "willing to hire a qualified person with a disability."
Businesses should recognize that there are over 56 million Americans with disabilities. They are not only voters, they are consumers.
Nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) surveyed favor the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, also known as the Disability Treaty. The Disability Treaty is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Treaty encourages the adoption of laws around the world that promote accessibility, equal opportunities and end abuse and discrimination of people with disabilities. Only 23 percent oppose the treaty.
The majority of likely American voters are experiencing disability, either because they have a disability or have a loved one who does. It impacts voting, and elected officials need to pay attention. Voters with disabilities want jobs and the people who love them want them to have the opportunity to succeed. Now is the time for candidates to bring forward their plans so that all Americans, regardless of their abilities, have the opportunity to work and succeed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Accessible Retail Stores and Spaces (November 6)

as shared by the United States Access Board

The next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will take place November 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will feature an advanced session on retail facilities and spaces. Presenters will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards covering parking, checkout aisles, sales and service counters, queues and waiting lines, and other elements. 

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. An earlier webinar providing a basic overview of these requirements is available in the webinar archives. Participants are encouraged to review this archived webinar in advance of the upcoming session.

For more information, including registration instructions, visit

U.S. Access Board Releases Guidance on Accessibility of Playground Surface

as shared by United States Access Board

New guidance on selecting and installing playground surfaces is now available from the Access Board. Developed by National Center on Accessibility (NCA) at Indiana University with funding from the Board, the guide, "Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces," (also available in PDF) outlines key considerations and steps in selecting, installing, and maintaining playground surface to ensure accessibility and compliance with accessibility standards, including those issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA ) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).
The ADA Standards, which apply to many types of facilities in the public and private sectors, and the ABA Standards, which cover federally funded facilities, include provisions for play areas and play surfaces. These requirements address running and cross slopes, changes in level, openings and apply industry standards for accessibility and impact attenuation issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

The guide describes the most popular types of playground surfacing materials, such as poured-in-place rubber, rubber tiles, engineered wood fiber, and hybrid surface systems. It compares information on each of these material types, including installation methods, accessibility issues and considerations, maintenance, repair methods, and cost. This guidance is intended to help playground owners and operators make an informed choice in selecting surface materials and ensuring that they are properly installed and maintained for accessibility. It is based on findings from a Board-sponsored study by NCA completed last year that assessed the performance of different surfacing materials at 35 playgrounds over a 3-year period.

For "Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces,"  CLICK HERE

For further information, contact Jennifer Skulski, CPSI, Principal Investigator, at or (812) 856-4422, or Peggy Greenwell of the Access Board at, (202) 272-0017 (v), or (202) 272-0075 (TTY).

The Church and Mental Illness

the link (pdf) to the magazine 'The Christian Citizen' is below

One in four U.S. Americans annually experience mental health issues ranging in severity from temporary psychological distress to serious depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, yet less than one-third of these persons receives appropriate care, often because of the stigma associated with these illnesses and their treatments. American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) wants to help change these statistics for the better. That is why we're providing leadership through the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, in its partnership with the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This effort brings together religious leaders and psychiatrists to determine how we can better collaborate to reduce stigma and provide help and healing for those with mental health conditions.

The Christian Citizen 2014 Volume 2

In this issue: CLICK HERE for PDF magazine link

  • EDITORIAL Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership
    to Reduce Stigma and Provide Help and Healing
  • Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond
  • A Call to Healing
  • Un llamado a la sanidad
  • Depression Idols, Demons and Grace
  • It Takes a Community
  • Psychiatry and the Faith Community in Partnership
  • NAMI FaithNet A Lifeline, a Cairn and a Network
  • WISE and Caring Congregations: Creating a Safe Haven for People in
    Your Church Who Have a Mental Illness
  • Youth Leaders as Instruments of Transformation and Hope
  • Doing Small Things with Extraordinary Love
  • Admitting Our Powerlessness
  • The Pizza Mass
  • A Welcoming and Supportive Environment for Latinos
  • A Deep Well of Meaning
  • Be Still
  • When the Caregiver Needs Care
  • Sand Dollar
  • Spiritual insights for parents, clergy, and churches ministering to special needs families.