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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Dunkin' Donuts stores at Baltimore-Washington International Airport Will Pay $151,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

from a PRESS RELEASE | 11-30-15

OHM Concessions Will Pay $151,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Restaurant Fired Manager Days Before Medical Leave for Cancer Surgery, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - OHM Concessions Group, LLC, which operates Dunkin' Donuts stores at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), will pay $151,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
Joan McMahon O'Donnell successfully performed her job duties as a regional manager at the company's BWI Dunkin' Donuts locations, according to the suit. After O'Donnell was diagnosed with breast cancer and requested unpaid leave for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Dunkin' Donuts refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and instead abruptly discharged her because of her disability, EEOC charged.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. OHM Concessions Group, LLC, d/b/a Dunkin Donuts, Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-01946) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $151,000 in monetary relief to O'Donnell, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit prohibits OHM from engaging in any future disability discrimination. OHM will implement a new attendance policy which includes a provision for requesting reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The restaurant will provide annual ADA training to all supervisors, managers and human resources employees. OHM will also post a notice about the settlement and will report to EEOC about how it handled any internal complaints of alleged disability discrimination.
"Providing a leave of absence for an employee who needs medical treatment related to a disability is not only the decent thing to do - it is required by federal law unless the employer can show it would pose an undue hardship," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "This settlement fairly compensates Ms. O'Donnell for her losses. Equally important, the consent decree contains equitable relief, including training and monitoring provisions, designed to ensure that employees with disabilities get reasonable accommodations if needed."
EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.

Webinar Dec. 10 - Building Partnerships for Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery to Individuals with Disabilities

as shared by Pacific ADA Center.

Announcing a new webinar - "ADA National Network Learning Session: Building and Maintaining National Partnerships for Improving Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery to Individuals with Disabilities: Lessons Learned"

December 10th, 2015

Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/9.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php
Presenters will discuss the strategies involved in developing a partnership between national organizations. They will share what they have learned during the past three years, including what has worked and what has not worked during negotiations to develop and implement Memorandums of Understanding between Portlight Strategies, the National Council on Independent Living, and the American Red Cross.
Learning Objectives:
  • Know and understand who Portlight Strategies is and what they do in providing disaster relief, training and coordination before, during and after a disaster.
  • Learn how national partnerships between Portlight and NCIL, NCIL and the American Red Cross, and Portlight and the American Red Cross came to be developed and an update on where those relationships stand now.
  • Know and understand NCIL's role and that of their Emergency Preparedness and Response Sub-Committee in working with Centers for Independent Living and other NCIL members to coordinate emergency preparedness and response services during a disaster.
Paul Timmons, a veteran disability community organizer, is Board Chair of Portlight Strategies, Inc., a national disaster relief organization founded in 1997 by people with disabilities to serve the preparedness and response needs of people with disabilities and advocate for our inclusion in all aspects of this discipline.
Christy Dunaway has over 30 years of experience in the disability rights movement, retiring in 2014 as the director of Living Independence For Everyone (LIFE) of Mississippi after 19 years of service with them. She currently consults with various entities to provide training and technical assistance on equal access, equal rights and emergency planning, response and recovery. She is the chairperson of the Emergency Planning and Response Sub-committee of the National Council on Independent Living.
These 90 minute webinars are delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Collaborate downloads files to your machine in order to run. We recommend that you prepare your technology prior to the start of the session. You may need the assistance of your IT Staff if firewalls prevent you from downloading files.
To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go tohttp://www.adapresentations.org/schedule.php
The information presented in this webinar is intended solely as informal guidance, and is neither a determination of legal rights or responsibilities by NIDILRR or FEMA.


from a Press Release | Nov. 29, 2015
American Association of People with Disabilities


November 29, 2015 | AAPD Press Team
During the Campaign for America’s Future Awards Gala in October 2015 the President of the National Education Association (NEA), Lily Eskelsen Garcia, made the following statement:
“We diversify our curriculum instruction to meet the personal individual needs of all of our students the blind, the hearing impaired, the physically challenged, the gifted and talented, the chronically tarded and the medically annoying.”

AAPD condemns this statement and the disrespect it not only shows to students with disabilities, but all Americans with disabilities. As the nation’s largest labor union, representing over three million teachers, the NEA should know better than to insult students and must do more to be inclusive of all students. On the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is horribly unfortunate and sadly ironic that we must chastise the President of the NEA for her comments.
The NEA writes that their mission “is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.” Preparing every student to succeed in a diverse world undoubtedly includes students with disabilities.
“Like their non-disabled peers, students with disabilities have the right to a public education, as was intended 40 years ago today when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act -- now Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- was signed into law,” said Helena Berger, President and CEO of AAPD. “AAPD joins our partners in the disability rights community in calling on the NEA to live up to their mission and values, helping to ensure children with disabilities have the opportunity to develop their talents, achieve their goals, and contribute to their communities.”
You can do your part to call out Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA by making your voice heard on Twitter:
“Chronically ‘tarded & medically annoying” is neither progressive nor acceptable @NEAToday @Lily_NEA @OurFuture #UnacceptableExample
* * *
The American Association of People with Disabilities is one of the nation's largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Our members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change.

Gift Ideas for Children With Disabilities

It's that time of year when gift giving is on our minds. For children with disabilities it does take extra effort to find that perfect gift that will be enjoyable, and beneficial. 
"The National Lekotek Center works with families who have children with disabilities or special needs and what we do is we use play and toys to help a child reach their developmental milestones," said Jean Bailey, director, National Lekotek Center.
For the past 19 years, the non-profit has worked with Toys "R" Us to recommend toys that are inclusive for children with disabilities. They are always on the lookout for toys that will advance a child's development.

The complete "Toys 'R' Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids":http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=3261680.
The National Lekotek Center: www.lekotek.org, toy rating system: www.ableplay.org.

article by Jim Watkins, Ability Chicago Info | Nov. 30, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Donald Trump mocks reporter with Disability

YouTube published by CNN | Nov 25, 2015

In a speech Tuesday (Nov 24), Presidential Candidate (R) Donald Trump defended his recollection of the Muslim revelers by citing a 2001 article by Serge Kovaleski, who worked for The Washington Post at the time, noting that "authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."

The incident occurred as Trump was defending his recent claim that he had witnessed thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center collapsed. The assertion has since been fact-checked and discredited by law enforcement and government officials who were in New Jersey in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks.

Trump berated Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for his recent recollection of an article he had written a few days after the attacks. Trump appeared to mock Kovaleski's physical condition; the reporter has arthrogryposis, which visibly limits flexibility in his arms.

"Now, the poor guy -- you've got to see this guy, 'Ah, I don't know what I said! I don't remember!" Trump said as he jerked his arms in front of his body.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chicago CPS reverses Special Education 2015 Budget Cuts, after review will now spend more

from a Press Release | Nov 25, 2015
Chicago Public Schools (CPS)

CPS Realigns Special Education Funding to Meet the Needs of Every Diverse Learner
Thorough Review Process Ensures Diverse Learners Receive the Resources Outlined in Their Plans
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will realign special education resources following a thorough review of diverse learner programs across the district to ensure resources are in place to meet the needs of every student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). As a result of this review, CPS will allocate 3,007 special education teaching positions and 2,687 paraprofessional positions in district-run schools compared to last year, when CPS funded 2,885 special education teaching positions and 2,662 paraprofessionals.
“From the beginning of this process, we have been focused on our students and as a result of our review, we will continue meeting the needs of every IEP,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said. “We recognize this process has been challenging for some of our families and school leaders, and we are committed to implementing an improved, bottom-up process for next school year that will allow principals to play a more robust role in determining how to meet their students’ needs.”
On Sept. 25, CPS released final school budgets based on each school’s enrollment on the 10th day of school. As a result, some schools received diverse learner funding allocations based on a flawed funding formula. To ensure that the needs of each student were met, CPS invited schools to appeal their funding decisions. A cross-functional team at CPS worked with Network chiefs, principals and school leaders to review each funding appeal, and CPS has begun notifying schools of their revised allocations.
The goal of the District’s funding review process was to ensure every student with an IEP receives the services outlined in their plans. As a result of this review, some schools gained positions while other schools lost positions as allocations were modified based on need. Due to the additional positions that have been allocated as a result of this process, there will be opportunities for most teachers impacted by position reductions to receive new positions at other District schools.
CPS will conduct a thorough review of its diverse learner resource allocation process to ensure improvements are made to next year’s budget process. The District is committed to implementing a bottom-up process next year so that principals have more input in determining proper resource allocations.
Due to a national shortage of teachers with special education certification, CPS anticipates that all teachers and paraprofessionals will have opportunities at other schools within the District. To help match impacted staff with schools that have job openings, CPS will host a job fair on Dec. 15, at the Local 399 Union Hall and Training Facility, to link impacted staff with principals seeking to fill vacancies at their schools. Impacted teachers and paraprofessionals will receive a notification from the CPS Talent Office that will provide details on the job fair as well as additional information on how they can explore new opportunities within the District.
A spreadsheet showing allocations to District-run schools is available upon request. 
The 94 District-managed schools participating in the All Means All pilot program, which provides student-based funding allocations to schools instead of position allocations, received a total of $130.3 million this school year. Significantly more schools participated in the All Means All program this year, so a funding comparison is not accurate.
For Chicago Tribune article on Nov. 25, 2015
CPS reverses course on special education cuts, will spend more

“Autism: Disability or Neurodiversity?” Chicago Conversations Dec. 3rd, 2015

December 03, 2015 at The Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago.

Beginning this fall the Seminary Coop Bookstore will host a series of monthly conversations about compelling contemporary issues that are informed by scholarship that bears on those issues. Contributing authors introduce the discussions, leaving most of the time for dialogue among those whom we would prefer to call “participants” rather than members of an “audience.” Thus the goal is to help create what Rosa Eberly calls a “literary public sphere,” in which private consumers of books and the issues they address are encouraged to become public communicators about them

All events start at 6 pm. at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., and will be hosted by social and political theorist Isaac Balbus, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Thursday December 3.AutismDisability or Neurodiversity?” introduced by Lennard Davis, Department of English and School of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, author of Enforcing Normalcy and The End of Normal.
For More information in the series, visit: http://www.semcoop.com/literary-public-sphere
# as posted at Seminary Co-Operative Bookstore


Join co-hosts Carrie Sandahl (of Bodies of Work) & Matt Lauterbach (of ReelAbilities Chicago) for a conversation with the creative minds behind the camera, as we screen excerpts from these fascinating films and discuss the issues.

Meet the filmmakers behind four classic documentaries about disability, made right here in Chicago! 
Friday, December 4
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Access Living 115 W Chicago Ave Chicago, Illinois 60654
“When Billy Broke His Head” (1995), 
“Refrigerator Mothers” (2002),
“Doin’ It: Sex, Disability & Videotape” (2007),
“The Paper Mirror” (2012)
An ADA 25 Chicago presentation in collaboration with Kartemquin Films. For more information, contact matt@reelabilitieschicago.org, or visit

This event is brought to you by Access Living; Bodies of Work: Network of Disability Arts and Culture; University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Disability and Human Development
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Webinar Dec. 3rd, 2015 "Accessible Museum Exhibits" RSVP

The U.S. Access Board in collaboration with the ADA National Network is pleased to offer the upcoming monthly AccessibilityOnline program focused on"Accessible Museum Exhibits".  

Applying the requirements of the Department of Justice requirements for effective communication and the design and construction standards of the ADA and to museum exhibits can present some unique challenges. Some examples include following the protruding objects provisions for stand-alone exhibits or ensuring that exhibits are accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to a review of the standards applying to exhibits, a lead media accessibility coordinator from the National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center, will provide examples of how they have improved the accessibility of exhibits for all visitors with disabilities.

Marsha Mazz, Director, Office of Technical and Information Services, U.S. Access Board
Michele Hartley, Harpers Ferry Center, National Parks Service

Date:   Thursday, December 3, 2015

Time:   2:30pm-4:00pm ET (calculate start time based on the time zone you will be connecting from)

Cost:   Free of charge

Continuing Education Recognition:   AIA and Certificate of Attendance

Registration:   www.accessibilityonline.org (A free account on the website is required to register)

This session is open captioned and conducted using the Blackboard Collaborative Learning Webinar Platform.

Questions can be directed to webinars@accessibilityonline.org or by phone at 877-232-1990 (V/TTY) 8-5pm CT M-F

Monday, November 23, 2015

Making Federal Employment Accessible thru DOD’s CAP App

“My Disability is One Part of Who I Am” was the theme of the 70th National Disability Employment Awareness Month this past October. We celebrated the many contributions of our friends and co-workers with disabilities and recognized the diverse skills and talents they bring to our workplace.
However, the real question is: how do we create a comfortable work environment that provides equal access and growth opportunities for all?
The home menu and solutions screens from the Computer Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) mobile iPhone app
The Department of Defense’s Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) created a free app that is available for download at the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
The CAP mobile app allows people to use their mobile devices to look up information about the services and resources offered by CAP. It serves as a vocational planning aid designed for use by U.S government employees with disabilities who require assistive technology and other accommodations to perform their jobs. It is also for their supervisors who need to provide reasonable accommodation.
You can use this app to learn about a variety of accommodation solutions. The solutions describe in detail smart phone accessibility features and lead you to other useful mobile apps and self-help tools. For example, there are tools that allow you to recognize and rate your level of anxiety, and the Breathe2Relax app teaches stress-reducing breathing techniques.
The videos screen from the Computer Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) mobile iPhone appThe app includes many useful features such as:
  • A running tally of accommodations provided to federal employees
  • News and tips on the latest assistive technologies
  • Information about events in the disability community, both CAP-related and others
  • The ability to download CAP event presentations and materials to your phone
  • Videos to learn about assistive technology and how it can help you
  • The ability to contact CAP

Although DoD designed this app to serve federal employees and service members with functional limitations, it serves as a great starting point for the non-federal workforce to learn about assistive technologies that can help them get their job done. Overall, this app is a great resource for reasonable accommodation information.

Chicago 2015 CTA Holiday Train & Bus info, Q & A, accessibility

2015 CTA Holiday Train

it’s that time of year to get into the holiday spirit and catch a ride on the Sprint CTA Holiday Train! Santa and his elves will ride the train passing out candy canes and season's greetings.
The spectacular train is an amazing sight - during the daytime and at night. The outside of the six-car train is adorned with holiday seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.
Interiors of the cars are decked out with thousands of multi-colored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The hand poles are wrapped to look like candy canes.
As the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding passengers from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.
Happy Holidays from the CTA - 2014 Holiday Video
Charity food delivery
The CTA also continues a more-than-20-year agency tradition of supporting Chicago communities. Every year, CTA employees embrace the spirit of the holidays and donate time and money to purchase groceries and assemble food baskets that are distributed to community organizations across the city.We'll donate approximately 300 food baskets to local community organizations.
Each food basket contains all the ingredients for a complete meal including a canned ham, potatoes, mixed vegetables, muffin mix, macaroni and cheese, fruit cocktail, green beans, corn and dessert. The Holiday Train delivers the food baskets on three separate days over the holiday season.
The Sprint CTA Holiday Train will travel all 'L' lines in November and December as part of regular rail service. Normal CTA fares apply.
The train generally operates from about 1pm to 8pm on weekends and 3pm to 7pm on select weekdays (schedules for each rail line will vary), and will make stops at all stations along the respective routes.
2015 Detailed Sprint CTA Holiday Train Schedule
Click the dates below to see full details. 

(Detailed schedules are posted as they become available. Unlinked dates indicate a schedule for that date has not yet been published.)
Red Line11/21 - Sat
Green Line11/27 - Fri
photo dayGreen Line11/28 - Sat
Green Line12/1 - Tue
Orange Line Brown Line12/2 - Wed
Orange Line Brown Line12/3 - Thu
Orange Line Brown Line12/4 - Fri
photo dayOrange Line Brown Line12/5 - Sat
Pink Line12/8 - Tue
Pink Line12/9 - Wed
Blue Line12/10 - Thu
Blue Line12/11 - Fri
photo dayBlue Line (+ photo-only stop on Pink Line)12/12 - Sat
Red Line12/15 - Tue
Purple Line12/16 - Wed
Red Line12/17 - Thu
Purple Line12/18 - Fri
photo dayRed Line & Purple Line12/19 - Sat
Purple Line12/22 - Tue
Yellow Line12/23 - Wed
photo day = Photos with Santa
Travel Tips
To ensure everyone has an opportunity to see and take part in this annual tradition, here are a few suggested tips to make the most of your Sprint CTA Holiday Train and Bus experience:
  • Travel light: with many families making the train a part of their holiday traditions, small collapsible strollers are encouraged so that you and others have an opportunity to board the train.
  • Boarding: the train will become more crowded as it travels down the rail line; therefore, we recommend customers consider the following:
    • Board at a station close to the beginning of the route. Unlike other in-service trains, many people who board the train often stay on board until it reaches the terminal—and will take it back home if the train is scheduled to make a return trip.
    • Rail cars toward the front or back of the train will be less crowded compared to those immediately adjacent to Santa’s sleigh.
  • Taking photos: if you are planning to ride the train and take photos from a station platform, don’t miss your opportunity to board the train! Board the train first and then plan to take photos of Santa or the train when exiting at your destination. The Spr Holiday Train is an in-service train and has to maintain a service schedule; therefore it cannot dwell at stations for long periods of time.

Accessibility: CTA Trains and Buses are accessible for People with Disabilities. Please refer to CTA on availability of CTA Train Stations being accessible [click here].

Priority Seating is intended for people with disabilities of all ages, if there are carts, baby strollers,luggage, etc. in Priority Seating area, ask CTA personnel to make announcement of a Priority Seat is needed.
For Full Accessibility Information, [click here]

2015 CTA Holiday Bus

Day or night, the commutes of thousands will be made brighter when they see the Sprint CTA Holiday Bus -- a 60-foot bus bejeweled inside and out with hundreds of lights and holiday decorations -- as it travels throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods this holiday season! The bus was created by CTA bus personnel as a way to say “thank you” to customers and bring added cheer this holiday season.
The exterior wrap features “Ralphie the Reindeer” leading the way with his crimson nose aglow and Santa’s sleigh in tow. Strings of lights outline the bus and its windows, while Ralphie is brought to life with 3-D antlers atop the bus and a ruby light affixed to the front of the bus.  
The soft glow of multi-colored lights adds a warm touch to the interior of the bus as well as holiday-themed seating, candy-cane striping, artwork created by students from Wadsworth Elementary and elves on board handing out candy canes to all the good boys and girls.
In the very back of the bus is Santa’s den, which serves as the perfect setting for the scheduled photo sessions with Santa -- featuring a cozy fireplace, Santa’s armchair flanked with toy soldiers, decorated trees and oversized presents.


The Sprint CTA Holiday Bus will travel nine CTA bus routes throughout the city between December 2-23 as part of regular service. Normal CTA fares apply.
The bus will generally operate from late morning through early evening on select weekdays and weekends (schedules for each route will vary), and will serve all posted stops along the respective routes.

2015 Sprint CTA Holiday Bus Schedule
NOTE: schedule times are approximate and subject to change.
Departure and Photo Session Times
12/2 – Wed*
#29 State
Departs 95th/Dan Ryan at 12:30pm
Photos @ Navy Pier
(approx. 5:20pm – 6pm)
12/3 - Thu
#29 State
Departs 95th/Dan Ryan at 12:30pm
12/4 – Fri*
#62 Archer
Departs State/Kinzie at 12:30pm
Photos at Midway
(approx. 6:30pm – 7:30pm)
12/5 – Sat
#62 Archer
Departs Midway at 12:45pm
12/6 – Sun*
#3 King Drive
Departs Ontario/Fairbanks at 1pm
Photos @ Chicago State University
(approx. 6:10pm –7 pm)
12/9 – Wed
#3 King Drive
Departs from CSU/95th at 12:30pm
12/10 – Thu*
#12 Roosevelt
Departs Central/Harrison at 1pm
Photos @ Central/Harrison
(approx. 4pm – 4:45pm)
12/11 – Fri
#12 Roosevelt
Departs Roosevelt/Kedzie at 1:30pm
12/12 – Sat*
#66 Chicago
Departs Chicago/Pulaski at 11:40am
Photos @Navy Pier
(approx. 4pm 
– 5pm)
12/16 – Wed
#66 Chicago
Departs Chicago/Pulaski at 11:40am
12/17 – Thu*
#56 Milwaukee
Departs Madison/Wabash at 1pm
Photos @ Jefferson Park Terminal
(approx. 5:30pm – 6:30pm)
12/18 – Fri
#56 Milwaukee
Departs Jefferson Park Terminal at 12:45pm
12/19 – Sat*
#22 Clark
Departs Howard Terminal at 12:45pm
Photos @ Howard Bus Terminal
(approx. 6:30pm –7:30pm)
12/20 – Sun*
#97 Skokie
Departs Howard Terminal at 11:30am (to Old Orchard)
Photos @ Old Orchard Mall
(approx. 12:30pm –1:30pm)
#22 Clark
Departs Howard Terminal at 2:30pm
12/23 – Wed*
#49 Western
Departs 79th/Western at 12:30pm
Photos @ 79th/Western
(approx. 4:30pm – 5:30pm)
*Indicates scheduled date for photos with Santa
# The information posted is as posted by CTA, and other sources.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ohio Advocates File Complaint on Behalf of Sheltered Workshop Employees

as posted at Disability Rights Ohio | Nov. 19, 2015

After working for an average of $2.50 an hour for more than three years, three Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) clients are asking for fair pay from Seneca Re-Ads, a sheltered workshop run by the County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Seneca County. The employees’ work duties include cutting and assembling samples for flooring company Roppe Industries, a private corporation. Through a novel and potentially precedent-setting procedure, the three DRO clients have asked the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to review their claims. The petition, which is supported by the National Federation of the Blind, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, requests that USDOL review the clients’ wages and the means by which the current wages were set.

Since the 1930s, federal law has permitted employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage, but only if the lower wage is necessary to ensure employment opportunities, and on the condition that each worker is paid a wage commensurate with his or her productivity as compared to workers without disabilities. The law contains a little-known provision allowing workers with disabilities to petition the USDOL for an administrative review of their wages in an expedited process.

Joe Magers, Pam Steward, and Mark Felton are among the first workers with disabilities ever to utilize the petition process to seek a review of their wages by the USDOL. They believe that their disabilities, which include visual impairments and autism, do not impair their workplace productivity, and that Seneca Re-Ads’ method of calculating wages fails to fairly measure their productivity or take into account the prevailing wage for similar highly skilled production work in the community. Magers, Steward, and Felton are also seeking compensation for unpaid hours of work in which they were required to attend mandatory staff meetings and safety trainings.

“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the workshop is permitted to pay less than minimum wage but only if the workshop follows the procedures laid out in the law, which wasn’t done here,” said Barbara Corner, attorney and Employment Team Leader for DRO. “Our clients’ disabilities do not preclude them from working hard and even using heavy machinery, and they deserve and want the opportunity to earn as much as workers without disabilities.”

"Sheltered workshops often make self-fulfilling prophesies that people with developmental disabilities simply can't be as productive as people without disabilities,” adds Samantha Crane, Legal Director for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “Our clients haven't been given the chance they need to earn even a minimally decent wage. They deserve the same basic protections that many people without disabilities take for granted."

With the filing of this petition, USDOL has 40 days to assign an administrative law judge and hold a hearing. At the hearing, Seneca Re-Ad must prove that it followed the rules and paid an appropriate wage, and if the administrative law judge finds that Seneca Re-Ad failed to comply with its legal obligations, the workers must be paid minimum wage for their labor.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said, “This case demonstrates the fundamentally arbitrary manner in which wages for workers with disabilities are set by many entities that hold 14(c) certificates, and how this antiquated, discriminatory employment model, based on false assumptions and low expectations, relegates these workers to second-class status. We hope that the Department of Labor acts swiftly to correct the injustice that is being perpetrated upon these workers.”


About Disability Rights Ohio: Disability Rights Ohio is the federally and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for the state of Ohio. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Disability Rights Ohio provides legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities.

About the National Federation of the Blind: The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

About the Autistic Self Advocacy Network: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a national, private, nonprofit organization, run by and for individuals on the autism spectrum. ASAN provides public education and promotes public policies that benefit autistic individuals and others with developmental or other disabilities. Its advocacy activities include combating stigma, discrimination, and violence against autistic people and others with disabilities; promoting access to employment, health care and long-term supports in integrated community settings; and educating the public about the access needs of autistic people. ASAN takes a strong interest in cases that affect the rights of autistic individuals to participate fully in community life and enjoy the same rights as others without disabilities.

- See more at: http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/news/disability-rights-ohio-and-other-advocates-file-complaint-behalf-sheltered-workshop-employees#sthash.FGi3jiId.dpuf

Thursday, November 19, 2015


CHICAGO (WLS) --The ABC7 I-Team looked into why one-third of CTA 'L' stations still do not have elevators, making it difficult or impossible for some passengers to get to and from the trains.
report By Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, ABC7 News Chicago | Nov. 18, 2015
The I-Team received complaints about dangers due to limited access at the Clinton Blue Line station downtown, an antiquated stop with no elevator and lots of stairs.

CTA officials say they are aware of these issues and are working to make all CTA train stations fully accessible, but passengers say they are losing this uphill battle.

Kenetha Robinson is a regular CTA rider, but says she usually avoids the Clinton stop.

"I only do it when I have to transfer to Metra because this is the one closest to Union Station but this one has the most stairs," Robinson says. "There's no handicap accessible. There's nothing!"

The I-Team received complaints from passengers about problems they have navigating these steep stairs at the Clinton stop. Over the past few months we visited the station numerous times to watch people come and go.

"The Blue Line is super convenient from my house but this stop is always such a pain. I'm already kind of huffing and puffing and I'm in decent shape," says rider Rebecca Hinsdale.

We witnessed dozens of people struggling to carry their suitcases. Some had a hard time just walking up so many stairs. One man slipped and almost fell while carrying his child in a stroller.

"This is the closest station to the Amtrak line," says Kath Rooney, a tourist. "It's an easy walk here but an elevator would be very helpful for those of us with suitcases and of course those who can't use the stairs."

Elevators at two nearby stops were out of service on the days we inspected. Tourists visiting from London say they couldn't believe there was no elevator at the station.

"We were walking around," says Imogen Ptacek, "and there were just stairs going up."

There are 146 CTA train stations - 100 of which are accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law 25 years ago. That leaves 46 stops with no elevators.

"We agree 100 percent with our customers that all rail stations should be fully accessible to our customers," says CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase. "That's a goal. We've been working on that for a very long time."

CTA says funding and space constraints are obstacles, especially at the 57-year-old Clinton station.

"It would need significant work and reconfiguration to accommodate an elevator and meet all of the safety and zoning codes," says Chase.

But even some newly renovated stations, such as the Blue Line Damen stop, have limited access to the platform and no elevator.

"Because it's surrounded by historic properties, because the layout of the station, it's nearly impossible to do without acquiring properties around," Chase says.

An elevator is being added at the Addison station, part of an $8-million modernization project.

"We have to prioritize which stations we can make accessible next," Chase says. "It depends on federal funding, state funding."

Many passengers told the I-Team the Clinton stop should be a priority based on its proximity to the Greyhound, Amtrak and Metra stations.

"It seems pretty logical that this station would be a priority to make easily accessible," Hinsdale says.

"We recognize customers do have difficulty. We do understand. That's why having an elevator at every station is so important," says Chase.

The Americans with Disabilities Act required that key stations be accessible by certain years and the CTA met those requirements.