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September 8, 2014

We post our bi-weekly bulletin to keep you up to date on disability-related resources, news, and other items of interest. This information is being provided solely for non-commercial, nonprofit educational purposes, including news reporting and research. It is not intended for commercial purposes. Further, we understand that our readers generally read the articles and information online, at the Web sites provided in the hypertext links, rather than relying solely on our synopses or copies. We are not responsible for the accessibility or the content of other Web sites. Please be aware that some links provided are time sensitive, and may become inactive at any time.

We include links to articles, editorials and opinion pieces, press releases, and other materials that represent diverse perspectives. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any products, services, sources, information, or opinions expressed in these materials.

Visit the Trainings section for more information on ADA and disability related trainings, meetings, and conferences.

General News

Disabilities Advocate Bobby Coward Dies 

Robert “Bobby” Coward, a lifelong resident and long-time disability advocate in the District of Columbia, died August 25. Mr. Coward was the director of DIRECT Action and Capital Area ADAPT; he served on countless boards and taskforces, including the District’s Developmental Disabilities Council, State Independent Living Council, and the Metropolitan Region’s Council on Government’s Transportation Committee. Mr. Coward worked tirelessly to improve accessible housing, transportation, and community integration for people with disabilities.

WIOA: What You Should Know 

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) has set up a page to provide information on the recently enacted Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Act aims to update the workforce development system through a variety of measures, including several designed to improve vocational services and employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

“Should Schools Be Held Liable for Food Allergies?” 

This article, which references the 2012 settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Lesley University, discusses the obligations of entities such as public schools and private restaurants to accommodate individuals with food allergies.

Access Board's Animations Available for Download 

The U.S. Access Board's new animations illustrating how wheelchair users navigate the built environment are now available for download. Save your own copy of "Wheelchair Maneuvering," "Maneuvering at Doors," "Accessible Toilet Rooms," or "Accessible Bathing Facilities" with or without captions.

Maryland: Upgraded Stadium Video Boards Include Captioning 

The University of Maryland announced upgrades to the video board system at Byrd Stadium. Upgrades include two new boards that will display captioning for the benefit of spectators who are deaf or hard of hearing.

FEMA Honors Achievement in Community Preparedness 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the winners of the 2014 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies.

Award recipients include the Delaware State Citizen Corps Council and West Virginia’s Partnerships in Assistive Technologies (PATHs, Inc.), both of which worked on projects to enhance preparedness for people with disabilities.

Dogs on Planes: DOT Tracking Complaints 

This article discusses the distinctions between the ADA and the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) in relation to service animals and emotional support animals, and reports on growing concern about fraud by pet owners.

Legal News

DOJ Statement of Interest: Plaintiffs Who Have Exhausted IDEA Administrative Procedures Can File Private Lawsuit under ADA Title II 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Statement of Interest to clarify the proper interpretation of an ADA Title II claim in the case of S.S., et al. v City of Springfield, Massachusetts.

The plaintiffs in the case allege that children with mental health disabilities are segregated in separate school buildings where, among other things, they are denied access to nearly all extracurricular activities that are available in neighborhood schools; subjected to harmful forced isolation and dangerous physical restraints; and are regularly subjected to unduly punitive responses to even minor infractions of school rules.

DOJ holds that where both the ADA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) address an issue (and presuming plaintiffs have fulfilled IDEA’s administrative exhaustion requirements), a plaintiff may opt to proceed in federal court under the ADA alone.

FCC Beats Challenge to VRS Rate Limits 

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in favor or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a case that challenged the reimbursement rates paid for video relay service (VRS), the service that facilitates telephone calls for people who use sign language.

Appeals Court Reverses Ruling on Hollister Stores 

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision in a case surrounding the “front porch” style stepped entrances at Hollister Co. stores across the country. The lower court had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who argued that people with disabilities should be able to use the main entrances to the stores. The appeals court, however, found that accessible side entrances may be adequate.

Pennsylvania Prison System Faces Lawsuit over Suicide of Young Man with Mental Illness

Brandon Palakovic, 23, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell while housed in a solitary confinement unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson. His parents have filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC), alleging that mental health treatment was intentionally withheld, leading to the young man’s death.

Woman Files Lawsuit against Ocean City, Alleges Failure to Maintain Curb Ramp 

A Philadelphia woman claims that a poorly maintained detectable warning surface on a curb ramp caused her to fall from her wheelchair.

“The Difference between Alcoholism and Drunk under the ADA” 

This article highlights a case recently decided by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that an Ohio city was more than justified in firing an employee who admitted that he consumed alcohol on the job and operated city equipment and vehicles several times while under the influence of alcohol.

Case against Disney May Expand 

Attorneys have petitioned the court to expand the list of plaintiffs in a lawsuit that alleges Walt Disney Parks and Resorts fail to adequately accommodate individuals with developmental disabilities like autism. Plaintiffs argue that Disney’s “Disability Access Service” system doesn’t go far enough in adjusting wait times for rides and attractions, causing some patrons with disabilities to be effectively excluded.

Trainings, Participation Opportunities, and Other Time-Sensitive Items

ADA Coordinator Training Conference 

October 20 – 21, 2014
Buffalo, NY
The ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program (ACTCP), in cooperation with the Northeast ADA Center, will present this conference featuring speakers from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Access Board, as well as other nationally recognized experts. A variety of sessions will enable ACTCP members to earn both foundation and elective level credits toward their program completion.

Nominate a Champion of Change 

As part of the Champions of Change initiative, the White House is seeking nominations for leaders in the disability employment arena who have worked to provide employment opportunities for workers with disabilities. Nominees may include small business owners, or managers within medium or large employers, who have developed effective initiatives to hire and retain workers with disabilities; entrepreneurs with significant disabilities who have established successful businesses and are now employing others; leaders within companies or organizations who have disclosed hidden disabilities and have initiated efforts to educate others about the employment of people with disabilities; public/private partnerships that have developed effective collaborative initiatives focused on increasing competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities, and any other leaders who work to ensure that individuals with disabilities can succeed in good jobs and careers. Nominations are due by midnight on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

ADA Symposium Call for Presentations 

If you would like to present a session at the ADA Symposium o be held May 13 – 15, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, submit your proposal by October 10, 2014.

DOJ Extends Public Comment Period on NPRM to Require Captioning and Audio-Description at Movie Theaters 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to consider amending the ADA title III regulations to require the provision of closed movie captioning and audio description in movie theaters for the benefit of people with hearing and vision disabilities. The Department has extended the comment period until December 1, 2014.

NIDRR Seeks Input from Website Visitors 

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is seeking input from people who have used their web site in the last year and have an hour to participate in a focus group.

Seeking Parents of Transitioning Students with TBI 

The Center on Brain Injury Research and Training (CBIRT) has developed a web-based program to teach ways to support transition planning for students with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The CBIRT is seeking parents of students with TBI who are preparing for transition to participate in efforts to evaluate and improve the program.

Help Shape the Future of Universal Design 

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design in the Built Environment (RERC-UD) seeks survey participants who are familiar with universal design. Participants are asked to prioritize research, design and development, and educational activities in order to inform future research and increase the adoption of universal design.


About the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center is one of ten regional centers established to provide training, information, and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to businesses, consumers, schools, and state and local governments.