Time Is Running Out for the CRPD – The Senate Needs to Hear from You Now!

Posted by Matt on September 09, 2014
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Source: US International Council on Disabilities (USICD)

Thank you for all you did during August recess. Today, the Senate returns for a two week work session and they need to continue to hear from you!

Let your Senator know the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) needs to be ratified now – before the end of September!

The opposition is generating calls. Your Senators need to hear from you directly to understand that our community supports this issue.

The Message

We will not wait any longer: the time is now!

Call now. Call often. Spread the word using USICD’s social media guide below, or visit www.disabilitytreaty.org to take action!

Social Media Guide

  • Make a sign – it can be a simple piece of paper. Write down that you support CRPD and (if applicable) why. If you have a personal story, use it! Example: I support CRPD because I want my sister with a disability to be able to travel abroad!
  • Take a picture of yourself holding up the sign.
  • Tweet or Facebook the picture (along with one of the sample tweets below) using the hashtag #CRPD. You can also tweet at your Senator! Find Senator Twitter IDs (PDF).
  • Get your friends to do the same!

Action Alert! Access to the State Fair

Posted by Matt on August 20, 2014
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Access to the State Fair

Bus Changes – You Need to Know!

If you are meeting a friend, family member or personal care attendant at the Minnesota State Fair and you plan to use State Fair busing, please be aware of the following.

All State Fair Express Service ($5 round-trip), charter and Metro Transit Regular Route #960 buses, as well as mostPark & Ride (free round-trip) buses will utilize the new Transit Hub located by the new West End Market.

The Oscar Johnson Arena Park & Ride lot offering free round-trip rides exclusively for fair guests with disabilities and their companions is located off Energy Park Drive, east of Snelling Avenue on DeCourcy Circle. Accessible buses servicing the Oscar Johnson Arena Park & Ride lot will still drop-off and pick-up at the Como Avenue Loop Gate #9 (same location as in past years).

The Metro Mobility pick-up and drop-off will remain at the Como Avenue Loop Gate #9, as well.  An additional Metro Mobility drop-off and pick-up site is now located on the north end of the fairgrounds off of Hoyt Avenue.

The link to all transportation information on the fair’s website: http://www.mnstatefair.org/general_info/get_here.html

There will be wheelchair & scooter rentals at the new Transit Hub, Como Avenue – Metro Mobility location and the Hoyt Avenue – Metro Mobility location.

For additional State Fair information please follow the attached link: https://www.metrotransit.org/metro-transit-providing-affordable-convenient-rides-to-the-state-fair

Executive Order Providing for Increased State Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

Posted by Matt on August 08, 2014
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Executive Order 14-14

Providing for Increased State Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

I, Mark Dayton, Governor of the State of Minnesota, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and the applicable statutes, do hereby issue this Executive Order:

Whereas, the State of Minnesota, the state’s largest employer, can serve as a model for the employment of
individuals with disabilities through improved recruitment, hiring, and retention;

Whereas, the Governor’s Workforce Development Council identified individuals with disabilities as an
underutilized source of talent necessary to meet workforce needs;

Whereas, the percentage of state employees self-identified as having a disability declined from
approximately 10% in 1999 to less than 4% in 2013;

Whereas, the State of Minnesota has the responsibility to ensure that its workforce reflects the diversity of
the state’s population and is able to meet projected workforce shortages by ensuring all qualified individuals
are recruited and retained;

Whereas, to be competitive in the global economy, the State of Minnesota must use the talents and
important contributions of all workers, including individuals with disabilities; and

Whereas, Executive Order 13-01 appointed and charged an Olmstead Sub-Cabinet to swiftly implement
standards set forth in the Olmstead decision and the mandates of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) through coordinated efforts of designated State agencies. These efforts must ensure that all
Minnesotans have the opportunity, both now and in the future, to live close to their families and friends, to
live more independently, to engage in productive employment, and to participate in community life.

Now, Therefore, I hereby order that:
1) In accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 43A.19, all Executive Branch Agencies use
their best efforts to comply with the Affirmative Action Goals set by Minnesota
Management and Budget (MMB) stating that state agencies are to increase employment for
people with disabilities to at least seven percent by August, 2018.

2) Within 120 days of this order, the Commissioner of MMB, Assistant Commissioner of
Enterprise and Human Resources, and the State Director for Equal Opportunity, Diversity
and Inclusion will design a model for recruitment and hiring strategies to increase
employment of people with disabilities. These strategies will include required training
programs for hiring managers and human resources personnel, and are to include clear
benchmarks to ensure implementation of this order.

3) Each Executive Branch Agency develops an agency plan for promoting employment
opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The plans are to include specific recruitment
and training programs for employment. Plans should be developed in consultation with the
Commissioner of MMB, and are to include clear performance targets and goals.

4) In implementing their plans, Executive Branch Agencies, to the extent possible and
permitted by law, should use an on-the-job demonstration process pursuant to Minnesota
Statutes, section 43A.15, subdivision 14. Additionally, MMB will work with Executive
Branch Agencies to increase awareness of supported work and the 700-hour program which
provides trial work experience, internship, and student worker opportunities for persons with
significant disabilities.

5) Through the implementation of revised hiring processes, MMB should collaborate with
Minnesota IT Services to update hiring tools and ensure accessibility and usability for all
people with disabilities applying for state jobs.

6) Within 120 days, the Commissioner of MMB shall implement a system for reporting
quarterly to the Governor on the progress of individual Executive Branch Agencies in
implementing their plans. MMB, to the extent permitted by law, shall compile and post on
its website government-wide statistics on the progress made toward achieving the goals set
forth in this order.

7) In keeping with the direction of the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet, every Executive Branch Agency
will continue to report on competitive employment hiring financed by federal and state
funding. This information should be compiled and shared publically on each agency’s

8) Members of the State Disability Agency Forum are to serve as advisors to the Commissioner
of MMB, monitor the progress of the order, and make recommendations that help the state
achieve its recruitment, retention, and hiring goals.

9) MMB should develop a procedure for Executive Branch Agencies to consult with MMB for
final resolution prior to denying any applicant or employee reasonable accommodation due
to lack of funding. MMB will work with agencies to improve the agencies’ understanding
of their responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Minnesota Statutes,
section 43A.191, subdivision 2(b)(3). The cost of reasonable accommodations and
accessibility should not be a deterrent to hiring qualified individuals.

10) General Provisions
a. This order should be implemented consistent with Minnesota Statutes, section
43A.19. It should not be constructed to require any state employee to disclose
disability status involuntarily.

b. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive
or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the state of
Minnesota, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or
agents, or any other person.

Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 4.035, subdivision 2, this Order shall be effective fifteen (15) days
after publication in the State Register and filing with the Secretary of State, and shall remain in effect until
rescinded by proper authority or it expires in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 4.035, subdivision 3.

In Testimony Whereof, I have set my hand on this 4th day of August, 2014.

Filed According to Law:
Mark Ritchie
Secretary of State

EEOC Issues Updated Enforcement Guidance On Pregnancy Discrimination And Related Issues

Posted by Matt on July 29, 2014
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Fact Sheet for Small Businesses and Question and Answer Document Also Released

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, along with a question and answer document about the guidance and a Fact Sheet for Small Businesses.  The Enforcement GuidanceQ&A document, and Fact Sheet will be available on the EEOC’s website.

This is the first comprehensive update of the Commission’s guidance on the subject of discrimination against pregnant workers since the 1983 publication of a Compliance Manual chapter on the subject.  This guidance supersedes that document and incorporates significant developments in the law during the past 30 years.

In addition to addressing the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the guidance discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended in 2008, to individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities.

“Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.  “Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.  This guidance will aid employers, job seekers, and workers in complying with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, and thus advance EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan priority of addressing the emerging issue of the interaction between these two anti-discrimination statutes.”

Much of the analysis in the enforcement guidance is an update of longstanding EEOC policy.  The guidance sets out the fundamental PDA requirements that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons similar in their ability or inability to work.  The guidance also explains how the ADA’s definition of “disability” might apply to workers with impairments related to pregnancy.

Among other issues, the guidance discusses:

  • The fact that the PDA covers not only current pregnancy, but discrimination based on past pregnancy and a woman’s potential to become pregnant;
  • Lactation as a covered pregnancy-related medical condition;
  • The circumstances under which employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers;
  • Issues related to leave for pregnancy and for medical conditions related to pregnancy;
  • The PDA’s prohibition against requiring pregnant workers who are able to do their jobs to take leave;
  • The requirement that parental leave (which is distinct from medical leave associated with childbearing or recovering from childbirth) be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms;
  • When employers may have to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related impairments under the ADA and the types of accommodations that may be necessary; and
  • Best practices for employers to avoid unlawful discrimination against pregnant workers.

In February, 2012, the Commission held a public meeting to hear from stakeholders about issues related to pregnancy discrimination and discrimination against individuals with caregiving responsibilities.  The Commission Meeting record was held open for 15 days following the meeting, to facilitate public comment.  The materials from that meeting, including testimony and transcripts, are available at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-15-12/index.cfm.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


New Jersey School District to Adopt Service Animal Policies and Pay Fine to Resolve Justice Department Investigation

Posted by Matt on July 07, 2014
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New Jersey School District to Adopt Service Animal Policies and Pay Fine to Resolve Justice Department Investigation  (Full settlement agreement is available on-line at:  http://www.ada.gov/delran-sa.htm)

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with the Delran Township School District in New Jersey under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The agreement resolves allegations that the school district violated the ADA by refusing to allow a student with autism and encephalopathy to have his service dog in school or at school-related activities.  The service dog alerts to the student’s seizures, provides mobility and body support and mitigates the symptoms of his autism.

The department found that the student’s mother spent six months responding to burdensome requests for information and documentation, and still the school district refused to allow the student to be accompanied by his service dog.  Despite her efforts, the student was even prevented from bringing his service dog with him on the bus for his school’s end of the year field trip.  Instead, his mother followed the school bus with the service dog in her car.

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public schools.  Under the ADA, public schools must generally modify policies, practices or procedures to permit the use of a service dog by a student with a disability at school and school-related activities.  Because service dogs must be under the control of a handler, students often act as the handler of their own service dog; when that is not possible, the family may provide an independent handler, as the family offered to do here.

The school district worked cooperatively with the department throughout the investigation.  Under the agreement, the school district will pay $10,000 to the family to compensate them for the harm they endured as a result of the school district’s actions.  In addition, the school district will adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and provide training to designated staff on the school district’s obligations under Title II of the ADA, including requirements related to service dogs.

“ The old view of service animals working only as guide dogs for individuals who are blind has given way to a new generation of service animals trained to perform tasks that further autonomy and independence for individuals with a myriad of disabilities , ” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the ADA to ensure that students who use service animals have a full and equal opportunity to participate in all school activities with their peers.”

Enforcing the ADA is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division.  Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of public entities schools under the ADA may call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website .  ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov .

The Civil Rights Division would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for their assistance in this matter.

Source:  http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/June/14-crt-665.html

ADA Minnesota Survey

Posted by Matt on June 18, 2014
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U.S. Access Board Issues Guidelines for Emergency Transportable Housing

Posted by Matt on May 13, 2014
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The U.S. Access Board has issued guidelines that address access to temporary housing provided by the government in emergencies and natural disasters. The new requirements supplement the Board’s accessibility guidelines for facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) by adding provisions and exceptions specific to emergency transportable housing units. While the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines address residential dwelling units, it was determined in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that further detail was needed on addressing access to emergency transportable housing units. Such units are used to provide temporary housing for those whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by a disaster until permanent housing is found. Sized for transport over roadways, they have a smaller footprint than other types of housing and pose unique accessibility challenges and considerations.trailers

The supplemental rule covers access for people who use mobility aids as well as communication access for people with hearing loss. When grouped on sites, at least 5% of units must be accessible for people with mobility disabilities and a minimum of 10% of unit pads must be designed to accommodate accessible units. When units are located on the property of homeowners, commercial sites leased by the government, or military installations, access must be provided according to a needs assessment. The required number of units with accessible communication features is also based on a needs assessment regardless of the type of site.

The guidelines require certain elements and clearances to address usability within the confined living space typical of units. These include requirements for kitchen water spray units, shower seats, floor surfaces, and bedroom clearances. Certain exceptions in the guidelines for residential facilities are not permitted for emergency transportable units. Examples include exceptions that allow later installation of grab bars and shower seats in dwelling units where walls are properly reinforced, or that permit removable base cabinetry below sinks and lavatories. The rule also includes new exceptions for operable parts, ramps and kitchen work surfaces. Weather alert systems also must be accessible and include visual output in those units required to have accessible communication features. In addition, smoke alarms must have integrated visual notification devices with a secondary power source in communication accessible units.

The supplementary guidelines are based on recommendations from a Board advisory panel, the Emergency Transportable Housing Advisory Committee, which included representation from disability groups, industry and code groups, and government agencies. The Board released aproposed version of the guidelines for public comment in 2012.

The Board’s ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines serve as the basis for enforceable standards issued by other agencies. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) maintains standards for residential facilities covered by the ABA, which applies to federally funded facilities. The provisions for emergency transportable units will become mandatory under the ABA when adopted by HUD in the pending update of its ABA Standards. The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains standards under the ADA which apply to state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities.

The Board will hold a public briefing on the rule as part of a town hall meeting in New York City at Jacob K. Javits Federal Building on May 15. This will be followed by a panel discussion on rebuilding efforts after Super Storm Sandy.

For further information on the rule, visit the Board’s website or contact Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services, at (202) 272-0020 (v), (202) 272-0076 (TTY), or mazz@access-board.gov.


Posted by Matt on April 07, 2014
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The ADA National Network is pleased to announce the April 15th ADA Audio Conference Series session which will feature Joe Bontke, Outreach Manager and Ombudsman, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Houston, District Office, Houston, TX.   Mr. Bontke will tackle the issue of “Googling” Job Applicants and implications under the ADA with regard to people with disabilities.

This session will discuss how Employers are increasingly using the Internet to gather information about job applicants from social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.  This session will highlight the risks incurred as well as offer recommendations for employers when Googling information about potential employees.   Specific topics covered include:

1.    What is legally permissible in the search process;

2.    What are some of the benefits versus pitfalls by using this process; and

3.    What the motivations are for searching and methods for analyzing information obtained from the Internet.

About the presenter:  Joe Bontke is the Outreach Manager and Ombudsman for the Houston District Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He currently serves as chair of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.  Mr. Bontke has been in the field of Human Resources & Civil Rights for the past 24 years and has experience in employment law and adult education. With a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a Master’s in Education, he has been a Human Resources Director, a Training Coordinator for the American Disabilities Act (ADA) Technical Assistance Center for Federal Region VI, was appointed as Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine and served as Vice Chair of the Governor’s Committee before his appointment to Chair. Using his entertaining style, Mr. Bontke has educated groups throughout the country and most recently, his work at the EEOC has enabled him to empower employers and employees with the understanding they need to work effectively at their jobs. Mr. Bontke’s philosophy of education is that 90% of knowing is where to find the information when you need it.

Date:     April 15, 2014

Time:     2:00pm-3:30pm ET (determine the start time based on your time zone)

Cost:     Telephone Connection:   $25.00 (non-profit/government)/$40.00 (for-profit entity)

Access via Internet/Webinar Platform – No Charge

Registration:  On-line at:  http://adagreat.powweb.com/Registration/ (you will be required to establish an account with our system if you don’t already have one)

This session will be closed captioned via the webinar platform.

Questions regarding this program can be directed to 877-232-1990 (V/TTY) or by email at webinars@ada-audio.org

Complete the Emergency Preparedness Survey Today!

Posted by Matt on April 02, 2014
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Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) is collecting information from communities around the country regarding plans for the evacuation of people with disabilities and frail older adults in the event of an emergency. ESPA would like to learn what your community has done in this regard, and especially how people with disabilities and frail older adults, or organizations that represent these groups were included in the planning process.

The survey will take approximately 3-5 minutes to complete, and your responses will assist ESPA in developing resources and distance learning opportunities that feature best practices from communities throughout the United States.

Complete the Emergency Preparedness Survey Today!

Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and is administered by Easter Seals, Inc. This document is disseminated by ESPA in the interest of information exchange. Neither Easter Seals nor the U.S. DOT, FTA assumes liability for its contents or use.

Easter Seals Project ACTION
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New Section 503 Rules for Federal Contractors Go into Effect March 24, 2014.

Posted by Matt on March 24, 2014
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Important Announcements

The New Rules for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that require federal contractors and subcontractors to plan affirmative action toward employing individuals with disabilities goes into effect today, March 24, 2014. These rules cover employers with federal government contracts or subcontracts of $10,000 or more. The new rules strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and puts into place new requirements around recruiting, hiring and accommodating individuals with disabilities. Covered employers nowhave greater accountability and reporting requirements in their employment practices.


An excellent article on the New Rules for Section 503 appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, New Rules on hiring disabilities workers, vets go into effect for federal contractors


The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs developed a Frequently Asked Questions document for Section 503 New Rules that is available on their website at

The ADA National Network provides a fact sheet on the New Rules at