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.

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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.


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www.projectaction.org
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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.

Resources:

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

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/new-rules-on-hiring-disabled-workers-vets-go-into-effect/article_963a3582-7458-5b32-959d-24a038d3ec16.html

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
http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/faqs/503_faq.htm

The ADA National Network provides a fact sheet on the New Rules at
http://adata.org/factsheet/section-503-rehabilitation-act-new-rules-fact-sheet

ADA National Network hosting Accessible Technology Webinar Series “Introduction to ARIA.”

Posted by Matt on March 18, 2014
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The ADA National Network is hosting a new sessions for the Accessible Technology Webinar Series titled “Introduction to ARIA.”

When:   March 27, 2014

Time:      1:00pm-2:30pm Central Time

Description:
Find out what Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) is and how it is important to accessibility in web design. See demonstrations of the effect ARIA roles, particularly landmark roles, can have on the accessibility of your web pages. Learn how easy it is to add ARIA landmark roles to your code in both standard HTML pages and in WordPress themes.

Speaker:
Virginia DeBolt, Consultant

Registration is available on-line at https://adagreat.powweb.com/Webinar/AccessibleTechnology/Schedule/

ADA Audio Conference Sessions – Special Three-Part Series on Self-Evaluations, Barrier Removal Plans, and Transition Plans

Posted by Matt on March 06, 2014
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The ADA National Network announces the final session from the Special Three-Part Series titled “Bringing it all together: Transition plans, barrier removal plans, and action plans”

After gathering and analyzing information and identifying problems, it’s time to put it all together and put it to work. The next step is to create an action plan for changes to policies, practices, and procedures; a barrier removal plan; and/or a transition plan for making physical changes to facilities in order to achieve program access. Learn about the Department of Justice’s specific requirements for transition plans and what it suggests for barrier removal plans, what the Department of Transportation looks for from its highway fund recipients, and other factors to consider. We’ll examine how to enlist staff in creating actions steps for each program, identify responsibilities, establish priorities and time lines, and track steps toward remediation. An architect who has assisted with numerous transition plans and barrier removal plans also brings his practical experience to bear on these issues and on how to tie corrective actions to the planning and budgeting process.

When: March 18, 2014
Time: 2:00pm-3:30pm Eastern Time (calculate the start time based on your location)
Cost: Free

Presenters:
· Irene Bowen, J.D. President ADA One, LLC, Silver Spring, MD

· James Terry, A.I.A., LEED-AP, CASp, NCARB Chief Executive Officer, Evan Terry Associates, Birmingham, AL
CE Recognition Available: AIA, LACES, AICP, Certificate of Attendance

The session is close captioned via the webinar platform. Audio is available via telephone (Fee to connect via toll free #) and/or via webinar platform (no charge). The visuals for this session will be available via the webinar platform at no charge.

To learn more about the Three Part Series or to register visit http://adagreat.powweb.com/Schedule/

Accessible Technology Webinar Session “Intro to ARIA”

Posted by Matt on March 06, 2014
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The ADA National Network is hosting a new sessions for the Accessible Technology Webinar Series titled “Introduction to ARIA.”
When: March 27, 2014
Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm Central Time
Description:
Find out what Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) is and how it is important to accessibility in web design. See demonstrations of the effect ARIA roles, particularly landmark roles, can have on the accessibility of your web pages. Learn how easy it is to add ARIA landmark roles to your code in both standard HTML pages and in WordPress themes.

Speaker:
Virginia DeBolt, Consultant

Registration is available on-line at https://adagreat.powweb.com/Webinar/AccessibleTechnology/Schedule/

ADA Conferences
Great Lakes ADA Center
877-232-1990 (V/TTY)
webinars@ada-audio.org

ADA Legal Webinar “The ADA and Religious Institutions”

Posted by Matt on March 06, 2014
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The ADA National Network is pleased to announce the upcoming session in the ADA Legal Webinar Series, March 12, 2014 focusing on “The ADA and Religious Institutions.”

Although religious institutions are largely exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) there are situations where these entities are indeed covered by the law. What does this mean for religious entities that operate schools? Are employees of religious organizations covered by employment provisions under the ADA? Further, what about religious entities receiving federal funds such as faith-based grants? Does the ADA apply to those operating businesses open to the public? The presenter will also discuss some of the more recent cases and examples of these situations and whether the ADA applies. During this session we will examine how the ADA applies to religious institutions/organizations with regards to:
Title I- Employment
Entities that receive federal funds under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Title III- Public Accommodations and operation of Commercial Facilities

Speaker:
Judy Spalding-J.D.
Consultant, Disability and Family Law

When: March 12, 2014
Time: 2:00pm-3:30pm Eastern Time (Calculate the start time based on your location)
Cost: Free

This session is close captioned. Audio and visuals will be available via the webinar platform. A telephone connection (not toll free) will be available for audio as well

Registration is available on-line at http://www.ada-audio.org/Webinar/ADALegal/Schedule/

ADA Conferences
Great Lakes ADA Center
877-232-1990 (V/TTY)