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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

President Obama’s remarks at the White House on Monday celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act were eloquent, passionate and memorable. Speaking after performances by Patti Labelle and Marlee Matlin, Obama thanked the champions of the original ADA — signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 — for passing what he calls one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills in the history of this country. After giving a nod to those who have died while working to advance the disability cause, namely Senator Ted Kennedy and Justin Dart, known as the the father of the ADA, Obama commemorated what the ADA has accomplished so far. “It was about the young girl in Washington State who just wanted to see a movie at her hometown theater, but was turned away because she had cerebral palsy; or the young man in Indiana who showed up at a ... keep reading »
Working with the Department of Justice, President Obama announced two final rules that will amend Americans with Disabilities Act regulations that relate to Title II and Title III of the law. The changes will improve access to programs and services for people with disabilities, such as at baseball games and public swimming pools. Under the rule, recreational facilities, including swimming pools, playgrounds, golf courses, amusement rides, recreational boating facilities, exercise machines and equipment, miniature golf courses and fishing piers will have to adopt accessible design standards. Buildings that already comply with the 1991 ADA standards for accessible design would not be required to be brought into compliance with the new rules until the facility undergoes a planned alteration. Additionally, wheelchairs and scooters must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. The department also has added provisions that provide guidance on the sale of tickets for accessible seating at stadiums and theaters. ... keep reading »
I got two press releases yesterday. One from, and another from, both claiming that they have renovated their websites to let people with physical disabilities search for accessible hotel rooms. While this seems like good news, here’s what they didn’t say: 1. Customers can search for, but not book, accessible rooms. I thought the point was to be able to book them? Look at the booking engine for Expedia below. I did a mock booking of a hotel in Boston, and Expedia lets you “select” your “options,” but this is deceptive. Because an Expedia customer service rep has to then call the hotel to confirm availability of say, a roll-in shower. 2. There’s no guarantee you’ll get an accessible room. Expedia says that if a room is available, you will receive a confirmation email. If it’s not, well, you are going to have to book a different room, ... keep reading »
Princeton University consistently ranks at the top of all the college charts, but in the eyes of one student, the school is short one accolade — “best university for students with a learning disability.” On Jan. 11 — just before finals — a District Court in New Jersey will hear the case of a Princeton University student who sued the school for not acknowledging her learning-disability needs for exams. In Metcalf-Leggette v. Princeton University, 19-year-old Diane Metcalf-Leggette, of Centreville, Va., will argue that her case has merit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Metcalf-Leggette, who is diagnosed with four learning disabilities affecting her ability to read, comprehend, and communicate her knowledge of coursework, takes exception to Princeton’s policy of not granting extended examination time to students. In October, a federal judge refused a temporary restraining order that would have freed Metcalf-Leggette from having to take mid-term exams without the accommodations she says ... keep reading »
President Obama says the government can do more to be a model to society, and has tasked several agencies with developing new plans and policies that will promote the hiring of disabled people for federal jobs in Washington. The move comes as the White House continues to recognize Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. “Across this country, millions of people with disabilities are working or want to work, and they should have access to the support and services they need to succeed. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government and its contractors can lead the way,” Obama says. The Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, led by Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez, will collaborate to sponsor and organize a day-long federal government-wide job fair for people with disabilities, which will take place in early spring 2010. These two agencies, along with the Equal Employment ... keep reading »
Asking an employee to disclose health information before joining a health-insurance plan could be against the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to The Wall Street Journal. More employers are requiring employees to fill out health-risk assessments, or HRAs, if they want to be eligible for the company’s health plan. These surveys include questions about workers’ habits, personal health and family medical histories. Employers, who typically subsidize 70 percent to 80 percent of healthcare premiums, want to ensure that workers are taking all the necessary steps to manage their health and use the HRA results to plan employer-sponsored wellness programs, such as smoking cessation and weight-loss courses. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that protects ADA policy in the workplace — and can initiate lawsuits on the behalf of employees — says that although the EEOC hasn’t taken a formal position, they believe “that [such a] proposed policy would violate provisions of the ... keep reading »
President Obama marked the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he said resulted from a movement carried out by people who “refused to accept a second-class status in America.” In remarks at the White House, where he signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Obama said the ADA “began when they not only refused to accept the way the world saw them, but also the way they had seen themselves,” according to UPI. Obama praised several officials who helped get the ADA enacted, including Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. Former President George H.W. Bush, who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990, gave some praise to Obama on the eve of the act’s anniversary: “I congratulate President Obama for taking some time today to remember the 19th ... keep reading »
  Break out the balloons! Sunday marks the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law that guarantees equal opportunity for the nearly 54 million Americans with disabilities. Signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the ADA touches many areas of life, including employment. Hold on, did that balloon just deflate? I’ve just read the most recent employment numbers for the 13 million working-age Americans with disabilities. In June, only 23 percent of disabled people had jobs, vs. 72 percent of those without disabilities. This makes me wonder, is the nearly 20-year-old ADA really helping? The disabled unemployment rate – currently at 14.3 percent — has steadily declined since the passage of the ADA. Disability-friendly companies like IBM, Wal-Mart and Ernst & Young openly hire qualified people with disabilities, and from high-profile disability organizations like the U.S. Business Leadership Network. More employers are aware of disability, reasonable accommodation and ... keep reading »
The motto of Del Taco’s restaurant is “Go Bold or Go Home.” Kenneth Munson chose the first option. He sued the taco chain in 2005 after he was unable to get his wheelchair into their “narrow” restroom entrance. As a result, he had to go across the street to another business to use the facilities. Earlier this week, the California State Supreme Court sided with Munson. The unanimous ruling now makes it possible for California businesses to be sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act without proving the business did so “intentionally.” This is a mucho grande ruling. Federal law doesn’t let individuals sue — nor collect damage relief — for disability discrimination. A government agency must intervene on their behalf. But California lets individuals do both. And with this new no-proof-required ruling, Californians with disabilities now have an even stronger hand to play. Could this decision hurt small businesses ... keep reading »
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will meet Wednesday in Washington to consider new regulations covering the recently amended Americans with Disabilities Act. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. at EEOC agency headquarters and will be open to the public. The 2008 Amendments Act, which was signed by President George Walker Bush and went into effect Jan. 1, 2009, emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis. The Act also makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” by rejecting the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions and portions of EEOC’s ADA regulations. The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the ... keep reading »