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Table of Contents
January 17 February 16 March 15
April 17 May 15 June 30
July 17
2017 News Archive
2016 News Archive

Tuesday July 17, 2018

News Report

Statement From the DIA President
DIA has discovered issues with its accounting and financial oversight practices. We have taken firm steps to control the situation and are in the process of assessing the extent of the problem. The DIA Board is meeting frequently to establish strict policies and procedures to correct our financial matters and insure these practices don’t occur in the future. We need and appreciate your support and faith as we fight for disability rights

Treasurer’s Report to the DIA General Membership
Questions have been raised about the recent problems with DIA’s finances. The DIA Board has been briefed on all aspects, as they are known, and they are responsibly exercising their fiduciary duty to remedy the situation. The Board also believes that DIA members should have a better understanding of what happened, so it is hoped the following facts and time line will offer a clear picture of the current state of affairs.

While working to modernize and computerize DIA’s accounting system unauthorized purchases and cash withdrawals were discovered. The following steps were immediately taken:

  • The Board has assumed direct responsibility for all monetary disbursements going forward.
  • The former treasurer has resigned.
  • No individual can disburse funds. Two signatories are now required on checks.
  • There is no way to accurately assess the damage because records have not been kept for at least the past five years. Historical records also seem to no longer exist.
  • Steps have been taken to recover lost funds. DIA has talked to lawyers.
  • The Board of Directors of DIA is establishing a system of financial oversight that will include: mandatory proper record keeping by the treasurer and semiannual meetings to review bank statements.
  • A new interim treasurer has been elected by the Board.
While this incident is a huge shock to the organization, we will survive. Many knowledgeable people have told us that financial malfeasance is not uncommon in small non-profits. Trust in people we know is too often assumed and this can allow the implementation of good policies and procedures to “fall by the wayside”. The work that DIA does is important and if the organization focuses on that work, past errors will be corrected. Solidarity in the cause is the best way forward.

After 30 Years
Buses Still Have Problems

In 1984 Disabled In Action (DIA) spearheaded a coalition that got the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to commit to making the New York bus system 100% accessible. Today, every bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift or ramp, but according to Jean Ryan, Acting President of DIA, there are still obstacles to bus access.

In a July 2nd article in “City Limits," a New York City based, online news magazine, Ryan says that there are still too many drivers who do not know how to operate the lifts and ramps. She is often put the the position of instructing drivers how to use the equipment. Express buses are another complication because they use wheelchair lifts that can only be operated from outside the bus, forcing drivers to put the bus in “park” and get out of the vehicle.

The article highlighted other problems for riders with disabilities that included cars double parking in bus lanes, poor traffic enforcement of cars parked in bus stops and insufficient services for riders with sensory impairments.

The article quotes Christina Curry, Executive Director of the Harlem Independence Center, calling on drivers to “be more consistent in using recordings or announcements to let riders know what direction the bus is heading and to notify them of current and upcoming bus stops—an aid to passengers with impaired vision or cognitive delays.”

According to the “City Limits” article, seniors and people with disabilities make up 11.2% of MTA bus riders. Delays for these riders translate to delays for all riders. Andy Byford, the new NYC Transit president has received praise from Jean Ryan and other disability rights for his “Fast Forward” program that focuses on better accommodations for riders with disabilities.

Byford has appointed Alex Elegudin as the agency’s first Senior Advisor for Accessibility and has outlined steps to make “the system faster and more efficient.” Retraining employees in the use of accessiblity equipment, Refresher courses every 6 months and new buses with “captioning capability to let deaf and hearing-impaired riders know when the driver is making an announcement” are all aspects of Byford’s action plan.

The Article covered a wide range of issues being addressed to accommodate riders with a many different disabilities; and, it was an interesting read.

For the complete article text, go to:
City Limits Bus Article

Girl Scouts Advocate for Access

In the news letter of the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law, we found a story about a Ridgefield, Connecticut, Girl Scout troop who proved to be effective advocates for people with disabilities. One of the troop members uses a wheelchair and the group decided to take on the task of surveying the accessibility of local businesses

In their project, the troop visited 27 business establishments in town and found that a little over half were fully accessible. Barriers like stairs, steps and narrow doors were cited as the most common obstacles to entry. The story went on to describe other stores in town with varying degrees of accessibility such as door mats that were difficult for wheelchairs to roll on and other impediments to full access.

The Girls Scouts were told by the shopkeepers that providing accessibility is usually under the control of landlords and property owners, not retail tenants. This differs from New York City law where accessibility is a shared responsibility.

The main takeaway from this story was the learning experience for all involved. The girls got first hand experience in fighting for civil rights, understanding the law and civic engagement. The town hopefully received a healthy dose of awareness about the rights of their neighbors with disabilities.

This story was published in the e-Newsletter of:
The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University
The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law
And our source for this story is:
a story in the Ridgefield Press


Saturday June 30, 2018

News Report

DIA Member Wins First Round
Against Uber

Arbitration is defined as “a form of dispute resolution” and “a streamlined and cost-conscious option to deal with a legal issue. It is also a legal tactic used by large companies to minimize damage when they are sued. Arbitration allows big businesses to have private third parties settle a law suit instead of going to court. The problem is that the the private third party judging the settlement is often paid by the company being sued. This calls into question the fairness of the whole process.

Elizabeth Ramos is a DIA Board member and she is suing Uber because they failed to “pick her up on several occasions when she tried to order a wheelchair-accessible ride through the app in the summer of 2016,” according to the New York Post.

Uber is trying to settle Ms. Ramos’ case through arbitration and on Wednesday June 6, a judge in Brooklyn said the Ramos is had the right to have her case heard in a court of law. Uber has been using arbitration to avoid court cases all over the country and the judge’s ruling here in New York could open the door stopping Uber from using arbitration in other states. The disability rights community sees this as a first step toward making transportation companies understand their responsibility to provide accessible service.

Our source for this story is:
New York Post Article by Danielle Furfaro

NY Post Needs Disability Advisor
to Describe MTA Senior Advisor

On June 18, The New York Post announced the appointment of Alex Elegudin as NYC Transit’s first Senior Advisor for Systemwide Accessibility. The problem with the announcement was that the only qualification the Post could come up with in their headline was Alex’s paralysis. The NY Post’s rather clumsy article was entitled “MTA taps paralyzed man to help improve handicap accessibility.

For starters, the Post needs to update its Stylebook. Most news organizations have a writing manual they update annually. This guide or manual has an up to date listing of proper terms and language usage that reporters reference when writing their articles. Terms like “handicap” and “wheelchair bound” went out of date decades ago and both those phrases were used in the article.

The Post would have better served its reading audience if it had described MTA Transit’s new Senior Advisor with his real qualifications. Alex Elegudin is a lawyer and Co-founder of “Wheeling Forward,” a New York City based non-profit that serves people with disabilities. He has been a long time advocate for for disability rights and served as “Accessibility Program Manager” of the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission from 2015 until this year.

While some people might view the poor use of language in the article as a minor detail, there are many in the disability community who find it highly offensive. In fact, this article has caused a “buzz” on several listserves and email threads.

Language matters and the Post is clearly pushing the envelope by allowing the writer of this article to use these inappropriate references to disability. It almost seems like the NY Post is a taunting and provoking the community of people with a disability. Were they looking for a reaction? Was this some sort of publicity stunt? The language in this article is offensive and disrespectful. The New York Post must be made aware of their mistakes.

Our source for this story is:
NY Post - MTA taps paralyzed man to help improve handicap accessibility


Tuesday May 15, 2018

News Report

DIA Report

April and May have been busy times for Disabled In Action and our community. While many took time to make an excursion to the Disabilities Expo in Edison New Jersey, Our members also worked on and confronted issues on several fronts:

Livery Victory
Our first victory of the month occurred in early April when a group of livery car owners dropped their lawsuit against the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Normally the TLC is where DIA focuses its pressure for change but in this case the TLC was pushing forward policies to improve accessibility and increase the number of accessible vehicles on the road.

Among the initiatives opposed by the Livery owners is the 25% rule. This rule mandates that 25% of all rides dispatched by livery bases use accessible vehicles. It seems that livery bases have been warehousing their accessible vehicles and the 25% rule is meant to get those vehicles on the road and available to mobility impaired customers.

Meetings with NYC Transit President
In meetings held on April 19th and May 9th disability rights advocates meet with MTA president Andy Byford on a variety of issues ranging from broken elevators to slow bus service and many things in between. Issues like platform gaps, Access-a-Ride and station access were all on the table.

According to DIA president Edith Prentiss, Byford – MTA president since January – “has the most extensive plan for access” to date. Eighty seven of the “100 Key Stations” are now accessible and several more have been added to that list. DIA is pushing a new initiative that asks subway officials to focus on accessibility at larger stations with multiple train lines rather than stations where accessibility is cheaper and easier to implement. While not embracing this idea, Byford was not opposed and seemed to consider it.

MTA Protest
On Thursday May 26th, DIA Board member Carr Massi joined with members of Rise and Resist and The People’s MTA to protest MTA access or the lack thereof. The meeting held at the Museum of the City of New York, at 104th Street and 5th Avenue had an admission charge of $30. Protesters inside the meeting “spoke loud and forcefully” according to an article in the Gothamist that described how meeting organizers abruptly canceled the event and refunded admission fees.

Rise and Resist and The People’s MTA have been protesting many aspects of the MTA including delays, overcrowding as well as access for all. Protesters expressed a sense of disconnect for holding a “$30-a-head forum with a fancy craft beer reception” on an issue that effects working New Yorkers and has gone unaddressed for too long.

City Council Hearing
On Monday April 30th, DIA members testified at the City Council hearing on several pieces of legislation concerning the “For Hire Vehicle” industry. DIA representatives Edith Prentiss, Jean Ryan and Justin Jones gave testimony on issues that included licensing fees for accessible taxi-cabs and for-hire vehicles and requiring half of all black cars to be accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

Our Support for NDY
DIA showed up at a New York State Assembly hearing on medically assisted suicide on Thursday May 3rd. Representatives from “Not Dead Yet” (NDY) and “ADAPT “ testified at the hearing, held at 250 Broadway to voice their opposition to allowing medical doctors to prescribe drugs to help people kill themselves.

Assisted suicide is one of those strange “wraparound” issues where both the conservative and progressive ends of the political spectrum support the same cause albeit for different reasons. Too often, people with disabilities have been marginalized and told they are a burden and their lives don’t matter. There are documented instances of abuse where people with disabilities have been encouraged – by the people around them – to end their lives for the betterment of all. NDY opposes this form of abuse.

What is EVV?

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) is an electronic method to verify that personal care assistants (PCAs) are clocking in at the homes or a “known location” to provide services to Medicaid clients. EVV was slipped into a federal law and will become effective nationwide in 2019.

In December 2016, Congress passed the “21st Century Cures Act.” The bill requires every state to implement some form of EVV for all personal care and home health care services that are paid by Medicaid. The purpose of EVV is to prevent fraud by being able to electronically track the location of clients when personal care workers show up for their shifts.

One of the many problems that opponents of EVV have is that people move around and have active lives. People who use personal care assistance do not stay at home all day. EVV will check the location of personal care clients from time to time during the day and set off alerts if they are not in a location they are not associated with, like home, school or work. Under EVV, clients will have to give home care agencies a list of places they go to avoid false alerts. Critics say their ability to go shopping, go to a restaurant and live spontaneously will be taken away.

It seems that “21st Century Cures Act.” doesn’t give specific requirements for implementation of EVV and some states are going far beyond the the vague wording in the law. Several private companies now offer EVV software and equipment that include GPS tracking, video cameras and audio recording that are out of the control of the clients receiving PCA services.

“Stop EVV,” is a self described “national grassroots campaign led by individuals with disabilities and personal care service providers,” They consider EVV to be a grave violation of privacy rights guaranteed to every American under the Fourth Amendment!

Another downside cited by critics is that EVV will be a burden to home care agencies who have to carry the extra costs and record keeping responsibilities. In Ohio, some agencies are turning away from Medicaid work. There is also a risk that PCAs could be penalized if their shifts are not properly logged. There is already a shortage of workers willing to take low paid jobs and EVV could make the situation worse.

For more information on EVV, read these articles in:
The Disability Scoop and
The Mighty

Dissing the Disabled

On Friday April 27, President Donald J. Trump welcomed the U.S. Winter Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House. The event is a tradition that follows each Olympic games and celebrates the athlete’s participation.

Usually the post games gathering is a standard “meet and greet photo op” but this year controversy was added when the president made a comment on how “tough” it was to watch the paralympics. According to the London based Independent newspaper, the comment drew a strong rebuke from the International Paralympic Committee. In their statement the IPC said that Mr. Trump should “join the billions of viewers around the world who are inspired by the competition.”

The president’s exact words were: “What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me, And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.” The president’s defenders said that Trump was simply saying there was a lot to watch and it was “tough” to watch it all. However, many people remember Trump’s insensitive mocking of a disabled New York Times Reporter at a campaign rally and found his comments about the Paralympics as another example of his seeming disdain for people with disabilities.

To read more about the president’s remarks, check out the articles in:
Time Magazine and
The Washington Post

The Passing of Actor Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer was an actor best known for his role as “Mini Me” in the the Mike Myers comedy series “Austin Powers.” Troyer died on Saturday April 21 in Los Angeles, he was just 49 years old. The obituaries and tributes from fellow actors remembered his as a positive and funny co-worker but many of the newspaper articles that reported his death hinted that the probable cause was suicide.

The Guardian article was written by Eugene Grant, a little person who spoke in pointed terms of the prejudice directed toward people of small stature. Grant explained the history of ill treatment little people have faced and how virtually nothing has changed today. The Guardian article pointed to periods of depression and substance abuse in Troyer’s life. Problems that his fellow performers seemed not to know.

actor Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer was a native of Sturgis Michigan who’s acting credits include; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Love Guru and numerous cameos in television.

Our sources for this story are:
The Guardian of London
The Sunday Express

Becoming a Guide Dog

Many blind and vision impaired people use and rely on guide dogs to get around. The path from puppy to service dog take about a year and a half to two years. Most of that time is spent socializing them and giving them basic skills.

Actual guide dog training takes four to six months but that’s common knowledge and not really news. We regularly pluck videos off the BBC disability website because they are timely or interesting, but we are linking to this video just because the puppies are so incredibly cute. Check out this video, it's onlt 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

BBC guide dog Video


Tuesday April 17th, 2018

News Report

UBER and Friends Sue Taxi & Limo Commission
to Block Access

The online ride hail services Uber, Lyft and Via are suing the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) over the new rule to mandate 25% of all dispatched rides use accessible vehicles. The logic of the TLC’s 25% mandate is to increase the number of accessible cars on the road. More cars would create greater availability and better service for wheelchair users and people with mobility impairments.

The original proposal supported by Disabled In Action (DIA) and the disability community was to provide 50% of all rides in accessible vehicles. The TLC lowered the number to 25% as a compromise to the “For Hire Vehicle” (FHV) industry. But the Internet based ride dispatchers could not accept that concession. According to their court filing, Uber, Lyft and Via view their current service as largely accessible because they can “accommodate riders using walkers, canes, folding wheelchairs or other assistive devices.”


Instead of the “25% Mandate,” the online ride-hail juggernauts are proposing an “alternative Central Dispatch” that would eventually impose heavy fines if cars did not arrive within 15 minutes. No details were provided for how many, or what type of vehicles would serve in this alternative dispatch.

DIA President Edith Prentiss said “Once again, Uber, Lyft and Via are doing their best to reject their legal and moral obligation to provide service to people with disabilities. These companies have repeatedly tried to bully and sue their way out of giving a ride to wheelchair users, and this lawsuit is just another example.”

New York is not the only major American city to have problems with these ride reservation technology companies. Disability rights advocates in San Francisco filed suit against Lyft for operating too few cars in their "central dispatch style" parallel service called “Access.” San Francisco activists call it a sham, and an "inadequate substitute for actual accessible transportation."

Many New York activists view the alternative Central Dispatch as another version of “Separate but Equal” and are aiming for a 100% FHV fleet. Edith Prentiss went on to say that the disability community’s message to Uber, Lyft and Via is that “If you don’t want to follow the rules in New York City, then leave. And if you don’t want to provide service to everyone, with a disability or not, what kind of company are you?”

Our reference to the San Francisco lawsuit comes from a story by:
Megan Rose Dickey at TechCrunch

Airlines Update Service Animal Policies

In a story from the Southeast ADA Center, an online news letter, Delta Airlines has changed its policies for service and support animals. It seems that the new policies will make it easier for some passengers with trained service animals to submit documents while clarifying the requirements for emotional support animals.

The story behind the recent policy changes at Delta and other airlines is the incredible increase in incidents involving people boarding airplanes with animals with questionable credentials. United Airlines has seen a 75% increase in “customers bringing emotional support animals onboard” and Delta claims a 84% increase in “incidents” involving animals.

A story posted on the NPR website reported a woman trying to bring her pet peacock onto a flight and a man who managed to get on with a 300 pound pig. The pig owner said his pig was a “therapeutic companion pet and claimed to have a doctor’s note.” The pig story happened on US Airways and ended with the pig “running loose in first class.” The support peacock story had a better ending because the airline refused to let it onboard even though the owner bought a seat for it.

According to several news agencies including the Chicago Tribune, the problem of people misrepresenting their pets as emotional support animals is out of hand. In an article in the Washington Post, the author said that “well-meaning legislation that was intended to make sure that people who have disabilities and their trained service animals would be able to get around without hassles. But many pet owners, not to mention a bunch of [unscrupulous] online registration companies, have taken advantage of the law."

In addition to Delta, United Airlines has also updated its policies for service and emotional support animals. In general airlines now require passengers to submit health and vaccination papers for uncaged animals as well as documentation that the animal has been trained. Emotional support also require a letter from a doctor or licensed mental health professional.

Our sources for this story are:
The Southeast ADA Center
National Public Radio

New Disability Emojis

Apple Computers has proposed a series of new emojis to better represent the diverse nature of the community of people with a disability. The new emojis show people in wheelchairs, service dogs, prosthesis, people with canes, an ear with a hearing aid and others to symbolize the various types of disability. There are also male and female versions of the emojis depicting people.

There are disability 13 emojis being proposed to the Unicode Consortium, the organization responsible for developing international standards for data encoding and software. Back in the day, when computers were invented, the encoding of numbers, the alphabet and other symbols was set up, but only for the European languages. As the use of computers spread around the world the need to encode all languages and alphabets became necessary and the Unicode Consortium was established. Since emojis are so widely used as a form of communication, they have been placed in the basket of Unicode symbols.

Apple worked with several disability specific organizations to come up with the new designs. They said that the proposed emojis are a “stating point” and implied additions could be coming. With the popularity of emojis there are many who want to include a wider range of skin tones, ethnicities, occupations and national flags in their design.

For more information on this story, go to:
The Verge Technology website
New York Magazine website
CNN Tech

Alaska Businesses Can No Longer Pay Employees with Disabilities Less

In late February, Alaska got rid of a regulation allowing employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wage. Alaska follows New Hampshire and Maryland, the first states to repeal such laws. An exception in the Fair Labor Standards Act has allowed employers to pay those with disabilities below minimum wage since 1938. At the time, supporters argued that the exception was necessary to help people with disabilities get jobs.

This decision shows that employees with disabilities are assets to the workplace and should be appropriately paid for their labor. Alaska previously showed a commitment to paying those with disabilities fair wages in 2014 with the Alaska Employment First Act. The act required that Vocational Rehabilitation services help people with disabilities find at least minimum wage jobs.

This story was published in the e-Newsletter of:
The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University
The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law
the source for this story is:
State of Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development


Thursday March 15, 2018

News Report

DOJ Joins Lawsuit Against the MTA

On March 13, of this year, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joined the lawsuit filed by DRA (Disability Rights Advocates) against the New York City Subway system. The dispute stems from the fact that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – the state agency that runs the subway system – just spent $27 million to completely renovate the Middletown Road station in the Bronx. The station was closed for 7 months while the staircases, structural steel framing, ceilings, walls, and track structure were all replaced. It seems that the MTA just sorta-kinda forgot to make the station accessible for folks who can’t climb stairs.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the MTA did not adequately prove that building elevators was “infeasible.” The DOJ asserted the the MTA feasibility study was “insufficient” and the MTA must now go back and finish the work of making the Middletown station on the "6" line accessible. We will keep you filled in, while we follow this ongoing story.

For more information on this story, go to:
The New York Times Artcle by Sara Maslin Nir
The DOJ press release
The DRA press release

Trump on Mental Illness:
“Sicko[s]”

In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting at a school, President Trump rattled off the following inflammatory statement:
"Part of the problem is, we used to have mental institutions, and I said this yesterday, we had a mental institution where you take a sicko, like this guy, he was a sick guy, so many signs, and you bring him to a mental health institution," he said. "We've got to get them out of our communities."

The disability community’s reaction was swift and indignant! The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement on February 22 that said “These comments reinforce inaccurate and negative stereotypes and create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.”

CNN also covered the president's remarks and posted some interesting facts. They quote a World Health Organization report that says “only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents get the needed treatment.” The report goes on to say that stigma is the primary reason. Representatives from the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment say that when words like “crazy” and “sicko” get thrown around, this is the “height of disrespect and the height of ignorance” for our fellow citizens.

The NAMI press release focused on the president’s call for the use of psychiatric institutions and countered with logical insightful arguments for better community based mental health services and mental health services integrated into primary care. They also called on President Trump to open a dialogue and work “on steps for improving mental health services in America.”

Our source for this story is:
CNN Online report
NAMI’s Statement Regarding President Trump on Mental Health Care

DRNY Sues New York State
And Wins!

Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is a non-profit organization that acts as a watchdog for 8 federally funded programs that provide services to people with disabilities in New York State. These programs oversee access to voting and assistive technology, insure proper distribution of Social Security benefits and provide advocacy for several groups of disabled individuals.

According to a DRNY press release, New York State has refused to give reports of abuse to DRNY and has been withholding this information for approximately 2 years. “The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs” is the state agency that is responsible for preventing and investigating abuse against people with disabilities. And, DRNY believes they have not done a good job.

In 2015, the Justice Center reported more than 1100 cases of severe abuse against people with a disabilty, including 28 where the victim died. Of these 1100 abuse cases, only 89 ended in an arrest or prosecution. "Bussfeed" reported on one of these incidents where a patient at Bellevue Hospital was severely beaten at least twice and these assaults were captured on video. At the time, the Justice Center claimed they did not have jurisdiction at Bellevue; a claim that was false. DRNY contends that the Justice Center has blocked investigations, failed to remove incompetent medical personnel and does not properly regulate facilities under their jurisdiction.

On February 28th, DRNY won a judgment in federal court that says that the Justice Center knowingly violated federal law by redacting information and withholding records from DRNY. Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is now calling on the state to do 3 things:

  1. Take the Justice Center’s operations out of Governor Cuomo’s hands and put it under the control of the Attorney General who has prosecutorial powers and the expertise to function independently.
  2. Have the Legislature hold hearings on the effectiveness of the Justice Center and enact legislation to move the Justice Center out of the Executive Branch, ensure it’s independence and provide adequate funding.
  3. Immediately appoint and confirm a replacement for the Executive Director of the Justice Center, a position that has been vacant for 2 years.
DRNY is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was designated to be the independent monitor of the The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs by the New York Legislature in 2012. We will follow this story as it develops.

Our source for this story is:
the DRNY press release
The Buzzfeed story on abuse at Bellevue

Lowes Hardware Discriminates
Against Disabled Employee

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Loews, the hardware and house ware box store, for discriminating against an employee with a disability. Loews will pay $55,00 “and provide other relief” to the unnamed employee who worked in the store in Cleburne Texas, outside of Fort Worth.

The employee was a man and was hired in 2006 as a customer service associate. Loews was aware of the employee’s disability in 2008 when he was promoted and became a department manager. One account of this story says that managers at Loews are required “to operate power equipment that” requires the use of two hands. The employee in this lawsuit had a spinal cord injury that substantially limited the use of his right arm. His solution was to delegate the operation of the power equipment to an associate under his supervision and this “reasonable accommodation” worked well for 6 years.

In 2015, Loews informed this supervisor with a disability that they would no longer provide his reasonable accommodation, he was demoted back to associate and his hourly salary was reduced by more than 4 dollars. The EEOC lawsuit said “that the company's refusal to accommodate the department manager, a qualified individual with a disability, and subsequent decision to demote him to a lower-paying position violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

The EEOC press release stated "It is important for companies like Lowe's to carefully make decisions regarding reasonable accommodations to ensure its employees with disabilities can perform their work successfully," said Suzanne Anderson, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "The early settlement of this litigation assures that this employee will continue serving as a productive member of the Lowe's team."

Our source for this story is:
The EEOC website
Additional sources:
The National Law review
Local Texas NBC affiliate

Virgin Atlantic to Offer Inflight Entertainment
to Blind and Low-Vision Customers

This newly designed technology will enable blind customers to enjoy the full range of inflight entertainment via specially adapted iPads. The platform includes audio descriptions, large type and consistent layout and controls.

According to executive vice president Mark Anderson, Virgin Atlantic Airlines is “the first to ensure our entertainment is fully accessible across all flights, we’ve been able to create a world first, that ensures customers with sight loss can experience the full range of onboard entertainment including the latest blockbusters, TV shows and albums.”

To read the online press release, visit:
the Virgin Atlantic website

Time Magazine:
New Wave of Activism

Time Magazine ran a story entitled “ ‘Our Lives Are at Stake.' How Donald Trump Inadvertently Sparked a New Disability Rights Movement.” author Abigail Abrams describes disability rights activists giving their reaction to involvement in demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol. The article focuses on ADAPT and their efforts to counter the continuing Republican campaign to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).

The article is another interesting read that recognizes the the growing activism and involvement caused by the reaction to the 2016 election. Will this surge in activism effect this year’s election?

To read the full article, visit the:
Time Magazine website


Friday February 16, 2018

News Report

HR-620 Passed!
(More Opinion than News)

For months, disability rights activists and this publication have been talking about a bill being sponsored by Republicans in the House of Represenatives that would roll back a person’s ability to report ADA violations (Americans with Disabilities Act). The ADA is a piece of civil rights law that guarantees people with disabilities access to public accommodations as well as equal rights in many aspects of social life.

On Thursday February 15th, The House passed this bill, called the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017” with 213 Republican and 12 Democratic votes. Important to New York City and Long Island residents is that 4 local House Representatives voted for this undermining of the ADA. Peter King, Lee Zeldin and Kathleen Rice of long Island, as well an Dan Donovan of Staten Island cast their votes against disability rights.

There are lawyers who file ADA suits and don’t require access remediation in their settlements and this is a problem. However, there is no evidence that shows this happens in large numbers. A few news shows, like 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper have reported on ADA lawsuit sweeps that have hit small businesses, but where are the numbers that say this is a wide spread problem? To make drastic changes to one of the most important civil rights laws of the country because a few lawyers are misusing it, seems to be a strange solution.

Political gridlock and and partisan animosity are the rule in Washington DC. So in a town where nothing gets done, MSNBC News commentator Rachel Maddow asked the question; how does a stand alone bill that hurts people with disabilities get put on the floor and passed? The Senate will not address this bill this year, so it cannot become law. Why did House Republicans expend the energy?

Click the link below to watch Maddow’s coverage of the ADAPT action as this bill came to the floor.

Youtube clip of Rachel Maddow Show:

Is Health Care for PWDs
A Victim of Trump’s Tax Plan?

Independence Care System (ICS) is a Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) program that has been around for over 20 years. They cover a large population of people with major disabilities in New York City. More than 30% of ICS consumers need and use 12 hours or more of personal assistance a day. On Friday February 2nd, Rick Surpin, Executive Direcor of ICS, announced to his consumers that the organization was in danger of financial insolvency because they are more that 70 million dollars in the red and New York State would not be able to cover the Medicaid expenses owed to ICS.

One reason given for the state cuts to health care programs is reduced funds coming from the federal government. State officials say the President’s Tax plan is taking money away from states like New York, forcing them to spread the limited dollars available over a wider range of programs. Governor Cuomo and other sate politicians are making the decision to reduce spending on MLTCs and people with higher needs in order to cover more people.

There are others that say that the Medicaid program in New York has been underfunded for years and the current, federal administration is simply continuing bad policy. These informed sources point to long term systemic problems with Medicaid that have gone unaddressed, and lead to the current crisis.

ICS has a stated primary goal of meeting the needs of its consumers. While it is the most expensive, per-capita MLTC in the state, it claims independent auditors can verify there are no over expenditures. New York State now has some hard decisions to make with regard to the people with disabilities they care for.

The Most Popular Phys. Ed. Class

The Minneapolis StarTribune carried a story about an innovative high school physical education class that has become the most popular “Phys. Ed.” elective. The class is called unified physical education and it pairs students with special needs with non-disabled students, on a one to one basis. The demand for this class is so high, the school has created a waiting list.

A teacher at Wayzanta high school in Plymouth Minnesota came up with the idea when he was teaching basketball to a class of special education students. He thought that his basketball team could be a great way to reach his special ed. students; and it worked. Unified physical education is now taught in nearly 50 schools throughout Minnesota.

Wayzanta high school unified PE class

Not only is the class wildly popular, it is also changing the atmosphere in the school. Special ed. kids used to often sit alone in the lunchroom. Now partners from the Unified Phys. Ed. classes will have lunch together, creating an organic integration.

The article is an interesting eye opener that shows how a simple idea can change a school and potentially society as well.

Our source for this story is:
The Disability Scoop
The original story can be found in:
The Minneapolis StarTribune

Cooper Hewitt Exhibition
On Adaptive Design

On January 11th, Shaun Heasley of The Disability Scoop reported on a new exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Museum at Fifth Avenue and 91st Street in Manhattan. Entitled “Access + Ability” the installation highlights more than 70 functional, life enhancing objects designed for people with disabilities.

The show displays a wide array of “low tech” items like canes, adaptive clothing and utensils as well as the latest “high tech” eye controlled computers and wearable navigation systems. The Cooper Hewitt website has a wonderful description of the exhibition that does not use the word disability.

The Disability Scoop article describes the exhibit as including “items that are traditionally associated with physical disabilities like a racing wheelchair and customized prosthetic leg covers” while also offering “examples of how design is improving the lives of people with sensory and cognitive issues. For example, an app called LOLA is designed to help youth with autism learn about and collaborate through technology while the Match Cooking Prep System helps individuals learn to prepare food.”

The exhibition is running through September 3rd of this year.
Visit the Cooper Hewitt Exhibition page at:
Access + Ability Exhibition
Our source for this story is:
Disability Scoop website


Wednesday January 17, 2018

News Report

Disabled In Action Supports
the Disability Integration Act (DIA supports DIA)

The History:
In 1999, the Supreme Court said that people with disabilities have the right to live in their communities and not be forced to live in nursing homes or institutions, against their will. This was called the Olmstead decision. This case was filed by two women with intellectual disabilities who found themselves bouncing in and out of mental hospitals.

Medical professionals agreed that these women were capable of living in community base settings if they had the appropriate home based services. Tommy Olmstead, was the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, and he said the state was only willing to provide hospitalization.

The Olmstead decision established that people can live outside of institutions when their health care professionals determine community based situations are appropriate; individuals want to live at home and the costs of home based services is reasonable and appropriate.

Today, Disability Rights Activists across the country want to codify the Olmstead decision and make it law. The Disability Integration Act, also known as DIA (not to be confused with Disabled In Action) is a bill being proposed in Washington that would prohibit states or local governments from denying community-based services to people who want them.

This laws would prevent states, local governments, or insurance companies from imposing restrictions on eligibility or setting cost limits on community based services. It doesn’t allow individuals to be forced into disability-specific settings. And, in general, it says that community-based services must be provided. It would also insist that these services be offered to individuals prior to institutionalization.

The DIA bill is strongly supported by National ADAPT and requires home based services and housing be offered and available. The proposed bill also includes a time line for implementation and enforcement. ADAPT is asking it’s members to contact their elected representatives and voice their support; Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York is calling on its members to do the same.

For information on The Disability Integration Act, go to:
The Disability Integration Act website

Government Inaction Stopping ADA Settlements

According to a story on Lexology.com, there was “a wave of American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation against online retailers” in 2017. Visually impaired plaintiffs charged that they could not access websites and demanded that companies recode their sites to accommodate the screen reader software on mobile devices.

Three large companies settled late last year: Kmart, Grubhub and the flooring company Empire Today, but it seems that many other “suits remain pending against other companies nationwide, with uncertainty high after the Department of Justice halted plans to provide compliance guidance.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its intentions to make rules for web access in 2010 and put out a notice of “Proposed Rulemaking” in 2015. But in August of last year (2017) the DOJ took web access for people with disabilities, off the list of items on its regulatory agenda.

Companies that want to make their websites and online shopping platforms accessible, have no guidelines for how to do it. Without clear government standards, companies can not be certain that improvements they make will prevent a lawsuit. Lawyers for the plaintiffs are quoted in the article as saying “Since guidance from the government on the scope of such compliance is lacking, companies continue to face the threat of litigation under the ADA.”

Our source for this story is:
ADA Litigation Continues With Recent Settlements

New Mobility’s 2017
People of the Year

New Mobility is a glossy, four color magazine published by The United Spinal Association. While its audience is mainly people with spinal cord injury, it features articles of interest to most folks with mobility disabilities. The January issue named two New Yorkers as their “People of the Year,” Yannick Benjamin and Alex Elegudin.
The 4500 word article by Seth McBride details how these two men met, as roommates in the rehab ward and resumed their lives and careers in the wake of injury. And it’s not just a getting back to life story, the article presents an in depth time line of how Benjamin and Elegudin are seeking to help their fellow disabled travelers on the path to productive lives by founding two nonprofit organizations.
Wheeling Forward and the Axis Project are programs that serve people with disabilities. They provide fitness programs, peer counseling, sports and recreation programs, wheelchair donations and nursing home transitions. Wheeling Forward and the Axis Project currently serve hundreds of people.

For an interesting read, check out the Article:
the New Mobility 2017 People of the Year

NPR Series on Abuse of Disabled

Joseph Shapiro is a senior investigative correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) and the author of a definitive book on the disability rights movement called, “No Pity.” Shapiro’s reporting has included topics like poverty, the criminal justice system and health care, but he seems to always return to to the theme of disability.

In his latest series, he has produced three broadcast pieces on the wide spread abuse of people with intellectual disabilities. Shapiro has won appreciation from many in the disability community because of his ability to present us as as we see ourselves; As people first, and without the clichés, stereotypes or predefined categories.

This series is called "Abused and Betrayed" and can be found on
the NPR news site




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