Posted in Accessibility for people with disabilities, ADA reform, ADA Title III, disability civil rights

Ready to Roll…on Washington!

 

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The ADA Education and Reform Act is horribly misnamed, and I’m sure that was intentional.

If enacted , this law would severely limit the rights of individuals with disabilities to file lawsuits against businesses that do not accommodate them.  For example, if a wheelchair user could not get into a store because there was no ramp, she could no longer immediately file a lawsuit against the establishment.  Instead,  she would be required to give written notice of her intent to sue and would then have to wait at least 60 days for the store to fix the problem.  And because the store would only need to show that it had made “substantial progress” towards compliance, this process could string out for a long time, with the individual still unable to make her case for access.

I am attaching a post I wrote for this blog back in February, which goes into more detail about this serious attack on disability rights. I am also attaching a recent article that provides more information and  announces that there will be a demonstration in Washington DC next week, to oppose this law.

Those of us of a certain age clearly remember the Marches on Washington in the 60’s. This is designed to send the same kind of message: Justice is for everyone, no matter what our current mode of transportation.

https://disabilitylawsandvoices.com/category/americans-with-disabilities-reform-act/

]http://www.13abc.com/content/news/ADA-Changes-Spark-Controversy-485611731.html

Read about the demonstration here: 

https://www.unitedspinal.org/events/roll-on-capitol-hill/

 

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Posted in disability civil rights, Voting rights for people with disabilities.

While we worry about Russia, let’s also fix the voting problems here at home

It’s beyond unnerving to think that Russia might have interfered with the 2016 election. I think most would agree that no matter how long the current investigation takes, it should proceed. Nothing is more important than the integrity of our elections.

But there’s another less dramatic way wherein tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are being disenfranchised.

It’s common knowledge that when a person is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent, a court will often appoint a family member to be a conservator – to take over decisions regarding the individual’s health care or financial matters. Less well-known is the fact that in 39 states and the District of Columbia, judges have the option of unilaterally checking a box declaring that the individual lacks the mental capacity to vote – for life.

Worse yet, there are no uniform standards for judges to refer to in making that decision. In some cases, judges will disenfranchise an individual because they do not know the president’s or the mayor’s names. Under that standard, couldn’t a lot of non-disabled people also lose their right to vote?

Fortunately, disability advocate groups are pressuring their legislatures to come up with a more defined and universally-applied standard for judges to use in making this life-altering decision. And their efforts are starting to be successful. See the links below for more information.

Sometimes it’s easier to blame a foreign power than to look in our own backyard.

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/03/21/thousands-lose-right-to-vote-under-incompetence-laws

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-bishop-disability-voters_us_x5af5b085e4b0e57cd9f9042f

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA Title II, Curb cuts, disability civil rights

It’s not just about Bicyles: The City of Portland Will be Building More Curb Cuts

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Anyone with mobility problems understands the value of curb cuts. Without them, we are much more vulnerable and unsafe.

We may try to somehow jump our wheelchairs or walkers up onto the curb, or try to use our canes as pole vaults as we “leap” from street to sidewalk. We may try to use the street as an erstwhile sidewalk, or ask a stranger for help. But the most likely thing is that we will simply decide that the danger is not worth the risk and turn back. This is one of the ways that people with disabilities are effectively shut out of  events and activities that are routine for most people.

This kind of dilemma is largely why the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) was enacted. One of the ADA’s requirements is that cities build curb cuts into newly-constructed sidewalks or into sidewalks that are being repaired or otherwise altered.

I live in Portland, Oregon, which is famous for being progressive, green and extremely bicycle-friendly. But Portland was recently sued by wheelchair users, who claimed that the city was  not installing enough curb cuts nor adequately maintaining the sidewalks.

Portland has just settled this case for $13 million dollars. Part of the agreement is that the city will construct 1500 curb cuts a year.

We sure can use them!

//www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2018/05/portland_to_settle_with_wheelc.html

Posted in disability civil rights, Disability sterotypes, Paralympics, Public Perceptions of Disability

“I watched as much as I could…”

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In the early 20th Century, several U.S. cities had laws that actually forbade people with disabilities from showing themselves in public.

These were the notorious “Ugly Laws.” For example, Chicago’s law forbade anyone who was “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed, so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object from being in the public view.”

Those laws are gone now, but there are still people who would prefer not to have to look at those of us with disabilities. And one of them appears to be our president.

Recently, President Trump met with several members of the U.S. Paralympic team, to congratulate them on games well played. But while he was honoring them and calling them “inspirational,” he also said he had only watched “as much as I could” of the games. This was because, “It was a little tough to watch.”

I have attached links below that show President Trump’s remarks, as well as the very eloquent response to him by the U. S. Paralympic organizers. I will let this information speak for itself.

But isn’t he really saying that he would rather not look at us unless he has to, and wasn’t it this kind of thinking that created the Ugly Laws in the first place?

https://thebea.st/2w0dnK2?source=email&via=desktop

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-to-paralympians-you-are-tough-to-watch_us_5ae4f0c9e4b02baed1babaef

Posted in disability civil rights, Employment, Essential job functions and disabilities, Reasonable accommodation

Getting real about disability laws: Can an employer ever fire an employee with a disability?

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We’re all on information overload these days. So much seems to be coming at us from all sides. Worse yet, it’s very hard to tell if the information we’re absorbing is accurate. And it can be even worse if you have a disability, because you’re more likely to be isolated and not as able to access the people or documents that can help you work towards the truth.

Speaking of disabilities, one of the areas rife with misinformation is the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) and other laws designed to help people with disabilities get as fair a shake as possible in our society. That is why I am writing this series about some of the most common mistaken beliefs about these laws.

Today, I’m going to shed some light on the myth that an employer cannot fire an employee with a disability.

MYTH
If an employee with a disability cannot do her job, the employer cannot fire her but has to hire someone extra or make other employees do the work.

TRUTH
Like with anyone else, an individual with a disability does not have an automatic right to stay in a job unless she can actually perform it.

But the ADA is different from other discrimination laws in this respect: If an otherwise qualified employee needs reasonable accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of the job, the employer must provide the accommodation unless it would result in an undue hardship to the employer or cause a fundamental alteration in the workplace.

EXAMPLE
An office receptionist with a spinal deformity cannot sit for more than an hour or so at a time. It would probably be a reasonable accommodation for the employer to let him get up and stretch his legs for a few minutes every hour. This would allow him to do the job, and would result in little or no cost to the employer. But if his condition worsened to the point where he often had to leave his desk in the middle of customer calls, it would likely become an undue hardship for the employer to tolerate this situation.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION
As previously discussed, the ADA challenges both employers and employees to put fresh eyes on workplace tasks and determine whether they can be done in an effective (and possibly non-traditional) way. The law also requires that employers and employees work together to determine the best way for that to happen.

In this case, one option might be for the employer to purchase a desk that allows the employee to stand up as needed to do the job. Another might be to supply a cot or couch where the employee can answer the phone for part of the day. There are many potential solutions to this problem, and one of the best places to find them is at a government website called the JOB ACCOMODATION NETWORK. https://askjan.org

For more information, go to the “Employment” section on this website, or to https://www.ada.gov.

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, disability civil rights

Posting by Joe Shapiro describes a Senseless Courtroom Tragedy.

 

Joe Shapiro  just shared an astonishing  and horrendous news article on Facebook. It’s about a female inmate who appeared in court to answer criminal charges. She had a respiratory disease and had asked the judge to let her use her breathing apparatus. But the judge, astonishingly, denied her request. A few days later, she died.

The “I can’t breathe” rallying cry would be ominously appropriate here, too.

See link below:

https://www.facebook.com/joe.shapiro.94/posts/1508940372547758

Care to comment?

Posted in disability civil rights, Employment, Essential job functions and disabilities

Getting Real about Disability Laws, Part 1

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Who knows what’s true anymore? Is the above photo a joke or would an airline really have to allow an “emotional support elephant” on a flight?

Spoiler alert: The photo is obviously a joke. But there really is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about what our disability laws require. So in the next few posts, I am going to try to correct some of these “urban legends” that add to the already  misleading view of people with disabilities.

Myth:The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to hire people with disabilities, even if they are not the most qualified applicants for a job.

Fact: The ADA specifically states that it does not prevent employers from hiring the most qualified person for a position. What it does prohibit, however, is employers imposing job requirements that  BOTH screen out people with disabilities AND are not “essential functions” of the job.

Example: A law office needs to hire a legal assistant. That person’s job is to do legal research and draft court pleadings. Occasionally, that person may be asked to drive to the courthouse and file papers, but there are plenty of other people around who could do that if s/he were not available.

Andrea applies for the job and would be the leading candidate, were it not for the fact that she has a nerve disorder that prevents her from driving.  If the employer decides not  to hire her for this reason, the employer might be violating the ADA, because it is not essential that Andrea be able to do that task.

But let’s change the facts a bit: This is a small office and the legal assistant must be depended on to file court papers on a regular basis. In that case, it would probably be legal for the employer to pass over Andrea, because she would be unable to perform the essential functions of the position.

As is clear, phrases like “essential functions” and “job descriptions” become crucial in analyzing these kinds of cases. And the ADA requires that each situation be judged on its own facts, to determine the meaning of these phrases in each particular setting.

So essentially, the ADA is requiring employers (and everyone) to free ourselves from outdated and unwarranted assumptions. And that would be a desirable step forward, even without the law.

For more information, to to the “employment” link on this website or to www.ada.gov.

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Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, disability civil rights, Disability sterotypes, Public Perceptions of Disability

Can’t We Do Better than this? ♿️

I love including emojis in my emails. If somone is taking a trip, I’ll often insert a plane or train. If they have accomplished something, I’ll sometimes insert some people dancing and clapping.

Emojis do more than give clues about the writer’s state of mind – they provide a whole extra layer of communication to a very limited medium.

When one peruses the thousands of available emojis, they will find “people” of all different races and cultures, and a seemingly infinite amount of sports, dancing and other activities. But when I was recently looking for something symbolizing a person with a disability, I found only ONE: the above, very familiar (and dare I say boring?) symbol of someone in a wheelchair.

That’s why it was so encouraging to read the Huffington Post article below. It describes a number of new emojis that are being considered for distribution. And for the first time, they all feature people with disabilities.

Is this a big deal? Probably not. But anything that encourages inclusion (rather than stigmatization) deserves at least a smiley face🙂.

ttps://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-ratcliff-dipsability-empoji_us_5ac63d03e4b056a8f5992a6

Feel free to leave a comment, above!

 

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, Baseball, disability civil rights, Reasonable accommodation

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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Well, nothing – unless you happen to be an individual with mobility and/or balance problems. Then, this scene could quickly turn into a nightmare.

More realistically, we probably just wouldn’t go to whatever this game is. Then we would lose the opportunity to have a pleasant evening, contribute to the economy and be more integrated into mainstream society.

This and thousands of similar scenes are part of the reason the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA)  was enacted in 1990.

The ADA defines sports arenas as public accommodations (see the “public accommodations”  link on this site). As such, they are required to accommodate people with disabilities, as long as that accommodation does not create an undue burden.

So what might “accommodation” look like in this scenario? It could be a number of different things: installing hand railings, designating certain seats outside of this area for people with disabilities and their companions, providing physical assistance with getting up and down the stairs, etc.

In 2011, new regulations were issued that clarify much of what the law requires, as well as practical examples of what compliance might look like. Those regulations are in the link below.

Play ball!

https://adata.org/publication/disability-law-handbook#Ticketing,%20Reservations,%20and%20the%20ADA

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