Newsletter: May 18, 2017

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: May 18th, 2017

 

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

 Did you know you can follow the Northeast ADA Center on social media?  You can follow us on Facebook by going to https://www.facebook.com/Northeast-ADA-Center-394193790770343/  On Twitter by following @northeastada and on LinkedIn by going to https://www.linkedin.com/in/northeast-ada-center-b4b4b4103/

What's New in Our Region:

New York State Passes Funding to Improve Accessibility of Sidewalks

A total of $112.2 million in funding has been awarded to support transportation enhancements across New York State.  According to the governor's office, funding supports projects that include multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facilities, new accessible sidewalks that adhere to regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved access to public transportation, and enhance roadway safety.  "This funding is critical to enhancing our infrastructure and paving the way for both pedestrian and bicycle travel," Governor Cuomo said. "By improving roadway safety and increasing access to healthy transportation alternatives, we are providing both residents and visitors a chance to experience the state's natural beauty like never before, while supporting a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come."  To read more about this go to: http://news10.com/2017/04/19/112m-in-funding-announced-to-support-transportation-enhancements-across-ny/

NYPD to Equip Police with Tablets to Help Them Better Communicate with People Who are Deaf

The New York Police Department is launching a pilot program to help police better communicate with people who are deaf. Police in the three precincts, the 9th in Manhattan, the 115th in Queens and the 121st in Staten Island will be equipped with tablets to allow them to connect via video with a remote sign-language interpreter if a live interpreter is not available to handle the call in person, the NYPD said.  There are more than 200,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing across the five boroughs and in the past NYPD has been slapped with some lawsuits for failing to properly communicate with them.  In 2009, the police department entered into a consent decree to resolve Americans with Disabilities Act violations, and agreed to revise its handling of cases involving the deaf.  To read more about this go to: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-equip-cops-tablets-connect-deaf-article-1.3063273

Horizon NJ Health to Pay Former Employee $80,000 After Alleged Wrongful Termination

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced April 10th that health insurer Horizon NJ Health will pay $80,000 to a former employee after allegations of wrongful termination.  Horizon purportedly fired Nicole Fitchett because she did not earn a required professional certification on time. Fitchett, however, had taken two months of disability leave that delayed her preparation for the certification test.  "What sometimes gets lost on employers and their HR departments is that the term 'disability' is more broadly defined under our state law than under the federal ADA," said division director Craig T. Sashihara. "And, of course, the promise of work benefits like sick leave is meaningless if an employee is punished for using it."  To read more about this go to: http://legalnewsline.com/stories/511104971-horizon-nj-health-to-pay-former-employee-80-000-after-alleged-wrongful-termination

MTA Accessibility and Maintenance Critiqued

The New York City subway system is under dual attack over its lack of accessibility for people requiring elevators or escalators; and for its general maintenance of those which the system already has. City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office released an audit on May 1st claiming that there are serious gaps in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's maintenance program.

The report came one week after three individuals and six advocacy groups for the disabled filed a suit against the MTA, its interim executive director, Valerie Hakim, the New York City Transit Authority and its acting President Darryl Irick, saying that 80 percent of the city's subway system remains inaccessible. Read more at: http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/mta-accessibility-and-maintenance-critiqued/article_55404e5f-41c6-599e-a82e-2ef5e8d60335.html

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Medstar Harbor Hospital Will Pay $179,576 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Harbor Hospital Inc., trading as MedStar Harbor Hospital, will pay $179,576 and furnish other relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.  The EEOC said that MedStar Harbor Hospital violated federal law when it refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to and instead fired Jerome Alston, a respiratory therapist, because of his disability. Alston had a kidney transplant and takes medication which compromises his immune system and increases his risk of infection. Due to his weakened immune system, Alston requested, and MedStar initially granted him, a "work-around" which excused him from working in isolation rooms with a mechanical ventilation system designed to trap infectious airborne materials. MedStar also gave some other employees similar work-arounds when requested. EEOC charged that in November 2013, when Alston again needed a work-around, MedStar refused to grant this reasonable accommodation and instead abruptly terminated him because of his disability and his accommodation request.  To read more about this go to: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/medstar-harbor-hospital-will-pay-179-82955/

Opportunities for You!

The Interplay between the ADA and the FMLA-Free Webinar

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

2:00 PM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT

Employee leave is one of the most complex and common situations that businesses encounter. This session will compare and contrast the ADA and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), their respective regulations, and court decisions to assist employers and employees with navigating leave under each statute separately and in tandem. Sponsored by the Great Lakes ADA Center and ADA National Network. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ada-legal/session/?id=110607  

Accessible Dining Surfaces and Bars-Free Webinar

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

2:30 PM EDT - 4:00 PM EDT

The ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards apply to a wide range of spaces in the public and private sectors and specify which elements and spaces must be accessible. This session will review how to apply these criteria to dining surfaces and bars and provide guidance on some common errors in design. A representative from the Restaurant Association will provide an overview of the most common restaurant design issues, including product selection, installation details, furniture placement and best practice design tips.  Sponsored by the Great Lakes ADA Center.  To register go to: https://adata.org/event/accessible-dining-surfaces-and-bars

 Housing Accessibility under the Americans with Disability Act and the Fair Housing Act-Free Webinar

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 

2:00 - 3:30 PM ET

This 90 minute session will provide an overview of the 2010 ADA Standards and Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines. It will include a brief discussion of the basic accessibility requirements mandated by federal and state building codes.

Accessibility Specialist, Dom Marinelli of United Spinal Association's Accessibility Services will be our presenter and answer your questions.
Dom Marinelli has been with United Spinal Association (Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association) since 1988 and is the VP of the Accessibility-Services Department. He is a voting member on the American National Standards for Accessible and Usable Buildings & Facilities (A117.1) Committee and has contributed to the accessibility requirements within the International Building Code (IBC), the International Existing Building Code (IEBC), the Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines, and the 1991 and 2010 ADA Standards.

For more information and to register visit: http://www.adainfo.org/training/housing-under-ada-fha

 Special Spotlight:  

VA Adopts New Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will adopt new accessibility standards issued by the U.S. Access Board to ensure access to medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) at its health care facilities. Under an agreement governing acquisitions, the VA will require that new equipment meet the MDE standards which were published in January. The VA's health care network, the largest integrated health care system in the U.S., includes 152 medical centers, nearly 800 community-based outpatient clinics, and over 125 nursing home care units.  Access to MDE has been problematic for people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The Board's standards provide design criteria for examination tables and chairs, including those used for dental or optical exams, weight scales, radiological equipment, mammography equipment and other equipment used for diagnostic purposes by health professionals.

"The Board applauds the VA for its initiative and leadership in advancing access to health care for all veterans, including those with disabilities," stated David M. Capozzi, the Board's Executive Director.  The MDE standards, as issued by the Board, are not mandatory unless adopted by a federal agency. The VA's use of these standards will help it meet responsibilities under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access to federally funded programs and services. Other entities, including health care providers and state and local governments, can voluntarily adopt and apply the standards as well. To read more about this go to: https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/health-care/about-this-rulemaking