ADA in Focus: Fall 2016

Volume 20, Number 3

ADA In Focus is published three times yearly by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. It is also available by request in large print, Braille, audio CD, and computer disk. To obtain copies in other formats, contact us.

ADA In Focus is intended for use by individuals, state and local governments, businesses, legal entities, and others interested in developments in the Americans with Disabilities Act. This publication is intended solely as an informal guidance and should not be construed as legally binding. ADA In Focus does not serve as determination of the legal rights or responsibilities under the ADA for any individual, business or entity. Learn more about the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center.

Fall 2016, Volume 20, Number 3 (suitable for printing)

Fall 2016, Volume 20, Number 3, in large print (suitable for printing)

In this issue:

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Director's Corner

Picture of Marian Vessels

by Marian Vessels,
Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

As we prepare to observe October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we have a lot to celebrate. We are seeing more and more people with disabilities in the workforce, more employers aware of the ADA and its requirements, and greater expectations that individuals with disabilities will be employed.

People with disabilities are more visible than ever, in communities, in advertisements, in the media. Streetscapes and physical spaces, as well as a variety of programs and services, continue to become more and more accessible. The landscape was far different 26 years ago before the ADA was passed.

Yet, incredibly, with all of the resources and supports we have, a great many people with disabilities who want to work are not able to find work, or are under-employed. We heard from a mother whose son graduated from law school at the top of his class. He was granted 90 interviews but NO ONE hired him. He is a quadriplegic. Was his disability the reason he didn’t get a job offer? Impossible to say, perhaps, but it’s certainly puzzling when a top law school graduate can’t find work. 

We have a lot of work ahead of us to erase attitudinal bias, and to assure that the promise of the ADA, a level playing field, is realized. We know that when accommodations are provided, workers with disabilities perform as well as their non-disabled peers. We know that providing accommodations is not an expensive process. Yet the employment rate for those with disabilities is still almost half of those without disabilities. We need to continue to press for full inclusion in the workplace. We need to push up against that glass ceiling that holds many workers with disabilities down.

The ADA Center is here to help you answer tough questions, explore accommodations, find resources, and understand your rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Call us, email us, and check out our Employers Portal. We must continue to strive to meet the goals of the ADA: full inclusion of those with disabilities, in the workplace, in the board room, and in the executive suite. Each of us has the responsibility to assure that these goals are attained! How will you commemorate NDEAM??!!

Ms. Vessels is Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, having served in this role since 1996. Among her primary areas of expertise are training and technical assistance on the ADA as it relates to employment, state and local government issues, and the hospitality industry. She is in considerable demand as a speaker and trainer.

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Center Update

Welcoming a New Team Member

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center is pleased to welcome Claire Stanley as our new Training Specialist. Claire has a Juris Doctorate (JD) and experience working with a number of disability rights organizations. She will be conducting training throughout the region on various aspects of the ADA. Welcome, Claire!

ADA Center Out and About

Maryland Department of Disabilities ADA 26th Anniversary Celebration: Intersect

ADA 26: The Next 25 YearsThe theme of the Maryland Department of Disabilities annual ADA Anniversary Celebration was “Intersect.” The event, which included a technology and resource fair and an afternoon workshop on social media accessibility, explored the intersection of technology and ADA implementation.

Speakers included Carol A. Beatty, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Nollie Wood, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities, and the Honorable Boyd K. Rutherford, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Maryland. The keynote address was delivered by Haben Girma, disability advocate, accessibility expert, and a White House “Champion of Change.” The lunchtime keynote speech, "Opportunities and Intersections: The Next 25 Years of the ADA" was given by Marian Vessels, our director here at the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center.

National Council on Independent Living Annual Conference

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, representing the ADA National Network, participated in this event along with people from across the country and around the world. We exhibited a poster, “Increase Your Advocacy Outcomes! ADA Resources and Strategies,” illustrating how the resources and services of the ADA Centers can support Centers for Independent Living in providing their core services.

We also invited visitors to make a poster of their own by completing the phrase “Because of the ADA…” Check out some of the posters created by individuals, families, and advocates:

young man seated in wheelchair, mother stands beside him holding their poster: "Because of the ADA ... we can go out to eat as a family ... and sometimes use the front door!"

young woman with crutches holds her poster: "Because of the ADA ... Having an understanding of employment and disclosure"

young woman holds her poster: "Because of the ADA ... I can live the life I live"

young woman holds her poster: "Because of the ADA ... I don't have to see a doctor as my mother's interpreter – she deserves to have clear communication about her own body."

young woman holds her poster: "Because of the ADA ... students with disabilities have the resources to graduate college!"

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Focal Point

Employment: NDEAM 2016

October and the 2016 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) are right around the corner, beckoning us to reflect on our past and recommit to improving our future.

The 2016 NDEAM theme – #InclusionWorks–appears in large white letters on a blue background in the center of the poster. Above the theme in yellow are the words National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Surrounding the theme are three images of people with disabilities working in inclusive workplaces plus three colored boxes with the following messages: Inclusion Works for Business, Inclusion Works for Opportunity and Inclusion Works for Innovation. There is a red box in the lower left corner that includes DOL’s logo with the following words in white underneath: OFFICE OF DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT POLICY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR and the URL to ODEP’s website President Harry Truman designated the first week in October, 1945, as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week,” it was not the first effort to promote employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It was, however, fueled by waves of World War II veterans coming home with disabilities, and influenced by budding civil rights movements that were pushing society to rethink stereotypes and break down walls of segregation. Perhaps, in those heady post-war days of renewed optimism and surging economic growth, we could be forgiven if we believed that high rates of unemployment for individuals with disabilities would soon fall.

Decades of additional public awareness campaigns, employment training and support programs, and legislation followed, including the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Meaningful, integrated employment for people with disabilities is one of the core goals of the ADA. If we look no further than the cold, hard statistics, it appears to be a stubbornly elusive goal. The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is roughly double that of those without disabilities, and has remained so for years, a seemingly fixed disparity.*

Yet there are reasons for hope. There are signs that the laws and programs are bearing fruit by giving people with and without disabilities more opportunities to interact and work together. These personal interactions are the true catalysts for the kind of meaningful change that laws like the ADA aim to achieve – the reduction of fear and bias, the retirement of stereotypes.

Leaders in Employment

Many government agencies and private businesses are embracing workplace diversity and adopting proactive approaches to recruiting, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. These organizations realize the value of including people with a broad range of experiences and perspectives in their workplaces.

Employers like those recognized by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) through their Leading Disability Employer Seal™ program and those recognized by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) share a commitment to inclusive employment practices. These employers and their workers are leading by example and reaping the benefits, which often extend all the way to the bottom line by enhancing community connections and growing the customer base.

Resources for Employment

There are so many resources, materials, and supports available to facilitate hiring and accommodating workers with disabilities that no employer should feel alone if he or she doesn’t yet have experience in this area.

Government agencies and government-funded projects abound, offering information and assistance to employers and workers alike. The helpful materials on disability employment from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explain regulatory requirements; the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its project the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offer a wealth of practical information and ideas; the ADA National Network, including our Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, are available to provide training to groups and respond to individual questions about the ADA’s employment provisions.

Many workers with disabilities are eligible for supports from state vocational rehabilitation agencies and other organizations. Services and supports that benefit both employees and employers may include tax incentives, workplace accessibility assessments, provision of equipment or assistive technologies, training, or job coaching services. Some workers are eligible for additional assistance based on age (youth or older workers) or veteran status.

Moving Forward: What You Can Do

Get involved with initiatives like Disability Mentoring Day, NDEAM, and the Campaign for Disability Employment. Employers, educators, individuals with disabilities, family members and friends, advocates, labor unions, government agencies, and private organizations all have a role to play. There are many ways you can support and participate in these initiatives, or others in your local community. Visit these organizations to get ideas and get started. Learn about, recognize, support, and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities.

President George H.W. Bush, when he signed the ADA into law in 1990, praised the “true coalition” that collaborated to craft the legislation. He called on all Americans to continue working together to realize its potential, and reminded us that rights come with responsibilities:

The ADA is a dramatic renewal not only for those with disabilities but for all of us, because along with the precious privilege of being an American comes a sacred duty to ensure that every other American's rights are also guaranteed.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

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Zoom in on Training

ADA National Network Online Learning

Check out the ADA National Network’s programs, which include the ADA Audio-Conference Series, the ADA Legal Webinar Series, the Accessible Technology Webinar Series, and, in collaboration with the U.S. Access Board, the Accessibility Online Webinar Series. Upcoming sessions:

This is just a sample of the variety of training opportunities coming up on a local, regional, and national level. Visit our Trainings pages for a comprehensive listing!

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Close-Ups: What's New

Comment Deadline Extended for Title II Web Accessibility Rulemaking

keyboard; "enter" key labeled "accessibility" and featuring the International Symbol of Accessibility

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) extended for 60 days the public comment period on its Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) on the accessibility of web-based information and services provided by state and local governments.

The extension was granted to allow sufficient time for interested individuals and entities to respond to the Department’s requests for information on a wide variety of complex issues, including the general framework and definitions of the rule, potential exceptions or limitations on the application of requirements, time frames for compliance, technical standards for the accessibility of web content, and the costs and benefits of implementation.

Individuals with disabilities, advocates, state and local government agencies, experts in the fields of computer science, programming, networking, or assistive technology, and other interested parties are invited to respond. Comments on the SANPRM must be submitted by October 7, 2016.

DOJ: Updated Checklist for Polling Places

Polling place with temporary parking designated with portable signs and traffic cones, portable ramp connecting parking surface to sidewalk, and longer portable ramp connecting sidewalk to raised porch of buildingThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revised its checklist for polling places, reflecting the updated 2010 ADA Standards. The checklist includes helpful tips on how to evaluate the accessibility of a polling place, as well as ideas for inexpensive temporary solutions that may facilitate access to voting.

The humble and resilient traffic cone can mark off temporary accessible parking places or passenger loading zones. A portable ramp, temporary signage, or a simple door stop to prop open a heavy door may make all the difference on Election Day. These kinds of measures may make it possible to use an otherwise inaccessible location (including a facility not subject to the ADA, such as a religious organization’s building) as a polling place. 

DOJ’s updated checklist is also available in a printer-friendly PDF version.

Access Board Adds New Chapter to Guide to the ADA Standards

The U.S. Access Board issued the latest addition to its Guide to the ADA Standards, which has sections on accessible parking, passenger loading zones, and stairways. This helpful guide includes explanations, illustrations, examples, and answers to common questions about applying the ADA Standards to these spaces and elements.

A new animation on parking and passenger loading zones has also been added to further illustrate requirements related to these elements, ranging from the numbers and locations of accessible parking spaces to the use of parking pay stations.

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Snapshots: Cool and Useful Websites

Labor for America

Labor For America (LFA) is a free web-based resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers can search a database of skilled and experienced workers who have been displaced from federal jobs by workplace injuries.

Local LFA vocational rehabilitation counselors facilitate the recruitment process, handle initial contact with the former federal worker and provide direct support to employers to assist the worker’s successful re-entry into the workforce.

National Disability Institute

The National Disability Institute works to raise awareness about the link between disability and poverty, and promote economic advancement and financial stability for people with disabilities. NDI provides training, information, tools, and materials on asset development, benefits planning, financial inclusion, and financial literacy for people with disabilities, families, educators, and financial institutions.


This community-powered website is for people who are blind or have low-vision and use Apple's range of Mac computers, the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch. The site offers blog posts, accessory reviews, and a forum for individuals to share information about accessibility of products and applications.

REV UP: Register! Educate! Vote! Use Your Power!

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts this site with tools, resources, and information to support political involvement for people with disabilities.

The RespectAbility Report

This site features nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. elections, with a focus on disability issues.

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