E-Bulletin October 3, 2017

October 3, 2017

We post our bi-weekly bulletin to keep you up to date on disability-related resources, news, and other items of interest. This information is being provided solely for non-commercial, nonprofit educational purposes, including news reporting and research. It is not intended for commercial purposes. Further, we understand that our readers generally read the articles and information online, at the websites provided in the hyperlinks, rather than relying solely on our synopses or copies. We are not responsible for the accessibility or the content of other websites. Please be aware that some links provided are time sensitive, and may become inactive at any time.

We include links to articles, editorials and opinion pieces, press releases, and other materials that represent diverse perspectives. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any products, services, sources, information, or opinions expressed in these materials.

Visit the Trainings section for more information on ADA and disability related trainings, meetings, and conferences.

General News

Status: ADA Education and Reform Act

A number of media articles report on or express opinions about this proposed legislation:

NDMC White Paper: Mentoring as a Disability Inclusion Strategy

The National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) provides background on the practice and impact of disability mentoring, the policies that support it, and a call to action to expand the field.

NFB: Statistical Facts about Blindness in the United States

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has collected a variety of statistical information related to people with blindness and low vision. Information from a number of sources, including both government agencies and non-governmental organizations, includes population characteristics such as educational attainment, income and employment status, prevalence by age and race, and distribution by state.

“Spinal Cord Injury: Looking Back and Looking Forward”

The Director of the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) reflects on 40 years of living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and shares information, resources, and research findings that are contributing to longer, healthier lives for individuals who experience SCI.

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Employment News

NOD Recognizes Leading Employers

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced the recipients of the 2017 Leading Disability Employer SealTM recognizing companies that demonstrate exemplary employment practices for people with disabilities.

Video: Unconscious Bias

This brief video features employers talking about how they challenged their own biases and concerns, giving workers with disabilities a chance to succeed.

“How to Avoid Retaliation Claims from Employees”

This article outlines various laws, including the ADA, that address retaliation against employees who engage in protected activities such as requesting reasonable accommodation or filing a complaint of discrimination.

“From ADA Compliance to Universal Design: Creating Accessible Training”

This article urges employers to think about potential barriers to learning – including disabilities like blindness as well as “invisible” conditions such as learning disabilities – when creating training programs and materials.

Workplace Accommodations Prove to be “Low Cost, High Impact”

The Job Accommodation Network released the 2017 update to its annual “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact” study. The research, which has been conducted annually since 2004, indicates that most (59 percent) workplace accommodations cost nothing, and those that do involve cost pay for themselves by reducing insurance and training costs and increasing productivity and morale.

NCWD/Youth Publishes Info Brief on “Designing Professional Development for Youth Workforce Development”

This brief from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) describes strategies for designing and delivering professional development for youth service professionals at the state and local levels.

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Federal Employment

EEOC Issues New Guide to Assist Federal Agencies to Provide Personal Assistance Services (PAS)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance to assist federal agencies in providing personal assistance services (PAS) to federal employees who need such services in the workplace. Revised regulations under Section 501 the Rehabilitation Act require the provision of PAS to individuals with certain disabilities.

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ODEP Launches WIOA State Plan Matrices Tool

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) analyzed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plans to create this collection of data on employment of people with disabilities. Data are available for each state, the District of Columbia, and for the nation as a whole.

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Legal News

Pennsylvania Court: Worker Adequately Supported Claims of Discrimination, Case Will Proceed

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case of Sine v Rockville Mennonite Home, finding that the plaintiff adequately supported her allegations that her employment was terminated by the company in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA), and the ADA.

The plaintiff notified her employer that she planned to take leave under the FMLA as soon as she became eligible, in order to have surgery that was recommended to her in order to prevent the development of cancer. She was fired shortly before she became eligible for the leave and claimed that her employer interfered with her rights under the FMLA. She also alleged that the termination was based on her disability (or perceived disability), in violation of the PHRA and the ADA.

An article, “Beware Firing as Employee Nears Eligibility to Take FMLA Leave,” reports on the decision.

Busy EEOC Sues Employers, Alleges Variety of ADA Violations

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a number of lawsuits recently, including several alleging disability discrimination against workers in the Mid-Atlantic region:

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Technology News

The Promise of Assistive Technology: An Interactive Guide to Selected Products and Funding Sources

This guide from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) provides an overview of assistive products in four major categories: mobility devices, upper extremity prostheses, selected hearing technologies, and communication and speech technologies.

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ABLE Act News

Saving Money for a Better Life: What Can the ABLE Act Do for Me?

This new factsheet outlines the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which gives some people with disabilities a way to save money for qualifying expenses such as a car, college or career training, healthcare, and other expenses without impacting eligibility for benefit programs. Sections cover eligibility, how to open an account, and myths and common questions about ABLE Accounts.

“Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Releases Guidance on ABLE Accounts”

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to State Medicaid Directors regarding the “Implications of the ABLE Act for State Medicaid Programs”. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) is designed to enable certain individuals with disabilities to save money without affecting their eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid. The new guidance provides information on how funds in ABLE Act accounts should be viewed in relation to such benefits programs.

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Arts and Entertainment News

“Cast of 'Born This Way' Responds to Winning Two Emmys and Making History”

“Born This Way,” the reality television show featuring people with Down syndrome, made history at the Creative Arts Emmys, with cast members presenting awards and the show winning two of its own.

“Deej” Highlights the Power of Inclusion

This film follows DJ Savarese (“Deej”), a self-described “nonspeaking student with autism,” who hopes the movie will open people’s eyes to “the full potential of kids with significant disabilities.”

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Training, Events, and Opportunities to Participate

Survey on Service Animals and Assistance Animals

If you are a U.S. resident at least 18 years old who uses a service animal or other animal that assists with your disability, or a parent of a child who uses such an animal, the Southwest ADA Center invites you to complete this anonymous survey about experiences accessing public places with your animal.

Nominate a Disability Employment Champion

The Viscardi Center is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards. These awards honor leaders who have helped improve quality of life for people with disabilities in all areas of community life, including employment. Nominations are due by October 20.

ARRT Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities Available

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) project at Virginia Commonwealth University has fellowship position openings for postdoctoral students studying a diversity of neurological conditions and disorders. The two-year fellowship program offers comprehensive training in areas relating to neurological disorders and rehabilitation, including mentorship with accomplished medical school faculty, involvement in ongoing clinical research, and development of scientific publications and grant applications. Program and application information are available from the project's website.

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