ADA in Focus: Spring-Summer 2018

Volume 22, Number 2

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.

Spring-Summer 2018, Volume 22, Number 2 (suitable for printing)

Spring-Summer 2018, Volume 22, Number 2, in large print (suitable for printing)

In this issue:

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ADA Anniversary

Baltimore Orioles Celebrate ADA Day!

In recognition of the signing of the ADA on July 26, 1990, the Baltimore Orioles will host “Celebrate ADA Day” at Oriole Park on Thursday, July 26, when the Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays at 7:05 p.m. Eastern Time. The evening’s activities, in addition to a great game under a summer sky, will include fun, frivolity, song, and ceremony.

Among the many organizations participating in the event are the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD), Centers for Independent Living, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, V-LINC, the Special Olympics, several chapters of The Arc, and Challenger League, a regional organization that provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play baseball.

round buttons with red, baseball-style stiching and "ADA 28, July 26, 2018, Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center,, 1-800-949-4232"Many of our Mid-Atlantic ADA Center staff, family members, and friends will be there as well (come see us at the OriolesREACH Community Booth near Gate D!), along with staff and board members of TransCen, Inc., our parent organization.

Laura Owens, President of TransCen, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, to none other than Curtis Pride, a Maryland native who was born deaf, played in 421 Major League games, and currently serves as Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion.

Singers from ArtStream, an organization that provides inclusive drama and social skills classes to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will perform the national anthem.

The Orioles will also recognize Marian Vessels, the former director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, as a Birdland Community Hero. Marian, who attended the signing of the ADA on the White House lawn in 1990, is known throughout the country as an educator and a leader in the disability community. The list of her personal and professional accomplishments is too long to include here, so we’ll just note a couple of interesting highlights: decades ago she served on the committee that worked with Oriole Park at Camden Yards to establish accessible seating; she led the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center for 20 years until her recent retirement; and she remains energetically involved in her community, promoting accessibility and inclusion. The Orioles will make a generous $2,500 donation to TransCen, Inc. as part of the Birdland Community Heroes Program.

Check out the Orioles press release for more details, and come on out to the park on July 26! Play ball!

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Focal Point

Access to History: The ADA and Historic Places

The United States is a relatively young country, but one rich in historic significance. Long before thirteen nascent colonies declared independence from England and began to cobble together a nation of states, the lands were humming with vibrant cultures. People venturing from Asia populated Pacific Islands and the American continents, eventually reaching regions from arctic to tropical, and everywhere in between.

Later arrivals from European countries waded ashore on coastlines from the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic and the Pacific. People came seeking land and riches, freedom and opportunity. Some came with resources and royal backing. Some came with nothing. Some came in bondage.

The country continued to expand and the population continued to grow in numbers and diversity as immigrants from every corner of the globe joined earlier arrivals. Together, we have struggled to claim and define a country founded on the highest ideals of humankind, a country that can find a way to face even our own failures and strive to do better – a county that can endure and prosper.

… ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper.
~ President George H.W. Bush, signing of the ADA, July 26, 1990

History in the Making

A big part of building a country is building – creating homes and farms and factories, places to work and places to worship, things to use and things to enjoy.

What Does “Historic” Mean?

When we think of accessibility and historic places, we often think of buildings – facilities designed and constructed for human habitation. But historic places may also include: sites (things such as battlefields, cemeteries, mines, shipwrecks, ruins, parks, and trails); structures (ranging from earthworks to carousels, and including things like bridges, lighthouses, canals, and dams); objects (statues, monuments, fountains, etc.); and entire districts (including residential neighborhoods, estates and large farms, college campuses, industrial complexes, transportation networks, and more).

The ADA defines “qualified historic properties” as those eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or those designated as historic under a state or local law. Historic places are more than old; historic places are significant in some way: they may be associated with important people or events: they may exemplify distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; they may represent the work of a master designer or artisan.

What’s the Difference Between “Historic Preservation Programs”
and “Historic Properties”?

historic Pratt Street power plant in Baltimore, Maryland, converted for use by modern businesses, including stores and restaurantsThe ADA regulations distinguish between historic preservation programs, and historic properties that are used to operate modern businesses or provide public services. An historic building, for example, may contain a modern store, restaurant, theater, or office. A city hall, county courthouse, or state university may be historic, but still used to conduct routine public activities, such as licensing, voting, meetings, trials, or classes.

The primary purpose of an historic preservation program, however, is preservation; the program works to maintain a district, site, building, structure, or object as it was in the past.

Such programs often conduct tours and educational programs designed to help convey a sense of time and place. These programs may enable us to learn about the development of building methods and the use of various building materials, to appreciate achievements in design and craftsmanship, or to better understand how people lived and worked in the past and how events shaped our history and culture.

Where ADA-covered entities operate within historic properties or carry out historic preservation programs, the goal is to balance the need to protect historically significant places and the need to provide access to such places for people with disabilities.

The ADA does not require covered entities to “threaten or destroy the historic significance” of a facility, so the first step in figuring out how access can be improved is to identify what is historically significant about specific properties. Some entire buildings, districts, or sites are historically significant, while others include only specific features, elements, spaces, or materials that are significant.

Many historic buildings, especially those that are not used for historic preservation programs, need to be (or have already been) altered to include more up-to-date amenities and safety features, such as modern plumbing, heating and air conditioning, or fire alarm and suppression systems.

Thoughtful design and creativity can often improve accessibility while maintaining the historic character of buildings, even those that are used in historic preservation programs. New features that may need to be added, such as accessible pathways or ramps, can often incorporate design features, materials, and construction methods that prevent them from looking out of place.

While it may not always be possible to achieve full physical access in older buildings (whether they are historic or not), providing independent access and integrated participation should be realized where it’s possible.

historic ship USS Constellation in Baltimore harborThis is particularly important in the context of historic preservation programs, since the very purpose of such programs is often to provide a physical experience that connects us to our past. To get a sense, for example, of what it might have been like to serve on a 19th century sailing ship, nothing beats getting on board one – to see the cramped spaces, feel the air so close, hear the creaking planks and the lapping waves, and smell the rope and the tar and the salty air.

There is no real substitute for experiences like these, of course, but physical access cannot always be achieved in historic preservation programs, and sometimes alternatives may have to suffice. Displays, demonstrations, films, models, or reconstructions may be able to provide some valuable experiences for individuals who cannot access all areas.

Moving Forward

Recent history has seen momentous advances in civil rights and legal protections for marginalized groups, including people with disabilities. The passage of the ADA was itself an historic event, and as we reach the middle of our third century as a nation, we continue to challenge ourselves to live up to the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality.

This historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities – the first.
~ President George H.W. Bush, signing of the ADA, July 26, 1990


Check out the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic Preservation Library, where you’ll find links to a variety of agencies, private organizations, resources, and guidance related to historic preservation, including Preservation Briefs like Making Historic Properties Accessible. You’ll also find listings for State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.

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Center Update

New Training Specialist Joins Center Staff

Hi everyone. My name is Caleb Berkemeier, and I am the new Training Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Before I joined the Center, I was teaching research writing and literature classes for Kent State University in Ohio while working on a Ph.D. in English and disability studies. When my teaching fellowship ended, I was looking for a job outside of academia that had an educational mission. I found that mission here at the ADA Center.

As the Training Specialist, I am responsible for teaching people about the law. Our three primary types of training are webinars, customized in-person trainings, and our annual ADA Update conference. I’m becoming more involved in these areas and enjoying the opportunity to provide reliable and interesting content for our region.

We have some exciting training opportunities coming up this year. I hope you are already registered for the ADA Update in Tysons, Virginia this September. But if you can’t make it, put March 27 - 29, 2019 on your calendar. ADA Update is coming to Philadelphia, and I have a lot of session ideas that you won’t want to miss.

I’ve also been working on a training resource that managers can use to train their frontline staff on serving individuals with disabilities. Whether you are a business, government agency, non-profit, university, or any other entity that interacts with people with disabilities, it is in your best interest to make those interactions as appropriate as possible. And it’s just the decent thing to do. This resource will be made available to all ADA Update conference attendees, and I’ll be doing a training to explain its use and its grounding in the law.

I’m also working in partnership with the ADA National Network to launch a podcast that will address ADA-related current events, along with topics in disability culture, philosophy, and literature. We hope to begin releasing episodes this fall, so stay tuned for updates.

If you have any ideas about training content you would like to see from the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, let me know. I am here to serve you.

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Zoom in on Training

Annual ADA Update

September 5 – 6, 2018

Tysons, Virginia

The 25th annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update is right around the corner! This year’s conference features:

  • A keynote address from Claudia Gordon, Esq., a director of Government and Compliance with Sprint Accessibility. Ms. Gordon graduated with honors from both Howard University and American University’s Washington College of Law, and her extensive experience includes serving in the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • An exciting agenda of sessions presented by speakers with expertise in employment, business, corrections and law enforcement, health care, and much more!
  • ADA and Business Boot Camp: This half-day “boot camp” will focus on the basics of ADA compliance and best business practices for serving customers with disabilities. The boot camp sessions are included as part of the full conference registration, or available separately for a special fee.
  • Free pre-conference: A half-day session providing an overview of the basic provisions of the ADA is included with full conference registration. This session is ideal for newcomers or anyone who needs a refresher.

Early bird discounts are available until July 31, so register today and join us in September!

TransCen and Mid-Atlantic ADA Center Webinars

Check our Trainings/Workshops pages for more details!

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, the ADA Conferences Series and, in collaboration with the U.S. Access Board, the Accessibility Online Webinar Series. Upcoming sessions:

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Close-Ups: What's New

Summary of Responses from a Request for Information: People with Disabilities and Opioid Use Disorder

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) issued a request for information related to people with disabilities and the opioid crisis. Responses from consumers, community and national organizations, research teams, and federal partners suggest that people with disabilities may be more likely than the general population to misuse opioids and develop opioid use disorders, but less likely to receive treatment for it.

Respondents reported a variety of factors that may affect these risks and barriers, ranging from the nature of certain types of disabilities (which may cause chronic pain and/or contribute to opioid misuse), to environmental and financial limitations which restrict access to treatment.

For example, recent statistics indicate that between 70 – 80% of people who experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are discharged from health care facilities with a prescription for opioids, and such individuals are 11 times more likely to die of overdose than individuals without TBI.

NIDILRR notes the “urgency of further research … to generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to address the opioid crisis and its impact on people with disabilities.”

State of Older Workers and Age Discrimination 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

This report was issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The report finds that age discrimination remains both too common and too accepted, and outdated assumptions about older workers persist despite research that indicates that more diverse, multi-generational workplaces are more productive.

The report notes that “stereotypes are tenacious” but making tangible changes in workplace practices can “counter unconscious bias and stereotyping.” Research has shown that changes in attitudes often follow changes in actions, not the other way around. Some steps employers can take to avoid age discrimination and increase age diversity in the workplace:

  • Check out the Workforce Benchmarking Tool developed by the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and AARP. This quick assessment can give you an idea of how your organization stacks up when it comes to engaging experienced workers.
  • Hiring practices:

    • Include age in diversity and inclusion programs and efforts.
    • Include age-diverse photos and graphics on your websites and social media.
    • Train recruiters and interviewers to avoid ageist assumptions and misperceptions (e.g., research indicates that the assumption that younger workers are less expensive and a better return on investment is outdated and flawed).
    • Instead of individual interviewers, consider using age-diverse interview panels, which, in addition to being less vulnerable to bias, may be viewed more positively by applicants.
  • Retention strategies:

    • Make sure that career training, re-training, and job development opportunities, as well as workplace flexibility options aimed at supporting work/life balance, are available to employees of all ages.
    • Consider mixed-age and reverse-age mentoring to enhance employee engagement and productivity.  

Experienced workers have talent that our economy cannot afford to waste.
~ Victoria A. Lipnic, Acting Chair of the EEOC

2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Month: “America’s Workforce: Empowering All”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), traditionally observed in the month of October, is a nationwide campaign designed to recognize and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the U.S. Department of Labor, which leads the NDEAM campaign, offers a wealth of ideas, sample materials (e.g., articles, press releases, proclamations, social media content) and other resources and tips to help you join the campaign.

NDEAM is a great time to learn more about the benefits of mentoring programs for workers with disabilities. Check out Mentoring as a Disability Inclusion Strategy, a new fact sheet from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), or Disability Mentoring Day, a nationwide effort coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities.

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Zoom in on Court Decisions and Settlements

Nationwide Settlement with Learning Care Group Will Improve Integration of Children with Diabetes

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered a settlement agreement with Learning Care Group, Inc. (LCG), which operates approximately 900 child care centers across the country under seven brands, including Childtime Learning Centers, Tutor Time Child Care/Learning Centers, The Children’s Courtyard, Montessori Unlimited, La Petite Academy, Everbrook Academy, and Creative Kids.

The settlement is the result of a DOJ investigation following complaints from several parents, who alleged child care centers refused to assist their children with insulin administration by pen or syringe. DOJ’s investigation determined that the organization had a corporate-wide policy of refusing such assistance. The company will implement new policies and procedures to consider requests for such assistance on an individualized basis.

Additionally, the company will provide training to its staff, and pay compensatory damages in the amount of $10,000 to each of eight families.

Camber Corporation to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability and Age Discrimination Suit

Federal contractor Camber Corporation agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a disability and age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that the company discriminated against a Virginia-based employee because of his association with an individual with a disability – his son.

According to the EEOC, the employee sought a transfer to be nearer to his disabled son and assist with his care, and as soon as man­age­ment learned of it, the employee was classified as "re­signed," and then fired for pretextual reasons. The company then replaced the employee with a much younger worker.

In addition to paying the monetary award for lost wages, the company will implement annual training on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the ADA, including the ADA provision barring employers from discriminating against workers because of their association with people with disabilities.

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Cool Websites

Teach Access

This unique collaboration of leading educational institutions, technology industry representatives, and advocates for people with disabilities works to make the fundamentals of digital accessibility a larger, more integrated part of undergraduate education so that future designers and developers will have a broader understanding of inclusive technologies. Check out their educational materials, initiatives, and resources!

NDI Online Classroom Offers Courses on Financial Wellness

The National Disability Institute (NDI) offers a variety of resources and training, including online courses, to help build financial literacy, stability, and empowerment for individuals with disabilities and their families.

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