ADA in Focus: Spring-Summer 2019

Volume 23, 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 2019, Volume 23, Number 2 (suitable for printing)

Spring-Summer 2019, Volume 23, Number 2, in large print (suitable for printing)

In this issue:

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In the Foreground

Center Update: ADA Leadership Network

ADA Leadership Network Member Travels the Eastern Shore Talking to High School Students About Entitlement vs. Eligibility

Jessie Ferrio, Business Service Representative from Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), has been busy this spring traveling through Kent, Queen Anne, Talbot, and Caroline Counties on the Eastern Shore, talking to transitioning students about the differences between life in high school and life after they graduate.

Jessie used Leadership Network training materials to develop a presentation on ADA issues such as disability disclosure, requesting accommodations in postsecondary education or employment, and preparing for job interviews.

The feedback has been terrific from both students and teachers. Jessie was surprised to find that many students were not familiar with the ADA, so the presentations provided a great opportunity for them to learn more about their rights, as well as the services available through DORS.

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ADA Anniversary: July 26

ADA 29: 1990 - 2019, Americans with Disabilities Act, July 26, 2019ADA Celebration and Voter Registration Event

July 18, 2019
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Courthouse Plaza, Arlington, VA
(alternate location in case of inclement weather: lobby of 2300 Clarendon Blvd.)

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV), Spread the Vote, and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

ADA Recognition at the Ballpark:
Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies

July 22, 2019
Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Pre-game recognition of the 29th Anniversary of the ADA will begin at approximately 6:45 p.m. A limited number of discounted tickets are available; purchase at least 24 hours before game time. See you at the ballpark!

American Association of People with Disabilities 2019 ADA Celebration

July 23, 2019
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Webinar:
Reflections on the ADA: Past, Present and Future

July 30, 2019
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
A conversation about the ADA with John Wodatch, disability rights attorney and former chief of the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section, and Marian Vessels, former Mid-Atlantic ADA Center director.

Join the Celebration!

  • Follow the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center on Twitter and Facebook as we join the regional ADA Centers that comprise the ADA National Network in celebrating the ADA Anniversary during the month of July.
  • Use hashtags #ThanksToTheADA and #ADA29 to celebrate the ADA, promote your community events, and share advances in access and inclusion since the landmark civil rights legislation became law in 1990.
  • Learn more about the ADA Anniversary, find out about events, and get ideas on how you can celebrate!
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Focal Point

Accommodating Test-Takers with Disabilities: Finding the Balance

The ADA addresses a wide variety of tests, including job-related tests given by employers, academic tests given by schools, and tests for licenses or professional credentials given by state governments or private testing agencies.

A well-designed test will focus on the knowledge or skill the test is intended to measure. However, adjustments may be needed, particularly in the methods used to conduct tests, in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to achieve meaningful results.

Title I

Employers covered by Title I of the ADA need to make sure that tests given to applicants or employees do not unnecessarily screen out those with disabilities. Tests should identify or assess factors that are “job-related” and “consistent with business necessity,” and not disability-related limitations that are irrelevant to the purpose of the test.

Reasonable accommodations for tests might include making sure a testing location is structurally accessible for individuals with mobility disabilities, offering tests in alternate formats (e.g., large print) or providing assistive technology (e.g., screen enlargement software) for computer-based tests, providing other auxiliary aids or services (e.g., qualified sign language interpreters or readers), using alternate methods to conduct tests (e.g., a job task demonstration instead of a written test), allowing an adjusted testing schedule (e.g., to enable a test-taker with diabetes to monitor blood sugar, administer insulin, or eat a snack), or allowing extra time to complete a test.

Some test-takers will need more than one accommodation. For example, an individual with limited manual dexterity may need a scribe to record answers, as well as additional time to complete the test since this method may take a little longer.

Appropriate accommodations should never undermine the purpose of the test or the validity of the results. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which regulates Title I of the ADA, explains:

“… an employer could require that an applicant with dyslexia take a written test for a particular position if the ability to read is the skill the test is designed to measure. Similarly, an employer could require that an applicant complete a test within established time frames if speed were one of the skills for which the applicant was being tested. However, the results of such a test could not be used to exclude an individual with a disability unless the skill was necessary to perform an essential function of the position and no reasonable accommodation was available to enable the individual to perform that function, or the necessary accommodation would impose an undue hardship.”

test answer sheet with pencilTitle II and Title III

Title II broadly covers state and local government programs, which conduct a wide variety of testing activities. Private businesses covered by Title III, including many private schools, as well as businesses that offer examinations related to educational or professional purposes (e.g., the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), a bar exam), also have obligations to ensure fair testing.

The principles are much the same as those that apply in the employment context. Accommodations should preserve the legitimate purpose of a test while eliminating the irrelevant effects of disability-related limitations.

Documentation

Covered entities are allowed to obtain documentation to support requests for testing accommodations (including for tests given before a job offer is made, when employers are generally prohibited from asking about disability or obtaining disability-related information).

Documentation required must be limited and focused:

  • Documentation should only be required where the disability and/or the need for the requested accommodation is not obvious. For example, if an individual who uses a wheelchair asks about the physical accessibility of a testing location, documentation of her disability should not be requested.
  • Documentation should be focused on the request. For example, if an individual says he has a learning disability and needs extra time to complete a test, documentation may be obtained that verifies the nature of the learning disability and explains why extra time is needed. Additional medical documentation, such as information about other disabilities or health conditions the individual might have, should not be required.

When appropriate accommodations are provided, it won’t mean everyone passes the test, but that everyone has an equal opportunity to do so.

Resources

Federal agencies have developed technical assistance materials and engaged in a variety of enforcement activities related to testing practices. These materials can be instructive for those giving tests as well as those taking them.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC)

Employment Tests and Selection Procedures

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

ADA Requirements: Testing Accommodations

Settlement Agreement: DOJ and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)

Settlement Agreement: DOJ and National Board of Medical Examiners (“NBME”)

Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Materials
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Zoom in on Training

ADA National Network Online Learning

Check out the ADA National Network’s online learning programs, which offer live webinars and archived sessions on a broad range of topics, including architectural design, accessible technology, arts and recreation, ADA legal developments, and much more. Upcoming sessions:

Annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update

November 14 – 15, 2019
Philadelphia, PA

This year will mark our 26th annual conference dedicated to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A pre-conference session, “ADA Overview,” is offered on Wednesday, November 13 for those new to the ADA or anyone who wants a refresher on the law.

The conference will begin with two plenary panel sessions that focus broadly on the ADA. The first will be a panel of influential people from the Philadelphia area, including the city’s ADA Coordinator and the CEO of the Sierra Group. The second panel will include representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Access Board, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, who will provide updates on their agency’s activities over the past year.

The ADA Update features tracks of sessions that are crafted for specific audiences. This year’s tracks are designed for employers and human resource professionals, state and local government officials working in ADA-related jobs, disability services professionals in post-secondary education, and those working in detention and correctional systems. Others who want to learn more about these topic areas are also encouraged to attend.

Participants will choose from six topical tracks with over thirty sessions. Some tracks will be focused on essential ADA concepts such as reasonable accommodation, effective communication, and program accessibility. Other tracks will feature a selection of special topics, such as how to design accessible playgrounds, how the opioid crisis is affecting employment, and how the ADA applies to Planned Parenthood.

The 2019 ADA Update will offer professional development hours for several accreditation organizations, as well as a general certificate of participation. An exhibit area will feature an array of vendors showcasing their products and services.

The conference will also offer multiple opportunities to meet and connect with others who share similar jobs and interests. Past participants have noted that networking is one of their favorite features of the ADA Update.

Registration is scheduled to open in August. You can receive advance notice of registration availability by sending an email to ADAtraining@transcen.org and include “2019 ADA Update” in the subject field.

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

Preserving Our Freedom: Ending Institutionalization of People with Disabilities During and After Disasters

This report from the National Council on Disability (NCD) examines data from several major storms and disasters, finding that people with disabilities are frequently institutionalized unnecessarily during these events due to conflicting federal guidance, a lack of equal access to disaster-related services, and non-compliance with federal law.

The report also found that emergency service providers often lack training on how to effectively serve people with disabilities, and may rely on stereotypes which lead to institutional placements. Unnecessary institutionalization can result in family separations, and delays in returning to work, school, and other community involvement.

Based on its findings, NCD made the following recommendations:

  • Federal agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), need to monitor and enforce ADA provisions related to integration; performance of shelter and mass-care providers such as the American Red Cross should be assessed.
  • Federal agencies need to engage with disability organizations, veterans’ groups, and other stakeholders to improve coordination and close gaps in services.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should explore ways to modify its Individual Assistance registration process to curtail unnecessary institutionalization.
  • DHS/FEMA and HHS/Administration for Community Living (ACL) should provide funds to Centers for Independent Living so they may support disaster-impacted people with disabilities in their communities.

Capacity-Building Toolkit for Including Aging and Disability Networks in Emergency Planning

This comprehensive toolkit is the result of collaboration between the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The toolkit promotes improved communication and collaboration among emergency managers, public health officials, older adults and people with disabilities, and advocates and agencies that serve them. Guidance and practical information can help communities build partnerships, assess needs, facilitate inclusive planning, support preparation, and expedite response and recovery from public health emergencies and disasters.

NDEAM 2019: “The Right Talent, Right Now"

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the U.S. Department of Labor announced the theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) – “The Right Talent, Right Now" emphasizes the essential role that people with disabilities play in America's economic success.

NDEAM, observed every October, celebrates America's workers with disabilities and emphasizes the importance of inclusive employment policies and practices. Visit ODEP’s NDEAM site to find ideas and resources you can use to support NDEAM and promote employment opportunities for workers with disabilities!

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Zoom in on Court Decisions and Settlements

DOJ Settlement with Medical Equipment Provider Will Improve Communication with Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) entered this settlement agreement with Lincare, Inc. to settle a complaint and improve communications between the company and its customers. Lincare, a supplier of oxygen, durable medical equipment, and other respiratory care products and related services, operates in nearly every state in the country.

An individual who is deaf complained that the company failed to provide qualified sign language interpreter services to ensure an effective interaction when she sought to rent equipment.

Lincare will post notices for the public, establish record-keeping and grievance procedures, train its employees, and designate one or more employees to handle ADA compliance. Additionally, the company will compensate the complainant in the amount of $10,000 and pay a civil penalty of $10,000.

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Cool Websites

ThinkWork

The Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston coordinates a wide variety of programs to promote integrated employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The site offers a wealth of information on promising practices for policymakers and practitioners alike.

Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC)

This project works to translate research findings on spinal cord injury, burn injury, and traumatic brain injury. The site offers factsheets, videos, slideshows, and other resources for individuals, families, and professionals.

Maryland Department of Health: Disability Inclusion Program

This project offers resources, tools, and training to help medical and public health professionals provide accessible services and support people with disabilities in leading active, healthy lives.

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