ADA in Focus: Spring-Summer 2020

Volume 24, 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 2020, Volume 24, Number 2 (suitable for printing)

Spring-Summer 2020, Volume 24, Number 2, in large print (suitable for printing)

In this issue:

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Focal Point

Focal Point:
Celebrating 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

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

It’s been thirty years since the ADA was signed into law and civil rights protections for people with disabilities were expanded as never before. This year we looked forward to commemorating this historic event with exuberant gatherings – parades, picnics, and lots of people!

Of course, the summer of 2020 hasn’t turned out as any of us hoped it would. The world has been ravaged by the virulent COVID-19 pandemic, and rocked by demonstrations and protests that remind us how much work we still have to do to realize the goals of our civil rights laws. The news boils with death, sorrow, hardship, anger, fear, and strife.

But every day – every single day – there are people helping and supporting each other, generously sharing groceries or offering words of comfort to total strangers, working to make neighborhoods and communities better, and finding creative ways to keep hope and joy alive.

Civil Rights Laws: Signs of Civilization

Though a successful and lasting human society is not based on laws alone, the laws we set for ourselves speak to the accord that flows from our shared humanity. Laws are carefully considered compromises, and must change over time as we learn and grow. As members of society, we follow the law for the good of all. Our innate sense of fairness tells us that our rights come with responsibilities, that we must strive to treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

… with the precious privilege of being an American comes a sacred duty to ensure that every other American's rights are also guaranteed.
~ George H. W. Bush, remarks on signing the ADA, July 26, 1990

A civil rights law is a challenge we issue to ourselves – to do better, to be better. Civil rights laws represent the finest aspirations of any society. As disability rights activist Justin Dart said, “ADA is only the beginning. It is not a solution. Rather, it is an essential foundation on which solutions will be constructed.”

ADA signing ceremony

In this summer of uncertainty and upheaval, let us pause to reflect on another summer, 30 years ago, when a hot and humid day could not dampen the spirits of the thousands who gathered on the lawn outside the White House to witness the signing of the ADA.

Let us rededicate ourselves to the work that remains to be done to achieve meaningful implementation of all our civil rights laws, until a truly inclusive society is our reality, and every person – regardless of disability, race, religion, gender, language, or any of the other splendid identities we proudly embrace – can breathe the same free air.

Our problems are large, but our unified heart is larger. Our challenges are great, but our will is greater. And in our America, the most generous, optimistic nation on the face of the Earth, we must not and will not rest until every man and woman with a dream has the means to achieve it.
~ George H. W. Bush, remarks on signing the ADA, July 26, 1990

Disability Rights Are Civil Rights

Visit the ADA National Network to find resources and ideas for celebrating the ADA anniversary, opportunities to share your experiences and media through the #ThanksToTheADA campaign, and participate in events like the month-long activities of “Virtual PA 2020” and the ADA-Palooza being sponsored by Disability Pride Philadelphia!

ADA 30: 1990 - 2020, Americans with Disabilities Act

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Zoom in on Training

Save the Date: Mid-Atlantic ADA Center Annual Conference

September 9 – 11, 2020
Alexandria, Virginia

Save the date for our 27th annual conference on the ADA, featuring presentations and workshops on employment, law enforcement and corrections, accessible design, and more!

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. Upcoming sessions:

Visit our Trainings pages for a comprehensive listing!

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Close-Ups: What's New

Updated Guide to the ADA Standards Includes Sections on Toilet and Bathing Facilities and Drinking Fountains

If you’re interested in accessible design, be sure to check out the U.S. Access Board’s updated guidance on the ADA Standards for Design and Construction. New sections outline application and scoping provisions, and explain specifications for drinking fountains, bathrooms (including roll-in showers, transfer showers, and bathtubs), and toilet rooms (including single-user, multi-user, and portable units).

The sections address overall room design and maneuvering clearances, as well as ancillary elements such as grab bars, controls and dispensers, mirrors, and baby changing tables. Each section includes helpful illustrations, answers frequently asked questions, and offers recommendations for best practice.

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Zoom in on Court Decisions and Settlements

DOJ Settlement Agreement with Lyft Aims to Improve
Transportation Options for Riders Who Use Mobility Devices

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Lyft, Inc., a California-based business that operates a nationwide transportation network company (TNC), have entered a voluntary settlement agreement to resolve several consumer complaints and improve services for individuals who use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices.

TNCs (also called ridesharing or ride-hailing services) offer online apps to connect passengers and drivers. DOJ asserts that the business model makes Lyft a provider of transportation services, as defined in the ADA. Lyft, however, maintains that it is does not operate a transportation service, but rather a technology service that merely enables riders to contact drivers who are independent owners/operators of vehicles for hire.

Nevertheless, Lyft agreed to make several policy changes designed to improve access to services for individuals who use foldable wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices that can be easily and safely accommodated in drivers’ cars. Lyft will:

  • Modify its “wheelchair policy” and improve driver education about how to accommodate passengers who use foldable mobility devices
  • Implement a revised rider complaint procedure
  • Provide ADA training to Lyft employees who respond to consumer issues and complaints
  • Ensure that an employee continues to be designated to oversee the implementation of updated procedures

Additionally, the company will pay a total of $42,000 to four individual complainants, and a $40,000 civil penalty to the United States.

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Spotlight: Cool Websites

EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America

This virtual exhibit, available in English and Spanish, is presented by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The fascinating exhibit examines the history of disability in America through “the material record of the people who lived it.” The site features hundreds of images of people, places, and things that were shaped by, for, and about people with disabilities.

DOJ: Civil Rights Reporting Portal

A new online tool from the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is designed to make it easier for people to report suspected civil rights violations based on a wide variety of factors, including disability, race or color, religion, language or national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration or citizenship status, age, genetic identification, servicemember status, or family status (including pregnancy).

Coronavirus Information and Resources

Check out our page for the latest information and resources on COVID-19 and employment, transportation, education, housing, and health issues.

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