E-Bulletin October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

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

RespectAbility: 2020 Disability Voter Guide

The nonpartisan disability group RespectAbility invited Democratic and Republican candidates for President, Governor and the U.S. Senate to respond to seven questions about education, employment, community participation, and other issues that may be of interest to voters with disabilities. RespectAbility has compiled the answers of those who responded.

“Audit Revealed 43 States’ Vote-By-Mail Application Forms Not Accessible to Many with Disabilities, as Deadlines Loom”

Digital accessibility company Deque Systems conducted a recent audit of the online application forms required for registered voters to vote by mail, and discovered that 43 states’ applications had some level of digital inaccessibility – making them challenging or impossible for many people with disabilities to complete. Several states, including Maryland, “jumped on” Deque’s offer to repair inaccessible application forms.

“MobilityWorks Announces $1 Rental of Wheelchair Accessible Vans to Help Customers Get to the Polls”

MobilityWorks, the nation's largest retailer of wheelchair accessible vans, is offering their customers a $1 rental on November 3 to enable wheelchair users to get to the polls. Chris Paczak, Chief Marketing Officer, said “we are proud to support our civic minded customers who have the ability to choose how they want to vote by removing transportation limitations.” Find out more about “Roll to the Polls” at MobilityWorks.

Report: “Flatten Inaccessibility: Impact of COVID-19 on Blind and Visually Impaired Adults in the United States”

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announced the release of this research report, which includes survey findings from 1,921 U.S. participants who are blind or have low vision. The survey investigated the experiences of these participants during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to determine how they were affected in areas including access to transportation, healthcare, food and supplies, employment, education, and voting.

“2020’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities”

The personal-finance website WalletHub released this report comparing more than 180 U.S. cities according to 34 key indicators of disability-friendliness. Indicators include such items as the employment rate and median income for workers with disabilities, prevalence of special education teachers and graduation rates for students with disabilities, numbers of wheelchair-accessible facilities and health care providers per capita, and data on the quality of public hospital systems.

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Business News

Representative Introduces Online Accessibility Act

On October 1, 2020, Representative Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced a bill (H.R. 8478) that would amend the ADA to address “consumer facing websites and mobile applications” owned or operated by private entities. The bill, known as the Online Accessibility Act, proposes that these websites and apps meet certain standards or provide “alternative means” of “equivalent access” for people with disabilities.

Rather than proposing to amend Title III of the ADA, which applies to other aspects of private businesses, the bill proposes to add a new title to the ADA, with enforcement options different from those available under Title III. Before an individual or group of individuals with disabilities could file a private lawsuit related to websites or mobile apps, they would first have to notify the business and allow 90 days for the business to mitigate the issue; if the business fails to do so, then a complaint would need to be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and a copy provided to the business; the DOJ would be allowed at least 180 days to investigate, make a determination, or possibly institute legal action. Private lawsuits could be filed after these procedures were completed.

As of this writing, a copy of the bill was not yet posted to the Congressional website, but a copy is available at Rep. Budd’s website.

Additional articles or opinion pieces related to the bill:

“Proposed ‘Online Accessibility Act’ Aims to Resolve Uncertainty Surrounding ADA Website Litigation”

“Proposed Online Accessibility Act in US Congress is Bad for Digital Inclusion”

“National Retail Federation (NRF) Supports ADA Regulations for Visually Impaired Website Access”

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Employment News

“Presidential Proclamation Marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month’s 75th Annual Commemoration for ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity’”

President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation designating October 2020 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) leads efforts to observe and promote NDEAM.

“National Trends in Disability Employment (NTIDE) September 2020 Jobs Report: Unease Rises as Numbers Fall for Americans with Disabilities”

This article provides the details of the September 2020 National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). It shows a decline in numbers, which may reflect the impact of the COVID pandemic on the ability of workers to stay engaged in the labor market.

“New Video Series Empowers Job Seekers with Disabilities"

United Spinal released a new how-to video series as part of their Pathways to Employment (PTE) program. The videos are specifically tailored for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities who are looking for information and tips on searching for a job and getting hired.

“COVID-19 Pandemic Reversed Decades of Employment Gains for Disabled, but Advocates See Glimmers of Hope”

This article highlights the overall negative impact of the pandemic on employment for people with disabilities, but also how increased focus on diversity and inclusion in the workforce may help to get things back on track.

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Arts and Culture News

Online Art Exhibition: “Indisposable: Structures of Support After the ADA”

The Ford Foundation Gallery is presenting this multi-module, disability-themed exhibition, which will feature a series of online events through the spring of 2021, and culminate in a physical exhibition to open in the summer of 2021.

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Training, Events, and Opportunities to Participate

NDEAM 2020: Building a Future That Works

October 20, 2020
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
The U.S. Department of Labor cordially invites you to this virtual celebration of the 75th annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and the 30th anniversary of the passage of the ADA.

A distinguished panel will explore the crucial role of accessible technology, and the event will feature a video showcase of the latest innovations in communications, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Employment Innovation: Improving Work for People with Disabilities

October 28, 2020
12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) will host this virtual event celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and highlighting the past, present, and future of work for people with disabilities.

Request for Information: COVID-19 and Congregate Settings

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is seeking information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people living in congregate settings such as psychiatric hospitals, intermediate care facilities, nursing facilities, developmental centers, group homes, and others. NCIL wants to hear from residents of congregate facilities, as well as friends and family members. The deadline to complete the survey is October 16, 2020.

Ticket to Work Request for Information

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published this request on a proposed transfer of the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to the DOL.

The Ticket program assists adults who receive SSA disability benefits to become employed. Transferring the administration of the program to DOL may better serve disability beneficiaries who want to work by integrating the program into the public workforce system. Public comments are due by November 13, 2020.

Survey: Supporting People with Mental Illness to Vote

The Temple University Research Rehabilitation and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental Illness (TU Collaborative) seeks information on organizational initiatives and community ideas that support civic participation among people with mental illnesses. The brief survey collects information about existing initiatives such as voter registration campaigns, as well as ideas for future voting-related initiatives.

Online Dialogue: Job Developing for People with Disabilities During Times of Increased Unemployment

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is hosting an online dialogue to learn how job developers are helping people with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment during times of increased health risks and unemployment. They want to hear from individuals with disabilities, family members, advocates, employment specialists, vocational rehabilitation counselors, job coaches, and employers.

“Microgrants for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Now Available from Celebrate EDU”

Non-profit organization Celebrate EDU, a non-profit organization that provides education and resources to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities interested in entrepreneurship, has announced the availability of business microgrants. The grants range from $100 to $500, and are available to any person with intellectual or developmental disabilities who has a new or emerging business.

U.S. Department of Transportation Inclusive Design Challenge

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the opening of Stage I of the Inclusive Design Challenge. The Challenge seeks innovative design solutions that can enable people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities to use automated vehicles. Stage I concept proposals are due October 30, 2020.

ADA Today Podcast

Check out our latest episode on Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation in Employment.

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