In the Foreground

Center Update: ADA Leadership Network

The ADA Leadership Network (ADA-LN) enhances implementation of the ADA by training and supporting ADA leaders in local communities. Some highlights of recent activities:

Collaboration is Key for the Central Pennsylvania Center for Independent Living

The Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania (CILCP) is working with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) to increase awareness of the ADA and disability issues. Long-time ADA-LN member Janetta Green was asked to assist with the development of e-learning modules to train domestic violence program advocates across the state. After the modules were developed, Janetta was invited to speak at a conference of program advocates and other stakeholders.

Another exciting ongoing collaboration that the CILCP is spearheading involves the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Organizations (PANO). This collaboration started with Janetta and her colleagues providing a series of webinars on disability awareness and civil rights laws, accessibility, service animal issues, and serving individuals who are blind, deaf, or hard of hearing.

Additionally, while going through the Standards for Excellence accreditation process through PANO, Janetta learned that there were no requirements or standards related to accessibility for people with disabilities. Janetta drafted a brief accessibility checklist and recommended that it be added to the accreditation process. Janetta’s checklist, addressing both facility access and program delivery, was adopted by the National Association.

These exciting collaborations are increasing integration and supporting the individuals who are working passionately to make a difference in our communities.

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Speaks on Disability Rights and Trends at Annual Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit

ADA-LN member Heather Roth, the Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), participated in the recent Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit. Her presentation on disability rights and trends covered the intersection of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the ADA, with a focus on employment and reasonable accommodation issues.

One big issue that Heather sees emerging is the practice of employers contracting with third parties to administer the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). When employees use all the FMLA leave to which they are entitled, contractors focused solely on FMLA may recommend termination of the employee.

This can be problematic for the employer and for employees with disabilities who may be entitled under the ADA to reasonable accommodations in the form of additional unpaid time off, or other accommodations that might enable them to return to work. If employers fail to consider reasonable accommodations in cases like this, it can result in poor outcomes for both employees and employers.

West Virginia University Learns About Service and Support Animals

Service animals and other types of support animals are becoming more prevalent in public life, and universities are seeking to understand how to accommodate students who bring these animals to campus, including into dormitories and other university housing.

Teressa Oliverio Frease, an accessibility specialist at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, recently provided training to residential services staff, covering both ADA requirements for service animals and WVU’s policies regarding other types of support animals.

Teressa’s big message was that communication between students, residential services, and disability services is necessary to ensure the university can be as accommodating as possible while following legal and university requirements.

We highly recommend this type of training for other colleges and universities!