Issue 15 May 27, 2021

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FOUR WAYS THE “AMERICAN JOBS PLAN” COULD REBUILD THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF DISABLED PEOPLE’S LIVES

 

Huge bundles of federal legislation are in the works that are designed to help all Americans, but could also address some of disabled Americans’ most important and neglected priorities. Wednesday night, April 28, 2021, President Joe Biden addressed a joint session of Congress, outlining plans for a stronger American economy and a more just society. Early in fleshing out the problems his proposals would address, Biden noted that, “800,000 families are on the Medicare waiting list right now to get home care for their aging parent or loved one with disability.”…

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Government Spotlight

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FINDS THAT ALAMEDA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, VIOLATES THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT AND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

The Justice Department concluded today, based upon a thorough investigation, that there is reasonable cause to believe that Alameda County is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its provision of mental health services, and that conditions and practices at the county’s Santa Rita Jail violate the U.S. Constitution and the ADA. The department’s investigation found that the county fails to provide services to qualified individuals with mental health disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs…

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Accessible Elections

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ACCESS READY CHALLENGES THE STATE OF MARYLAND’S INTENTIONS ON ELECTION ACCESSIBILITY

May 7th, 2021

Access Ready in conjunction with its Maryland Community Partners met on May 7th by audio-video conference with representatives of Maryland’s State Board of Elections. (SBE)

Alongside Access Ready as partners in this advocacy challenge is: The Image Center for People with Disabilities, The National Association of the Deaf, The National Council on Independent Living, and The National Federation of the Blind.

This advocacy challenge developed when the SBE put out a request for proposal for a new pollbook system for use in Maryland elections.Then, in the opinion of the Community partners, the state rejected the proposal of the only accessible pollbook system that the organizations had been asked to test and give input on. In the opinion of the organizations and their legal counsel the rejection had been based on minor technicalities.

In response to a letter sent jointly by the five organizations the SBE requested this conference.

While the SBE representatives assured the group that they would follow the law where access for all disability groups is concerned, they would make no commitment to having accessibility experts with disabilities test the proposed systems.

During the discussion it came out that in some cases poll workers are not following state statute where the self-identification of voters is concerned. This raises questions about whether the Maryland statute is in violation of Federal privacy laws. This is a separate issue from the accessibility of the intended pollbooks.

Working across many information technologies uses the Community Partners put forth the understanding that accessibility is no longer rocket science. All it takes is a little effort, thought and the will to make a commitment to accessibility. Given this as a fact when asked why the state would not seek the most accessible pollbook system possible the SBE representative stated that they were.

This came across as a condescending platitude meant to satisfy the Community Partners only to be ignored going forward by the SBE.

Disability advocates have witnessed the effects of such statements to many times with inaccessibility being the result. After the fact, the purveyors of such statements often say, “we will make our next choice more accessible!” When systems are chosen that will be in place for a decade or more like the intended Maryland pollbook this approach puts accessibility far into the future.

It became apparent that this conference was a check box discussion for the SBE. That it was something they were doing to say they had done.

It became necessary at the end of the discussion for the group to make it clear that this was not a check box discussion. That if the SBE chose a pollbook that was not accessible to the blind, visually impaired, deaf and those with dexterity limiting disabilities at a minimum that the group was not going away. That they would take issue with any system whose providers said it is accessible but does not actually provide access.

DO PUBLISHED WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY RANKINGS HELP ORGANIZATIONS PERFORM BETTER?

Whether a carrot or stick approach works best for enforcing website accessibility compliance remains an ongoing debate across government and industry at large. The former focuses on educating those controlling digital assets on both the business and moral case for maintaining websites and apps that can be easily accessed by individuals with a wide range of physical or cognitive impairments. The latter entails a punitive response to websites that fail to comply with digital accessibility standards either through public naming and shaming or recourse to legal remedy through the courts…

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Current Legal Actions

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MOVES TO INTERVENE IN DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION SUIT AGAINST CITY OF CHICAGO REGARDING PEDESTRIANS WITH VISUAL DISABILITIES

The Justice Department moved to intervene in a disability discrimination lawsuit that private plaintiffs with visual disabilities brought against the City of Chicago under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). The department’s proposed complaint alleges that the city fails to provide people who are blind, have low vision, or are deaf-blind with equal access to pedestrian signal information at intersections. Pedestrian signal information, such as a flashing “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal, indicates when it is safe to cross the street…

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DOJ LIGHTS A FIRE UNDER CHICAGO OFFICIALS TO SPEED UP ACCESSIBLE PEDESTRIAN SIGNAL INSTALLATION 

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Business Accessibility

HOW TO AVOID ADA LAWSUITS

Did you know your sales and service counter cannot exceed 36 inches in height (34 inches in California)? Did you know that most accessibility litigation begins in your parking lot? Did you know 36 inches is required between your clothing sales racks to maintain an accessible route? The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) matters for all businesses. The law states it is illegal to provide “goods and services to the public” that are not also readily accessible to individuals with disabilities…

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Healthcare Accessibility

STUDY TO SHED LIGHT ON WOMEN LIVING WITH DISABILITIES, BETTER POSITION CLINICIANS TO HELP

Navigating the world with a physical or intellectual disability is hard enough. But for the 1 million American women living with disabilities who are of childbearing age, navigating the labyrinth of reproductive care, family planning and health care can leave them feeling frustrated, humiliated and unheard. As a result, women in this group face a troubling lack of access to quality reproductive and family planning care that can have dire consequences for their well-being, and the well-being of their babies…

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ACCESSIBILITY IS NOT OPTIONAL

 

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution accelerates across the country, federal and state officials have received simple orders from the Biden Administration: “Protect those most at risk and advance equity.” For too many Americans with disabilities, this directive has been an empty promise. Early reports have found that many vaccine outreach campaigns and facilities fail to comply with federal laws to promote access to medical services for individuals with disabilities. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act…

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Accessible Technology

MAKERSPACE PROGRAM WILL HELP PROVIDE RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, AND THE COMMUNITY

A network of five brand new or renovated makerspaces are slated to open later this spring throughout Wyoming, offering exciting opportunities for anyone around Casper, Cheyenne, Evanston, Pinedale, and Rock Springs to gain access to best-in-class tech tools that can take their creative projects to the next level. Defined simply, a makerspace is a collaborative workspace for hands-on making, learning and exploring. These spaces are often creative community centers where people of all experience levels can learn how to tap into emergent technologies that they might not have at home…

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