Issue 18 August 26 2021

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Sponsored by Commonlook
Content Curation sponsored by Microassist
Circulation sponsored by eReleases

Our message is a simple one, registration, validation, and voting  must be a continuum of private and independent accessibility.  Yes, under the law this does mean all election technology including pollbooks.  We are here representing our community partners: 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, to ask for your help.

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MICROSOFT ACCESSIBILITY BOSS JENNY LAY-FLURRIE REFLECTS ON THREE DECADES OF THE ‘LANDMARK’ AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

Last week marked the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, colloquially known as the ADA. President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990 in a ceremony at the White House’s Rose Garden. The hallmark piece of legislation, effectively doing for disabled people what the Civil Rights Act did for Black people 26 years earlier, was pioneered by former congressman Tony Coelho (D-CA). Coelho, who’s an epileptic, told me last year he was motivated to push for the bill after being told by many people (including his parents) that his diagnosis was a sign he was “possessed by the devil.” …

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Government Spotlight

COLORADO FIRST IN NATION TO REQUIRE WEB ACCESSIBILITY FOR GOVERNMENT

To the state lawmaker who sponsored legislation for people with disabilities, the success of House Bill 21-1110 is the perfect example of why representation matters. After freshman Democratic Rep. David Ortiz of Littleton was elected in 2020, he became the first person who uses a wheelchair to serve in the Colorado General Assembly. This year, Ortiz led efforts to incorporate some federal protections for people with disabilities into state law, making it easier for them to sue the government for discrimination.

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ACROSS FEDERAL WORKFORCE, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES SEE NEED FOR MORE REPRESENTATION

When Tony Coelho wrote the American with Disabilities Act 31 years ago, his goal was to ensure that people with disabilities could participate in the workforce with equal opportunities of inclusion and success. Three decades later, people with disabilities — the largest minority group in the country — remain underrepresented in the workforce, particularly within the federal workforce. Four years ago, the government set a benchmark calling for every agency to commit to having no less than 12% of its employees made up of people with disabilities…

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Accessible Elections

Sponsored by VOTEC

DISABLED VOTERS SEEK FEDERAL BULWARK AS STATES CHIP AWAY ACCESS

Disabilities advocates watching states chip away at voting opportunities are leaning on the Biden administration to make tangible strides to make voting more accessible. The federal government can do more to ensure that basic amenities like wheelchair accessible ramps are provided at polling stations or that vital election materials are translated into American Sign Language. Disabilities advocates, who recently met with Vice President Kamala Harris, are rallying in advance of draft recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on making voting more accessible

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MARYLAND VOTERS SUE TO PROTECT SECRET BALLOTS- NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND AND ITS MARYLAND AFFILIATE ALSO PARTIES TO LITIGATION

The National Federation of the Blind, its Maryland affiliate, and three blind registered Maryland voters – Marie Cobb, Ruth Sager, and Joel Zimba – are suing the Maryland State Board of Elections. The suit alleges that the Board of Elections is violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by maintaining a segregated system of voting that denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and equal voting experience. From 2004 to 2016, all Maryland voters used the same electronic touch-screen voting machines to cast ballots…

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WHY SHERRI TURPIN IS ASKING THE FCC TO MAKE TELECOMMUNICATIONS ‘ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE FOR ALL

A common thread that connects seemingly disparate stories featured in this column is how assistive technology exists as a means to combat structural ableism. Society is built for and by abled people, much in the same ways society favors men and white people; America was founded by a bunch of white men, after all. The needs of disabled people—especially in this technologically dominant age—is a prime example of diversity and inclusion. Accessibility is so important, not only to technology but to life in general, because making things accessible is precisely how we feel included…

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SWIMMER BECCA MEYERS’ ORDEAL SHOWS EVEN THE PARALYMPICS DOESN’T LISTEN TO DISABLED PEOPLE

Becca Meyers, a 26-year-old Paralympic swimmer who was favored to win gold in Tokyo this year, withdrew from the Paralympics in July because the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) wouldn’t allow her to bring her mother as her personal care attendant. (Meyers is a deaf-blind athlete.) The 2020 Paralympics were delayed by a year because of the pandemic. Under new restrictions, USOPC reduced their delegation size, leaving only one slot for a personal care attendant (that’s 1 person for 34 Paralympic swimmers). This forced Meyers to step aside, very possibly forever…

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Current Legal Actions

DOJ SETTLES WITH FLORIDA’S VOLUSIA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO PROTECT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES FROM CLASSROOM REMOVALS AND OTHER DISCRIMINATION

The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement with Florida’s Volusia County School District (VCS) to address the district’s systemic and discriminatory practices that punish students with disabilities for their disability-related behavior and deny them equal access to VCS’s programs and services. The department conducted an investigation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida received a complaint from a local legal aid organization on behalf of several students, many of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder…

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Business Accessibility

CREATING A MORE ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Many people with disabilities still face significant difficulties in finding employment, despite the marked improvement after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted. When they get new jobs, they then may face a workplace environment that is not tailored to their needs and requirements. Technology can play an essential role in creating an accessible future of work. Rapid developments in assistive technology devices and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and augmented reality, can help people with disabilities engage in the workplace by creating an accessible and inclusive environment

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WALMART FIRED AN EMPLOYEE WITH DOWN SYNDROME WHO WORKED THERE FOR 16 YEARS. A JURY SAID IT SHOULD PAY HER $125 MILLION.

A federal jury determined on Friday that Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired an employee with Down syndrome following issues related to her work schedule. After a four-day trial in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the jury awarded Marlo Spaeth $125 million in damages. Before her termination, Spaeth worked at Walmart for about 16 years. A Walmart spokesperson told Insider the verdict was expected to be reduced to $300,000, which is the maximum amount allowed under federal law

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Healthcare Accessibility

BIDEN EXTENDS AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT PROTECTIONS TO COVID LONG-HAULERS

President Joe Biden on Monday marked the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by announcing guidance that extends its protections to people with “long COVID.” Biden laid out the plan in a Rose Garden speech alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, hailing the act  which he co-sponsored as a senator in 1990 as a “bulwark against discrimination and a path to independence.” “The ADA is more than a law,” he said. “It’s a testament to our character as a people, our character as Americans.”…

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GENE THERAPY COULD TREAT EYE DISEASE WITHOUT SURGERY

Currently, the only treatment is corneal transplant, a major surgery with associated risks and potential complications. “When you do a transplant you make a huge difference for that person, but it’s a big deal for the patient with lots of visits, lots of eye drops, lots of co-pays, and if you had a medical treatment that did not require surgery, that would be great,” says Bala Ambati, a research professor at the University of Oregon who led an eight-year study involving the development of the gene therapy…

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Accessible Technology

 WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY BY SCANNING MORE THAN 2 MILLION FEDERAL .GOV WEB PAGES

The Innovation Technology Innovation Foundation recently published an accessibility analysis of federal .gov websites, but this just scratches the surface of the need for a holistic, scalable approach to digital government accessibility. ITIF scanned 72 federal websites — plus their second- and third-most popular pages — for issues that violated WCAG 2.0 Level A or Level AA standards. The assessment tool used was the axe DevTools browser extension, a single-page automated scan

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DISABLED SPACE ENTHUSIASTS CAN NOW APPLY FOR ZERO GRAVITY SPACE TRAINING

For people who are disabled and have always dreamed of training to fly to space, the SciAccess Initiative has opened up applications to disabled crew participants for a Zero-G parabolic flight. The initiative, which works to make STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) more accessible through a series of programs, announced the launch of its latest program: Mission: AstroAccess yesterday (July 15). This new program will fly a diverse group of disabled people on a parabolic flight aboard the Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero-G)’s “G-Force One” plane, which uses a series of parabolas to create weightlessness in the plane’s cabin

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Sponsored by Commonlook
Content Curation sponsored by Microassist
Circulation sponsored by eReleases