Hi, everybody!  Here is our latest Newsletter edition.  Hope you enjoy it!  P.S.  We now have a blog as well as our website.  adaaccessnow.org/blog  All best wishes to everyone!  Phyllis F. Resnick Pres., Access Now, Inc. (r)




A Florida Not-For-Profit

501(c) (3) Corporation

19333 West Country Club Drive #1522

Aventura, Florida 33180






JANUARY, 2012                                               JANUARY, 2012













www.adaaccessnow.org (Bobby-Approved)

****Please Note****





email: info@adaaccessnow.org


With Your Continued Support

We Continue To Grow Nationally



(a Florida not-for-profit, 501© 3 Corporation)

19333 West Country Club Drive #1522

Aventura, Florida 33180

Tel. 305-705-0059  Fax 305-792-2665

info@adaaccessnow.org                         www.adaaccessnow.org

Membership Form




Name (PLEASE PRINT) _______________________________________________







If Disabled, give brief description:




Do you use a service dog?________Name____________________________



Donation___________           (APPRECIATED BUT NOT REQUIRED)

Please send me:  #__________ Newsletters

Please tell us how or from whom you heard about “Access Now”® (if from the internet, please tell us the site):




PLEASE SIGN!!!!!!!!!!













January, 2012


Dear Reader:

We hope that, once again, you will enjoy reading our latest newsletter and that you would like to join us in our mission, our goal and our achievements.  (THERE IS NO FEE REQUIRED. HOWEVER, TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS WILL BE MOST GRATEFULLY ACCEPTED.) Also, please let us remind you that our membership is open to both the able-bodied as well as to the disabled.

If you would like to become one among our growing list of members, please either fill out, SIGN and return the attached form to us or, preferably, you may fill out the form online by logging on to our website at www.adaaccessnow.org and going to the “Membership” link.  (The latter method makes it much easier and quicker for us to enter you into our database and is therefore particularly helpful.


We are very proud of the strides we have made and we hope that we can count on you as one of our members and, in an abundance of optimism, we thank you in advance!

Most sincerely,

Access Now, Inc.®

Phyllis F. Resnick, President




HELLO AGAIN, EVERYBODY!  July of 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the passing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “the A.D.A”.  It is difficult to believe and sad to contemplate that, even after all this time, we still receive pleas daily from people who are being denied their rights under this civil rights law Therefore, it is a gratifying and encouraging delight to receive a donation with kudos (although far more of the latter than we deserve;  more about that below).   As a perfect case in point, we would like to share with you the following moving letter, dated December 31, 2011, which we received from one of our members (the letter contained a small check):


Dear Access Now, Inc.

Thanks for making a better nation and a better world with your work.

I’m a blind guy, and like 70% of my fellow blind people, I am unemployed.  Most of us receive SSI, which is less than a thousand dollars a month;  my disability income does not even cover the rent of one room in the house, which I share with 6 other sentient beings.  So this could be considered to be blood money.  Use it wisely.

It may not be enough to buy good polish for your halos.  Since the donation is so small, a wise use might be to keep some worthy volunteers in cheese and crackers.  Maybe it won’t even cover the tip to the cab driver who carries your superstars to the airport.  But people who have to live out of a suitcase in order to spread the gospel of goodness, kindness, and compassion, deserve recognition from the heart also.

Or maybe a person who goes way above and beyond for sacrificing time, money, and energy to advance the wonderfulness of Access Now, Inc.  In my experience, the secretary of the board of directors and the newsletter editor do a disproportionate amount of unheralded work.

I am enclosing my address, but please don’t send me continued solicitations, keep me off your mailing list.  I have to pay someone to read the mail, which is already too much every week.  Keep me on an email list.

The deposited check is sufficient recognition of the donation;  no mail confirmation is required.

May all of us live better lives with peace, joy, health and security in the coming years and have all of our hearts beating throughout 2012.

Thanks once again for doing great work.


(Note from Newsletter Editor:    Name and Address withheld herein. )

(Additional Note):  For the purposes of clarification to our readers, please let us say here what we replied, in part, to the letter writer above:


“First of all, no donation is too small.  Yours is even more generous than many larger ones we might possibly receive from those who are more easily able to make a donation.  Secondly, we do not wear or deserve halos.  Although we do have our Board of Directors and our Executive Committee, we do not have any working volunteers, save for my assistant and myself, and believe me, neither one of us needs any more cheese and crackers!  (We are both Weight Watchers grads!)  We CERTAINLY don’t have any superstars coming from or going to airports.  (May I assume that you were merely being humorous?)  Of course, we do have the dedicated work of a small number of attorneys and consultants who, although they receive compensation for their efforts when a case is finally concluded, nevertheless are working on contingency, so in the rare instance where we might not prevail in any given court case, they are assuming some level of financial risk. We are merely people who have either suffered accessibility discrimination because of disability or who have been close to someone who has.  In short, we are people who FEEL beyond our own individual experiences and who are therefore compelled to do something about the world beyond our own noses.



And so, Dear Reader, to continue: 


As you may know, we have never required a membership fee for joining with us in our mission and we are NOT going to change that now.  However, we have always stated that voluntary donations are welcomed and deeply appreciated, although we have never actually solicited them.  This year, however, is different, as it is for so many people. THEREFORE, WE ARE NOW ASKING FOR VOLUNTARY DONATIONS IN ORDER TO KEEP OUR EFFORTS MOVING FORWARD.  (Please remember that all donations to us are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.)  Any donation of any amount will, you may be certain, be put to good use as we pursue as much accessibility as possible for as many members of the disabled community as possible.  To that end, we will now begin to send our twice-yearly newsletter by EMAIL TO THOSE WHO HAVE FURNISHED US WITH EMAIL ADDRESSES, thereby saving costs as well as trees.  (Of course, for those who have not sent us an email “addy”, we will be mailing this newsletter via postal mail, as we have done in the past.)  If you wish to receive this newsletter via email, please update us as to your current email addy We look forward to hearing from you at any level of financial assistance which you feel able to provide.  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!


My heartfelt thanks to our Board of Directors and Executive Committee, our 1st Vice President, my indefatigable assistant, our computer gurus and the attorneys and consultants with whom we work!  I would like to thank all our members, worldwide, for their continued support and, in an abundance of optimism, our prospective members as well!  AND NOW, TO OUR NEWS  --------



To know how one group of people is being treated, it is imperative to understand where that group stands with respect to other groups.  The way to do so is to gather statistics on both groups and compare the results.  To this end, we bring you the following story about crime in America and the enhanced vulnerability of people with disabilities:

Crime victims with disabilities

Young and middle-age persons with disabilities experienced higher rates of violence than similarly-aged persons without disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has issued the first estimates of crime against people with disabilities.  The Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act (Public Law 105-301), 1998, requires the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to measure the victimization of people with disabilities. 

Using 2007 NCVS data, BJS estimates that about one third (34%) of the crimes against persons with or without a disability in 2007 were serious violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault). Persons with disabilities were victims of about 47,000 rapes, 79,000 robberies, 114,000 aggravated assaults, and 476,000 simple assaults.  Other findings include:

·         The rate of nonfatal violent crimes against people with disabilities was 50% higher than the rate for people without disabilities.

·         Rates of rape and sexual assault were more than twice those for people without disabilities.

·         Youth with a disability aged 12 to 19 experienced violence at nearly twice the rate as those without a disability.

·         People with cognitive disabilities had a higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any other type of disability.

·         People with multiple disabilities accounted for about 56% of all violent crime victimizations against those with any disability.

·         Similar percentages of victims of violent crime with disabilities (58%) and without disabilities (60%) resisted their attackers.

·         Nearly 1 in 5 violent crime victims with a disability believed that they became a victim because of their disability.

·         Police did not respond to about 23% of reported violent crimes against people with disabilities, compared to about 10% of reported violent crimes against victims without disabilities.

For more information, see the Department of Justice press release: “First National Study on Crime against People with Disabilities” at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/ content/ pub/press/capd07pr.cfm Read the text-only version of the report: “Crime against People with Disabilities.”


One member’s response to a comment in the Key West Citizen

December 7, 2011

Re: “Old Town Key West should be designated as ‘historic’ so, like other historic towns in the U.S., it will be spared from the wrecking ball of the Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk projects.”

Calling the ADA a “wrecking ball” displays an ignorance about the value of inclusion of people with disabilities in all facets of American life, and an attitude toward people with disabilities and their civil rights.  Making sidewalks accessible allows people with disabilities to spend money in local businesses and take advantage of the programs and services of state and local governments.  The writer displays an attitude that made the passage of the federal civil rights law necessary in the first place.  And, it should be noted, designating a place as historic does not exempt it from the requirements of the law.

I am a Keys resident, and served as a Senior Trial Attorney at the Justice Department from 1993-2005, where I was responsible for nationwide enforcement of the ADA on behalf of the Civil Rights Division.  Marc Dubin, Esq.



Membership – We now have 938 members representing 47 states and Puerto Rico.  We are also proud to claim members in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and Pakistan. 



Since our September Newsletter, Access Now, Inc.® has made progress in settling cases.  We have filed a total of 977 cases since our inception.  Presently, there are 144 cases with outstanding Settlement Agreements, requiring alterations or modifications which in several cases should be completed by August 15, 2012, or later.  (Cases involving hospitals and other large or complex facilities have post-settlement compliance completion dates much further in the future.)

During the past five months, Access Now has entered into 5 additional settlements to make properties A.D.A.-compliant.  They include:

Hospitals                                 5

Access Now® continues to assert itself nationally in scope.  The 5 settlements are all in the state of Colorado.

We will keep expanding our geographical presence as best we can as we continue to receive requests for information and assistance from around the country and internationally.  Please notify us if you become aware of situations where access continues to be denied.  We remain solidly in the forefront of the fight for accessibility.

The following is a brief listing of the cases that have been settled since our last newsletter:

Hospitals   (# of beds)

Swedish Medical Center   (368)



North Suburban Medical Center   (157)



Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center   (680)



Rose Medical Center   (422)



Sky Ridge Medical Center   (185)

Lone Tree


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NOTABLE CASES – There are some cases that are especially important because of their value as precedents or because they remove significant numbers or types of barriers.  Several of those types of cases are listed below.  Please remember that most defendants in non-class action cases insist on confidentiality as a condition of signing settlement agreements.  Therefore, we cannot discuss those cases by name, although they number quite a few.  However, several of them are included in the cases listed above. 

1.            Hospitals – We continue to make significant progress in this area.  The total of 5 HCA-HealthOne facilities listed in this newsletter brings to 187 the total adjudicated at Fair Hearings over the past three years.  The 5 facilities have a total of 1,812 beds in Colorado.  As a consequence over 39,000 beds have now been made accessible or are in the process of being made accessible because of our legal action.

We continue to be actively involved in cases involving medical institutions because of our strong belief that they constitute one of the most important ways to enhance the quality of life of the disabled community.  These hospital settlements will make a great difference to members of our community.  The settlements show that the ADA can work when there are dedicated advocates and attorneys using it for our benefit. 

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We are excited to announce a NEW accessible healthcare project on which Access Now, Inc.® is embarking together with one of the law firms with which we work , de la O, Marko, Magolnick and Leyton.  THIS IS IN ADDITION TO THE HOSPITAL CASES ON WHICH WE HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR MANY LONG YEARS WITH GREAT SUCCESS, THIS PROJECT WILL ADD MANY MORE HUNDREDS OF HOSPITALS TO THOSE WHICH WE ARE TRYING SO HARD TO MAKE ADA-COMPLIANT!


We can think of no other field in which accessibility could possibly be more important than that of the healthcare field.  To that end, WE NEED YOUR HELP!  The lists below include the following hospital companies:  (1) Health Management Associates (“HMA”), (2) Community Health Systems (“CHS”) and (3) Catholic Healthcare East (“CHE”).  Unlike the other two, the HMA list includes the hospital facilities and ALL of the other medical facilities (clinics, surgery centers, etc.) that HMA owns and operates As you will see from the list, they have an extremely heavy market presence in Florida, but are also located in 14 other states, including Pennsylvania, where their market presence rivals their Florida market presence.  CHS is the company which acquired TRIAD (44 facilities) and at present, they have over 120 hospital facilities that they own and operate throughout the U.S.  CHE owns and operates HOLY CROSS HOSPITAL in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and also has a very heavy market presence in the Tampa Bay area.


HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP:  If you have used or are planning to use or if you are in the geographical area (i.e., the 911 area code) of any of the medical facilities listed below (or ANY other hospital or medical facility where you have either encountered or are aware of accessibility difficulties, whether related to physical barriers of any kind or to vision or hearing impairment problems) PLEASE LET US KNOW.

You may reach us either by phone (305-705-0059) or email (phyllis@ adaaccessnow.org) or postal mail (Access Now, Inc.®, 19333 West Country Club Drive, #1522, Aventura, Florida 33180). Your assistance in this project is vital!  We are all in the disabled accessibility battle TOGETHER, and TOGETHER we can make significant strides in finally, FINALLY bringing various entities, both private and public, ESPECIALLY HOSPITALS, into compliance with the ADA, a civil rights law now in existence for almost 22 years (passed in 1990)!

Please carefully peruse the following 3 lists and join with us in this most important effort!!  THANK YOU AND ALL BEST WISHES!


List of Facilities:


Riverview Reg’l Med. Center, Gadsden

Stringfellow Memorial Hospital, Anniston


Marvin Altman Fitness Center, Fort Smith

Sleep Disorders Center, Fort Smith

Sparks Plaza, Fort Smith

Sparks PremierCare, Fort Smith

Sparks Reg’l Med. Center, Fort Smith

Summit Med. Center, Van Buren


Bartow Reg’l Med. Center, Bartow

Brooksville Reg’l Hospital, Brooksville


Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine, Pace

Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine, Zephyrhills

Charlotte Reg’l Med. Center, Punta Gorda

Chronic Pain Mgt. Center - Dr. D. Haber, Venice

dePoo Medical Building, Key West

Dunnellon Diagnostic Center, Dunnellon

Gulf Coast Med. Group - Central Billing Office, Venice

Gulf Coast Med. Group - Dr. Eric Reintsema, North Port

Gulf Coast Med. Group - Dr. Sohail Shariff, Venice

Gulf Coast Med. Group – Endocrinology, Venice

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


List of Facilities:


Cherokee Medical Center, Centre

Crestwood Medical. Center, Huntsville

DeKalb Reg’l Medical Center, Fort Payne

Flowers Hospital, Dothan

Gadsden Reg’l Medical Center, Gadsden

LV Stabler Memorial Hospital, Greenville

Medical Center Enterprise, Enterprise

South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, Foley

Trinity Medical Center, Birmingham


Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, Palmer


Northwest Medical Center, Tucson

Oro Valley Hospital, Oro Valley

Payson Reg’l Medical Center, Payson

Western Arizona Regional Medical Center, Bullhead City


Forrest City Medical Center, Forrest City

Harris Hospital, Newport

Helena Reg’l Medical Center, Helena

Medical Center of South Arkansas, El Dorado

Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville, Bentonville

Northwest Medical Center  Springdale, Springdale

Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital, Siloam Springs

Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, Johnson


Barstow Community Hospital, Barstow

Fallbrook Hospital, Fallbrook

Watsonville Community Hospital, Watsonville


Lake Wales Medical Center, Lake Wales

North Okaloosa Medical Center, Crestview


Fannin Regional Hospital, Blue Ridge

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


List of Facilities:


Mercy Medical, Daphne


Mercy Community Health, Inc., West Hartford


St. Francis Healthcare Services, Wilmington


BayCare Health System, Clearwater

Includes the following:

BayCare Alliant Hospital, Dunedin;

Mease Countryside Hospital, Clearwater;

Mease Dunedin Hospital, Dunedin

Morton Plant Hospital, Clearwater

Morton Plant N. Bay Hosp., New Port Richey

St. Anthony’s Hospital, St. Petersburg

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tampa

St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, Lutz

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Tampa

St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, Tampa;

South Florida Baptist Hospital, Plant City

Holy Cross Hospital Fort Lauderdale


St. Mary’s Health Care System, Inc.®, Athens

Saint Joseph’s Health System, Atlanta


Sisters of Providence Health System, Holyoke


Mercy Health System of Maine, Portland

New Jersey

Lourdes Health System, Camden

Saint Michael’s Medical. Center, Newark

St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton

New York

Catholic Health System, Buffalo

St. James Mercy Health System, Hornell

St. Peter’s Health Care Services, Albany

North Carolina

St. Joseph of the Pines, Southern Pines


Maxis Health System, Carbondale

Mercy Health System of S.E. PA, Conshohocken

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, Pittsburgh

St. Mary Medical Center, Langhorne

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2.                  City of St. Augustine, Florida  In April 2007 Access Now® settled a case against the City of St. Augustine, Florida.  While several improvements have been made, it seems that the city may not meet the April 2012 deadline for completing the required access upgrades.  The following article from Folio Weekly (“What’s Your Handicap?”) looks at the progress and travails in the case four years after settlement through the eyes of one of the individual named plaintiffs.  Unfortunately, the other two individual plaintiffs in the case have died in the interim.  (Also, please note that the plaintiff is listed in the article as “Access Florida”.  That is incorrect.  The correct plaintiff is, of course, Access Now, Inc. ®

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What’s Your Handicap?

A disabled advocate leads a hunt for ADA-friendly parking in St. Augustine

By Susan Cooper Eastman   sceastman@folioweekly.com

Folio Weekly   October 25-31, 2011

Merrill Roland gives the directions. After 32 years trudging around St. Augustine’s streets — as tour guide, as street performer — he knows every nook, side street and parking lot. Today, we’re on a search for handicapped parking spaces, with a manual wheelchair stowed in the back seat of my 2004 Ford Focus. In a city designed for pedestrians in the late 16th century, disabled access is clearly an afterthought. But Merrill Roland, who is himself disabled (he wears a prosthetic leg), believes the bigger obstacle to mobility is the lack of designated parking spaces, signage and curb cuts for wheelchairs.

Roland, a well-known city gadfly with a penchant for drama, notes that there is not a single designated handicapped space around the city’s Plaza de la Constitución or along its bayfront, even though both areas have reserved spaces for taxis, tourist trolleys, delivery trucks and horse-drawn carriages. Even in the city’s public parking lots, handicapped spaces are frequently hard to find. (The blue paint marking one space near City Hall is so worn, it’s hard to tell if it predates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and might be swabbed with blue striping for some other reason.) “I can’t believe in this time and day . . . ,” Roland marvels.

The issue of accessibility in St. Augustine isn’t just one person’s lament. It was the subject of a three-year lawsuit brought by Access Florida (sic Access Now®) and three disabled men (including Roland) in reaction to the city’s noncompliance with federal ADA requirements. The city settled the suit in April 2007 by promising to spend $650,000 in five years upgrading access, including providing handicap-accessible curb cuts “to the maximum extent feasible.” So far, the city has spent $457,000, with one more year to reach compliance in April 2012. But one of the lawyers who represented the ADA plaintiffs says the city still has serious compliance issues. Miami attorney Charles Ferguson (representing Access Now®) says he will be sending the city of St. Augustine a notice of violation soon. He didn’t want to comment further without reviewing the procedure for notification in the settlement, but he did say that eight downtown streets lack proper curb cuts at intersections.

Back in the Ford Focus, Roland homes in on the unpaved Tolomato Lot off Orange Street, muddy from days of rain. “. There used to be a handicapped space back here,” Roland says, pointing toward the back of the lot. . There is indeed a dirt space marked with a handicapped sign, but if there’s an old concrete slab buried beneath the dirt, it would require an archeological dig to uncover. Once the car’s parked, I climb into the wheelchair and attempt to exit the lot. Moving requires the upper body strength of a gymnast. Not only that, muddy ruts in front of the space and large puddles block the way out. After sticking in and lunging forward across the mud, I reach the driveway ramp to Spanish Street. From my wheelchair perspective, it looks like something designed for a skateboard. The drop between the driveway and the street is steep and impossible to cross. Coming or going, the concrete gap between the exit and the street is enough to topple me face-first, or knock me backwards. To be fair, the Tolomato lot also features two smooth concrete pads with the handicapped wheelchair symbol prominently displayed at the entrance, but that’s a local Eagle Scout’s project, not the city’s.

Roland got along fine when he moved to here in 1987, when he was 34 years old. His own disability (a deformed leg caused by the thalidomide his mother was prescribed for morning sickness when pregnant) appears mild; he’s able to ride a motorcycle and limps now only when he’s tired. Though he’s experienced discrimination, his concerns about ADA compliance began after he met Robert Jones. A paraplegic who’d retired to St. Augustine, Jones found the crumbling city streets nearly impassible in a wheelchair. He died before the lawsuit he and another handicapped man (also deceased) filed was settled, but Roland continues the fight they began together — sometimes vocally — and never misses an opportunity to raise the issue. On Oct. 5, Roland called into the WJCT radio show “First Coast Connect” when guest St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles was speaking about the city’s planned Civil Rights museum. Roland complimented the city on its commitment to Civil Rights, but observed it continues to violate the rights of the disabled.

Boles could hardly contain his disdain. “That’s Merrill Roland,” he told host Melissa Ross dismissively. “He’s a local guy that comes up front all the time [at City Commission meetings]. We appreciate his willingness to listen to WJCT and calling in . . . But let me assure you, we have everything there is, and he is the only one who complains.” Boles did not address the core of Roland’s complaint, however — that the city still has no handicapped parking around the Plaza de la Constitución or along the Bayfront; the ADA doesn’t currently require it. That may change soon, however. Public Works Director Martha Graham says pending revisions to ADA law would require that cities designate at least one handicapped space per block, or four in a square-block area. “Right now we are compliant,” says Graham, though she acknowledges, “We do have room to grow.” Roland says there are simple ways the city could make life easier for disabled visitors, such as providing a map of handicapped parking at St. Augustine Visitor’s Center — something the city was required to do within 90 days of the settlement agreement, but has yet to accomplish (4½ years later). The city also doesn’t let disabled tourists know that anyone with a handicapped card can park anywhere for free. Roland says that information could be added to the map. But Mayor Boles says improving accessibility is not a priority for him or the city. “We have [handicapped spaces] everywhere and people are pretty good about finding them,” he told Folio Weekly. “And other than Merrill, certainly no one is coming before the commission and saying they want more.”

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3.                  Brookstone Properties, Inc. –This case was settled in 2006, and the implementation of the agreement has continued for the past five years.  Recently, our attorney, Matthew Dietz, visited five stores in the Denver, Colorado area to check on the defendant’s progress toward removing architectural barriers.  Upon initial inspection it was discovered that two of the stores were not in compliance.  This indicates that although there has been substantial progress in this case, considerable work remains to be done before it is closed.

4.                  Daytona International Speedway –This case was settled in 2003, and it presents a decidedly more positive picture than the previous case.  Attorney Matthew Dietz visited Speedway last October, and he found that implementation of the agreement was substantially on track.  With the exception of “the failure to maintain the accessible seating in the Superstretch grandstands”, the nine categories of compliance issues specified in the settlement agreement have been satisfied.  We look forward to the resolution of this case in the near future.



NON-ACCESS NOW® LEGAL MATTERS: As usual, we want to keep you informed about important recent litigation around the country as well as to update information from our previous newsletters affecting the rights of the disabled.  We think it is important for our members to keep abreast of successes realized by and within the disabled community, whether accomplished by Access Now® or by other organizations.  We are all in this fight together! 

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More on service animals!  This time the U.S. Department of Justice settles with an Ohio/West Virginia restaurant, including a civil fine and damages.

Great Chinese Buffet Settles Disability-Discrimination Complaint --

Great Chinese Buffet is a restaurant with locations in Cambridge, Ohio and Morgantown, West Virginia.  On July 24, 2011, it settled an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) regarding the restaurant’s refusal to serve customers with service animals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“the ADA”).  Also included the investigation and covered by the settlement are Rien Lin and Tracy Lin, the owners and operators of the Great Chinese Buffet.  The USDOJ investigation was commenced after a complaint by Donald Lynn.  Mr. Lynn alleged that on March 27, 2011, employees of the Great Chinese Buffet made him leave the Cambridge, Ohio restaurant because he was accompanied by his service animal. 

Mr. Lynn, who is blind, was in the Great Chinese Buffet lobby waiting to be seated when the hostess said “no dogs allowed.”  Mr. Lynn told the hostess he was vision-impaired and that the dog was his service animal.  The hostess asked for proof that the dog was a service animal, and Mr. Lynn told her to look at the tag which showed that the dog was a service animal.  After conferring with a senior employee, the hostess again said the restaurant would not serve Mr. Lynn accompanied by his dog.  Mr. Lynn replied that the dog was his service animal and that he was required by law to be served.  Nonetheless, the hostess told Mr. Lynn he would have to leave, and she eventually escorted him from the restaurant lobby into the parking lot.

To settle the case Great Chinese Buffet agreed to adopt, maintain and enforce a policy consistent with federal law covering the treatment of customers using service animals.  It was also required to post a sign (in English and in Braille) in each location stating that “The Great Chinese Buffet welcomes customers with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals.” Finally, the restaurant paid damages of $5,000 to Mr. Lynn for violation of his civil rights and a civil fine of $2,500 to the federal government.  DJ Settlement Agreement # 202-58-92 can be viewed at http://www.ada.gov/chinese_ buffet.htm#attachmentA.

NOTE:  Access Now® continues to hope that the entire business community will realize the ADA is here to stay, and it is the obligation of each place of public accommodation to abide by that law’s requirements.  Damages and civil penalties are a very expensive way to learn this fundamental lesson.  Here’s hoping that others profit from the Great Chinese Buffet’s folly.

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One of our members had a dramatic legal victory!  This is her email message.

June 5, 2011

My name is Brook-Ann Young,

I know you probably don’t remember me but my husband is disabled and wheelchair-bound.  I wrote to you asking about the ADA law in reference to housing.  Well I ended up going through HUD.  I won my case!  The apartment complex had to put a ramp to the dumpster, a ramp to the backyard, widen our kitchen entry way and give us a letter that we are not responsible for the damages incurred in the apartment as a result of the wheelchair.  This is my 3rd case won against an apartment complex.  Now I am helping others in my complex to do the same.  One of the cases won was in regards to service animals.

I am also a degreed paralegal and am very familiar on how to navigate through the cloudy waters of the law.  I am currently going to school to further my education.  I am sick to death of all the abuses that go on and the discrimination of disabled persons.  Many businesses obviously think that somehow the handicapped codes don’t apply to them and I am going to make it my life’s work proving them wrong!

If you need ANY help please contact me.  I would love it if you would help me get my feet wet in this area.  There is not too many of us that are willing to stand up any fight for this cause but I am!  Also feel free to give my e-mail out to whomever you think may need it.  Just please make sure to tell that person to put wording in the subject line regarding disability.


Brook-Ann Young

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Steve Gold’s “Treasured Nuggets of Information”

Once again we turn to Steve Gold for analysis in these difficult times.  Steve is a treasure trove of information, and we strongly suggest that you take the time to view his website athttp://www.stevegoldada.com.  He has articles in the October and November 2011 issues of “Treasured Nuggets of Information” that offer scorecards to judge how states are doing with respect to Long-Term Services and progress vis-à-vis the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.

The first article, “State Scorecard on Long-Term Services” - Information Bulletin # 342 (10/2011), shows where substantial Medicaid savings can be achieved by complying with Olmstead’s deinstitutionalization requirement.  Think about that!  States can save money AND comply with the ADA by following the Olmstead guidelines.  See how your state fares by accessing the scorecard at http://www.longtermscorecard.org/.
The other article, “Progress Since the 1999 Olmstead Decision - How Is Your State Doing?” - Information Bulletin # 245 (11/2011), explores how states allocated their Medicaid long-term care (LTC) expenditures in 1999 and 2010 for the nursing facility institution versus the comparable Medicaid LTC community services.  The full articles are at Mr. Gold’s website.

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues Enjoy Mr. Gold’s wisdom online at http://www.stevegoldada.com.



Company Pays $135,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

DENVER – Casper, Wyoming-based “T.I.C. Wyoming” - The Industrial Company Wyoming, Inc., a heavy construction company that provides direct-hire construction services to traditional industrial markets, has agreed to pay $135,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, EEOC v. T.I.C. Wyoming, 11-cv-324-F, filed in federal court in Cheyenne on Sept. 30, 2011, millwright Matthew Gilkey, despite satisfactorily performing his job for several weeks, was fired by TIC Wyoming on Oct. 27, 2006, because of the company’s need to make reasonable accommodation for his physical impairments, which included a leg amputation.  The EEOC also claimed that TIC Wyoming refused to allow Gilkey to return to work unless he provided medical documentation that he could perform his job duties without medical restrictions. The EEOC further alleged that the company also failed or refused to engage Gilkey in good-faith discussions about accommodations he had requested and TIC Wyominghad previously provided but then withdrew.  In addition to the monetary settlement, TIC Wyoming has agreed, among other things, to provide its employees, supervisors, and managers with annual training for two years on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to make periodic reports to the EEOC.

EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said, “The EEOC stands ready to assist all victims of job discrimination.  The volume and increase in ADA charges demonstrate the EEOC’s need to stay vigilant in the fight for rights of the disabled.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  The Phoenix District Office covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and part of New Mexico.  Further information is available on the EEOC’s website at www.eeoc.gov.

We would like to thank Marc Dubin for this and other legal articles appearing in this edition.  Marc is a former counsel in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.  He is now associated with the Center for Independent Living of South Florida in Miami, Florida.

NOTE Again, we have a business engaging in the most obvious discrimination.  Will they ever “get it”?


HHS Office for Civil Rights Enforces Section 504 and ADA

January 14, 2011

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into several settlement agreements and issued letters of findings as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Section 504 prohibits disability-based discrimination by all health care and human services providers that receive federal financial assistance and Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by state and local governments.  Taken together, these laws provide protection against discrimination for a group of individuals who routinely experience exclusion and segregation.

“People with disabilities should have an equal opportunity to benefit from programs funded by federal dollars and to participate and live in their communities,” said OCR Director Leon Rodriguez. “Laws such as Section 504 and the ADA exist to ensure that these rights are not violated and that individuals do not face discrimination.”

Examples of OCR’s recent enforcement actions include settlement agreements in two cases, Citizen’s Medical Center and Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, and a letter of findings sent to Georgia’s Medicaid agency:

Citizen’s Medical Center

OCR entered into a settlement agreement with CMC in Victoria, Texas, after finding violations of Section 504 and the ADA, when it rejected a child with autism for enrollment in a program based on its concern that the child would need one-on-one care as a reasonable modification. OCR determined that even if the child did need one-on-one care, CMC had not demonstrated that providing such a reasonable modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the program or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other children in the program. OCR found that CMC’s blanket policies of excluding children with “special needs” and excluding children who need one-to-one care, discriminates against children with disabilities.

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital

OCR entered into a Settlement Agreement with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, New York to correct potential compliance issues with Section 504 and the ADA. The Agreement follows a complaint alleging that the Hospital engaged in unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability by failing to provide a patient who was deaf with a sign language interpreter while she was treated at the Hospital. The complainant further alleged that there was no TTY service available to her while she was receiving treatment. Section 504 and the ADA require that covered entities provide auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters, to people with disabilities, when necessary for effective communication.

Georgia Department of Community Health

In a letter of findings to the Georgia Department of Community Health, OCR found the agency failed to assist the complainant in moving out of a nursing home and back into the community as required by the Olmstead decision. In Olmstead, the Supreme Court held that the ADA requires public entities to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when such services are appropriate; the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and community-based services can be reasonably accommodated.  This complainant has lived in a nursing home for 17 years and has been very clear about her desire to move to the community.  She has been determined by her doctor to be appropriate for community placement and the state has made no showing that such services cannot be reasonably accommodated.

People who believe that an entity receiving federal financial assistance has discriminated against them (or someone else) on the basis of disability, may file a complaint with OCR at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/ index.html Summaries of each of these enforcement efforts can be found on OCR’s website: www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/ activities/agreements/. For more information on community living and Olmstead please visit: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/ understanding/disability/serviceolmstead/index.html.

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EEOC Sues Capital Healthcare Solutions for Disability Discrimination

PITTSBURGH—A leading national health care staffing firm violated federal law by withdrawing an offer of employment to a certified nursing assistant because she was HIV-positive, the U.S.Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC charges that Pittsburgh-based Capital Healthcare Solutions, Inc. extended a job offer to an experienced certified nursing assistant but unlawfully rescinded the job offer less than one month later based on his disability. The job offer was conditioned on the nursing assistant passing a medical examination. In the medical form, his doctor noted that the certified nursing assistant was HIV-positive, but was not restricted from performing the required job tasks, so long as “universal precautions,” such as gloves and face masks, were used.

Even though the nursing assistant was well-qualified and able to perform the job, Capital Healthcare Solutions withdrew the job offer and refused to hire him because of his disability or because the company regarded him as disabled, the EEOC said in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-01249.

Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief barring the company from engaging in disability discrimination in hiring, and monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the nursing assistant. The nursing assistant is also represented by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic.

District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio, said, “This lawsuit should remind all employers that they must make employment decisions based on an individualized assessment of the person’s ability to do the job, and not act out of speculative fears or biases against individuals with HIV.”

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FREE Disability Rights Web Course

We are pleased to announce a free, self-paced web course available 24/7 that provides an overview of disability rights laws.  The course takes approximately two hours to complete and includes real-life scenarios, quizzes and a final exam.  You can register at any time for this free web course at www.DisabilityRightsCourse.org

Upon completion of this course, you will (1) Have a general understanding of the major federal disability rights laws (the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Air Carrier Access Act), (2) be able to assess what laws apply in different discrimination scenarios and (3) have resources for help and information about disability rights laws.  The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) has certified the course for two continuing credit hours.

This course is recommended for:

·               People with disabilities

·               Advocates for people with disabilities

·               Lawyers and law students

   ·               Rehabilitation counselors

   ·               Social service providers

    ·               Anyone with an interest in disability rights laws

This story was brought to our attention by our friends at DBTAC – New England ADA Center.  They can be reached at www.NewEnglandADA.org.

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Disabled Host, With the Emphasis on Able

By JON CARAMANICA       The New York Times          December 11, 2011

Zach Anner is the most engaging personality on a network that needs them badly.  The host of the travel show “Rollin’ With Zach,” which has its premiere on Monday night on OWN, the floundering Oprah Winfrey Network, with two episodes, he’s witty and charming and mildly zany.

And also disabled. Mr. Anner has cerebral palsy — “the sexiest of the palsies,” he says in the show’s intro, a joke repurposed from his audition tape for the reality competition “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star,” which ran earlier this year, and of which he was one of two winners.  The Oprah Winfrey Network has been on for almost a year and has tended toward the sorts of self-help pablum that sounds great coming from the mouth of Ms. Winfrey, but it has otherwise offered quickly diminishing returns.

The inspiration in Mr. Anner’s story is implicit.  Unlike most travel shows, on which the hosts feign omnipotence and fearlessness, “Rollin’ With Zach” often reveals Mr. Anner adjusting for his disability.  Concern for his well-being is embedded into the show, as is the sense that things will not always go smoothly.

Both initial episodes conclude with Mr. Anner attempting a water activity, surfing and then water-skiing, which he succeeds at, with some hitches.  On a chair-swing ride at Navy Pier in Chicagothe look of ecstasy on his face at the freedom of movement is genuine.  So is the look of worry before he goes onstage at Carolines, the Times Square comedy club.  “When I get real excited, my muscles go into spasm, so they just shake,” he says, his leg vibrating.

As a travel show “Rollin’ With Zach” is a trifle, with only the barest of information given out.  But it’s enough to have Mr. Anner on television, not only as a role model but also because — as on “Your OWN Show,” where he was the obvious star — he makes for relatable, unpredictable watching.

At a speed-dating event a woman tells him she wants to be a catalog model, to which he shouts, “Give me your best Christmas sweater face!”  In a Chicago ice cream shop that creates custom flavors on the spot using liquid nitrogen, he corners the proprietor.  “I have to ask you the moral question,” he says. “Are we playing God here?”

Next week’s episode brings him to New York, and part of the show centers on his training for a two-minute amateur-night slot at Carolines. “A lot of people come up to me and they say, ‘Zach, I feel really bad for you because you’re in a wheelchair,’ ” he says onstage.  “They shouldn’t.  I don’t think that people understand how comfortable sitting is.”

Forget the travel show, Oprah. Give him a sitcom.

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Living & Working with Epilepsy:

Workplace Accommodations for Job Seekers

Is employment affected by epilepsy? Most people with epilepsy are able to work in the full range of jobs. Neither the condition itself nor the treatments for it will affect their ability to work. There are people with epilepsy serving successfully in every walk of life. Unfortunately, epilepsy is often still stigmatized and people face discrimination. Sometimes people are reluctant to tell their employers they have epilepsy or seizures because they learn through bitter experiences that it can be used against them.

Employment Issues

Connect with eCommunities in the Epilepsy & Employment forum! People with epilepsy can face significant challenges in the workplace, and many advocacy efforts are underway to increase the employment and success rates for people with epilepsy in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to prohibit disability-based discrimination. Many provisions of theADA have particular impact on people with epilepsy, including inclusion for safety-sensitive jobs and reasonable accommodation.


Other Resource Links

Employment with Epilepsy

Understand key issues that arise when people with epilepsy function in the workplace.

Credit:  Epilepsy.com/Epilepsy Therapy Project.

These resources links address such issues as:

·         Getting a Job

·         Safety-Sensitive Jobs

·         Changing Jobs

·         Epilepsy as a Disability

·         Reasonable Accommodation

·         Missing Work and Your Rights under Federal Law

·         Permissible Medical Exams and Inquiries

·         Financially Surviving a Leave of Absence

For this and more information on “Working with Epilepsy” you can contact the Epilepsy Foundation at 8301 Professional Place, Landover MD 20785   www.epilepsyfoundation.org  tel.: 1-800-332-1000   fax: 1-301-577-2684   en Español: 1-866-748-8008.

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These items were brought to our attention by our members:


Following is the announcement of a major victory!  This is an example of what our battles can accomplish.  We just have to keep fighting!!!  Phyllis F. Resnick, President, Access Now, Inc.®

Judge:  NYC taxi agency must help disabled riders

NEW YORK, Dec. 23, 2011 — A federal judge on Friday barred the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission from issuing permits for taxicabs unless they’re accessible to people who use wheelchairs, a decision that was praised by advocates for the disabled as a milestone that could have national implications. U.S. District Judge George Daniels said in his written ruling that the commission can provide taxi medallions only for wheelchair-accessible vehicles until it produces a comprehensive plan to provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled passengers. He said such a plan must include targeted goals and standards and anticipated measurable results. “Meaningful access for the disabled to public transportation services is not a utopian goal or political promise, it is a basic civil right,” the judge wrote.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit accusing the taxi commission of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), a 1990 civil rights law that generally prohibits discrimination based on someone’s physical or mental disability. The lawsuit was brought by disability rights groups. Only 233 of the more than 13,000 taxis in the nation’s biggest city are wheelchair accessible. That’s fewer than 2 percent.

Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit legal center that advocates for people with disabilities, called the ruling “the best Christmas gift our clients could ask for.” “The ruling means New Yorkers who use wheelchairs will be able to participate in city life in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Disability Rights Advocates managing attorney Mary-Lee Smith said. “Judge Daniels’ decision is the first of its kind in the country, and our hope is that it will have national implications.” Smith said a taxi is wheelchair accessible when it provides a ramp that permits the person using the wheelchair to remain in the wheelchair while boarding the taxi.

Another lawyer, Julia Pinover, called the ruling a “landmark civil rights accomplishment for all people with disabilities. Tonight, tens of thousands of veterans, elderly and other disabled New Yorkers are absolutely thrilled,” she said. “My clients will be able to own their own days and move about this city.”

City attorneys said they were disappointed with the judge’s ruling. The city’s lead attorney in the case, Robin Binder, said the city disagreed with the judge because the ADA exempts taxicabs from having to be wheelchair accessible. Binder said the city was considering what steps to take next in court.

Binder noted that the city worked closely with the governor’s office and the state Legislature before agreeing with them earlier this week on a comprehensive plan for wheelchair accessibility, including the issuance of 2,000 new taxi medallions for wheelchair-accessible yellow taxicabs and the requirement that 20 percent of all livery hails be wheelchair accessible.

The judge, in his decision, wrote that actions by the governor and Legislature “may be steps towards providing meaningful access to the New York City taxicab system to disabled persons who require wheelchairs,” but he added the law requires immediate and full compliance.

This story was first brought to our attention by Access Now® attorney Miguel De La O.  (Editor’s Note:  Access Now brought suit against Miami-Dade taxicabs on the same issue several years ago.  The suit was settled.)

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Hit the Road in an Accessible RV


Barbara Graztke, a longtime member of ours, as well as of the Post-Polio Association of South Florida,  loves to vacation and enjoys traveling six to eight months out of every year. But she finds hotels uncomfortable and doesn’t like to fly. She visits family and friends across the country, but is unable to stay in their homes. The 65-year-old road warrior has post-polio syndrome and uses a power wheelchair. Barbara’s solution to making travel accessible is a 40-foot-long mobile home.

She and her husband, Bill, have written a thoroughly informative article about handicapped travel in an RV, which appears in the Muscular Disability Association magazine, “Quest”.  It is available online at:  http://quest.mda.org/article/hit-road-accessible-rv Although the information in it is a bit too lengthy for us to include here, we HIGHLY recommend this invaluable information to our readers!!!!










Access Now, Inc.®      ¤            Phyllis F. Resnick, President