A Florida Not-For-Profit

501(c) (3) Corporation

FREE POSTAGE
FOR THE BLIND
AND PHYSICALLY
HANDICAPPED
 
19333 West Country Club Drive #1522

Aventura, Florida 33180

                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

     DECEMBER, 2007                                            DECEMBER, 2007

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

 

 

READ ABOUT OUR MOST RECENT

ADVOCACY ACCOMPLISHMENTS!!!

WITH YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT
WE CONTINUE TO GROW NATIONALLY
(NATIONAL GROWTH = NATIONAL VICTORIES!!!)

 

 

DECEMBER, 2007

 

THIS NEWSLETTER IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON-LINE AT:

www.adaaccessnow.org

(Bobby-Approved)

 

****Please Note****

YOU MAY NOW FILL OUT OUR MEMBERSHIP FORM

DIRECTLY ONLINE AT WWW.ADAACCESSNOW.ORG

THE MEMBERSHIP FORM IS ALSO ATTACHED AT

THE BEGINNING OF THIS NEWSLETTER

 

email: info@adaaccessnow.org

 


“ACCESS NOW, INC. ®

(a Florida not-for-profit, 501(c) 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

****IF POSSIBLE, WE PREFER THAT YOU REGISTER ONLINE****

****JUST GO TO OUR WEBSITE SHOWN ABOVE AND CLICK ON    **** “MEMBERSHIP” LINK ****

 

Date___________________________________________________________

 

Name (PLEASE PRINT)____________________________________________

 

Address________________________________________________________

 

City________________________State_______________ZipCode__________

 

Telephone_________________________Fax___________________________

 

e-mail____________________________________________

          ***(STRONGLY ENCOURAGED – VERY HELPFUL!!!!!!)***

 

Non-Disabled_____________Disabled________________

If Disabled, give brief description:

(MOBILITY – WHEELCHAIR-USER, PART/FULLTIME; VISION; HEARING)

 

________________________________________________________________

 

Do you use a service dog?________Name____________________________

 

If Disabled, INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE about being a PLAINTIFF?

YES______NO_______

 

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):

_______________________________________________________________

 

SIGNATURE_______________________________________________

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

 


 

 

 

 

 

December, 2007

 

 

Dear Reader:

 

 

Once again, we hope that 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.)  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.) 

IF YOU ARE ALREADY A MEMBER, PLEASE SHARE THE ENCLOSED MEMBERSHIP FORM WITH SOMEONE WHOM YOU KNOW!!!  THANK YOU!

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

 


NEWSLETTER UPDATE – JUNE, 2007

FROM PHYLLIS F. RESNICK, PRESIDENT

HELLO, AGAIN, EVERYBODY!!!!!

Well, another 6 months have passed since our last newsletter and much continues to  happen in the world of “Access Now”®.  We have had several Class Action Fairness Hearings, a trial and many Settlements.  It has been an active, interesting, challenging, sometimes aggravating, but mostly gratifying time! Some things are happening in the overall A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act) world as well; more about all of the above later in this newsletter. 

We would like to point out to those of you who are receiving this newsletter for the first time  that, sadly, many entities continue to fail to comply with the A.D.A., despite the fact that the law was enacted in 1990.  As we have said before, we continue to press on with cases against a variety of entities.  On a continuing basis, virtually daily, we receive complaints from disabled persons who are routinely being denied their rights under this civil rights law.  (In the last two weeks of November alone we received approximately 10 such requests.)  There is no such thing as a “large” or “small” case, only a large or small entity and we take pride in the fact that we do not limit our efforts to either category.  The resolution of high profile cases of legal “first impression”, as well as of those involving neighborhood businesses have a great impact on the daily lives of the disabled among us (although we want to make clear that it is not our aim to put anyone out of business.) 

WE WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN WITH THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM A MEMBER THAT WE BELIEVE SHOWS THAT THE OUTREACH RESULTING FROM THE “ACCESS NOW”® WAY OF APPROACHING LITIGATION IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE.  (KUDOS TO ADAAG CONSULTING SERVICES , WITH WHOM WE HAVE WORKED FOR SEVERAL YEARS.)

 

 

Dear friends and Colleagues:

I am honored to share with you a letter written on behalf of the governor.  (You can find the letter online at http://www.adaaccessnow.org/)  It is, indeed, a humbling experience to receive thanks for something (participating in Florida’s Disability Mentoring Day and being a host for the DMD Career Fair) that cost us very little in time and effort, but could possibly make a huge difference in a young person’s life.

For the last 3 years, ADAAG Consulting Services has been a sponsor of the The Able Trust—where we mentor young teenagers with disabilities, help create an interest in the area of design and code consulting, and perhaps encourage them to consider our profession as an option for their higher education studies. 

In addition to being part of The Able Trust, we also sponsor, participate in, and are actively involved with the following charities and/or non-profits:

Easter Seals – where—among other endeavors—we sponsor fund raising campaigns for spinal cord injury research.

Shake-a-Leg – where we sponsor fund raising campaigns that provide vocational activities for young people with disabilities.

Educate Tomorrow – where we sponsor fundraising campaigns to help teenagers achieve their post-graduate educational goals.

The Holocaust Museum – where we are providing pro-bono accessibility and construction consulting services.

Clean Air-Cool Planet – where we sponsor alternative wind and solar energy production in an effort to reduce green house gas emissions.

World Wildlife Fund – where we sponsor fund raising campaigns to provide resources for the preservation of our planet and all its inhabitants.

The Women’s Club – where we provide pro-bono accessibility consulting, design consulting, and construction services to bring their historic facilities up to ADA standards.

There are many other pro-bono accessibility consulting, drafting and construction services we provide to various organizations, families, or persons with disabilities who do not have the resources that we possess, and we are more than happy to be of service through our own humble means.  In closing, I would like to encourage all of ADAAG Consulting Services many friends and colleagues to consider devoting a portion of your own time and resources to whichever worthy cause you choose to honor.  I am sure your efforts would be appreciated, and we at ACS believe that in pulling together, we can all make a valuable difference to the future of our world.

Regards,

Richard Londono, Assoc. AIA

1385 Coral Way PH 401

Miami, Florida 33145

Toll Free: 888-768-7788 ext 323

Tel:  305-285-7373 ext 323

Fax:  305-285-2363

e-mail: rlondono@adaag-consulting.com

website: www.adaag-consulting.com

 

Architecture shapes society and enhances the quality of life for this and future generations.  Architects must advocate for beautiful, healthy, and equitable design that respects and accommodates society's diverse cultures and needs.  . . .  (This is the AIA's position on how accessibility affects the world and the integration of accessibility into the practice of architecture.)

 

 

AND NOW, THE UPDATE:

 

Membership – We now have grown to 1,068 members representing 47 states and Puerto Rico.  We are also proud to claim members in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia.  Our Board of Directors stands at 40, our Executive Committee at 8, our Attorneys represent 4 law firms and our Consultants number 6.  We want to acknowledge here our debt to our Board of Directors and our Executive Committee for their support, their encouragement and their many kinds of contributions to our goals.  Most particularly, we want to express our appreciation for the efforts of our First Vice-President, Marla Dumas.  Above all, our deepest appreciation to the attorneys and consultants who handle all our cases.  Contrary to what is widely believed by the public, these are professionals who, although they earn their livings, in part, through these efforts, are primarily attracted to this work by their belief in and dedication to our mission!

We would be quite remiss if we failed to mention the enormous contributions of our computer consultants, Gregory Arkin and Alain Ginzberg, without whom we would not be able to function!  I want to thank my assistant, Thomas Miller, for his efforts in making certain that the administrative aspects of the organization run smoothly and for undertaking the task of composing and typing the bulk of this newsletter.

Finally, you may have heard that we have received our Florida and our U.S. trademark registrations for Access Now®.  Attorney Frank Herrera has provided invaluable pro bono assistance in achieving this milestone.  Once again, we wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Herrera.  The result of his efforts is the successful culmination of our multi-year effort to protect the Access Now® name.

 

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF OUR LITIGATION:

Since our June newsletter, Access Now® has made progress in settling cases in 21 states.  We have filed a total of 965 cases since our inception.  Presently, there are 136 cases with outstanding Settlement Agreements, requiring alterations or modifications, which in several cases should be completed by January 1, 2008, or later.  (Cases involving hospitals and other large or complex facilities have post-settlement compliance completion dates much further into the future.)

During the past six months, Access Now® has entered into 77 additional settlements to make properties A.D.A.-compliant.  They include:

 


Hospitals                                   59

Cruise Ships                                 1

Government                                2

Hotels                                         1

Schools                                       1


Access Now® continues to assert itself nationally in scope.  The 10 states in which cases have been settled range from the South and the mid-Atlantic to the Great Plains and Pacific shore.  Our headquarters state of Florida accounted for 8% of settlements over the past six months.

 


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.  (In the last two weeks of November alone we fielded approximately 10 such requests.)  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 partial listing of the cases that have been settled since our last newsletter:

Cruise Ships

Norwegian Cruise Lines, Miami, Florida

Government

Florida Department of Transportation, St. Augustine, Florida

City of Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington

Hospitals

 

Florida Medical Center

Ft. Lauderdale

FL

Park Plaza Hospital

Houston

TX

Sierra Medical Center

EL Paso

TX

St. Francis Hospital

Memphis

TN

St. Louis University Hospital

St. Louis

MO

Medical Center Enterprise

Enterprise

AL

San Angelo Comm. Medical Center

San Angelo

TX

Denton Comm. Hospital

Denton

TX

Brownwood Regional Medical Center

Brownwood

TX

Flowers Hospital

Dothan

AL

DeTar Hospital Navarro

Victoria

TX

Gadsden Regional Medical Center

Gadsden

AL

Crestwood Medical Center

Huntsville

AL

DeTar Hospital North

Victoria

TX

Abilene Regional Medical Center

Abilene

TX

Jacksonville Medical Center

Jacksonville

AL

CJW Med Center/ Chippenham Campus

Richmond

VA

CVA/CJM Med. Center/Johnston-Willis

Richmond

VA

Colleton Medical Center

Walterboro

SC

El Paso Surgery Center - West

EL Paso

TX

Greenview Regional Hospital

Bowling Green

KY

Oakhill Hospital

Brooksville

FL

Parkridge Medical Center

Chattanooga

TN

Parkridge Valley Hospital

Chattanooga

TN

Parkridge East Hospital

Chattanooga

TN

Medical Center of Plano

Plano

TX

North Hills Hospital

North Richland Hills

TX

Summit Medical Center

Hermitage

TN

Barberton Citizens Hospital

Barberton

OH

Bluffton Regional Medical Center

Bluffton

IN

Carlsbad Hobbs

Carlsbad

NM

Carolinas Hospital Systems

Florence

SC

Claremore Regional Hospital

Claremore

OK

College Station Medical Center

College Station

TX

Dupont Hospital

Fort Wayne

IN

Greenbrier Valley Medical Center

Ronceverte

WV

Kosciusko Community Hospital

Warsaw

IN

Lea Regional Medical Center

Hobbs

NM

Longview Medical Center

Longview

TX

Lutheran Hospital

Fort Wayne

IN

Mary Black Memorial Hospital

Spartanburg

SC

Medical Center of South Arkansas

El Dorado

AR

Mesa View Regional Hospital

Mesquite

NV

Mountainview Regional Medical Center

Las Cruces

NM

Navarro Regional Hospital

Corsicana

TX

Northwest Medical Center

Tucson

AZ

Northwest Medical Center Oro Valley

Oro Valley

AZ

Northwest Med. Ctr./Washington County

Springdale

AR

Northwest Medical Center (Clinics)

Tucson

AZ

Northwest Med. Ctr./Benton County

Bentonville

AR

Rehab. Hospital of Forth Wayne

Fort Wayne

IN

River Region Medical Center

Vicksburg

MS

Southcrest Hospital

Tulsa

OK

St. Joseph Hospital

Kokomo

IN

Wesley Medical Center

Hattiesburg

MS

Willamette Valley Medical Center

McMinnville

OR

Willow Creek Women's Center

Johnson

AR

Woodland Heights Medical Center

Lufkin

TX

Women's Children Hospital

Lafayette

LA

 

Hotels

Hilton Hotel, Knoxville, Tennessee

Schools

East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma


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.                  HospitalsThis has been a banner six months for our hospital litigation effort.  The number of individual hospital cases that have been settled and approved in a Fairness Hearing has increased dramatically.  This result is the product of several years’ diligent work by our attorneys, experts and plaintiffs.  The 72 HCA, Tenet and Triad facilities listed in the prior section are among the many cases we are pursuing to increase the quality of hospital care for our members and others in the disabled community.  We are awaiting court decisions in other cases, and we continue surveying other facilities that have been brought to our attention.  We again want to recognize the firm of de la O, Marko, Magolnick and Leyton, and particularly their associate, Charles D. Ferguson, for their work with respect to these cases.

2.                 City of Sonora, California – The city is working hard to live up to its promise to make all of its facilities, programs and services ADA-compliant.  Our attorneys recently received a full self-evaluation and transition plan from Sonora’s attorney.  Their initial view is that the plan appears comprehensive, and the City is in the process of modifying city properties consistent with the plan’s parameters.  This is another step in Sonora’s realizing its desire to become a community that guarantees the opportunity for participation by its disabled community.  Please read more about the City’s efforts in an excerpt from the Sonora Union Democrat reprinted on pages 10. & 11. of this newsletter.  (Kudos to the firm of Schwartz, Zweben and Slingbaum, LLP.)

3.                 City of St. Augustine, Florida – This case was settled on May 30th and things are already moving forward.  Within five weeks of settlement, the city had taken action to fulfill its promises regarding accessible parking as well as making maps of those areas available.  Our attorneys, led by William J. Moore, III, along with de la O, Marko, Magolnick and Leyton, have done a great job.  Kudos also to St. Augustine officials for “doing the right thing” once the error of their ways had been shown.

4.                 Emory UniversityIn this case, Access Now® and member Kami Barker sued Emory University and its architects and engineers for denial of access in university housing projects.  We settled with Emory for ADA and other accessibility violations.  After a trial in August, 2006 before an Atlanta jury, a verdict for liability and damages was returned against the builders, Trammel Crow Residential, but not against the architects, Niles Bolton Associates.  On September 27, 2007, the court issued orders granting the attorneys for Access Now® attorney’s fees but denying their motion for a new trial.  We are appealing the judgment in this case.  Our attorney, Matthew Dietz, and his law firm continue their expert work in this ground-breaking case.  Matt will be joined by two excellent appellate attorneys in seeking to have the judge’s decisions reversed.  We have reason to believe that the U.S. Department of Justice will support us on appeal with an amicus curiae brief.  Stay tuned for more news!

Vancouver, Washington On August 7th member Michelle Beardshear and Access Now® settled our case against the City of Vancouver regarding inaccessible street, sidewalks and structures in violation of the ADA and other state and federal laws.  In the settlement the city agreed to make modifications to all of the above over the next two years to bring the violations into legal compliance.  Vancouver has already spent $35,000 to survey its curb ramps and intersections.  A yearly plan has been put in place that will prioritize modification to curb ramps and intersections in the city.  Improvements to City Hall, a police station and several libraries, parks and sporting structures have also been addressed in the agreement.  We must recognize the City of Vancouver for acting expeditiously and entering into the settlement agreement only six months after suit was filed.  We commend the city for taking the positive steps necessary to come into compliance with the ADA and other laws.  We also want to thank our attorneys, Stephan M. Nitz of Schwartz, Zweben & Slingbaum, LLP and Catherine A. Chaney of Seattle, WA, for their work on this case.

 

 

CLASS ACTIONS – Class actions affect a large number of disabled persons, usually because a large number of facilities are involved.  Among several cases pending, Arby’s has been settled;  (over 700 locations.)  Post-settlement inspections by Access Now® are continuing.  This effort is being led by the law firm of Rosen, Switkes and Entin and we want here to express our thanks and appreciation to them!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

LITIGATION BY OTHERS: We want to keep you informed about important recent litigation around the country, of which you might not be aware, as well as update information from June’s newsletter 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! 

The following is a remarkable decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit:

At nineteen years of age Abigail Burroughs learned that she had head and neck cancer.  After she had exhausted all other treatment options over an eighteen month period, doctors told her about two new drugs that could save her life.  These drugs were still in federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) trials and available only to a limited number of patients.  Though both drugs were eventually approved, it didn't happen in time to save Abigail.  With no other government-approved treatment options, Abigail died at the age of twenty-one.

Before she died, Abigail helped to establish the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs in an effort to prevent this tragedy from continually replaying itself.  The Abigail Alliance asked the FDA to devise a better system for allowing terminally ill patients who are out of treatment options to get early access to developmental drugs that could save their lives.  However, the FDA refused to consider allowing terminally ill patients to bypass its lengthy drug approval process, which takes seven years on average.

The Abigail Alliance sued, claiming that terminally ill patients who are out of treatment options have a constitutional right to access experimental drugs that are in the late stages of clinical trials.  A divided three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Abigail Alliance's claims.  The panel’s majority held that terminally ill patients have a constitutional right to care which cannot be abridged without a compelling reason.  The government promptly asked for rehearing, and the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear the matter before all 10 active judges.  The result:  By a vote of 8-2, the full Court rejected Abigail Alliance's claims, concluding that patients like Abigail Burroughs, whose lives are hanging by a thread, do not have a fundamental right at stake.  The Court effectively found it rational for the FDA to doom terminally ill patients to a certain death in order to protect them from uncertain side effects of investigational medicines.  Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs v. Eschenbach, No. 04-5350 (D.C. Cir. 8/7/07).

Dissenting, Judge Rogers argued that the majority "opinion reflects a flawed conception of the right claimed by the [Abigail Alliance] and a stunning misunderstanding of the stakes."  Regarding the majority's conclusion that the right to life-saving drugs is not fundamental simply because these drugs have not yet been proven effective, Judge Rogers explains that the case centers on whether the Constitution protects an individual's decision to try to save his or her own life by accepting the unknown risks of an experimental drug.  The majority's failure to give Due Process protection to this personal, life-altering choice is wholly inconsistent with a litany of case law protecting personal autonomy and liberty.  We can only hope that, on appeal, the Supreme Court will correct the D.C. Circuit's unfortunate decision.

Pennsylvania Nursing Home Targeted in Unique Suit

On September 5th, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against a nursing home, United States of America v. Holland-Glen Nursing Facility (E.D. PA).  While many disability advocates have tried, unsuccessfully, to have state health departments rigorously conduct and enforce inspections of nursing homes, this lawsuit provides another handle.  Like nearly all others in the country, this nursing facility in Hatboro, PA, a Philadelphia suburb, received Medicaid funds and was, therefore, subject to the federal statutory and regulatory requirements.  Holland-Glen serves 20 to 30 residents ranging in age from infants to their early 20s.  At least two deaths have occurred at the nursing home. It is also accused of operating without a license.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan stated, “This is a life and death issue.  All previous efforts to bring this [nursing] facility into compliance have failed, and we are taking this step in an attempt to ensure the safety of the residents.”  Among the violations the U.S. Attorney alleged was that the nursing home received Medicaid reimbursement for services that were “of a quality which fails to meet professionally recognized standards of health care.”  The Nursing Home Reform Act required that nursing facilities must:

1.     Comply with “professional standards and principles which apply to professionals providing services in such a facility.”  It should be noted that national data shows very few RNs or LPNs providing services; services are provided by attendants.

2.     “Care for its residents in such a manner and in such an environment as will promote maintenance of enhancement of the quality of life of each resident.”

3.     “Provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a plan of care.”

4.     Have “sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services” to reach the “well-being” mentioned in paragraph 3.

Thanks to Philadelphia attorney Steve Gold for bringing this situation to our attention.  (Information Bulletin #225 – 9/07).  Mr. Gold suggests that in light of the Holland-Glen case, disability and older American advocates do the following:

1.     Set up an appointment with your U.S. Attorney to discuss nursing facilities in your area.

2.     Ask your U.S. Attorney to look at the complaint in United States of America v. Holland-Glen, and inquire if your U.S. Attorney would consider filing a similar lawsuit.

3.     Pick out the worst nursing facility in your area, and ask your U.S. Attorney to investigate and sue it.

Mr. Gold’s Information Bulletins are available at http://www.stevegoldada.com.

Florida Woman Can Seek Damages for Service Dog Discrimination

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently decided that an action can be maintained for non-economic damages under Title III of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of l973.  In this case, the Defendant, University MRI-JFK in Lake Worth, Florida refused to let Annette Sheely bring her service dog into the MRI room while she was accompanying her son for treatment.  Ms. Sheely sought damages for emotional distress.  The district court dismissed her request, reasoning that such damages were not allowed under the Rehabilitation Act.  The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal, finding that a plaintiff discriminated against by a business’s policy not allowing her service animal to accompany her could be made whole under Federal law for the injury suffered.  The Court did find that Ms. Sheely could not maintain her case under the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA).  Although Florida law does not provide that disabled individuals have the right to be accompanied by service animals in places of public accommodation, the Court held that under the FCRA, University MRI-JFK is not a public accommodation.  Therefore, Ms. Sheely cannot sue.  This is a very important case defining the rights under Federal law of those who rely on their service animals.  Sheely v MRI Radiology Network, P.A., No. 06-13791 (11th Cir. 10/24/2007).

 

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GOVERNMENTAL NEWS:
 
Air Carrier Access Act Update
In our April 2006 Newsletter we reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed new rules that would regulate changes in the Air Carrier Access Act.  The proposed rules would make the skies very unfriendly for disabled people traveling with service animals.  The USDOT has now set a revised goal of issuing final rules by March of 2008.  That would be a mere four years after they were first proposed.
 

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ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments

From December 2006 through May 2007 the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice issued the first installments of a new technical assistance document designed to assist state and local officials in improving compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in their programs, services, activities and facilities.  The Tool Kit is designed to teach these officials how to identify and fix problems that prevent people with disabilities from gaining equal access and to teach them to conduct accessibility surveys to their buildings and facilities.  The new technical assistance document, which will be released in several installments, is entitled “The ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments”.  The installments of the Tool Kit issued to date include:

Chapter 1, ADA Basics:  Statute and Regulations (HTML) | PDF:

Chapter 2, ADA Coordinator, Notice & Grievance Procedure (HTML) | PDF:

Chapter 3, General Effective Communication Requirements Under Title II of the ADA (HTML) | PDF:  Chapter 3 explains what it means for communication to be “effective,” which auxiliary aids and services can potentially provide effective communication, and when those auxiliary aids and services must be provided. It also includes a checklist (PDF) to help state and local officials assess compliance with the ADA’s general effective communication requirements.

Chapter 4, 9-1-1 and Emergency Communications Services (HTML) | PDF:  The chapter also includes a checklist (PDF) that state and local officials can use to identify common problems with the accessibility of their 9-1-1 and emergency communications services.

Chapter 5, Website Accessibility (HTML) | PDF:  Chapter 5 explains how Title II of the ADA applies to state and local government websites, discusses website design practices that pose barriers to people with disabilities and identifies solutions that can eliminate these online barriers.  The Chapter also includes a checklist (PDF) that can be used by state and local governments to review their website policies and assess the accessibility of their websites.

Chapter 6, Curb Ramps and Pedestrian Crossings (HTML) | PDF:  Chapter 6 explains Title II’s requirements for providing curb ramps at pedestrian crossings, and outlines the steps you can take to ensure that your state or local government is complying with Title II’s requirements for accessible curb ramps and includes a checklist (PDF) your entity can use to assess your compliance. The next installment of the Tool Kit will include a survey form and survey instructions you can use to determine if curb ramps are accessible.

Watch for future installments of the Tool Kit, which will further guide communities in understanding how to review the accessibility of state and local government programs, services, and activities, and how to survey buildings and facilities to identify barriers to access for people with disabilities.

While state and local governments are not required to use the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit, the Justice department encourages its use as one effective means of complying with the requirements of Title II of the ADA.  You can read more about the Tool Kit online at http://www.usdoj.gov/ crt/ada/pcatoolkit/abouttoolkit.htm

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The federal government will begin distributing $1.75 billion in Medicaid funds to states under the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Act (the MFP Act).  The MFP Act funding is meant to assist states in moving individuals with disabilities out of institutional settings and into community-based programs.  States were supposed to have submitted proposals to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) by November 1, 2007.  The MFP Act will enable states to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 decision in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. prohibiting unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities.  
As far as we know, CMMS has not allocated all of the MFP money.  31 states and the District of Columbia have been awarded MFP grants.  These states have agreed to move approximately 27,000 residents from nursing homes to community or home care.  
Mississippi, Rhode Island and Tennessee applied for MFP funds, but their applications were rejected.  Florida, Idaho, West Virginia and New Mexico initially applied for grants in the first tier of applications; they were rejected along with several other states.  Many states had to file two applications, and most were awarded MFP grants in the second tier.  However, these four states chose not to reapply for the second tier MFP grants.
The remaining states never applied for MFP grants.  We are at a loss to explain why.  Perhaps it is as Santina Muha explained in the September/October 2006 issue of SCILife:  “Some states are saying it’s too bureaucratic.  Some believe they’re doing a good enough job already ..., some are lazy and some are downright mean.”  We hope that changes very quickly – for the sake of those individuals with disabilities whom the MFP Act funding is meant to help.

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On October 4th, members of the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties began hearings on the ADA Restoration Act (H.R. 3195 / S. 1881).  Most of the witnesses who testified spoke eloquently of the need to enact this legislation to restore the true intent of the ADA.  Only Lawrence Lorber, Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equal Employment Opportunity subcommittee, offered substantial dissent in his testimony.  Mr. Lorber remarked several times that the ADA is, and should be, a law only for the “truly disabled”.  At the end of the hearing Chairman Jerrold Nadler noted an “activist tendency” in the U.S. Supreme Court’s having told Congress that it “got it wrong” regarding the ADA.  The Chairman pointedly emphasized that such a judgment is a political question for the Congress, not a legal one for the Court.  The Courts have created an absurd Catch-22 where a person is “too disabled” to do the job but “not disabled enough” for ADA protection.  This is wrong!  If you agree, consider sending  emails voicing your concerns to your representatives and senators.  We will continue to keep you advised as this important legislation wends its way through Congress.

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(Re:  the City of Sonora, CA):

 

City keeps up with sidewalk compliance

October 5, 2007

By REBECCA HOWES

From The Union Democrat

It has been 17 years since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the city of Sonora continues its quest toward compliance.  Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires all public agencies to adopt a transition plan identifying obstacles limiting access to services, programs and activities to the disabled and outlining a strategy to eliminate those obstacles.  Affected in Sonora are city-owned buildings, parking lots, public restrooms and sidewalks.  For Phoenix Lake-area resident Robert Dorroh, who sued the city for lack of compliance in 2002 (along with Access Now, Inc.®), the process has moved too slowly.  Dorroh, confined to a wheelchair after a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down in 2000, said he did not want to take legal action against the city, but felt he had no choice. "I told the City Council they were responsible for the sidewalks," Dorroh said.  "They gave me the silent treatment."  Dorroh has had several accidents in his wheel chair while trying to get up steep curbs.  Twice the Fire Department had to be called to pick up his wheelchair and return him to it.  The former Union Democrat reporter said he didn't file the suit for money, but to get the city to comply with the law by writing a transition plan.  "The suit was settled in November 2004," said City Administrator Greg Applegate.  All claims were dismissed and the city agreed to write a transition plan."  But, added Applegate, "the topography of a mountain town makes it difficult to comply in all areas."  Since settling the lawsuit, the city has completed an elevator lift for the stage area of the Sonora Opera Hall, put in a new sidewalk in front of the Sugg House property on Theall Street and completed the $345,000 Washington Street sidewalk project which runs from Rothers Corner — at the city's fire museum and senior center — to Sonora High School, said Applegate.  The city is now working on the sidewalk on Stewart Street, across from the Backstreet Bar & Grill and has a list of sidewalk projects which it will complete as funding becomes available, he said.  Applegate said the city has been making improvements over the past five years towards becoming as ADA-compliant as a foothill town can be.  "Our most recent project, Rothers Corner, was a project to make reasonable ADA access to the senior center," Applegate said.  Though Dorroh feels the city could have moved more quickly on the issue of compliance, he is encouraged by recent efforts.  "I look forward to working with the city on this in a fair and reasonable manner," he said. "I do feel better now that they are complying."  Contact Rebecca Howes at rhowes@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4531.

 

 

ARTICLES OF INTEREST
This story is about the challenges we face, even when intentions are good
In its September 12th edition The New York Times food critic Frank Bruni presented an article entitled “When Accessibility Isn’t Hospitality”.  It details the trials and travails of several mobility-disabled New Yorkers seeking pleasant dining experiences at trendy eateries in the city.  It shows the difficulties they encounter, even when the ADA is technically complied with and the intentions of everybody from the owners to the wait staff are faultless, and leads us to once again utter the query:  when will society’s consciousness catch up with our reality?  The article illustrates that good intentions are not enough!!!  Mr. Bruni’s excellent article can be found online at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/dining/12acce.html?pagewanted=print.

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AustraliaForAll Alliance celebrated Disability Action Week by officially launching its new e-service, http://www.australiaforall.com.au, which is a national One-Stop-Shop for accessible tourism in Australia.  The Alliance is a volunteer not-for-profit community service.  Its website is devoted entirely to accommodation and tourist venues which cater to the requirements of people with physical, vision and hearing impairments.  Over 160 facilities ranging from large resorts to small farm stays, B&B's, restaurants, museums and outdoor activities, have asked to be part of the website.  This new e-service is a result of a National Survey undertaken by the Alliance regarding the barriers confronted by people with disabilities when they have tried to make vacation arrangements or visit tourism venues.  Some of the problems highlighted by the survey of 1,300 participants were –

47% complained that even though they telephoned an accommodation or tourist venue to find out if it was accessible for their mobility aids (wheelchairs etc), and were told it was, they found it was not when they arrived.

42.7% of participants with a physical disability had difficulty in finding accessible vacation accommodation

36% had difficulty in obtaining information on the accessibility of the area they wished to visit.

86.7% of vision impaired participants found a lack of Braille/tactile signage in hotels/motels

80% found a lack of either information in alternative formats or audio displays in tourist venues, such as museums

100% of hearing impaired participants found that there was a lack of vision alarm systems for emergency egress in hotels

90.0% found a lack of captioning on TV's in all accommodations

81.8% found a lack of touch audio information screens with captioning in tourist venues.

In addition to the website, you can contact AustraliaForAll Alliance’s Co-ordinator Sheila King (an Access Now® member) at 07 4125 7771 for further information.

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Have you ever wondered how one gets from the boardwalk to the beach in a wheelchair?  Stymied on how one modifies a home to accommodate a disability?   Unsure about what transportation is available for the disabled in Miami-Dade County, Florida?  For all those with physical or sensory disabilities, a new, updated, second edition of the handbook, ACCESS MIAMI, has the answers…

ACCESS MIAMI is a local resource guide for folks who use canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs or other aids.  It features information ranging from access to parks and pools to educational facilities and employment.  The handbook is easy to use.  Divided into categories, it includes a description of services offered and all the necessary contact information.  For more information, please e-mail Rochelle Baer at:  shelscribe45@bellsouth.net  (Congrats to Rochelle for a thoroughly good job!)

ACCESS MIAMI is available, free of charge, at:

The Center for Independent Living, 501 NE 1st Avenue, Suite 102

Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, 1095 NW 14 Terrace

Shake-A-Leg, 2600 South Bayshore Drive

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, 601 SW 8th Avenue

Human Services Coalition,   

Books & Books, all branches.

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“NEWS YOU CAN USE”

 

 

This item was brought to our attention by one of our members, HolLynn D'Lil, and Richard Skaff, retired Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office on Disability, and Building Official, City and County of San Francisco, California:  (Please bear in mind that the information immediately  below does NOT relate directly to Access Now®, but rather to Designing Accessible Communities.):

 

7/6/07 -- Dear Community; Here is a great resource for access laws and regulations, what is happening currently in the development (deconstruction?) of our access laws and regulations and much, much more:

We are excited to tell you that our new website is now open.  We are completely remodeled, reworked and redesigned.  However, we still have the same name - "Designing Accessible Communities".  Please come and see us at http://www. designingaccessiblecommunities.org/.

We hope that you find our web site both useful and interesting.  It is packed with information which we hope will help to provide solutions to concerns and questions about access for persons with disabilities

Many people have helped us with our redesign and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you.  We have made many useful changes to our site based on your suggestions.  We would like to say a special "thank you" to our creative webperson, Gayle Pyfrom, webTree designs.  Gayle has remained ever patient and supportive throughout this project’s development process.

As you can see, we are also now "open" for donations so please try out our secure donation page and send us your financial support.  We will happily accept both large and small donations.

The Board of Directors and the Executive Director would appreciate feedback from you about our new site.  Please tell us what you like, what you don’t like and what you think should be changed or added. You can reach us through our “Contact Us” section in our website.

Thank you,

"Moving together to a Universally Accessible World"

The Board of Directors Designing Accessible Communities

http://www/designingaccessiblecommunities.org/

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CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

 

We hope that the foregoing has helped you to achieve a fuller understanding of our work.  Although much has been done, much more needs to be done.  The population of the U.S. has just recently grown to 300,000,000 people and, given the ever-growing percentage of those with disabilities, the need for greater and further-reaching compliance with the A.D.A. continues to make itself all the more obvious and necessary.  It is our fervent hope to continue to take part in this effort.  With your help and encouragement we shall persevere in making ever-greater strides in that direction. 

 

“ACCESS NOW”® OPERATES ENTIRELY ON PRIVATE CONTRIBUTIONS.  WE HOPE THAT YOU SHARE OUR ENTHUSIASM FOR OUR WORK AND THAT YOU MIGHT BE MOVED TO MAKE A DONATION TO HELP US CONTINUE.  IT WOULD BE DEEPLY APPRECIATED!

 

 

 

Thank you all and please:

 

 

IF YOU HAVE A CHANGE OF POSTAL ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER OR EMAIL ADDRESS, PLEASE, PLEASE LET US KNOW SO THAT WE CAN KEEP OUR FILES UPDATED AND SO THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU.

BEST WISHES FOR CONTINUED PROGRESS IN ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES AND FOR A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND ACCESSIBLE NEW YEAR!

 

****PLEASE DON’T FORGET THE MEMBERSHIP FORM!!!****

 

Access Now, Inc.®

Phyllis F. Resnick, President