The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter
An electronic publication of
The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law
The Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University
August 30, 2016
Volume 13, Issue 7
The Disability Law & Policy Newsletter is a monthly publication that aims to inform disability advocates, scholars, and service providers of the most current issues in disability law, policy, research, best practices, and breaking news.
Below is a topical overview of the items presented in this issue.
A. CIVIL RIGHTS: ADA, Section 504, CRPD Ratification
B. WORKFORCE: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Vocational Rehabilitation
C. EDUCATION: Special Education, Youth Transition, Postsecondary Education, & Outcomes
D. HEALTHCARE: Access, Services, Benefits, and the Affordable Care Act
E. TECHNOLOGY: Assistive, Information, and Communication Technologies
F. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Disaster Preparation, Mitigation, and Response
G. INDEPENDENCE: Community Integration
H. INTERNATIONAL: Topics Outside the United States
I. POP CULTURE: News and Topics Vary
J. EVENTS AND FUNDING: Conferences, Calls for Proposals, Papers, and Presentations
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A. CIVIL RIGHTS
1. Agreement Creates Access for People Who Are Blind to Online Banking Industry
On August 2, 2016, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) and San Francisco Federal Credit Union (SFFCU) announced a precedent-setting agreement that will bring change across the online banking industry. SFFCU's website and online banking services are powered by a system created by a banking industry leader, Q2 Software, Inc. (Q2). In September 2015, when SFFCU redesigned its website, a SFFCU customer who is blind was no longer able to log into his account. To access his account, he had to rely on a sighted friend to enter confidential login information for him. Once DRA notified SFFCU that its website and mobile applications were inaccessible to current and prospective members who have visual impairments, they worked together to create a plan to make the online banking services and mobile applications accessible and in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, level AA, the interactional accessibility standard.
Accessibility standards ensure that people who have visual impairments can use websites, online services, and mobile apps. Assistive software called screen readers can be used to navigate digital content on computers and mobile phones. The software converts screen text into audible speech or digital braille. When developers plan for online accessibility, websites and mobile apps can easily and inexpensively be coded to work with screen readers. Q2 has agreed to implement accessibility features for the credit union that will ultimately be available to all of Q2's current and future customers around the nation.
Full Story: San Francisco Credit Union Leads the Way to Transform Online Banking to Better Serve Customers with Vision Disabilities, GlobeNewsWire, Aug. 2, 2016, available at
2. White House Commemorates 26th Anniversary of ADA
On July 25, 2016, President Obama released a proclamation celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Present Obama recognized the progress that has been made in realizing the purpose behind the ADA, how building on this progress was a priority for his administration, and called upon the country to continue fighting for greater accessibility, inclusion, and opportunity for people with disabilities. "For the 6.5 million students and the approximately 50 million adults living with mental or physical disabilities, the ADA has swung open doors and empowered each of them to make of their lives what they will."
In celebration of the anniversary, over 200 visitors toured the East Wing of the White House, and the tour featured displays curated by the Smithsonian's Museum of American History that commemorated the history of disability rights. The tour also included a special performance by Drama Kings and Queens, a choir of talented youth with disabilities. The White House Snapchat feed also featured a story on the ADA. Further, on July 31, 2016, the White House released a video tour of the West Wing narrated by West Wing Receptionist Leah Katz-Hernandez in American Sign Language.
President Obama's proclamation can be found on the White House website.
Full Story: Presidential Proclamation--Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, whitehouse.gov, Jul. 25, 2016, available at
3. Arnold Rios Remains in Psychiatric Ward after Traumatic Police Shooting in Miami
On July 18, 2016, Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who worked with Arnaldo Rios, a person with autism, was shot and injured by a police officer while lying on the ground next to Rios. The North Miami Police Department said it had received a 911 call of a man threatening to commit suicide with a gun pointed at his head, and the president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association said that the scene "looked like [Rios] was about to shoot Mr. Kinsey."
In a video of the events that took place, Kinsey can be heard explaining that he is a behavioral therapist and that Rios was only holding a toy truck. At some point one of the officers fired a gun and injured Kinsey. Kinsey was hospitalized with non-threatening injuries.
Rios's attorney, Matthew Dietz, claims that Rios was placed in a police car for three to four hours after the shooting and received no treatment or therapy for the intense trauma he experienced. Dietz also points out that being handcuffed in the police car could have been just as traumatic for Rios as the shooting, stating, "This is a person who calms himself by slapping his hands and rocking." Rios was initially brought back to the group home where he lived but was shortly taken to a psychiatric ward of a hospital.
Rios remains "inappropriately placed and segregated from the community," said Dietz, in a facility "inappropriate for his needs." Rios's mother, Gladys Soto, said that her son is suffering from emotional distress after witnessing the shooting. The Arc, a national organization that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, sent a letter to the DOJ's Civil Rights Division on Thursday in support of Dietz's request for an investigation.
Full Story: Charles Rabin, Charles Kinsey was Shot Less than Six Minutes after Police Arrived, MiamiHerald.com, Aug. 5, 2016, available at
See also: Carol Marbin Miller, Mom of Autistic Man at Center of Charles Kinsey Shooting: My Son Is Traumatized, MiamiHerald.com:
See also: Emily Shapiro, Attorney for Man with Autism Urges DOJ to Investigate North Miami Police Shooting, abcnews.go.com, Jul. 29, 2016, available at
1. Department of Labor Offering Support to States to Increase Participation in Training Programs for Workers with Disabilities
In the past six years, the Department of Labor (DOL) has given 27 different state agencies $109 million to help improve employment for people with disabilities. The DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is now going to be giving another $15.6 million to state workforce agencies in order to help increase participation in training programs for people with disabilities. The training programs will help to prepare them for the workforce and are authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
The ETA wants to increase the capabilities of American Job Centers, which are also known as One-Stop Centers, and expects to fund eight grants. The grants will range in amounts from $1.5 million to $2.5 million.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, Feds Offer up Millions to Boost Disability Employment, Disability Scoop, Jul. 18, 2016, available at
See also: Notice of Availability of Funds and Funding Opportunity Announcement for Disability Employment Initiative Cooperative Agreements, Federal Register, Jul. 5, 2016, available at
2. In-Home Caregiver Wage Rule To Remain In Place
The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear Home Care Association of America et al. v. Weil, a case regarding the Department of Labor's minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for in-home caregivers, which was passed in 2013. The rule requires caregivers to be paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and time and a half for working over 40 hours.
The rule has been contentious, with some groups saying that people with disabilities will not be able to afford in-home care anymore. Other groups support the rule, saying that to find skilled workers for in-home care, wages need to be higher.
In 2015, the United States District Court struck down the rule, saying that the Department of Labor had exceed its authority in creating the rule. A few months later, the DC Circuit Court ruled otherwise, and upheld the rule under the Fair Labor Standard Act. Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case, the Circuit Court's decision will stand and the rule will remain in place.
Full Story: Michelle Diament, Caregiver Wage Rule Here to Stay, Disability Scoop, Jul. 14, 2016, available at
1. Department of Education Publishes Resource Guide on Serving Students with ADHD
On July 26, 2016, the Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Education (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Catherine E. Lhamon, wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding school districts of their obligations to students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and requires school districts to provide an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities. Assistant Secretary Lhamon stressed that because the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) clarified the broad scope and definitions of the term "disability," more students with ADHD are now clearly entitled to the protections under Section 504.
Out of the 16,000 complaints received by the DOE OCR from 2011-2015, approximately 2,000 involved allegations of discrimination against a student with ADHD. In resolving these complaints, OCR has found that many teachers and administrators are not familiar with the disorder or how it could impact a student's equal access to a school district's program. Students with ADHD could be denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) because of problems in evaluating students. Further, even if a student is properly identified, school districts often fail to meet their Section 504 obligations.
In addition to this letter, the DOE OCR also provided a resource guide specifically tailored to help educators, students, and families to better understand their obligations under the law as they pertain to students with ADHD. Some services and supports for students with ADHD include recording lectures, highlighting passages of textbooks, or giving extra time on tests.
Full Story: Joy Resmovits, ADHD Is Now Classified as a Specific Disability under Federal Civil Rights Law, Los Angeles Times/TNS, Jul. 26, 2016, available at
2. Department of Education Issues More Guidance on Implementing Behavior Supports
On August 1, 2016, Acting Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Sue Swenson, and Acting Director of the Office of Special Education Programs, Ruth E. Ryder, published a 16-page "Dear Colleague" letter to school districts indicating the Department of Education's (DOE) concern over data that show students with disabilities are disciplined far more often than their peers without disabilities.
According to a press release from the DOE on June 7, 2016, students with disabilities were twice as likely to be suspended as students without disabilities during the 2013-2014 school year. Recent data on short-term disciplinary removals from current placement strongly suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies in their individualized educational programs (IEP). The DOE issued this guidance letter to clarify that the failure to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the IEP process is likely to result in a child not receiving a meaningful educational benefit or a Free and Appropriate Public Education. The letter also enclosed two references to help the IEP teams (which include the student with a disability, parents of the student, and the relevant members of the school district including teachers, counselors, and administrators) that were first released in November 2015 including:
1) Supporting and Responding to Behavior: Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers: https://www.osepideasthatwork.org/evidencebasedclassroomstrategies;
2) Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Implementation Blueprint and Self-Assessment: http://www.pbis.org/blueprint/implementation-blueprint
Full Story: Michelle Diament, Schools Told Not to Skimp on Behavior Supports, disabilityscoop.com; Aug. 9, 2016, available at
3. First Ever Summit of African American Students with Disabilities
The White House, Department of Education, and National Council on Disability hosted the first ever Summit on African American Students with Disabilities. The Summit was held at the Department of Education and focused on the needs of African American students with disabilities with the goal of highlighting promising and proven strategies to ensure the cognitive, social, and emotional learning and development of these students are nurtured to ensure success in school, college, and life.
The Summit also provided online resources for parents, including recommendations for increasing and improving screenings for disabilities and developmental delays to make sure students were connected with existing support services available in their communities. It also stressed the importance of knowing your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It also focused on the importance of talking with children about their disability and meeting and engaging with adults with the same ability to be a better advocate and support the identity development of children with disabilities. Additionally, the Summit provided a platform for African American youth with disabilities to form meaningful connections with their peers.
David Johns, How Do We Support African American Students with Disabilities?, nbcnews.com, Jul. 26, 2016, available at
1. UnitedHealthcare Extends Applied Behavioral Analysis Benefit Coverage
UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, will extend Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) benefit coverage to new and renewing fully insured small and large group plans in the few states that do not mandate ABA coverage beginning on or after January 1, 2017. ABA is the application of principles of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance. Social significant behaviors include reading, academics, social skills, communication, and adaptive living skills.
UnitedHealthcare is extending this coverage after recognizing the growing interest in ABA among many consumers and in the marketplace. Further, ABA benefits will be part of all self-funded plans administered by UnitedHealthcare unless companies explicitly choose to opt out. Forty-four states already mandate such coverage; however, up to 250,000 people could be impacted by this decision to extend ABA coverage.
Full Story: Michelle Diament, In First, Insurer to Offer ABA Coverage Nationwide, disabilityscoop.com, Jul. 22, 2016, available at
2. Peer Specialists Effective in Helping Individuals with Psychosocial Disabilities in Recovery
There is a growing movement by community behavioral health centers, psychiatric inpatient facilities, and other health care providers to employ people who can better empathize with patients. Peer specialists are people who have experienced some of the same difficulties themselves but are currently in recovery. States are increasingly pairing people with psychosocial disabilities, including people who have substance abuse issues, with peer specialists. In Nebraska, peer specialists are saving providers' money and reducing readmission rates. Typically, readmission rates are around 30 percent nationally, and one nonprofit health center in Nebraska, the Bryan Medical Center, had been at about 20 percent. However, after implementing the peer specialist program, that rate was brought down to 13 percent.
Thirty-eight states have developed some kind of certification for a peer specialist program, and Medicaid requires employers to supervise peer specialists' first 2,000 hours of work. Further, Medicaid requires that peer specialists complete at least 30 hours of continuing education training in mental health every two years. Currently 36 states' Medicaid programs reimburse peer specialists. While peers specialists are not a sufficient replacement for a mental health provider, they do benefit a currently understaffed and underfunded industry. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2014, there were 96.5 million Americans living in areas with insufficient mental health care, which means that for every 790 people in the U.S., there is just a single mental health provider. This approach of using peer specialists also illustrates a new approach to addiction and mental health issues as a recovery process that focuses on wellness instead of sickness.
Full Story: Mattie Quinn, Your Peer Specialist Will See You Now, Governing.com, Aug. 2, 2016, available at http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-peer-specialists-mental-health.html?utm_term=Your%20Peer%20Will%20See%20You%20Now%3A%20A%20New%20Kind%20of%20Mental%20Health%20Care&utm_campaign=Your%20Peer%20Will%20See%20You%20Now%3A%20A%20New%20Kind%20of%20Mental%20Health%20Care&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email
1. Bioelectronic Medicine Seeks to Treat Diabetes
The Alphabet company Verily has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline in order to focus on developing bioelectronics medicine to treat chronic diseases like asthma, arthritis, and diabetes. The partnership will be called Galvani Bioelectronics (Galvani). The basis of the idea is to develop devices that can be implanted into the patient that would alter electric signals in the nerves that are affected by a certain condition.
Galvani will be investing $711 million over a several year time frame into researching bioelectronic therapy. The researchers want to help patients who have resisted other forms of treatment and provide a new option for them. Other forms of treatment, like using medicines, can interact in uncontrolled ways in the body once ingested. Scientists are hoping the bioelectronics medicine will be able to target the affected area with accuracy that is hard to achieve using medicine. Research suggests that for diabetes, a bioelectronics device implant could serve to help with insulin regulation in the body.
Full Story: Christina Farr, GlaxoSmithKline Is Teaming up with Google's Verily to Develop Bioelectronic Medicines, FC Technology, Aug. 1, 2016, available at
See also: Diabetes, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, available at
2. Robotic Kitchen Holds Potential for People with Disabilities
Moley Robotic Kitchen is a creation developed by Moley Robotics. It is a fully automated robotic kitchen that can cook meals for a person at the touch of a button. The Robotic Kitchen includes arms with multiple joints that allow for freedom of movement and the ability to cook any dish it has learned.
The robot "learns" how to prepare a meal after a chef records herself in 3D preparing the dish. Then, the Robotic Kitchen is able to replicate the movements exactly and reproduce the dish precisely. It has a growing list of recipes that it can prepare, which the Moley Robotic website refers to as an "iTunes' style library of recipes." This has implications for people with mobility disabilities who cannot grasp cooking utensils and could be a step toward more independence.
The Robotic Kitchen does come at a high cost. however, with an estimated cost of $15,000. The consumer unit is expected to go on the market sometime in 2017.
Full Story: Megan Gibson, Meet the Robot Chef that Can Prepare Your Dinner, Time, Apr. 14, 2015, available at
See also: Future Is Served, Moley Robotics, available at
F. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
1. Scientists Consider DDT as Zika Virus Reaches U.S.A.
The outbreak of the Zika virus created global anxiety when it was linked to the development of severe disabilities in babies of infected mothers. The virus is spread by mosquitoes carrying the disease and can also cause paralyzing Guillain-Barre Syndrome in infected persons. Until recently, Zika was confined to countries closer to the southern hemisphere but has since moved north into the United States. American scientists are now trying to find solutions.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control have recommended wearing long sleeves, avoiding pregnancy, and applying bug spray as a deterrent for the mosquitoes that carry the disease. However, Dr. Jane Orient, a member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, says that it is not working. In Brazil, a rampant outbreak of the virus was eradicated just before the deadline of the Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio. They successfully did so with the use of DDT, a controversial chemical that was used in the 1950s to prevent the spread of fatal Typhus and Malaria in the United States. Its effectiveness reportedly saved over 500 million lives from Typhus. The chemical has since been banned in the United States for posing a threat to the environment after Rachel Carson wrote about it in her novel entitled "Silent Spring." American scientists are now voicing doubts about the validity of the science used in Carson's novel that portrayed the fatal effects of DDT on Bald Eagle eggs. Dr. Jane Orient is calling for a renewed used of DDT in the face of an outbreak of the Zika virus, and many others join in her opinion.
Full Article: Is Zika a Sign it's Time, Again, for DDT? WND exclusive, Aug. 8, 2016, available at:
1. Woman with Cerebral Palsy Speaks at the Democratic National Convention
During the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton invited Anastasia Somoza, a disability rights advocate to speak. Somoza has been a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities to live independent lives. She started her political activism at the age of nine when she asked then President Clinton how to better integrate her sister, who also had disabilities, into the mainstream classroom.
Somoza spoke about the value and diversity that people with disabilities bring to America. She is now working on a project with Clinton to bring an end to the abandonment of babies with disabilities in China. Somoza stated that she champions "inclusion, access to higher education, and the work force" for all people with disabilities.
Full Story: Jim Dwyer, For Twin Sisters, a Road to Progress that Began by Bending a President's Ear, New York Times, Jul. 26, 2016, available at
2. New Program Places Adults with Disabilities in Single Family Homes
In Franklin County, Massachusetts, a new program is aimed at moving adults with disabilities from group homes into single family homes where they can be more independent. The program, called ServiceNet, connects adults with disabilities with families who will house them, providing the adults with needed supports while still allowing them to live as independently as possible.
The program is geared toward adults with intellectual disabilities who might struggle living alone but do not need all the support provided in a group home. Adults living with the families are encouraged to work jobs outside the homes and participate in community activities to foster an inclusive community. The organization's goal is to create a more inclusive environment, both within the homes and in the wider community.
Full Story: Tom Relihan, Shared Living Gives Independence to Those with Disabilities, The Recorder, Jul. 22, 2016, available at
3. MTA Sued for Failing to Make Station Fully Accessible after $21M Renovations
On June 28, 2016, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) and Bronx Independent Living Services filed a federal class action lawsuit against the New York City MTA for failing to include an elevator in the $21 million renovations to the Middletown Road station in the Bronx. DRA and Bronx Independent Living Services alleged this was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA requires that when substantial renovations are made to public accommodations, such as a train station, the improvements must include making the station fully accessible. MTA representative, Kevin Ortiz, claimed that installation of elevators at Middletown Road was not feasible because of physical constraints such as insufficient space in the existing station mezzanine to fit ADA-approved elevators, and therefore MTA did not violate the ADA. Mr. Oritz also explained that the renovations did include "significant accessibility improvements at Middletown Road, including raised platform edge warning strips, braille and other tactile signage, and stair handrails." However, Bronx Independent Living Services Executive Director, Brett Eisenberg, explained that those improvements were not sufficient as "[i]naccessible public transportation interferes with the ability of people with disabilities to hold down jobs, keep medical appointments and partake in community activities." DRA also has cited that New York City has one of the worst public transportation systems for people with disabilities in the United States with only 19 percent of New York City subway stations fully accessible to people with disabilities. Comparatively, 100 percent of Washington, D.C., and San Francisco stations are fully accessible, 74 percent of Boston stations, 68 percent of Philadelphia stations, and 67 percent of Chicago stations.
Full Story: Barbara Ross and Dareh Gregorian, NewYorkDailyNews.com, Disability Rights Groups Sue MTA for Excluding Elevator at Newly Renovated Bronx Subway Station, Jun. 29, 2016, available at
1. Man Kills 19 People with Disabilities in Japan
A man who formerly worked at a center for people with intellectual disabilities broke back into the facility, located in Sagamihara, Japan, on July 26 to stage an attack on residents. The suspect, Satoshi Uematsu, ended up killing 19 residents and injuring 6 more. Uematsu then turned himself in to police.
Uematsu was known for his views in the past that some people with disabilities should be "euthanized," and had been previously committed to a hospital after threatening to kill people with disabilities. He was later released after his doctors concluded he was no longer a danger to others. This attack was the worst mass killing in Japan in decades.
Full Story: Motoko Rich, Japan Knife Attack Kills 19 at Center for Disabled, New York Times, Jul. 25, 2016, available at,
2. Ship Crew Circumnavigating the Globe Includes People with Disabilities
A ship partially built and crewed by people with disabilities recently docked in Sydney, Australia, as part of its trip around the globe. The ship is owned and operated by Jubilee Sailing Trust Australia and has been at sail for nine months, sailing across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and through the South Pacific. The crew consists of 40 people, 20 of whom have disabilities, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as people who are deaf, and people who are blind.
The ship is specially adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. For example, a talking compass allows crew members who are blind to navigate, and joystick controls are adapted for people with limited mobility. The ship will continue on its journey, next heading to Melbourne, Australia.
Full Story: Nicole Chettle, Tall ship Tenacious Arrives in Sydney with Crew of Sailors with Disabilities, ABC Australia, Jul. 27, 2016, available at
I. POP CULTURE
1. Pokemon Go Is Inaccessible to People with Disabilities
When Pokemon Go was released recently, it was instantly popular with people of all ages. Unfortunately, people with mobility disabilities are often unable to participate in playing the game.
In a blog post, Erin Hawley, who has a mobility disability, expressed disappointment with the app developers for not considering all demographics. She writes, "[w]hile I have the ability to leave my house, it is difficult to navigate the community in a wheelchair. Cracked concrete, lack of curb cuts and sidewalks, stairs, steep hills, dirt roads, rocky roads, sand - it's all here and it's all an obstacle or completely impassable." Hawley also touched on the absence of VoiceOver access for gamers who are blind.
In another article, the author suggests that the developers consider creating an alternative mode to play the game that would use a "virtual walk" so that gamers with disabilities would be able to get to the Pokestops, gyms, and be able to hatch eggs.
Full Story: Erin Hawley, Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility, The Geeky Gimp, Jul. 13, 2016, available at
See also: Selena Larson, How Pokemon Go Is Creating a Barrier for Gamers with Disabilities, The Daily Dot, Jul. 12, 2016, available at
J. EVENTS AND FUNDING
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The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter is the collaborative product of Editor-in-Chief David W. Klein, Ph.D., Executive Editor William N. Myhill, M.Ed., J.D.; and Associate Editors Shannon McGlew, Kelly Bunch, Catherine Ostrowski Martin, Amanda Zannoni, and Kathleen Battoe.
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