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
September 20, 2016
Volume 13, Issue 8
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. Shooting Death of Unarmed Man Who Was Deaf Raises Questions about Police Training
On August 18, 2016, Daniel K. Harris, a 29-year-old unarmed motorist who was deaf, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina by State Trooper Jermaine Saunders. Sergeant Michael Baker, a spokesperson for the state's highway patrol, stated, "After a brief pursuit, the driver exited his vehicle, and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper, causing a shot to be fired. The driver succumbed to his injuries at the scene." Authorities have declined to provide further information about the nature of the encounter between the men. Trooper Saunders has been placed on administrative leave. Mr. Harris's brother, Sam, who is also deaf, stated that he believes the incident would have ended differently if the officer had known that Daniel was deaf.
Mr. Harris's death has raised questions about the use of deadly force by police officers and how officers interact with people with disabilities. Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which promotes the rights of people with disabilities, stated, "People with disabilities will be safer the more the police are properly trained in this regard, and it needs to happen now before more tragedies occur. Whether a person is deaf, autistic, or has a chronic health problem, these disabilities are often not understood by police officers when encountering them on the streets."
Full Story: Liam Stack, N.C. Trooper Investigated in Fatal Shooting of Deaf Motorist, NY Times, Aug. 24, 2016, available at
2. $200 Million Settlement Will Bring More Accessible and Affordable Housing to Los Angeles
A settlement was reached between the City of Los Angeles and Independent Living Center of Southern California, Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, and Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, three nonprofit groups. The settlement is in regards to a failure to provide enough accessible housing in the city's publicly funded housing developments. It will bring $200 million toward providing accessible, affordable housing over the next ten years.
City officials will be required to ensure that 4,000 units are accessible to people who use wheelchairs, have hearing impairments, or live with other disabilities. This goal will be realized by building additional apartments, redesigning existing ones, or demonstrating that existing units are already accessible. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed the settlement, saying in a statement that the city "stands for inclusiveness and access for all." One of the attorneys who brought the lawsuit against the city, Michael Allen, called the settlement agreement "the largest accessibility settlement ever reached involving affordable-housing. ... It will send a strong positive message to cities all over the country that their housing programs must be accessible."
Full Story: Emily Alpert Reyes & David Zahniser, L.A. to Spend More than $200 Million to Settle Suit on Housing for Disabled, Los Angeles Times/TNS, Sept. 6, 2016, available at
1. Microsoft's Hiring Program for People with Autism Is Successful
Microsoft began a pilot program in 2015 for hiring individuals with autism. Microsoft recognized the unique talents that individuals with autism, such as retention of information and attention to detail, could bring to the company for certain jobs. Instead of the standard interview process, a cohort of candidates with autism are invited to the Microsoft campus for about two weeks. This helps them become familiar with the environment and the managers so that when the actual interviews take place at the end of the two weeks, the candidates are more relaxed. The managers also undergo training about autism so that they can recognize behaviors and challenges that the candidates may be facing during the process.
A year later, Fast Company interviewed Blake Adickman, now an employee of Microsoft, who went through the hiring program. Adickman described the process and the challenges of being confronted with situations that he could not control, despite his preparation. However, because of the manager training and company commitment to being inclusive, Adickman landed the job as an engineer. He, along with other employees with autism, are encouraged to ask for any accommodations they might need to make the working day better.
Full Story: Vauhini Vara, Microsoft Wants Autistic Coders. Can It Find Them and Keep Them? Fast Company, Sept. 6, 2016, available at
1. DOJ Sues State of Georgia for Segregation of Students with Psychosocial Disabilities
2. NPR Releases Educational Series on Access to Mental Health Services in Schools
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit claiming that Georgia has violated the civil rights of students assigned to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS). GNETS is comprised of 24 programs that support the local school systems' continuum of services for students with disabilities. These programs are supposed to provide comprehensive educational and therapeutic support services to students who might otherwise require residential or other more restrictive placements. The DOJ notified state officials in July 2015 that an investigation found illegal segregation in GNETS. The DOJ described schools where students with disabilities had no contact with students without disabilities, and that often students with disabilities were confined in buildings that lacked libraries, gyms, science labs, and other commonplace features.
In May 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia schools assign a disproportionate number of African-American students to GNETS programs. The newspaper also found that since 2014 restraints were used at GNETS five times more frequently than the state's other 2,300 public schools combined---totaling nearly 10,000 times. For these reasons, the DOJ has been working with the state to determine what to do about the GNETS. However, negotiations have stalled, and head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, stated that the DOJ has determined that they must pursue the ADA violations in federal court to vindicate thousands of students with behavior-related disabilities across the state of Georgia.
Full Story: Alan Judd, Feds Will Sue Georgia over Segregated "Psychoeducational" Schools, The Atlanta Journal Constitution/TNS, Aug. 17, 2016, available at
See also: Justice Department Sues Georgia for Unnecessarily Segregating Students with Disabilities, The United States Department of Justice, Aug. 23, 2016, available at
On August 31, 2016, National Public Radio (NPR) released the first part of an education series regarding the issue of access to mental health services in schools. Up to one in five children living in the United States show signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder. However, nearly 80 percent of students who need mental health services will not receive them.
Mental health issues that children face can also tie into other major problems in school such as chronic absenteeism, low achievement, disruptive behavior, and dropping out. While schools can play a role in identifying students with mental health issues and helping them to succeed, many schools are not prepared to take on this role because of a lack of resources.
Full Story: Meg Anderson and Kavitha Cardoza, Mental Health in Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions of Students, Aug. 31, 2016, available at
1. Special Olympics Launches Health Leadership Awards as Part of Global Health Initiative
On September 13, 2016, the Special Olympics, the largest health organization for people with intellectual disabilities, announced the launch of the Golisano Health Leadership Awards. The awards will recognize the extensive work of individuals and organizations around the world who are improving the health of people with intellectual disabilities. The awards will also raise awareness for the significant health disparities between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics Healthy Communities was started in 2012. Now at the five-year anniversary of the Healthy Communities initiative, The Golisano Awards are starting with a gift of $37 million from Paychex Chairman, Tom Golisano. This initiative has been active in 35 countries and 19 states in the U.S., launching programs to increase community access to inclusive health, fitness, and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities.
Full Story: Philanthropist Tom Golisano and Special Olympics Launch New Golisano Global Health Leadership Wards to Recognize Significant Progress Made in Increasing Access for People with Intellectual Disabilities, Sept. 13, 2016, available at
2. Lurie Institute Launches Videos for Caregivers and Women with Intellectual Disabilities on Advocating for Medical Services and Screenings
Scholars at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management are working to learn more about the disparities that exist in access to appropriate medical care and screenings for women with intellectual disabilities in their Women Be Healthy initiative. In 2013, Professor Susan Parish, the Director of the Lurie Institute, found that only 55 percent of women with intellectual disabilities were receiving Pap tests, while 85 percent of women without intellectual disabilities received Pap tests. A national study found that women with intellectual disabilities were 72 percent less likely than women without intellectual disabilities to get screened for cervical cancer.
To combat these inequities, the Lurie Institute recently released several YouTube videos that highlight the importance for all women--including women with intellectual disabilities--to receive mammograms and Pap tests. The videos also provide techniques for family caregivers of women with disabilities to advocate for these procedures with medical professionals. Lurie Institute Research Associate, Leah Igdalsky, commented, "The need for education aimed at caregivers is something we know is needed from caregivers and advocates. ...There is a taboo related to sexuality for people with disabilities."
Full Story: Julian Cardillo, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy Spotlights Healthcare Inequities for Women with Intellectual Disabilities, Aug. 30, 2016, Brandeis.edu, available at
See the videos:
1. Observing Movement Patterns on a Tablet May Indicate Autism
Scientific Reports has published findings that a study was able to identify, with 93 percent accuracy, which children had autism by analyzing their motor patterns when using a touch screen tablet. Jonathan Delafield-Butt of the University of Strathclyde said, "This is potentially a major breakthrough for early identification of autism, because no stressful and expensive tests by clinicians are needed."
The children were asked to play games on the tablet during the study, which had movement sensors to measure motor movements. The study found that children with autism move differently and use greater force when touching the tablet. The study recognizes that this is just one step, and that more research will need to be conducted in order to verify the results.
Full Story: Michelle Diament, Can iPads Detect Signs of Autism? Disability Scoop, Sept. 6, 2016, available at
See also: Anna Anzulewicz, Krzysztof Sobota, & Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Toward the Autism Motor Signature: Gesture Patterns during Smart Tablet Gameplay Identify Children with Autsim, Scientific Reports, Aug. 24, 2016, available at
F. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
1. Improved Disaster Response for People with Disabilities during Louisiana Floods
The Louisiana Emergency Management Disability and Aging Coalition (EMDAC) has worked tirelessly during the August 2016 flood rescue and recovery in Louisiana for all people affected, particularly for people with disabilities and those who are aging. The National Disability Integration Coordinator for the American Red Cross, Shari Myers, has taken notice that EMDAC's efforts have improved disaster response for people with disabilities in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. She said, "I'm encouraged by the fact that I now have friends and colleagues with disabilities who are working in inclusive emergency management and disaster planning." She notes that there is still work to be done. Even though more disaster shelters had accessible entrances, the portable commode trailers lacked significant accessibility features.
Full Story: Aaron Broverman, Disaster Response during Louisiana Flood Significantly Improved, New Mobility, Sept. 15, 2016, available at
1. University of Delaware Students with Intellectual Disabilities Move into Dorms
The University of Delaware is opening up its dorms this fall to students with intellectual disabilities who belong to its Career and Life Studies Certificate Program. Three students in the program with intellectual disabilities will live alongside students without disabilities on campus so they can get a more authentic college experience than they would by living at home. A live-in residential coach will stay across the hall from the students so that they will always be supported. The University hopes to expand the program in the next several years to include more students.
Full Story: Karie Simmons, Gaining Independence: UD students with Disabilities Move into Dorms, Newark Post, Aug. 29, 2016, available at
1. Brazilian Paralympic Runner Breaks 100m Record
Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos recently broke the world record in the Paralympic 100m while competing in the Paralympics in Rio, Brazil. The runner, who is only nineteen years old, is a well-known Brazilian celebrity and got the entire stadium on its feet when he crossed the finish line.
Ferreira dos Santos missed the World Championships last year as he was recovering from a knee injury, but was able to compete in the Rio Paralympics this year. His teammate, Michal Derus of Brazil, took home the silver medal in the race, and Yohanzon Nascimeto of Poland took bronze. Ferreira dos Santos brought home Brazil's sixth gold medal. At the conclusion of the games, Brazil finished eighth in the medal count.
Full Story: Ferreira dos Santos Smashed Record in 100m T47 Final, Paralympic News, Sept. 11, 2016, available at
2. Controversy after Brazilian Vogue Photoshops Models to Appear Disabled
To highlight the Paralympics taking place in Brazil, Vogue Brazil recently posted a picture on its Instagram account of two amputees wearing its clothes. The caption on the photo reads, "We are all Paralympians." However, the two models do not have any disabilities. They are both models whose photos were Photoshopped to make it appear that they have disabilities.
Although the photo was ostensibly in support of the Paralympics, it has caused controversy among the disability community. Many people are questioning why Vogue Brazil wouldn't simply hire models with disabilities. In fact, the models' looks were based on two actual Paralympic athletes who are amputees. Why Vogue decided to use models who do not have disabilities and then Photoshop them is unclear, but a spokesperson reiterated Vogue's commitment to supporting the Paralympic games and promoting attendance.
Full Story: Disabled Models and Athletes Outraged by Brazillian Vogue Paralympic Campaign Photo, BBC Newsbeat, Aug. 26, 2016, available at
I. POP CULTURE
1. New TV Series "Speechless" Stars Actor with Disability
The disability community is excited about the new ABC show "Speechless" because it stars actor Micah Fowler, an actor who lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He will be playing JJ, son of Maya, who is played by Minnie Driver. On the show JJ also lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. The creator of the show, Scott Silveri, grew up with his brother who lives with cerebral palsy. Silveri said that he wanted to truly represent the disability community.
In an interview, Fowler said that he hopes he "can represent the disabled community well and show us in the best light possible." He goes through challenges that his character, JJ, goes through daily, so he says that it has helped him play his character. Fowler also said that he gets to influence the creative team in JJ's storyline and they listen to his suggestions about what is realistic for a person living with a disability.
Full Story: Aaron Broverman, Micah Fowler of New Sitcom Speechless Speaks, New Mobility, Sept. 1, 2016, available at
2. "Born This Way" Wins an Emmy Award
The A&E show "Born This Way" won an Emmy Award this year in the category of Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. The show follows the lives of seven young adults who live with Down syndrome. "Born This Way" aims to portray the lives of its stars in an authentic way. The show premiered last year and is in its second season. It has seen a 67 percent increase in viewership since its debut and expects that number to continue to rise.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, "Born This Way" Scores Emmy Win, Disability Scoop, Sept. 12, 2016, available at
J. EVENTS AND FUNDING
Call for Papers and Proposals
Webinars and Conferences
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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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