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
November 29, 2016
Volume 13, Issue 10
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. Department of Justice Investigates Shooting of Behavior Assistant
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently reviewing an incident where police shot at Charles Kinsey, a behavior assistant to a man with disabilities in Florida. Kinsey was assisting 26-year-old Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, who lives with autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disabilities.
The shooting reached national attention after the release of a cell phone video of the shooting. Kinsey, who survived the shooting, filed a federal lawsuit against the police officer who shot him and the North Miami Police Department. The DOJ is currently investigating whether this was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the investigation is ongoing. There is no information yet regarding what the grounds for violations under the ADA might be.
Full Story: Lance Dixon, Police Shooting of Behavior Assistant Under Investigation, Disability Scoop, Nov. 1, 2016, available at
2. Service Dog Case Goes Before Supreme Court
Ehlena Fry, a twelve-year-old girl who lives with cerebral palsy, is the plaintiff in a case that went before the Supreme Court early this month. Fry uses a service dog, Wonder, who helps her balance when she uses her walker, opens and closes doors, and retrieves dropped items. However, about seven years ago, when Fry tried to bring Wonder to school with her, school district officials would not let the dog in, saying that he would be a distraction to other students.
After years of litigation, the conflict eventually reached the Supreme Court, where the justices recently heard oral arguments. The main issue in the case is whether the plaintiffs must exhaust their administrative remedies (meaning to pursue all remedies available through an administrative, non-court process set forth in the particular law) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act before they can directly file in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of June.
Full Story: Michael Doyle, Supreme Court Hears Service Dog Case, Nov. 1, 2016, available at
1. Department of Justice Makes Statement on Integration Mandate of Title II
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement on the integration mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The statement makes clear that the 1999 Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. applies to all services of state and local governments, including employment. The DOJ recognizes that people with disabilities can and will be successful in integrated employment scenarios operated by state or local governments.
Read the DOJ's full statement here:
Full story: US Justice Department Issues New Guidance Mandating that Persons with Disabilities Have Right to Live Integrated Lives Beyond Housing and Including Working and Other Activities, Clausen House, Nov. 5, 2016, available at
2. VCU Awarded Grant to Study Employment of Persons with Disabilities
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) received a grant of $4.4 million from the National Institute on Disabilities, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, which is part of the United States Department for Health and Human Services. The grant is to fund research of business practices that result in employment for persons with disabilities.
Head researcher, Paul Wehman, a professor at VCU, said that the studies will "provide an intensive study of why businesses hire or do not hire persons with disabilities. ..." Four studies will be conducted over the next five years.
Link to the grant description:
Full story: Sarah Kleiner, VCU Awarded $4.4 million Grant to Study Employment of People with Disabilities, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Nov. 3, 2016, available at
1. Texas Schools Denied Purposely Limiting Special Education Enrollment
Representatives of Disability Rights Texas accused the Texas Education Agency (TEA) of limiting enrollment in special education programs to save money based on an indicator called the Performance Based Monitory Analysis System (PBMAS). TEA responded that they used the PBMAS as an indicator to make sure special education enrollment was being used correctly because in the past minority students were typically overrepresented.
TEA also stated that they were already in the process of changing their monitoring system to eliminate the PBMAS and will be using it only to collect enrollment data. TEA reported that the special education enrollment rate had declined significantly in Texas since PBMAS was used, but the decline had started before it was used.
Full Story: Eva-Marie Ayala, Texas Kids Weren't Kept Out of Special Education Classes to Save Money, State Tells Feds, Dallas News, Nov. 2, 2016, available at
2. Girl with Down Syndrome Expelled from Preschool
Chesterbrook Academy expelled a three-year-old girl with Down syndrome because she was not potty trained. However, other nondisabled students were not required to be fully potty trained. The State of New Jersey is suing Chesterbrook Academy for unlawful expulsion.
Full Story: N.J. Sues Preschool for Expelling Student with Down Syndrome, CBS News, Oct. 26, 2016, available at
1. Screening Tool Incorrectly Indicating that Children with Autism Also Have ADHD
Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) stated that a screening tool that measured attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be misdiagnosing children with autism based on how the questions were asked. Yes/no questions without further clarification result in a finding of ADHD, despite the limitation being from social difficulties instead of inattention. Researchers at CHOP noted that this was a problem as medications and services for ADHD could be less helpful for a child with autism.
Researchers at CHOP recommend modifying this screening tool to better recognize symptoms of ADHD versus autism. The researchers at CHOP also state that until a new screening tool is developed, parents should look for evaluations for ADHD that recognize the possibility of autism.
Full Story: Children with Autism May Be Overdiagnosed with ADHD, New Study Suggests, Science Daily, Oct. 27, 2016, available at
2. Denial of Organ Transplants to People with Disabilities Violates the ADA
Representatives in Congress requested guidance from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (HHS) on organ transplant discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Representatives showed recent examples of discrimination, such as when doctors denied a girl with an intellectual disability and Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome a kidney transplant (which was later reversed), and when a man with autism was denied a heart transplant. Some states have passed laws prohibiting this kind of discrimination, but the representatives want HHS to support this position and clarify that the ADA is violated in these situations.
Full Story: Michelle Diament, Disability No Reason to Deny Organ Transplants, Lawmakers Say, Disability Scoop, Oct. 24, 2016, available at
1. New Apple Products Have Emphasis on Accessibility
At an Apple product release event, the company highlighted the new ways in which its products allow for increased accessibility. At the event, Apple showed a video that demonstrated persons with disabilities using the new devices and new features. Apple also unveiled its new accessibility website that users can visit to learn about the accessibility features and how to use them.
Sady Paulson, who has a degree in digital cinematography from Full Sail University and lives with cerebral palsy, edited the video. She edited it using the tool called Switch Control, which allows users with mobility disabilities to control their devices.
Full story: Michelle Diament, Apple Doubling Down on Accessibility, Disability Scoop, Nov. 1, 2016, available at
See also: Selena Larson, The Woman Featured in Apple's Accessibility Video Also Edited It, CNN Money, Oct. 28, 2016, available at
2. Assistive Technology Fair in Pennsylvania
The Occupational Therapy Club of Penn State DuBois and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation held an assistive technology fair on campus on November 9, 2016. Many vendors attended and the technology was demonstrated on site. Presentations on how to evaluate assistive technology were given so that the public and students in the occupational therapy program could have a practical learning experience. LuAnn Demi, senior instructor in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, said, "This event lets [the students] see and try out the equipment for themselves, so they can experience how it works and then better explain these devices to future clients."
Full Story: Steve Harmic, Assistive Technology Fair Demonstrates Options for People with Disabilities, Penn State News, Nov. 9, 2016, available at
F. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
1. WHO Says Zika No Longer an International Emergency
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the Zika virus, which causes disabilities like microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome, is no longer an international emergency. WHO still recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant stay away from places where Zika transmission is possible to prevent birth defects and health complications. Some public health experts think that removing the international emergency designation will cause stagnation in research and give countries no incentive to invest in emergency preparedness plans, but WHO emphasizes that ongoing research is still required and there are still questions to be answered on the virus's long-term effects.
Full Story: Stephanie Nebehay, et al., WHO Declares End of Zika Emergency but Says Virus Remains a Threat, Reuters, Nov. 18, 2016, available at
2. LES Ready Hosting Emergency Preparedness Workshops for Community
LES Ready is made of up neighborhood groups in the Lower East Side of New York that formed after Hurricane Sandy. Four years after the storm, the group is hosting emergency preparedness workshops for the area's vulnerable populations and their support networks. The goal is to make sure everyone is protected if another disaster were to hit.
Full Story: Allegra Hobbs, 4 Years after Sandy Group Prepares LES Seniors for Future Storms, dna Info, Nov. 2, 2016, available at
1. New Housing Development in Arizona for People with Disabilities
A company in Tucson, Arizona, has recently created a new housing option for adults with developmental disabilities. The company, La Frontera Arizona, offers single-family homes geared toward low-income adults with developmental disabilities. The development is set up so adults can live as independently as possible while still receiving support services.
The development encourages interaction and community between the residents. The houses have garages, patios, and backyards, and a community center is currently under construction. The community will also contain a coffee shop and minimarket where adults can receive work training for jobs outside the community. La Frontera Arizona is currently expanding the housing division, and when the community is finished, it is expected to have over 250 homes. The homes will likely range from $314 to $535 for a one-bedroom unit and $381 to $646 for a two-bedroom unit.
Full Story: Emily Bregel, Housing Development Looks to Fill Gap for Adults with Disabilities, Disability Scoop, Nov. 2, 2016, available at
1. Canada Opens Multimillion Dollar Center for Autism
A new facility geared toward people with autism recently opened in British Columbia. The center will cater to nearly 70,000 people in the province who have autism, as well as their friends and families. Attendees at the opening included Canada's new Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, a woman who is blind and who Prime Minister Trudeau recently appointed to his cabinet.
The center includes autism-centered health care, including access to doctors and dentists experienced in working with patients with autism. The center will also host a daycare and classrooms, as well as autism research facilities, including labs and clinics.
Full Story: Kamil Karamali, Multi-million-dollar Autism Centre Opens in Richmond, CBC News, Nov. 9, 2016, available at
2. European Union Discusses New Disability Rights Act
The Accessibility Act, which will require all products and services sold in the European Union (EU) to be accessible for people with disabilities, is currently sparking debate between EU member countries. The Act is meant to bring the EU into compliance with the U.N. Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in the EU in 2011 and has been ratified in almost all EU countries. However, the European Union Commission has struggled with coming up with an all-encompassing definition of disability, as well as a clear definition of the law's scope.
Some government officials have argued that the act overlaps with current disability legislation, especially in the case of accessible public transportation, which is generally covered by countries' individual acts. However, disability rights activists argue that there are still many access issues in European transportation systems not covered by national acts. Debate is ongoing on the nature of proposed regulations to support the Act.
Full Story: Harry Cooper, Disability Rights Law Stuck in Eurocracy, Politico EU, Oct. 12, 2016, available at
I. POP CULTURE
1. British Artist with Autism Recreates Mexico City from Memory
Stephen Wiltshire is a British artist who has autism. He has the unique ability of being able to recreate cityscapes perfectly from memory. His most recent work is of Mexico City, which he drew after a brief helicopter ride to observe the city from above. Wiltshire has drawn other panoramic cityscapes, including New York, Madrid, and London.
Full Story: Autistic Artist Draws Panoramic Mural of Mexico City from Memory, Global News, Oct. 31, 2016, available at
2. ABC and ESPN to Broadcast Special Olympics World Winter Games
The Special Olympics World Games will be held in Austria, starting with the opening ceremony on March 18, 2017. Television networks ABC and ESPN have agreed to broadcast portions of the games, which marks the first time a major network will air the Games. Coverage will be available in the United States, as well as in a number of other countries.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, ABC, ESPN Sign on to Broadcast Special Olympics, Disability Scoop, Oct. 25, 2016, available at
3. Representation of Persons with Disabilities Lacking in Hollywood
The Ruderman Studio-Roundtable on Disability Inclusion discussion, sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, was held in Beverly Hills on November 1, 2016. The discussion centered on how disability inclusion and representation is still ignored in Hollywood, despite diversity efforts for other groups. Actors with disabilities spoke at the event, which focused on representation in both acting and directing.
Full Story: Tre'vell Anderson, Disabled Actors and Advocates Plead to Hollywood: "Give Us A Chance, Please!," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 2, 2016, available at
J. EVENTS AND FUNDING
Call for Papers and Proposals
Webinars and Conferences
Scholarships and Internships
Structured Negotiation, a Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, ABA Publishing, 2016, by Lainey Feingold, disability rights lawyer, tells the stories of the people and the issues that have made structured negotiation a successful strategy across the United States. The book is written for lawyers and nonlawyers alike who want to work on issues in collaboration instead of conflict in a process that emphasizes relationships and win-win solutions. Use discount code LFLEGAL for a 10% discount on the list price at the publisher's website: http://shopaba.org/negotiate16
More about the book here:
Public Comment Notice
The National Council on Disability (NCD) is holding a quarterly meeting on Friday, December 2, 2016, from 12:00 pm - 2:15 pm, Eastern Time. Interested persons are asked to phone into the teleconference. NCD will also have a public comment period from 1:35 pm - 2:05 pm, Eastern Time, during the meeting. Interested persons are also encouraged to call in with comments during this time. The date to register to offer public comments is Wednesday, November 30, 2016, by the close of business.
The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter is supported by the following sources:
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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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