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
October 30, 2018
Volume 15, 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. INDEPENDENCE: Community Integration
G. INTERNATIONAL: Topics Outside the United States
H. POP CULTURE: News and Topics Vary
I. EVENTS AND FUNDING: Conferences, Calls for Proposals, Papers, and Presentations
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A. CIVIL RIGHTS
1. Bill of Rights Created for Air Travelers with Disabilities
A lack of accessible restrooms on planes, sensory overload of going through crowds, and security screening are only some of the things that can make air travel difficult for people with disabilities. To help with this, there will be an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights" developed.
President Trump recently signed legislation around airline passengers with disabilities. This includes disability training for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and increased fines for harm to passengers with disabilities or damage to wheelchairs.
TSA has to change its training for screening passengers with disabilities. TSA must also have new rules about service animals on planes. The legislation even looks at accessibility best practices for airports and allowing in-cabin wheelchair restraints in the future.
Full Story: Courtney Perkes, Air Travelers with Disabilities to Get "Bill of Rights," Disability Scoop, Oct. 9, 2018, available at
2. Disability and Politics: Where Are the People with Disabilities in Government?
People with disabilities are almost absent from politics. The current election cycle hosts candidates from many backgrounds, but people with disabilities are missing in elected office. The author states that candidates and elected officials should match a diverse population. Forty-five million people in this country, or 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, live with disabilities. Worldwide, people with disabilities represent the largest minority.
The National Council on Independent Living reported that only 11 candidates who have disabilities were running for Congress, and five have already dropped out or lost in a primary. This is a very small number. Many contested issues have major effects on people with disabilities this election cycle. Some of these issues are cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and Medicare, and the elimination of independent living programs.
Full Story: Brooke Ellison, The Inaccessible Office: The Missing Disabled Voice in Politics, The Hill, Sept. 14, 2018, available at
1. Department of Labor Aims to Create Jobs for Young People with Disabilities
The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) wants to improve job training for youth with disabilities. Recently, the office awarded Social Policy Research Associates Inc. (SPRA) a $1.9 million contract to do just that. The contract asks SPRA to create new methods to train those with disabilities in apprenticeship programs. SPRA will focus on high-growth fields like healthcare and information technology.
The project hopes to find new ways to prepare those with disabilities for the workforce. It responds to a recent executive order seeking to increase training through apprenticeship countrywide. Those with disabilities remain underrepresented in apprenticeships and the workforce at large. SPRA will report back on its findings in an effort to promote change.
Full Story: Press Release, U.S. Department of Labor Awards $1.9 Million to Improve Apprenticeship Opportunities for Youth and Adults with Disabilities, U.S. Department of Labor, Oct. 11, 2018, available at
2. The ABA Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month
The American Bar Association (ABA) recognized October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The ABA honored NDEAM by highlighting the work done by lawyers and judges with disabilities. It also encouraged legal employers to consider inclusion when hiring.
The ABA promoted inclusion during NDEAM in several ways. The organization created The Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Workforce. Those who signed the pledge agreed to improve disability diversity in the legal profession. Two hundred entities signed on. Signers included law schools, law firms, and nonprofit organizations. Further, the ABA spotlighted stories of lawyers with disabilities. It also marked NDEAM by hosting a panel on inclusion in the workforce.
Full Story: National Disability Employment Awareness Month, American Bar Association, Oct. 10, 2018, available at
1. Law Requires Students to Disclose Disabilities
A new Florida law mandates that schools ask about students' mental health when they register for classes. State school districts now must include a question on their registration forms asking whether students have been referred to mental health treatment. Leaders passed the law after a school shooting took place in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year.
The change earned mixed reviews. Parents and advocates argue that forced disclosure violates student privacy. They also worry that students who disclose may face stigma for seeking help. However, proponents urge that this shift in policy will allow schools to better help students in need. In support of this view, the bill directs an additional $70 million dollars toward mental health services in schools.
Full Story: Julio Ochoa, Schools Requiring "Mental Health" Disclosures by Students, Disability Scoop, Sept. 28, 2018, available at
2. Following Lawsuit, Queens College Pledges to Make Change
Queens College has agreed to spend upwards of $1 million to make its campus more accessible. A lawsuit filed by then-student Kathleen Ross spurred the change. In the suit, Ross, who lives with cerebral palsy, cited over 400 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations committed by the school. Among them, Ross mentioned buses without lifts, bathrooms without grab bars, and doorways that proved too narrow to move through in a wheelchair. Ross's suit also commented on the college's habit of blocking ramps with snow when plowing in the winter.
In response to the lawsuit, the college vowed to make changes. It will also pay Ross $23,000 in damages. To become more accessible, the college plans to put in more ramps around campus. It will also start using accessible shuttle buses. The college further pledged to implement new snow removal protocol promoting accessibility. Overall, Queens College recommitted to creating a learning environment inclusive of all students.
Full Story: Carlotta Mohamed, Queens College Settles Federal Lawsuit Over ADA Violations, Times Ledger, Oct. 5, 2018, available at
1. Legislation to Improve Care for Kids with Complex Conditions
The Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE Kids Act) was approved by a U.S. House of Representatives Committee. The bill will help parents coordinate their children's care from multiple providers. The bill creates a subcategory of children on Medicaid with complex medical conditions. A complex medical condition is one that affects two or more body systems and causes physical or cognitive impairment.
There are about 500,000 children in the country who are believed to have multiple health conditions. Currently, children have to repeat x-rays at different providers and other repeat procedures. The bill is expected to reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary procedures for these children. The bill will also save the government money.
Full Story: Blythe Bernhard, Lawmakers Look to Improve Care for Kids with Complex Conditions, Disability Scoop, Oct. 1, 2018, available at
2. Study Shows Earlier Treatment Can Help Reverse Autisticlike Behavior
New research by the Boston Children's Hospital suggests that early treatment can reverse social skills linked with autism. This is the first study to help improve social impairments without using therapy.
The study was tested on a mouse model using the drug Rapamycin. The research shows that this drug can help reverse autismlike social skills. Based on these findings, new trials are being created to explore treatment as early as 12 to 24 months.
Full Story: Boston Children's Hospital, Earlier Treatment Could Help Reverse Autistic-Like Behavior in Tuberous Sclerosis, ScienceDaily, Oct. 9, 2018, available at
1. 3D-Printed Products Can Remember How You Use Them
Scientists at the University of Washington have been working on creating 3D-printed objects, such as hands, which can remember how you use them. The hand can remember the movement of opening a pill bottle cap, and then move in that same way in the future. This is because the hand can mimic the way a child would flex their wrist and close their fingers in grasping an object.
While devices like the prosthetic hand are still in the testing phases, the hand could provide people with new ways of moving and functioning that were not possible before. Since these devices are 3D printed, it will be possible to make them in larger quantities and at a cheaper cost than what is currently available.
Full Story: Sarah McQuate, These 3D Printed Parts "Remember" How We Use Them, Futurity, Oct. 11, 2018, available at
2. Could a Robot Take Care of You?
That's what some in Japan are doing, as the need for caregivers continues to climb. Called "caregiver robots," these robots can talk to and care for elderly people. Japan recently increased its budget to support the creation of more caregiver robots.
Not everyone is excited to be cared for by a robot, however. Where some feel it will make life more fun to talk with the robot and not feel so lonely, others feel it is just not the same as having a person for a nurse. For others, they just wanted whichever is cheaper. Japan has many elderly people, and by 2025 they will need 380,000 care workers, so investing in caregiver robots may be worth it in the future.
Full Story: Michael Gillan Peckitt, Do the Elderly and Disabled People in Japan Want Robots to Look After Them? The Japan Times, Oct. 14, 2018, available at
1. WalletHub Ranks Best and Worst Cities for People with Disabilities
People with Disabilities have specific needs that may factor in when choosing a place to live. WalletHub compared 180 U.S. cities and ranked them according to categories that people with disabilities might care about when they choose where to live. They used various factors and provided different rankings to provide the best information to people with a variety of needs.
Some of the factors explored by WalletHub have to do with healthcare, access to service providers, affordability, accessibility of parks, and cost of living. WalletHub even ranked cities based on higher concentrations of people with disabilities living nearby. They call their ranking factors key indicators of disability friendliness.
Full Story: Adam McCann, Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities, WalletHub.com, Oct. 2, 2018, available at
2. Notorious Florida Institution Closes
The Carlton Palms home in central Florida is closing after a number of problems. Almost 200 residents who live there are moving to community-based living alternatives, according to a spokesperson. Carlton Palms is the only facility in the area that is home to people with intellectual disabilities who also have behavioral problems.
Carlton Palms has had issues of rape, abuse, and even rats. Last May, the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities sought a court order to remove the management team and appoint new leaders after a particularly brutal incident. The transition has been difficult as resources and space are limited.
Full Story: Monique Madan, After Years of Rape, Abuse and Death--Florida Home for Disabled Officially Shuts Down, The Miami Herald, Oct. 6, 2018, available at
1. Croatian Government Looks to End Confinement of People with Disabilities
More than 7,800 people with disabilities are living in state-run institutions and more than 2,000 others are living in privately run, state-funded institutions. The Croatian government is being blamed for keeping these people there.
Five organizations explained that there had been progress, but the process of moving people out and into community-based living has stopped. Recent changes in law have also helped. Croatia no longer supports full guardianship. Still, only hundreds of people have transitioned, and thousands remain institutionalized.
Full story: Croatia: End Confinement of People with Disabilities, Human Rights Watch, Oct. 10, 2018, available at
2. Indonesian Government Makes Progress to Reduce Shackling
The number of people with social disabilities who are shackled or locked up has decreased from about 18,800 to about 12,800. However, the Indonesian government still has a long way to go to end the abuse.
Indonesian government officials recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to carry out the 1977 ban on shackling. Since then, there have been activities that raise awareness and training for staff across the country.
Full story: Indonesia: Shackling Reduced, But Persists, Human Rights Watch, Oct. 2, 2018, available at
H. POP CULTURE
1. CinemAbility Film Explores Disability History in Hollywood
CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion is a new documentary film featuring actors with and without disabilities. The documentary talks about the history of how disability has been portrayed in film and TV over the last 120 years.
Some of the actors featured are Ben Affleck, Marlee Matlin, RJ Mitte, and Jamie Foxx. The film will cover silent films to current blockbusters. The director shared that the film explores not only how people with disabilities have been portrayed but how culture at the time reacted to the films and how more actors with disabilities are cast today as roles become more well-rounded.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, Film Tells Stories of Disabilities in Hollywood, Disability Scoop, Sept. 27, 2018, available at
2. Museum Exhibit Finds Permanent Home in Buffalo
In 1995 an old institution for people with disabilities shut down in upstate New York. When workers went to clean out the old buildings, they discovered many suitcases that once belonged to the people who were sent to live there. These suitcases are part of a new exhibit called "The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic."
The exhibit will be at the Museum of disABILITY History located in Buffalo, NY. The exhibit opened on October 20 as a permanent exhibition. At the grand opening, a new suitcase was unveiled. Before finding its home in Buffalo, the exhibit traveled to 11 different states over the past few years.
Full Story: Press Release, Suitcase Exhibit Finds a Home, Museum of disABILITY History, Oct. 20, 2018, available at
I. EVENTS AND FUNDING
Call for Papers
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha "is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a tool kit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation where no one is left behind."
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 Angel Baker; Lead Editor Eddie Zaremba; and Associate Editors Lauren Galloway, Jason Harris, Sarah Knickerbocker, and Bayley Axelrod.
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