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 1, 2010
Volume 7, Issue 8
The Disability Law & Policy Newsletter is a bi-weekly 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: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sections
504 & 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state civil rights law
B. EDUCATION: Special education & youth transition to successful postsecondary outcomes
C. TECHNOLOGY / TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Assistive, information, and communication technologies
D. HEALTHCARE / BENEFITS: Social Security Income / Social Security Disability Income / Medicaid & Medicare
E. WORKFORCE: Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA), & Vocational Rehabilitation
F. INDEPENDENCE: News for and about the Independent Living Movement
G. EMERGENCY RESPONSE / PREPAREDNESS: Disaster mitigation and preparedness news
H. INTERNATIONAL: News for and about disability topics outside the U.S.
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A. CIVIL RIGHTS
1. Service Animal Restrooms Increase Convenience for Air Travelers
Several large airports in the United States have created "pet relief areas" in 2010. The recent frequent creation of dog bathrooms is part of an effort to comply with a 2009 federal regulation that requires airlines and airports to collaborate in installing facilities for air travelers that have service animals. The regulation, which was passed by the Department of Transportation's delegated authority under the Air Carrier Access Act, also requires these areas to be equipped with gravel or sand and have adequate drainage, to be cleaned regularly, and to be odor free. So far, Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles have instituted bathrooms for service animals. Most of the bathrooms have been built outside of the airport, but within walking distance from the terminal. These efforts are welcome news for the approximately 2 million pets and service animals that travel annually in the United States. Nonetheless, American Federation for the Blind employee Neva Fairchild says that future bathrooms should be constructed within the airport terminal so that service animal owners can avoid going through security checkpoints more than once.
Full story: Roger Yu, More Airports Create Areas for Pets to Take Care of Business, USA Today, July 20, 2010, available at
2. Justice Department Publishes Four ADA Accessibility Proposals
The United States Department of Justice announced on July 23, 2010, that it will publish four new proposals (in the form of advanced notice rulemaking) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for public comment. The four proposals, all increasing accessibility of products and services for persons with disabilities, were published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2010, and are open for 180 days. The first proposal asks the public to comment on accessible website standards for ADA covered entities. The second proposal relates to so-called "Next Generation 9-1-1," which would require 9-1-1 call centers to accept emergency text messages, video calls, and Internet requests in addition to traditional 9-1-1 calls. A third proposal asks the public questions about movie theaters providing closed captioning and video description services at movies. Finally, a fourth proposal asks the public to comment on accessible furniture and equipment for persons with disabilities, including for example ATMs, medical examination equipment, and scales. To view the proposals and questions or leave a comment, please go to http://www.ada.gov/anprm2010.htm.
Full story: Department of Justice Announces Plans to Prepare New ADA Regulations, PR Newswire, July 23, 2010, available at
3. Settlement Reached over Segregated Pennsylvania Psychiatric Hospitals
On August 3, 2010, the Disability Rights Network and Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare agreed to settle a lawsuit brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act. The complaint alleged that 60 persons with intellectual disabilities were unlawfully housed in Pennsylvania psychiatric hospitals. The victims were allegedly housed in segregated units in violation of federal law and Disability Rights Network brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of all the similarly situated plaintiffs. The settlement agreement, which still must be approved by a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, requires the Department of Public Welfare to request funding from the governor over the next three years to provide community mental health services to all 60 plaintiffs. In addition, the agreement requires the defendant to train staff at all state psychiatric hospitals in the appropriate care for persons with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities. It requires that staff comply with a comprehensive protocol for treatment of persons with disabilities. Disability Rights Network attorney Robert Meek praised the decision, stating that the Network is "confident that individuals with intellectual disabilities who are confined in state psychiatric hospitals, now and in the future, will receive appropriate mental health treatment and will be promptly discharged."
Full story: Department of Public Welfare Settles Lawsuit: Agrees to Provide Appropriate Services for Pennsylvania with Intellectual Disabilities, PR Newswire, August 3, 2010, available at
1. Lawsuit Filed to Raise Age for Special Education in Hawaiian Schools
The Hawaii Disability Rights Center filed a class-action lawsuit on July 27, 2010, "seeking to extend special-education services in public schools for students until they turn 22." Federal law allows for free education for students with disabilities until age 22, and currently most states, with Hawaii and Maine as the exceptions, have established cutoffs at 21 or 22 years-of-age. The suit was filed because the Disability Rights Center was concerned that students were being deprived of an education and that the lower age requirement, currently at 20 years of age, does not provide "equitable educational opportunities to special-education students".
Full Story: Mary Vorsino, Lawsuit Seeks to Raise Age for Public Special Education, Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly, July 29, 2010, available at
2. Ice Cream Parlor Helps Students Develop Job Skills
"Tobinworld, a 300-student campus for autistic and emotionally disturbed youngsters" in Los Angeles, California, runs a Baskin-Robbins outlet that is geared toward helping students at the school to learn, modify their behavior, and "build business and social skills" in preparation for the work world. The ice cream shop has been open since 1995 and employs 26 teenagers who apply for the positions and interview, as practice for future employment. The students are not paid for their work, since the store operates as a non-profit. Students have used this experience to get jobs at other Baskin-Robbins stores and various fast food outlets.
Full Story: Bob Pool, School's Ice Cream Parlor Dishes Up Life Skills: Special-Needs Students at Tobinworld Go to the Baskin-Robbins Shop for Job Experience, Social Skills and Sweet Rewards, Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2010, available at
C. TECHNOLOGY / TELECOMMUNICATIONS
1. New Communication and Mobility Device Uses 'Sniffing'
In July 2010, a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated the effectiveness of a communication and mobility device controlled by the user's combination of sniffing and exhaling through the nose. The device can allow the user to control a computer by moving the cursor. This provides a more successful means of communication for some people and the only means of communication for others. For example, a woman who could not move her limbs or control her blinking was able to generate "her first post-stroke meaningful self-initiated communication that entailed a profound personal message to her family." The device can also control a wheelchair with certain combinations of sniffs and exhales, and in tests has been used to "navigate a 150-foot obstacle course including sharp turns."
Full Story: Thomas Maugh, Sniffing Device May Help the Severely Disabled Communicate, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2010, available at
The full report is available at:
2. Locked E-Books Can Be 'Unlocked' to Work with Automated Text-to-Speech
On July 26, 2010, the Library of Congress released its newest list of exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA makes it illegal to remove the 'locks' (called Digital Rights Management) on electronic media. However, every three years the Library of Congress is able to grant exceptions to the DMCA. This time around, e-books that have been locked by distributors so that they cannot be read by text-to-speech, and are not available in an alternative accessible digital format, can be unlocked without violating the DMCA. This topic has been controversial, as publishers threatened to sue Amazon.com for distributing e-books capable of being read by text-to-speech, resulting in a decrease in accessible e-books. Allowing these e-books to be unlocked vindicates the right of everyone to enjoy the publications they purchase.
This decision coincided with the unveiling of the Kindle 3 (officially called "Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi"), which has "expanded text to speech functions." The Kindle 3's menus can be navigated using text to speech and allow the user to listen to "content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options." Despite these accessibility improvements over previous versions of the Kindle, the integrated web browser is not accessible, and there is not an audible signal for battery strength. Amazon plans to begin shipping the Kindle 3 on August 27, 2010.
Full Story on DMCA exceptions: James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress Announces DMCA Section 1201 Rules for Exemptions Regarding Circumvention of Access-Control Technologies, Library of Congress, July 26, 2010, available at
For a more detailed analysis of all of the new exceptions: Nate Anderson, Apple Loses Big in DRM Ruling: Jailbreaks are "Fair Use," Ars Technica, July 27, 2010, available at
Full Story on the Kindle 3: David Carnoy, Amazon Unveils New Generation of Kindles, Cnet News, July 28, 2010, available at
D. HEALTHCARE / BENEFITS
1. New York State Medicaid Payment Rates under Federal Review
In July of 2010 the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asked the state of New York to explain their Medicaid reimbursement rates, which is $4,556 per day for each resident -- the highest rates in the nation. Currently, the federal government pays half the rate "as part of a 50-50 state-federal match." The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have asked New York State to provide a detailed description of how these rates were developed, total Medicaid payments and operation costs for each institution, documents showing that these rates do not exceed the upper pay limit, or payment beyond a reasonable threshold, and whether the reimbursement money was used for purposes other than funding state institutions. To these inquiries, state officials noted that "the actual cost of care is only about one-third the rate," meaning that "much of the $1.2 billion in federal matching funds every year supports other state programs for the disabled."
Full Story: Mary Beth Pfeiffer, Feds Prove Medicaid Payments to 9 Facilities for Developmentally Disabled, Poughkeepsie Journal, July 16, 2010, available at
2. ACLU Files Suit Against FSSA on Behalf of Man with Autism
Indiana's ACLU has filed suit in July of 2010 against the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) on behalf of 26-year-old Michael Dick. Michael, who has autism, is enrolled in Indiana's Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program and receives food stamps each month from the federal government. Michael's family claims, however, that when Michael was allotted $1.25 more per day in food stamps, the state of Indiana deducted the same amount from his living allowance, thus receiving no benefit from the cost of living increase. "The suit contends that federal law says food stamp benefits cannot be considered income," and the ACLU is asking "a judge to stop counting food stamps as income." The suit is also seeking class action status for the suit to protect others in Indiana's Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program who may have been affected by this as well.
Full Story: Autistic Man's Family Sues over Food Stamp Cuts: ACLU Files Suit Against FSSA, The Indy Channel, July 13, 2010, available at
1. Obama Executive Order to Increase Federal Employment of Persons with Disabilities
In a July 2010 executive order, President Obama took a positive step in the employment of persons with disabilities in federal government positions. The order, passed on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seeks to employ 100,000 persons in the next five years. Under the order, the Office of Personnel Management has sixty days to develop a strategy to recruit and hire more workers with disabilities, in collaboration with the EEOC, Department of Labor, and Office of Management and Budget. Federal agencies will receive training and then be required to develop their own plans for recruiting, hiring, and retaining persons with disabilities. At the same time, the Department of Justice will pass new regulations that prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities by both governmental agencies and private employers. This effort came just days after a report released by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicated that persons with "targeted disabilities" (including blindness, deafness, mental retardation, missing extremities and/or paralysis) constitute less than one percent of the federal workforce.
Full story: Lisa Rein, Anniversary of ADA Brings Presidential Order to Hire More Disabled Workers, Washington Post, July 28, 2010, available at
2. Persons with Disabilities Disproportionately Impacted by Recession
Reports released in July 2010 indicated that persons with disabilities continue to be disproportionately negatively affected by the recession. According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities has continued to increase as the employment rate of Americans generally has stabilized and decreased over the past few months. The rate of unemployment for persons with disabilities increased 2% from June to July and is currently at 16.4%. In the same month, the rate of unemployment in the United States increased only 0.1% to 9.5% from June.
Full story: Michelle Diament, Unemployment Nears Record Levels Among People with Disabilities, Disability Scoop, August 6, 2010, available at
1. Economy Forces States to Slash Home-Care Services
The tough domestic economy has led many states to cut home-care services for persons with disabilities and the elderly since the start of the recession in 2009, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Since then, at least 25 states (including California and New York) and the District of Columbia have made significant cuts in home-care programs, like family caregiver stipends, housekeeping aides, and meal delivery services, in order to attempt to balance state budgets. These in home-care costs are in actuality normally cheaper per person than nursing homes or institutions. For example, in Oregon, nursing homes cost $5,900 per month while community-based services cost only $1,200 on average. The reason that home-care services are being cut over the more expensive nursing home programs is that federal Medicaid money is tied to state provision of nursing home care, and thus state legislators have little political incentive to advocate for more home-care services.
Full story: John Leland, Cuts in Home Care Put Elderly and Disabled at Risk, New York Times, July 16, 2010, available at
G. EMERGENCY RESPONSE / PREPAREDNESS
1. New FEMA Regional Administrator Committed to Integrated Emergency Management
Robin Finegan was appointed as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 8 Administrator on April 8, 2010. As Region 8 Administrator, Ms. Finegan is responsible for emergency management in the following states: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. She has demonstrated a commitment to integrated emergency management plans, making sure that all persons are included. Toward this goal, she is planning on hiring "a full-time Disability Integration Specialist," not to take on sole responsibility, but to "to grow [the Region 8 team's] skills, awareness and personal commitments."
Full Story: Region VIII Administrator Is Committed to Integrating the Disability Community into FEMA's Mission, Federal Emergency Management Agency, August 11, 2010, available at
1. Barrier-Free Accessibility Features Implemented in Singapore
In July 2010, Singapore's Ministry of National Development added various barrier-free accessibility features to public facilities for persons with disabilities and the elderly. Currently 98% of all "highly frequented" public buildings, including hospitals and markets, have reached a "basic level" of accessibility. Subsequently, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has given owners of private sector buildings funds from a $40 million Accessibility Fund to upgrade buildings for persons with disabilities and the elderly. The Fund was initially designed for only the public sector, but 60 private building projects have already applied. Experts believe that many key cities in Singapore will be almost entirely accessible by 2011 because of these changes.
Full Story: Barrier-Free Accessibility Features Implemented by the Singaporean Ministry of National Development, Asia One, July 20, 2010,
2. Buses for Commonwealth Games in India Will Be Accessible
Tata Motor will be supplying the Indian government with buses that are accessible for Indians with disabilities attending the Commonwealth Games in October 2010. The vehicles will be equipped with low floors, at least one ramp, and more space on the interior. This policy is one of many implemented in India's capital -- which is hosting the games this year -- to comply with international standards on accessibility.
Full Story: Tata Motors Buses for Commonwealth Games in India Will Be Disabled-Friendly, The Hindu Business Line, July 19, 2010, available at
The staff of the Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter welcome suggestions for announcements incorporating a focus on disability law or policy in forthcoming issues. If you would like to bring calls for papers or proposals, conferences or events, book announcements, new resources, or scholarship, fellowship or internship competitions to our attention, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Calls for Papers and Proposals
1. Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging, & Technology
Abstract Submission Deadline: December 1, 2010.
2. Special Issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on the Topic of Mediated Communication
Abstract Submission Deadline: December 15, 2010.
Books and Publications
1. Ziegler, D.A. (2010). Inclusion for ALL: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
2. (2010). The Complete Directory for People with Disabilities: A Comprehensive Source Book for Individuals and Professionals - 19th Edition.
Scholarships, Fellowships, and Internships
1. Fall 2010 ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law Internship
Fall 2010 Deadline: Mid-August 2010; Spring 2011 Deadline: Mid-December 2010. For more information:
2. Joseph T. Weingold Scholarship
Application Deadline: January 11, 2011. For more information
Conferences and Events
1. International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Los Angeles, California; Date(s): September 20-22, 2010. For more information
2. 2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference
Location: Kansas City, Missouri; Date(s): September 23-26, 2010. For more information
3. Accessing Higher Ground - Accessible Media, Web, and Technology Conference
Location: Boulder, Colorado; Date(s): November 15-19, 2010. For more information
New Organizations and Resources
1. Federal Transit Administration Resources for Travelers with Disabilities:
2. CSG Survey of State Disability Policy, 2010:
3. 2010 Great Lakes Regional ADA Report Card:
More e-newsletters from the Burton Blatt Institute and Partners:
ADA Headliner (monthly e-newsletter) http://sedbtac.org/headliner.php
ADA Pipeline (tri-yearly newsletter): http://sedbtac.org/pipeline.php
One Stop Toolkit Resources of the Week: http://www.onestoptoolkit.org/resourceoftheweek.cfm
Twitter - http://twitter.com/BBISyracuse
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Burton-Blatt-Institute/194731496501
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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., Managing Editor Deepti Samant, M.S. (Rehab), M.S. (ECE); Senior Editor Elizabeth Ribet, Ph.D., J.D.; and Associate Editors Kenneth Hunt, B.A., Brandon Sawyer, B.A., Melissa McQueen, B.A., and Hannah Pooley, B.A..
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