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
March 3, 2020
Volume 17, Issue 2
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. Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Yale New Haven Hospital for Age and Disability Discrimination
Yale came up with a new policy called "Late Career Practitioner Policy." Any person above age seventy who wanted to renew staff rights at the hospital would have to take a neuropsychological and eye exam. Staff younger than seventy years old did not have to take these exams.
This policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making certain employees subject to medical exams that were not related to the job. This policy also violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act because the only reasons these individuals must be examined is a result of their age. The EEOC wants the policy to end and damages paid.
Press Release: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC Sues Yale New Haven Hospital for Age and Disability Discrimination, Feb. 11, 2020, available at
2. Rancho San Miguel Markets Sued for Disability Discrimination
A deli clerk who worked for Rancho San Miguel Markets presented a doctor's note asking for an accommodation for her disability. Her accommodation was denied, and she was fired.
This type of conduct violated the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The employer agreed to pay money damages and appoint an internal ADA coordinator that would review requests and provide training to all employees.
Press Release: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Rancho San Miguel Markets Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit for $100,000,Feb. 4, 2020, available at
1. No Limits Café
A new restaurant is opening soon in Middletown, New Jersey. The restaurant is called No Limits Café. They hired 31 employees. Many of the employees have disabilities. They will be trained by professional chefs. However, the employees will do the full work. Such meaningful employment is often difficult to find for people with disabilities.
That is why Stephanie Cartier co-founded the restaurant. She has a daughter with Down syndrome. They worried about their daughter's next move after high school. So Cartier and her partner decided to open the nonprofit. They believe it will help those with disabilities get experience to eventually move on to for-profit restaurant jobs.
Full Story: Christie Duffy, New Jersey Restaurant Staffed Almost Entirely by Adults with Disabilities Set to Open Wednesday, Pix11.com, Feb. 4, 2020, available at
2. The Young Workforce Seeks Educationlike Accommodations
Joining the workforce out of college is often a difficult thing. It can be even more difficult if an employee does not get the accommodations they need. For example, some students are given more time for tests. But they likely will not get similar benefits when they enter the workforce.
Further, many of the disorders are hidden or difficult to manage. This makes creating accommodations much more difficult. Because of this, workforce discrimination lawsuits have increased. Making this more prevalent is that many more students are receiving accommodations in school. The laws in education and labor are much different. Employers and employees both must adjust.
Full Story: Lauren Weber, Young Workers Seek Mental Health Accommodations, Employers Try to Keep Up, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2020, available at
1. New Applications to Help Reading
Cheryl Moore has started to use two applications in her classroom. One application is Snap and Read. This application provides access to text read aloud. This is useful for students who struggle with decoding words.
Using programming like Snap and Read gives access to the curriculum for those with basic reading disabilities. Moore uses the applications because they help remove bad notions of having another person read text aloud.
The other application is Reading Naturally Live. The app increases reading abilities by combining a reader narrating a passage with a less-able reader and reading of stories and passages. This helps to demonstrate proper phrasing and pronunciation for students. Teachers using the program have seen a large increase in student engagement in reading.
Another application used in classrooms is Snap Words, a program that helps students memorize high-frequency words.
Full Story: Colleen Ferguson, New Reading Assistance Applications, Approaches Empower Clear Creek ISD Students in Special Education, Community Impact Newsletter, Jan. 17, 2020, available at
2. Book Highlighting Disabilities
Many new books are being honored for telling stories of those with autism and other disabilities. The American Library Association named three winners and three honorees of its Schneider Family Book Awards late last month.
The winner in the young children's group is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's book Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You. This book shows kids that differences make us stronger. The book that received the honor title is A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey. It is a story about friendship told from the perspective of a boy with autism.
Lynne Kelly's A Song for a Whale won in the middle grade category. This category targets kids ages 9 to 13. The book describes a 12-year-old who is deaf. The boy goes on a quest to help a whale who can't communicate with other whales. Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya received the honor title. It follows a daughter's experience as her father returns from a deployment.
In the teen category, Karol Ruth Silverstein's Cursed won. This book tells the story of a girl with juvenile arthritis. Alison Gervais' The Silence Between Us received the honor title in this category. It is about a deaf teen who is adjusting to a high school where everyone else can hear.
Full Story: Shaun Heasley, Children's Books Win Awards for Disability Storylines, Disability Scoop, Feb. 5, 2020, available at
1. A New Virus in Town
There is a viral infection outbreak in Wuhan, China. The virus is known as Coronavirus. It has been declared by the World Health Organization as a Global Emergency.
The United States has removed 195 Americans from Wuhan China. They are being housed at March Air Reserve Base in California - "and the quarantine order comes after one of them tried to leave the base."
Full story: Bill Chappell, Coronavirus: CDC Puts Americans Who Left Wuhan into "Unprecedented" 14-Day Quarantine, NPR, Jan. 31, 2020, available at
2. Increasing Difficulty in Accessing Home Health Care for Medicare Patients
Home health providers across the country are reacting to a major change in how Medicare pays for services as of January 1, 2020. They are cutting down on some services and firing workers in physical, occupational, and speech therapy areas. The reason given is that Medicare no longer covers some of these services and was eliminating the services for severely ill and/or longtime ill patients.
Payments for therapy are now based on the diagnosis, other medical conditions that affect the diagnosis, the impairment based on the diagnosis, if the therapy was after a stay at an institution, and the timing of the therapy. This system is to treat the patient holistically.
Full story: Judith Graham, Why Home Health Care Is Suddenly Harder to Come by for Medicare Patients, Kaiser Health News, Feb. 3, 2020, available at
1. Technology Helping People in Cities
Cities are difficult to navigate for those with disabilities. A UK national travel survey found that adults with mobility difficulties took 39% fewer trips in 2017. Assistive tech is playing a big role in the helping people get around in cities. Here are three high-tech solutions making cities easier for people.
Jose Di Felice has been paralyzed in both legs and one arm after a motorcycle accident three years ago. He discovered Scewo. The startup has built a wheelchair that can be controlled through a smartphone. The wheelchair has special rubber tracks for climbing stairs.
Wearable tech is also becoming more complex. Zurich-based start-up MyoSwiss has developed an exomuscle suit with robotics and textiles. The suit is made for people that can still walk but may struggle to stand up from a chair or struggle to go up stairs. The MyoSuit has helped two people with mobility limitations to take part in a relay version of the Zurich Marathon.
Another technology that could transform lives is a smart walking stick. The WeWalk stick has an ultrasonic sensor that detects obstacles above chest level. The WeWalk stick uses vibrations to warn the user of the obstacle. The stick can be paired with a smartphone to help navigation.
Full Story: Ed Scott-Clark, The Tech Empowering Disabled People in Cities, CNN Business, May 30, 2019, available at
2. Helping Navigate Through Butler University Campus
Students at Butler University are developing a new mobile application to help their visually impaired peers navigate campus. The application is called Guide Dawg. The app will support voice commands and announce directions. This will help blind students know the best route to and from their classes. The app will also help students avoid any hazards on campus like construction zones.
Creators said they wanted to help students get from one place to another by going step by step. The app creators were introduced to the idea of a navigation app when a team of students from Butler's EPICS program came together to help blind students better maneuver between buildings on campus.
When a student approaches a hazardous area, they will be warned they are close to a construction area. A new version of the app will also support voice commands. This means that the app will have to learn and adapt to the user's voice.
Full Cite: Betsy Foresman, Butler U. App Will Guide Visually-Impaired Students Through Campus, Ed Scoop, Jan. 9, 2020, available at
1. JESPY Helping People with Disabilities Become More Independent
A company in New Jersey is providing needed support to people with disabilities. JESPY On-the-Go is a nonprofit for adults. They provide daily living, community participation, increased independence, and learning/cognitive skills. The participant is paired with a staff member for one-on-one support.
Each program is geared to the participant. They are learning real world skills. For example, cooking and laundry, which are much needed skills in life. The goal of the program is to foster an independent life. Further, they are given goals that surpass their disabilities. In that way, they are not being limited by their disabilities. They are learning to push past them.
Full Story: Sonya Kimble-Ellis, JESPY On-the-Go Supports Adults on their Independence Journey, Tapinto.net, Feb. 7, 2020, available at
2. Independent Living in Nebraska
Independent Living Institute in Nebraska is a new organization. The purpose is to make independent living much easier for people with disabilities. The organization focuses on five core services. They include independent living, advocacy, and peer mentoring. They also include information and referrals, and transition services. Generally, the participants are referred from doctors or schools. However, they can enter themselves into the program.
The organization is not an assisted living facility. Instead, they provide information and support. The goal is not to house but to allow people with disabilities to house themselves. The organization also hosts programs. They also rent out equipment and even do a peer mentor program.
Full Story: Kamie Stephen, Group Helps Disabled People Meet Goals, Improve their Lives, Sioux City Journal, Feb. 1, 2020, available at
1. Death Because of Quarantine
Yan Cheng is a teenager with cerebral palsy. Cheng was not quarantined, but his family was because of the coronavirus. As a result, Cheng was left home alone despite his need to be fed. Cheng was fed only twice over several days despite pleas from his father for help. Cheng died.
Full story: Michael Standaert, Disabled Teenager in China Dies at Home Alone After Relatives Quarantined, The Guardian, Jan. 30, 2020, available at
2. Japan Does a Solo Test of the Paralympics
Japan has elected to test the Paralympics with only Japanese athletes due to fear of the coronavirus. The tests will help prepare for a variety of events, including boccia and wheelchair rugby. The 2020 Olympics are being held in Japan and the question for Japan is how the coronavirus will affect non-Japanese athletes entering the country. Many pre-Olympic events have been canceled in China, which is affecting anyone attempting to qualify for the Olympics.
Full story: Paralympic Test Event to Take Place with Only Japanese Athletes due to Ongoing Virus Fears, The Japan Times, Feb. 20, 2020, available at
H. POP CULTURE
1. There Is More About You Than Just the Outside
Jacqui Robison is a mom of one. Her daughter, Sophia, had a rough journey in her early life. After giving birth at just 28-weeks and Sophia's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy (CP) just 18 months later, the mom never missed a step. The road would be hard, but her new normal was just another adventure in her eyes.
CP is a disease that affects motor functions. There are varying levels of the disease. Sophia's affected her ability to walk. Robison did research and reading, and learned everything she could. She did what she could to make Sophia feel included. This effort eventually led to Robison's idea for starting the nonprofit WAWOS Wear, named after the battle cry she shared with her daughter, "We're All Working On Something." The nonprofit, now 2.5 years old, shares unique walker capes to be used on any walker or walking device for children that have developmental delays. The capes provide a sense of identity. They are meant to show the outside world that there is more than just a disability behind that walker.
Full Story: Jacquie Robison, Mom Talk: My Daughter Has Cerebral Palsy, Feb. 7, 2019, available at
2. Diversity Is Normal; It Makes the World Go 'Round
Chris Umer travels the world giving people of all countries a chance to share their disability and their story with the world. He started as a special education teacher in Florida. He loved his students and wanted to share their creativity. He tried to have a book of their stories published but was continuously rejected. But he did not give up. Instead, he started making videos. He meets with people all over who have a diverse set of disabilities and has them share their unique story with the world.
Full Story: Hannah Gelbart, Meet the Former Teacher Giving a Voice to Disabled Children, BBC News, Mar 31, 2017, available at
I. EVENTS AND FUNDING
Call for Papers
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 Jacqueline Chilbert; and Associate Editors Eronmwon Joyce Irogue, Renee Nouri, Emily Kosciewicz, and Jake Gellerstein.
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