Burton Blatt Institute Law, Health Policy & Disability Center

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

April 2, 2020
Volume 17, Issue 3

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.

Dear Colleague:

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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1. Steel Painters, LLC Settlement Changed Company's Prescription Policy

Steel Painters, LLC, an industrial sandblasting and painting service company, violated federal law when it fired an employee for past opioid drug addiction. The company still believed the individual had a disability because he was legally and medically prescribed methadone. The employee disclosed that he was medically prescribed methadone during the pre-employment process, where the testing facility legally and medically verified his prescription.

When the drug test came back positive for methadone, Steel Painters told the employee that he had to have his prescribing physician complete a company-issued verification form. This, however, would result in a breach of client-patient confidentiality. As a result, the employee was unable to comply and was unlawfully fired. The EEOC charged that Steel Painters' restriction that only the prescribing physician can verify methadone safety was a pretext to hide the company's discrimination bias against methadone users. The EEOC and Steel Painters settled to give the employee compensation and to create a decree. The decree modified the company's prescription policy to allow alternative medical verification.

Full Story: Steel Painters Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit, EEOC, Feb. 28, 2020, available at

2. M&M Limousine Settlement Results in Implementing a New Policy

M&M, Limousine Service based in Illinois, is charged by the EEOC for violating federal discrimination law when it refused to hire a deaf applicant. The reason for the job applicant's rejection was based on the applicant's disability. They did not consider whether the employee can perform the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

M&M agreed to pay $30,000 in monetary relief to the job applicant. M&M also agreed to apply a three-year decree that would train managers and supervisors on disability discrimination and reasonable accommodations. M&M is responsible for keeping track of reasonable accommodation requests and reporting disability discrimination in the workplace to the EEOC.

Full Story: M&M Limousine to Pay $30,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit, EEOC, Feb. 20, 2020, available at


1. Caregivers Being Paid Just Above Minimum Wage Guarantees High Turnover Rates

The "Case for Inclusion" (2020 edition) indicates that states have high turnover rates for caregivers of individuals with disabilities. Arizona had a small gap between caregiver wages and minimum wage in the state. This can keep caregivers from staying at the job because it is demanding.

Other states had higher turnover rates and full-time vacancy rates. This is problematic for people who do not have caregivers or those who cannot handle the changes that come from high turnover rates. There needs to be an increase in the budget for caregivers.

Full Story: Christopher Scragg/Cronkite News, Low Pay Makes Disability Caregivers a "Workforce in Crisis," Cronkite News, Feb. 17, 2020, available at

2. Diversity Should Include Disability

Diversity is increasing, but disability is not being included in the definition of diversity. There was a mere 0.6% increase in the disability employment rate in 2019. One of the biggest problems is a lack of inclusion of people with disabilities in the job ads and the placement of job ads. "[W]orkers with disabilities bring substantial economic advantages to their communities through their skills and earning power." Employers should look at their own values and operations to determine if they are welcoming to people with disabilities as well.

Full Story: Valerie Bolden-Barrett, Workers with Disabilities "Left Behind" as Workforce Diversity Increases, UNH Study Shows, HR Dive, Feb. 27, 2020, available at


1. More Funding for Technology in Education

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the approval of 133 Smart Schools Investment Plans. These are aimed at improving school security. They are also aimed at and reimagining teaching and learning for the twenty-first century. The plans will cost $111 million. They are a part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act. This is an education technology initiative first proposed by the Governor. The investments authorized will help ensure safety. The investments will also modernize classrooms across New York State.

School districts are investing in technology to help students, including those with disabilities, learn at their own pace. They are also investing in technology that expands access to advanced courses. The technology can increase interactive curriculum. The technology can also help enhance communication between parents and teachers.

Full Story: Governor Cuomo Announces $111 Million for School Technology Upgrades Through the Smart Schools Bond Act, New York State, Feb. 26, 2020, available at

2. Limited Special Education

When schools closed down to reduce the cases of COVID-19, hands on therapy stopped and many other kinds of therapy were stopped as they were not able to be carried out virtually. Schools are required to provide special education services to students with disabilities, and those that cannot do so lose funding.

Parents and educators are struggling with this new environment of online learning. Some schools stopped teaching when they could not provide education for all, and others continued while attempting to set up the special education courses. Both options can be bad for students who need structure and routine, which could result in a loss of skills for the students with disabilities.

Full Story: Sonali Kohli, Students Deprived of Crucial Special Ed Services Due to Closures, disabilityscoop, Mar. 31, 2020, available at


1. An Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on Affordable Care Act

A federal appeals court has decided that a part of the Affordable Care Act is in violation of the U.S. law. The provision of the Act requires all Americans to have health insurance. Nineteen states have appealed the decision and the Supreme Court has accepted to take a second look at the case. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court decision is likely to come after the election.

Full story: Joan E. Greve, US Supreme Court to Hear Affordable Care Act Appeal that Could Cast Doubt on Law, The Guardian, Mar. 2, 2020, available at

2. Coronavirus Makes Accommodations Available Miraculously

Accommodations that had been sought for years by people with disabilities became a reality when the COVID-19 (coronavirus) made people work from home, have telemedicine, and paid sick time. This shift was made because people without disabilities wanted or needed these accommodations, but where was this when just people with disabilities needed it? It was not important before, so there were many jobs that said it was essential to be in the office. The concern now for people with disabilities will be if we will return to refusing accommodations or will this be a shift for the better?

Full story: Naomi Ishisaka, Coronavirus Shows Everyone What People with Disabilities Have Known All Along, The Seattle Times, Mar. 30, 2020, available at


1. Technology Helping Independent Voting

The 2020 election is an important one. However, this often presents difficulties for persons with disabilities. Writing on, and reading, ballots can be an issue. Sacramento released a new machine to help combat this. The machine has braille on it, and it talks to the user. Using audio format, the machine reads the entire ballot.

There is also a touch screen option. Also, there is an option with larger choices. Those persons with dexterity disabilities will likely find this much easier. It is crucial that everyone votes. Machines like this will go a long way toward ensuring everyone votes. When more persons with disabilities vote, their voice becomes louder. This means more helpful bills and funding to a group that certainly need it.

Full Story: Andrew Nixon, Machine Helps Disabled Sacramento County Voters Gain Independence, CapRadio, Mar. 2, 2020, available at

2. Listen Technologies and Disney

Listen Technologies announced that it is working with Disney Parks. They are using assistive technology to make the guest experience more inclusive and accessible. This project will use the Disney MagicALL suite of Disney SyncLink Technologies.

MagicALL is an accessibility platform that allows all guests to enjoy their Disney experience. It uses a suite of exclusive technologies. This helps visitors with hearing loss. It also helps those who are deaf and blind. It does this by giving a description of key visual elements at attractions. The technology can enhance sounds so visitors can hear attractions. It also helps guests who speak a different language. Disney also licenses MagicALL to other organizations.

Full Story: Listen Technologies Teams up with Disney to Create Inclusive Guest Experiences, Blooloop, Feb. 20, 2020, available at

3. Robots Used to Help Autistic Children

About 1 in every 160 children has autism spectrum disorder around the world. Early interventions can improve a child's development. These interventions include speech and behavioral therapy. Robots in the home could help add to human therapists by taking over the more repetitive training activities. This could also help individualize the experience.

A new study published in Science Robotics today has taken steps in advancing the artificial intelligence that powers these in-home robots.

Maja J. Matarić and her team created a machine-learning model. This model uses audio and video data such as dialogue and eye contact from autistic children's interactions with the robot. The data is used to predict whether the children are engaged in a training activity. If they are not engaged the robot could then react. The robot could reengage the child to hold their attention on exercises for longer.

Full Story: Karen Hao, Robots that Teach Autistic Kids Social Skills Could Help Them Develop, National Science Foundation: Technology Review, Feb. 26, 2020, available at


1. Accessible Bus Thanks to an App

The City of Chattanooga released a phone application to assist bus riders. Often people with disabilities need to use public transportation, but this can present some difficulties. The app seeks to allow persons with disabilities use of the bus system.

The app shows the user where to stand for a certain bus at stations. Further, it shows places around them when they are on the bus, so they know when to get off. The app talks to the user to help them manage their ride. Further, it brings them directly to their destination. Usng public transportation is crucial. This app helps make the ride easier.

Full Story: WTVC, App Aims to Help Chattanoogans with Cognitive Disabilities Ride CARTA System Independently, News Channel 9, Feb. 28, 2020, available at

2. Inclusion of People with Disabilities in the Transition to College at the Same Age

SUNY Plattsburgh started a new program. Partners in Transition is inviting students with disabilities to audit classes. The idea is to invite them to college, instead of continuing high school past age 18. This program allows persons with disabilities the same path as their peers.

Besides inclusion, the program has another goal. Persons with disabilities are able to increase their job-readiness skills. Further, the program helps them become more independent. The skills learned and confidence gained are crucial. Further, the program is not just in class. Socialization is another important aspect.

Full Story: People with Disabilities Join SUNY Classes Through Program, Press Republican, Mar. 13, 2020, available at


1. UK Coronavirus Measures Plunge Disabled Persons into Poverty

Over a hundred charities in the UK warn that a great number of disabled persons have been forced into poverty because of the measures undertaken to strengthen the benefit system to help them get by the coronavirus crisis.

The measures involve the increase of the universal credit rate by 20 pounds but to the exclusion of those with legacy benefits. Many people with disabilities will not benefit from the increase, which is over a thousand pounds a year, because they benefit from a disability employment and support allowance.

Full story: Patrick Butler Benefit Changes Leave Disabled People Facing Poverty, Charities Warn, The Guardian, Mar. 30, 2020, available at

2. A Japanese Man Sentenced to Death for the Mass Killings of Persons with Disabilities

A court in Japan sentenced a Japanese man to death by hanging for carrying out a killing spree at a care home in Japan in 2016. The man, who previously worked at a care home in Tokyo, went on a killing spree at a care home, stabbing 19 disabled persons to death and injuring several others.

His reason was that persons with disabilities were of no use to society as they could not communicate; therefore, they had no human rights. He stated he was doing society a favor by killing them.

Full story: Satoshi Uematsu: Japanese Man Who Killed 19 Disabled People Sentenced to Death, BBC, Mar. 16, 2020, available at


1. Your Disability Does Not Make You Less a Person

With coronavirus rapidly moving through the country, a federal civil rights agent warns that states may not use discriminatory tactics to decide who will be treated. An investigation was just launched March 28 to be sure states are not basing medical care on disability or other protected classes. Washington's and Alabama's laws dealing with coronavirus medical plans are what caused this investigation.

The fear of a shortage of breathing machines sparked these care rationing plans after Italy allowed doctors to choose who lives and who dies. In the US, it is reminded, we may not base these choices in a discriminatory way.

Full Story: Sheri Frank, U. S. Civil Rights Office Rejects Rationing Medical Care Based on Disability, Age. New York Times. Mar. 28, 2020, available at

2. Using Technology to Help Artists Gain Control

An artist from Wisconsin enjoys painting. However, because of having limited use of only her left arm, this can be a difficult task for her. She tried using a catapult to spray the art but didn't have much success because of little control. She hired a metal sculptor to construct a better one. He also created a special table for her to spread paint.

The success gave the metal sculptor an idea to create a business making adaptive technology for artists with disabilities. The sculptor gains some clients through a Madison nonprofit. The nonprofit supports artists and entrepreneurs with disabilities. The sculptor also uses 3D printing to speed up the process. His business has helped many become more independent.

Full Story: Elizabeth Dohms-Harter, Artists with Disabilities Helped by Madison Man's Technology Creations, Wisconsin Public Radio, Mar. 4, 2020, available at



  1. National Association of ADA Coordinators
    April 27-30, 2020

  2. National ADA Symposium
    May 10-13, 2020

  3. 15th NH Emergency Preparedness Conference-Have I Considered That? Planning for Persons with Disabilities, Manchester NH
    June 4, 2019, 7:15 AM - 4:45 PM EDT

  4. 2020 Disability: IN Conference
    July 13-16, 2020

  5. NILG 2020 National Conference A Vision for the Future
    July 28-31, 2020

  6. 2020 DMEC Annual Conference
    August 3-6, 2020

  7. Annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Conference
    September 9-11, 2020

  8. Pacific ADA Center Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    September 21-22, 2020


  1. Using the ADA and ABA Standards Series: Chapter 3: Building Blocks
    April 2, 2020, 2:30 PM EST

  2. Methods and Strategies for Implementing Assistive Technology with Students
    April 7, 2020, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM (ET)

  3. ADA National Network Learning Session: Research on ADA Coordinators involvement in accessible emergency management
    April 9, 2020, 11:30 AM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT

  4. ADA National Network Learning Session: Who Let the Dogs (and Miniature Horses) In? Service Animals in Health Care Facilities
    May 28, 2020, 11:30 AM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT

Call for Papers

  1. Dis/ability and Culture in German-speaking Europe
    Deadline: April 30, 2020


  1. Jack Scura Fund
    Deadline: April 30, 2020

  2. Wells Fargo Scholarship Program for People with Disabilities
    Deadline: May 1, 2020

  3. The John Lepping Memorial Scholarship
    Deadline: May 1, 2020

  4. AbbVie Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship
    Deadline: May 27, 2020

  5. ABC Law Centers Disability Advocacy Scholarship
    Deadline: July 31, 2020

  6. ENF Emergency Educational Grants
    Deadline: October 31, 2020

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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