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

May 4, 2020
Volume 17, Issue 4

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. Target Pays $45,000 for ADA Violation

During the holiday season, Target called a deaf applicant who fits the minimum qualification for many open positions to schedule an interview twice without leaving a message. The applicant returned both the calls and called four more times through his Video Relay Service (VRS). Target never got back to him to reschedule the interview and instead rejected his application for hire.

The hiring target staff violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against the deaf applicant based on his disability or perceived he had a disability since he was using VRS. As a result of a disability discrimination lawsuit, the Minnesota-based Target Corporation has agreed to make changes to its hiring and training procedure in addition to providing $45,000 in lost wages to the applicant.

Full Story: Target Corporation to Pay $45,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit, Apr. 4, 2020, available at

2. Nursing Home Operator Sued for ADA Discrimination

Heart of CarDon, LLC, operator of an Indiana-based senior living community failed to provide an accommodation to a qualified employee with a disability. As a result, Heart of CarDon violated federal law, and the employee ended up losing her job where she was unable to perform the essential functions.

Employers who fail to provide or consider a reasonable accommodation to qualified employees with a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages against Heart of CarDon, in addition to a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future disability discrimination.

Full Story: EEOC Sues Nursing Home Operator for Disability Discrimination, Mar. 31, 2020, available at


1. Better Hiring Practices in Oklahoma

A new program in Oklahoma (OK) is seeking to help OK employers to have better hiring practices. The partnership was started by the OK Office of Workforce Development and Skillful. The program provides training. The approach was formed through a coalition of 29 governors. Its purpose is to allow employers to identify skills they need. Then, the employers will be able to find the right employee.

The employee connection is based only on skill. It does not look at education or disability. The purpose of the program is to help the economy. But it also expands the pool because it improves the chance for a person with a disability to get hired. Often, they are overlooked. But if they have the requisite skill, they have a good shot. This program will also allow for better businesses.

Full Story: New Partnership Designed to Create More Job Opportunities, The ADA News, Mar. 26, 2020, available at

2. The Fight to Get Rid of Substandard Wages

For a very long time, employers have gotten away with paying persons with disabilities below minimum wage. This is a result of a section in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the section, businesses can apply to pay those workers much less. Sometimes the workers will be paid less than a dollar per hour. This policy is called subminimum wage. It started in 1937. A Senator fought to pay "substandard workers" less. It is not only those with disabilities. It also applies to restaurant workers and those in prisons. However, there is no floor for the payment to people with disabilities. There is also no standard for lowering the wages. It is often arbitrary.

Thankfully, all presidential candidates have discussed doing away with it. Some states, including Texas, have worked to get rid of the practice too. Texas bans state contracts with businesses that use the practice. Vermont banned the policy in 2002. Many still fight to get rid of the policy, including nonprofits. Thankfully, disability rights are not much of a bipartisan issue because anyone can become disabled. Hopefully this fight will lead to an increase in wages instead of a decrease in jobs.

Full Story: Sara Luterman, Why Businesses Can Still Get Away with Paying Pennies to Employees with Disabilities, Vox, Mar. 16, 2020, available at


1. Wisconsin Adds Definition of Dyslexia to State Law

Wisconsin advocates pressed for the definition of dyslexia to be added to the state law because there is an argument surrounding what dyslexia is. "Dyslexia means a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin" is what was added to state law. Many states have schools who were reluctant to use the word dyslexia and as a result many students were not getting the accommodations they needed to succeed. With this law and a guidebook that will be given to schools, accommodations will increase and students with dyslexia will have more success.

Full Story: Cory Mitchell, Dyslexia Is Not a Bad Word, Advocates Say. Schools Should Use It, Education Week, May 20, 2020, available at

2. Coronavirus Did Not Stop the IDEA

Many schools wanted waivers on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) because of the coronavirus closing schools. Betsy DeVos is the U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos chose not to recommend the waivers. She insisted, and advocates agreed, that the waivers were not necessary. Every child deserves education whether or not school is taking place in the physical building or in a remote learning environment.

Full Story: Michelle Diament, DeVos Finds "No Reason" to Waive Key Provisions of IDEA, disabilityscoop, Apr. 28, 2020, available at


1. Equal Health Care Access for the Disabled in Kentucky

Although the COVID-19 curve has flattened in Kentucky, disability rights advocates are concerned about predictions of future shortages in ventilators. Therefore, they have asked the governor of Kentucky to ensure that medical practitioners and hospitals adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act, so as to ensure equal access to healthcare for persons with disabilities.

Full story: Jessica Ladd, Kentuckians Ask for Equal Access to Healthcare During COVID-19 Pandemic, KFVS, Apr. 7, 2020, available at

2. Concerns Over Healthcare Guidelines on Ventilator Rationing In Hospitals

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, persons such as Sassy Outwater-Wright (person with a vision impairment) and Jennifer McNary (a single mother of four children with rare or respiratory diseases) are worried they may not make it to the list of those worth saving if they should ever need medical attention for their condition or as a result of contracting the virus.

They have experienced difficulty accessing needed cleaning supplies, care assistant, and medication because of social distancing and the voluntary shelter order in place. For McNary, this is a matter of life and death as her kids may not last very long if they contract the virus.

Full story: Ryan Prior, Coping with Disease and Disability in the Time of Coronavirus, CNN, Apr. 8, 2020, available at

See also: Tonya Mosley and Samantha Raphelson, "Who Are the Most Likely to Be Saved?": Alice Wong on Living with Disability During COVID-19, WBUR, Apr. 8, 2020, available at


1. Remote Education Class on 3D Printing

When schools closed from the coronavirus, one New Jersey school had inspiration for their students with special needs. The school provided students with 3D printers and directions on how to use them to make face shields. These 12 students made face shields and donated them to Holy Name Hospital. This allows for these students to learn about the 3D technology and give back to the community.

Full Story: Patrick Lanni, Students with Special Needs Donate Face Shields Made with 3D Printers, disabilityscoop, Apr. 28, 2020, available at

2. Individualized Accommodation Through MIT Assistive Technologies Hackathon

Assistive Technologies Hackathon at MIT allowed students and people with disabilities to collaborate on designing tech needed for everyday things. One participant with a disability stated that walkers did not allow for stability while walking and wheelchairs were not allowing enough mobility. The students designed an improved walker that allowed for better stability and feedback from the user. Other student teams developed a device to allow people with limited strength to throw a ball, a device for neck stability to allow people with limited ability to control their head to watch TV, a portable bidet, and a modular stander.

Full Story: Madelaine Millar, Developing Tech for, and with, People with Disabilities, MIT News, Mar. 22, 2019, available at


1. No COVID-19 Stimulus for Those with Disabilities

The novel COVID-19 pandemic effects everyone. People with disabilities are not exempt from the disease. However, the stimulus package and other legislative efforts seem to forget that. Much of the efforts exempt people with disabilities from receiving benefits. This has an enormously harmful effect. According to a study, one-third of houses have someone with a disability.

There are a few ideas to assist those in need. First, paid family and medical leave. This will assist those who have lost their personal care attendants and other support networks. Second, more support for personal care attendants. Third, an elimination of work requirements to receive benefits. Fourth, better access to voting. Changing those in charge will go a long way to bettering policy. Finally, civil rights enforcement. Fighting for those with disabilities will also go a long way to improving policies and affording equal rights. Awarding benefits further allows those with disabilities to live a more independent life.

Full Story: Rebecca Cokley, Coronavirus Proposals Leave the Disability Community Behind, Center for American Progress, Mar. 27, 2020, available at

2. Minneapolis Program Seeks to Help the Visually Impaired

A program in Minneapolis is seeking to allow people with vision loss more independence. The program is a school that operates as a training center. It is one of three in the country affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind. The students are taught essential skills. The skills include cooking, reading Braille, and using a cane. To accommodate COVID-19 social distancing policies, the school is online now.

The students differ in how they got their disability. Further, many of the instructors are blind as well. This is intentional. It is a way to build confidence. It is also a way to have someone like you teach you. The program also teaches their students how to use public transportation. While the city of Minneapolis has tried to accommodate those with disabilities, this program helps the students live beyond those accommodations.

Full Story: Miguel Otarola, Minneapolis-Based BLIND Inc. Teaches Life Skills and the Joy of Independence, Star Tribune, Apr. 4, 2020, available at


1. Accommodations Made for People with Disabilities in the UK

The coronavirus has impacted the UK. The UK government had stated that "non-essential workers should only leave their homes once a day for exercise or to shop for basic necessities." This was argued and found to be discriminatory. As a result, the UK now states that people with disabilities like autism can leave their house as needed for exercise. They are still told to limit their time outside. Many families were happy about the news.

Full Story: Amy Walker, UK Coronavirus Rules Relaxed for People with Autism and Learning Disabilities, The Guardian, Apr. 14, 2020, available at

2. France's Lockdown During the Coronavirus Has Stronger Effects on Children with Disabilities

France's lockdown closed schools during the coronavirus outbreak. This led to children with disabilities being at home. One student with autism tried to break down his house walls because he had been in the house for too long. His family stopped him, but it has been hard to adjust during the coronavirus. Many children lost their routines, which resulted in confusion, panic, or outbursts. Teachers have been reaching out and improvising their classrooms to fit the current environment. France has lightened their restriction for those with autism to go to customary places, which should help.

Full Story: Virus Lockdowns an Extra Ordeal for Special-Needs Children, thejapantimes, Apr. 28, 2020, available at


1. Persons with Disabilities More Greatly Affected by Disruption of Public Services During COVID-19

Notably, people who have a disability have no higher of a risk of getting the coronavirus. But many of the restrictions set in place to fight the virus are affecting those with disabilities. People are required to social distance. This is a problem for people who rely on community-based and inhome services. Some states, like California and Kentucky, have made sure restrictions are not applied to disability services. They have also mandated that these services continue.

Access to education has also been severely limited as over 45 states have closed their public school systems. States by law are required to not discriminate against students with a disability. This means they must provide adaptive instruction to those who need it. Here may be a problem because if schools do not provide any instruction, they do not need to provide adaptive services to students who need them. Areas like New York City have started the process of providing individual education plan meetings to help families readjust to their child's disability and focus on adaptive education.

It is also highly important to make sure those getting disability services have access to new and changing information. Any changes to services that may affect a person's daily life is important to people with disabilities. They need access to this information in real time.

People with disabilities may not be more likely to become sick from coronavirus, but they are still affected by the measures taken to prevent its spread. States need to be aware of the challenges their policies will have and be ready to adapt services to prevent discrimination.

Full Story: Dina Klimkina, COVID-19 and Impacts on Individuals with Disabilities. The Council of State Governments. Mar. 31, 2020, available at

2. New York Group Homes Hit by Coronavirus

Many group homes in New York tested positive for the coronavirus. Residents with severe disabilities either could not use social distancing or did not understand it. So the coronavirus spread quickly. In one group home 37 of the 46 residents tested positive as did many of the staff members. Infection rates are higher for people with developmental disabilities in New York. Residents in group homes were more likely to test positive and more likely than their neighbors to die from it.

Full Story: Danny Hakim, "It's Hit Our Front Door": Homes for the Disabled See a Surge of Covid-19, The New York Times, Apr. 8, 2020, available at



  1. A Future Date
    April 21-23, 2020

  2. John Statin Virtual AccessU 2020
    May 13-14 and 19-20, 2020

  3. AHEAD 2020: Equity & Excellence Conference
    July 20, 2020 - July 24, 2020

  4. 2020 The Next Chapter: Master Classes for the Seasoned Professional
    November 10-12, 2020


  1. ADA National Network Learning Session: Using the California Power Safety Power Outages for Inclusive Emergency Planning
    May 14, 2020, 2:30 PM EST

  2. Accessible Office Documents
    May 26, 2020, 1:00 PM EST

  3. ADA National Network Learning Session: Integrating the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator Role into your Emergency Operations Center
    June 11, 2020, 2:30 PM EST

  4. Introduction to Web Accessibility
    April 9, 2020

Call for Papers

  1. Accessing Higher Ground (AHG)
    Deadline: April 20, 2020


  1. Sertoma Hard of Hearing or Deaf Scholarship
    Deadline: May 1, 2020

  2. Rheumatoid Patient Scholarship Program
    Deadline: June 30, 2020

  3. First Responder's Children's Foundation - Victoria Ovis Memorial Scholarship
    Deadline: July 1, 2020

  4. The Anne Ford Scholarship
    Deadline: November 12, 2020

The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter is supported by the following sources:

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Note to readers: News article links may require free registration for access, or may be active for a limited time before the respective news services archive them. Archived items may also be available for a fee. Products mentioned in this newsletter are for information only and do not constitute an endorsement.

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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