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
August 12, 2010
Volume 7, Issue 7
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. DOT Regulation Protects Travelers with Disabilities on Water Vessels
On June 17, 2010, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) published the first federal regulation that grants protections to persons with disabilities traveling on water vessels. The operators of such vessels cannot deny access on the basis of disability, charge extra for accessibility services, nor require passengers to pay for their own attendants. Public vessels and some private vessels, such as ships and boats that are "primarily engaged in the business of transporting people", are covered by the rule. A proposed Department of Justice (DOJ) rule may cover privately operated ships and boats that are not primarily engaged in the business of transporting people. The DOT rule will become effective in 120 days. In addition, there is a 90-day notice and comment period that allows the public to provide feedback on three particular issues. Those specific areas for comment include: whether passengers can bring emotional support animals on covered vessels, the requirements on covered vessel operators in regards to mobility aids, and what relationship the DOT and DOJ rules should have.
Full story: New DOT Rule Extends Disability Protections to Passenger Ships and Boats, United States Department of Transportation Office of Public Affairs, June 17, 2010, available at
2. Settlement Reached in Fair Housing Discrimination Lawsuit
The Fitchburg Massachusetts Housing Authority and United States Department of Justice reached an agreement on July 6, 2010, to settle a lawsuit filed against the Housing Authority for violating the Fair Housing Act. The complaint filed by the Justice Department alleged that the Housing Authority had a policy of denying its residents with disabilities without mobility impairments the ability to transfer apartments within the Housing Authority's several neighborhoods. The settlement agreement requires the Housing Authority to set up a $65,000 fund to compensate victims of discriminatory conduct, establish a procedure for residents with disabilities to lodge complaints against the Authority or its agents and employees, and provide training for all employees in federal fair housing legislation. A U.S. District Court Judge must still approve the terms of the settlement but an approval is expected in the near future. Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez praised the settlement agreement, stating that it "will ensure equal access to housing for all disabled individuals, not just those who are substantially limited in the major life activity of walking."
Full story: Justice Department Resolves Disability Discrimination Against Fitchburg, Massachusetts Housing Authority, United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, July 6, 2010, available at
3. Starbucks Settles for $80,000 in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
On June 15, 2010, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a press release that a Russellville, Arkansas-based Starbucks franchise agreed to pay $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. Starbucks failed to hire Chuck Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis, according to the complaint filed in federal court. The complaint further alleged that Mr. Hannay applied for one of several open positions as a Starbucks barista, but was passed over for other applicants with less experience and qualifications.
The consent decree, which has already been approved by Judge Brian Miller in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arkansas, provides monetary relief in the form of $80,000 payable to Mr. Hannay. Moreover, Starbucks is required to post a notice of the company's ADA-compliance efforts, provide specific training for its management on disability discrimination and report such training to the EEOC, and engage in a "good-faith effort" to hire persons with disabilities at the Russelville franchise by sending notification of all job openings to the Arkansas State Rehabilitation Services.
Full story: Starbucks to Pay $80,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit: EEOC Says Coffee Company Refused to Hire Applicant Because of His MS, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, June 15, 2010, available at
1. Legislation to Ban Corporal Punishment in Schools
United States Representative Carolyn McCarthy introduced legislation in the House of Representatives in June of 2010 to remove corporal punishment and paddles from U.S. schools. The practice is "still a well regarded form of discipline in some corners of the country, mostly in the south." According to data from 2006 from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights projections, more than 223,000 children got paddled, and of these children a higher percentage were minority and special education students. McCarthy and her co-sponsor, Bobby Scott, a Representative from Virginia, believe that corporal punishment can cause more problems than it solves, and that the emotional consequences from it can last for years and have consequences down the road, citing studies that show "higher dropout rates for students who were hit in schools". McCarthy and Scott contend that minority and special education students are more likely to receive corporal punishment.
Full Story: Sarah Netter, Legislation to Ban Corporal Punishment in Schools Hits Congress, ABC News, June 29, 2010, available at
2. GAO Report Highlights Low Inclusion Rates in Athletics for Persons with Disabilities
A report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office on June 23, 2010, concluded that the Secretary of Education needs to "facilitate information sharing" between students with disabilities participating or seeking to participate in physical education and interscholastic athletics and schools. The purpose of such information sharing would be to increase participation of students with disabilities in athletics, since they currently participate at consistently lower rates than students without disabilities. Moreover, the report suggests that if the Secretary of Education facilitates information sharing, state school systems will have a better understanding of their obligations and responsibilities under federal law.
Full story: Students with Disabilities: More Information and Guidance Could Improve Opportunities in Physical Education and Athletics, U.S. Government Accountability Office, June 23, 2010, available at
For the full report, please see
C. TECHNOLOGY / TELECOMMUNICATIONS
1. Hearing Held on the '21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2009'
On June 10, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet held a charged hearing on the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101). This bill would update the accessibility requirements of new advanced communication technologies (including real time emergency notification systems) so that they can reach everyone. Those opposing the bill alleged that it would unduly burden the industry and stifle innovation, an argument used against many accessibility requirements. However, the supporters pointed out that this assertion has not been proven and has never been documented in the wake of previous similar laws.
Full Story: Electronics Industry Bad Attitude Affirms Need for Accessibility Legislation, Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, June 10, 2010, available at
2. Cat Injured in Accident Receives Prosthetic Feet
Oscar, a cat who accidently had both of his hindpaws severed by a combine harvester, has received "two prosthetic limbs in a pioneering operation" performed by veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick in November of 2009. The custom made paw implants "peg" the ankle to the foot and were designed to "mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin". This technology, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics, or Itaps, was developed by a team of biomedical engineers at the University College of London. The success of the surgery demonstrates the potential of Itap technology. It is already being tested in humans and is being used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings.
Full Story: Bionic Feet for Amputee Cat, BBC News, June 25, 2010, available at
D. HEALTHCARE / BENEFITS
1. Doctors Limit Number of New Medicare Patients
Many physicians are limiting the number of new Medicare patients that they see due to low government reimbursement rates, especially since a 21% cut in payments to medical providers was approved in June 2010. According to recent surveys the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) states that 15% of its members do not participate in Medicare and 19% are not accepting new Medicare patients. The American Medical Association (AMA) says that 17% of the 9,000 members surveyed and 31% of primary care physicians are restricting the number of Medicare patients they see. In 2008 federal health insurance plans paid 78% of what private insurance companies paid, and with the recent 21% cut in payments physicians are saying that they cannot afford to see increased amounts of Medicare patients.
Full Story: Richard Wolf, Doctors Limit New Medicare Patients, USA Today, June 20, 2010, available at
2. AIDS Drug Assistance Program Weakened During Recession
Nearly 1,800 people with H.I.V. or AIDS have been placed on waiting lists to receive life-sustaining antiretroviral medications over the last three years. The increased wait for the federal program that provides access to antiretroviral medications for persons that cannot afford them has been caused by a weak economy and a renewed emphasis on diverting funding to support HIV testing, rather than treatment. In addition, new federal guidelines recommend early drug therapy, meaning that more patients are seeking access to medication earlier, and remaining on them for long periods, increasing the demand for treatment. .
Without the medications, which cost around $12,000 per year, people with H.I.V. are more likely to develop AIDS, transmit the virus, and require hospitalization. 11 states have closed enrollment, three states have narrowed eligibility, and two have dropped people from the program based on budget issues. Pharmaceutical companies have stepped in to help diminish the blow by negotiating discounts and accepting needy patients into programs that provide free medication. State AIDS directors speculate that because of this private remedy, most people on the waiting lists are receiving the treatment that they need but that there are still some patients going without. By 2014, the new healthcare bill is expected to ease the burden on the federal program by expanding Medicaid, subsidizing private insurance, and requiring insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions.
Full Story: Kevin Sack, Federal AIDS Drug Program Is Strained by Weak Economy, The New York Times, June 30, 2010, available at
1. National Ad Campaign Presses for Employment of Persons with Disabilities
An advertisement campaign launched in the February 2010 has been raising awareness for employers regarding the employment of persons with disabilities. The campaign, titled "Think Beyond the Label," was created by Health and Disability Advocates, a disability policy and advocacy organization based in Chicago, Illinois.
Barbara Otto, the Executive Director at Health and Disability Advocates, says that "Think Beyond the Label" is the first national advertisement campaign of its type since the "Hire the Handicapped" advertisements launched in the 1970's. Ms. Otto says that the campaign espouses a "new approach that would get employers, especially small businesses" to hire persons with disabilities as employers begin to rehire employees at the end of the national recession. The 30-second advertisement is expected to air for the next several years, given its incredible initial popularity and positive feedback. To see the clip in its entirety, please click the link below.
Full story: Karen Meyer, Employers Urged to "Think Beyond the Label," ABC, May 27, 2010, available at
For a story on a similar advertisement campaign called "I Can," please see Campaign Seeks to Change Attitudes About Disability and Employment, Vocus/PRWeb, June 29, 2010, available at
2. Persons with Asperger's Syndrome Struggle to Find Employment, Vocational Services
Young people with Asperger's syndrome and other forms of "high-functioning" autism, are having a difficult time finding employment despite being qualified for many positions. A 2009 national study by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence indicates that between 6 and 14 percent of autistic adults are employed. Part of the problem, according to Ohio government officials, is that government agencies have inadequately trained employees and insufficient social programs for assisting persons with Asperger's to find gainful employment. For example, in 2009, only 122 Ohioans with autism were able to get employment for at least 90 days out of 866 persons served by the Bureau of Vocational Services.
Full story: Rita Price, Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome Struggle to Find Jobs, The Columbus Dispatch, July 12, 2010, available at
1. Federal Court Orders Florida to Offer In-Home Services to Avoid Forced Institutionalization
A federal court in Jacksonville, Florida ordered the state of Florida on June 25, 2010, to provide in-home services to a person with a disability in lieu of forced institutionalization in the case Haddad v. Arnold. Michele Haddad, an individual with a spinal-cord injury, had lost her in-home caregiver in 2007. Ms. Haddad was placed on a waiting list for community-based Medicaid waiver services since then, but was told by Florida officials that she would only receive the services if she was admitted for sixty days to a nursing home. At trial, the court ordered Florida to instead provide in-home community-based service to Ms. Haddad because to order her institutionalized prior to receiving services would constitute illegal discrimination under federal disability law and Olmstead v. L.C. Moreover, to order Ms. Haddad into an institution would facilitate, not eviscerate, the stigma often associated with disabilities. Department of Justice officials praised the decision. Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated that the decision was noteworthy because it helped "to ensure that individuals with disabilities can receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate, where they can participate in their communities, interact with individuals who do not have disabilities and make their own day-to-day choices."
Full story: Gail Zoppo, Forced Institutionalization of People with Disabilities Is Illegal, Disability Inc., June 25, 2010, available at
2. Trainers in Ohio Assist Persons with Disabilities in Navigating Public Transit
Trainers in three Ohio counties are being hired by state social service agencies to assist persons with disabilities in efficiently navigating public transit systems. Transit agencies around the country began this trend of hiring individuals to assist persons with disabilities after the passage of the 2008 New Freedom Program and associated grants under the Americans with Disabilities Act. More recently, transit agencies in Cuyahoga, Portage, and Summit counties have developed programs that utilize trainers which help persons with disabilities become less dependent on using dial-a-ride services and more adept at navigating the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) and other local transit systems. The program has become increasingly popular in Ohio, assisting hundreds of Ohioans with disabilities. One particular trainer, Schiances Chambers-Robinson, who works for GCRTA, trained 107 persons with a disability in 2009 and has another 70 persons on a waiting list.
Individuals with disabilities are referred to a trainer by either a social service agency employee or a transit authority customer service representative. The trainer then meets with the individual who explains his/her goals and travel needs. The trainer then researches regular bus routes to see if the individual is able to ride and whether there are physical barriers anywhere in the route. The trainer is also instrumental in explaining the logistics of any planned route to the individual, and rides with the individual until he/she is able to travel by themselves.
Full story: Karen Farkas, Transit Agency Travel Trainers Help People Overcome Fears of Riding Regular Buses, June 28, 2010, Cleveland Plain Dealer, available at
3. Federal Court Orders New York to Relocate Persons with Mental Disabilities
In June of 2010 a federal appeals court ruled that the state of New York must comply with a lower court's decision and begin immediately to transfer 4,300 people in New York City with mental disabilities living in institutional and group homes into their own homes and apartments. To accomplish this, the state must build at least 1,500 supportive houses per year for the next three years at state expense. In September 2009, a United States District Court in Brooklyn found that the state of New York had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by isolating the 4,300 people with mental or psychiatric disabilities in more than two dozen private group homes. In the new plan, they will live independently in their own residencies and receive assistance from case managers, psychiatrists, and nurses.
Full Story: A.G. Sulzberger, U.S. Appeals Court Lifts Stay on Relocating Mentally Ill, The New York Times, June 24, 2010, available at
G. EMERGENCY RESPONSE / PREPAREDNESS
1. FEMA Lacks Funding to Develop a National Disaster Plan for Persons with Disabilities.
On June 15, 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed a Congressional Panel that it was unable to put into action a plan to assist persons with disabilities in the event of a natural disaster. The FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination had (as of June 2010) a budget of only $150,000 and one paid full time position. Such a level of resources was inadequate to properly implement this crucial planning. The Chair of the House of Representatives Panel mentioned that President Obama should increase FEMA's funding so that this area can be addressed adequately.
Full Story: Dani Amihere, FEMA Has No Disaster Plan for Disabled, Official Testifies, Dallas Morning News, June 16, 2010, available at
1. Russia Makes Higher Educational Facilities Accessible to Persons with Disabilities
The Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has announced that a program is being developed for inclusive education in all of Russia so that individuals with disabilities can attend schools with their peers. The Russian government has also allocated 9 billion rubles, or $290 million USD, to support areas that already operate schools with inclusive education. Currently, there are several schools in Russia that cater to those with disabilities but they are segregated.
Full story: Russia to Adapt Higher Education Facilities for the Disabled-Putin, RIA NOVOSTI, June 19, 2010, available at
2. Vietnam Enacts Comprehensive Disability Rights Law
The National Assembly of Vietnam enacted a National Disability Law in June 2010 that guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities for the first time in the nation's history. The legislation strives to be inclusive of persons with disabilities by providing Vietnamese with disabilities equal access in an array of areas, including education, employment, health care, information technology, public places, and transportation. The National Disability Law is the result of twelve years of piecemeal legislation that began with the National Ordinance on People with Disabilities in 1998. Twelve years later Vietnam passed the comprehensive legislation, which is one of the most inclusive national legislation packages for persons with disabilities in the world.
Full Story: Vietnam Enacted the First Disability Law, PR Newswire, June 22, 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 email@example.com. Thank you.
Calls for Papers and Proposals
1. Disability & the Victorians: Confronting Legacies
Proposal Submission Deadline: August 1, 2010.
2. Rethinking Disability: The State, the Community, and the Individual at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Abstract Submission Deadline: August 27, 2010.
3. Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging, & Technology
Abstract Submission Deadline: December 1, 2010.
Books and Publications
1. Levinson, J. (2010). Making Life Work: Freedom and Disability in a Community Group Home.
2. DePoy, E.G. (2010). (Ed.). Studying Disability: Multiple Theories and Responses.
3. Packer, L.E. et al. (2010). Challenging Kids, Challenged Teachers: Teaching Students with Tourette's, Bipolar Disorder, Executive Dysfunction, OCD, AD/HD, and More.
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. 2010 Reinventing Quality Conference
Location: Baltimore, Maryland; Date(s): August 8-10, 2010. For more information
2. International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Los Angeles, California; Date(s): September 20-22, 2010. For more information
3. 2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference
Location: Kansas City, Missouri; Date(s): September 23-26, 2010. For more information
4. 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. United States Department of Health and Human Services - Center of Excellence in Research on Disability Services Care and Coordination:
2. Amputee Coalition - Travel Information for Persons with Disabilities:
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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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