Category: In The News

People with Disabilities Make Their Voices Heard Over Voting Restrictions

Voter access and voter rights have taken been in the news a lot this year. For people with disabilities, this has been a critical issue for decades.

In Texas, disABILITYsa, a group  dedicated “to educate, advance and engage individuals with disabilities”, is now contending the State’s Senate Bill 7 and the roadblocks it puts up for people with disabilities to have equal access to vote.

The three biggest concerns for the disABILITYsa were the requirement to verify a voter’s disability to get a mail-in ballot, changes to curbside voting and possible criminal charges against caregivers or attendants often needed to assist a voter with disabilities.

To continue reading this story, please visit https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2021/06/25/disability-community-sends-message-to-texas-lawmakers-over-proposed-voting-restrictions/.

In North Carolina, previous legislative efforts have gone to the courts. Recently, North Carolina’s Eastern District Judge Terrence Boyle recently ordered the state’s Board of Elections to make a number of changes which include the preservation of absentee voting for blind and otherwise disabled voters.

The ruling poses new limitations, and possibly more ADA violation, though. For those wanting to cast absentee ballots, voters with disabilities are required to fill out a form and submit it to their local election board before receiving an absentee ballot.

While most voters without vision impairments were able to go about this process privately, visually impaired voters often required assistance, affecting their ability to privately cast a ballot.

To continue reading this story, please visit https://www.thetimesnews.com/story/news/2021/06/25/court-order-ensures-convenience-and-privacy-disabled-voters-blind-terrence-boyle-north-carolina/5333922001/.

Sources:
Court order secures new voting rights for North Carolina’s disabled voters
By Dean-Paul Stephens, Times-News
Published June 25, 2021
https://www.thetimesnews.com/story/news/2021/06/25/court-order-ensures-convenience-and-privacy-disabled-voters-blind-terrence-boyle-north-carolina/5333922001/

Disability community sends message to Texas lawmakers over proposed voting restrictions
By Jessie Degollado, KSAT 12 San Antonio
Published June 24, 2021
https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2021/06/25/disability-community-sends-message-to-texas-lawmakers-over-proposed-voting-restrictions/

 

Cannon County, Tennessee Resolves ADA Complaint Over Sports Facility

Seal of the United States Department of Justice NASHVILLE – Cannon County, Tennessee has resolved a complaint that it was constructing a school sports facility that did not comply with the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), announced Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee.

“We appreciate the willingness of the County and Cannon County Schools Director William Curtis to resolve these issues so that all individuals with disabilities – students and spectators – can utilize a sports facility that complies with the ADA for years to come,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stewart. “This successful resolution was achieved because of concerned citizens, who are the eyes and ears of their communities and help this Office ensure that there is equal access in all areas of the Middle District.”

On April 23, 2019, the United States notified Cannon County that it was investigating a complaint that the sports facility was not being constructed in accordance with ADA standards, and specifically did not comply with parking, signage, and accessibility requirements. The United States sought information on the status of the construction, including photographs and architectural plans to demonstrate ADA compliance. Cannon County promptly responded to the requests.

Continue reading at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdtn/pr/cannon-county-tennessee-resolves-ada-complaint-over-sports-facility

$2.25 Million Fund in Amtrak Settlement Closes May 29 2021

To resolve the Department of Justice’s claims that Amtrak violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Amtrak created a $2.25 million fund to pay riders with mobility disabilities who had problems accessing the Amtrak stations listed below.

Individuals must make a claim by May 29, 2021, available at www.AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com, to get paid from the fund.

For help, contact:

  • Email: info@AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com
  • Telephone (toll-free): 1-888-334-6165
  • TTY Telephone (toll-free): 1-866-411-6976

Individuals must also:

  • Have a mobility disability. For example, use a wheelchair, walker, or other device to assist with walking or moving around, or otherwise have difficulty walking;
  • Have had a problem accessing one of the Amtrak stations listed below between July 27, 2013, and Dec. 2, 2020. Problems include the lack of accessible parking; steep sidewalks or paths or steps on sidewalks or paths; no signs saying where individuals using wheelchairs may go to get to the station; bathrooms with doors or stalls that are too narrow or with inaccessible sinks; high ticket counters; platforms that are falling apart; or narrow routes at stations; and
  • Have lived at, visited, or wanted to visit a place closer to one or more of the 78 listed Amtrak stations than another Amtrak station.

To receive payment, an individual with a disability must have had problems accessing one of 78 stations. The list of stations is available at www.AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com.

This fund is part of the Justice Department’s agreement with Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, to resolve the department’s findings of disability discrimination in violation of the ADA. Under the agreement Amtrak will also fix inaccessible stations.

For more information on the ADA, please visit ADA.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 800-514-0383).

New Research Shows Many Chicago area Governments Lack Strong ADA Title II Transition Plans

Where the sidewalk ends cover pageA recent study conducted by the Great Lakes ADA Regional Center and the Metropolitan Planning Council indicated some Chicago Metropolitan Area municipalities may be lacking ADA Title II transition plans.

In an assessment of the status and quality of ADA transition plans for the public right-of-way in the Chicago area. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and the Great Lakes ADA Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago worked with students in its urban studies program to analyze the presence and quality of ADA transition plans in the Chicago region.

What was found is surprising given the Americans with Disability Act just entered its third decade as a legal requirement:

Only 22 of the region’s 200 municipalities with more than 50 employees (11%) had a plan.

Among those 22 communities, none of the plans satisfied all of the five required plan elements.

Common weaknesses included a poor public engagement process and few details on how the plans would be implemented.

Of the 200 municipalities, only 42% were responsive to the students’ multiple inquiries.

To review the complete study please“Where the Sidewalk Ends” at: https://bit.ly/32WObRZ

Accessible Parks Take Priority as Summer Months Approach

New inclusive playground equipment being installed at Landreth Park. Photo by Roger Nomer; published in The Joplin Globe

Photo by Roger Nomer; published in The Joplin Globe

As the summer months approach, upgrading local parks to make them ADA compliant and accessible to children of all ability levels has become a big priority for many municipalities.

Carson City, Nevada, recently made significant ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) improvements to several of its parks. Over the past five years, Carson City’s Schulz Ranch, Ross Gold, Ronald D. Wilson Memorial, and John Mankins parks were inspected, funded and underwent remediation to get the parks into compliance with the ADA.

While 13 of the City’s playgrounds still use wood mulch for fall protection, City staff have inspected the sites and integrated them into a long-term ADA remediation plan.

In the City of Joplin, Missouri, an ADA accessible park is currently being built with features designed for all ability levels.

The new playground at Landreth Park is a first of its kind for the city. When complete, it will feature inclusive play structures, ground games, and access ramps that completely encircle the playground, allowing children of various abilities to access it at any point.

 

Sources:
Carson City parks panel plots course for playground priorities
Jessica Garcia, Nevada Appeal
April 18, 2021
https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/2021/apr/18/carson-city-parks-panel-plots-course-playground-pr/

New playground first of its kind in Joplin
Debby Woodin, The Joplin Globe
April 17, 2021
https://www.joplinglobe.com/news/local_news/new-playground-first-of-its-kind-in-joplin/article_868a6a68-9e0e-11eb-a0f2-efdb8a542d8f.html#//

DOJ Joins ADA Lawsuit Over Chicago’s Non-Compliant Crosswalks

City of Chicago crosswalk is not ADA compliant.

The Justice Department has joined a lawsuit against the City of Chicago that alleges the City has not made the majority of its crosswalks accessible to people who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision.

The DOJ states the City is required to install accessible pedestrian signals that give audio or tactile cues when it’s safe to cross the street in order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. According to the DOJ, the City of Chicago has just 15 of those signals out of 2,700 crosswalks with visual signals.

Continue reading this story at https://news.wttw.com/2021/04/13/justice-department-joins-lawsuit-over-accessibility-chicago-crosswalks.

This story was originally written and produced by Nick Blumberg and WTTW Public Broadcasting.

BlueDAG University – Using Fast Finder

In this video, Victor Felix, BlueDAG’s Director of Content and Compliance, teaches viewers how to use BlueDAG’s Fast Finder tool.

BlueDAG is now offering Fast Finder for free to anyone who wants it.

Free Fast Finder Signup

  • Terms and Conditions * Required
    ADA Fast Finder is governed by BlueDAG's terms and conditions found at https://www.bluedag.com/legal/

Disabled People Had An Easier Time Voting In 2020, But Millions Still Had Issues

Two major obstacles disabled people face while voting in person are waiting in lines and accessing voting sites. (File photo from Nov. 8, 1988, Denver, Colorado)

BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES — Two major obstacles disabled people face while voting in person are waiting in lines and accessing voting sites.

Disabled Americans had less trouble voting in the 2020 elections than in prior years, according to research published last week by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The EAC report shows that the gap between disabled and nondisabled voters who experienced problems while voting has narrowed significantly. In 2020, 11.4% disabled voters reported having problems versus 6.4% of nondisabled voters. This drop is noteworthy in comparison to a similar report conducted in 2012 that found that 26.1% of disabled voters versus 7.4% of nondisabled voters reported having trouble.

This means one in nine disabled respondents said they had trouble voting in 2020, according to the report.

Continue reading at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/disabled-people-had-easier-time-voting-in-2020-but-millions-still-had-issues-report_n_6034102dc5b67c32961fc93f.

This story was written by Elyse Wanshel and published in The Huffington Post on February 22, 2021.

ADA Suit Over Chicago Shelters Moves Forward

U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois

The City of Chicago can’t evade a disability-discrimination suit brought by a woman who alleges emergency shelters are not accessible, a federal judge held Wednesday (February 17, 2021). In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama declined to throw out Gloria Carter’s lawsuit accusing the City of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The City operates an emergency shelter program for people facing homelessness.

The full story can be read at https://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/suit-over-emergency-shelter-program-gets-ok-20210218.

A copy of the official opinion and order from Judge Valderrama regarding Carter v. City of Chicago can be found at https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/illinois/ilndce/1:2020cv01083/373622/46/.

This story was written by Patricia Manson and published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

New Research Shows Many Local Governments May Lack Strong ADA Title II Transition Plans

Three people inspecting a curb ramp at a street intersection

A recent study conducted by the Great Lakes ADA Regional Center, and funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, indicated some local government’s ADA Title II Transition Plans may be lacking.

Researchers used a sample of 401 cities, counties or townships with at least 50 full-time employees. The researchers carefully reviewed each plan to identify which of the required elements were included.

What researchers found was surprising given the Americans with Disability Act just entered its third decade as a legal requirement:

  • 54 of the 401 municipalities (13%) had an ADA transition plan available to the public.
  • 28 municipalities (7%) reported having plans in progress.
  • 32 published the transition plan on their websites while 22 others made it available upon request.
  • By region, the highest percentage (17%) of municipalities with transition plans are located in the Midwest.
  • The northeast region had the lowest percentage of municipalities with transition plans (3%).
  • Of the 54 municipalities with transition plans, only 40 addressed the public right-of-way.
  • 14 plans only addressed access to government buildings.
  • Of the 40 plans that addressed the public right-of-way, only 7 met all of the minimum criteria required by the ADA.
  • Less than half of the plans included a specific schedule for barrier removal.
  • Only 12 transition plans included a detailed process for monitoring and periodic reporting on progress toward barrier removal.

Please visit the National Rehabilitation Information Center’s website for more information on this and other ADA related studies.

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