Webinar: ADA Anniversary Update

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

 

Introduction

One of my favorite months of the year is July. In this month, the Americans with Disabilities Act became U.S. law 31 years ago. On July 20, 2021, I attended a webinar hosted by the

Great Lakes ADA Center

Entitled

“ADA Anniversary Update”.

IN this blog post, I will summarize what I learned from the webinar.

 

Presentation 1: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The first presenter represented the

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

COVID/Vaccinations

According to the EEOC presenter, Many employees and employers are concerned about vaccination. She stated that under the ADA, employers can ask if an employee is vaccinated. However, requiring proof can be a problem. knowing whether an employee is vaccinated or vaccination being required are both not mandatory under the ADA. For the most part, COVID screenings for everyone prior to returning to a facility are not a problem legally. The presenter then spoke about reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

 

Reasonable Accommodations/Tele-Work

It is never a good idea to automatically decline reasonable accommodations. There are legitimate needs for reasonable accommodations. For example, people who are immunocompromised may need reasonable accommodations. For such persons, a vaccine might not be as effective. People with a variety of mental health disabilities have, per the presenter, had difficulty with circumstances caused by COVID. EEOC has not addressed whether or not COVID-19 itself is a disability. Therefore, ADA rules apply. In this case, Title I (employment) is the relevant title. It is important for employers to ask relevant questions of employees. Tele-work was then addressed. Returning to the office can be permitted part of a week. It is important to consider if job functions can be performed from home. The second speaker represented the

civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

 

Presentation 2: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division

The second presenter’s focus was on DOJ accomplishments.

Community-based Services

DOJ continues to ensure that community-based services are provided to people with disabilities. In a settlement agreement with North Dakota, there will be increased access to community-based services by training neighbors and relatives in how to provide disability-related services. Additionally, people with disabilities will make life choices and arrange for community0based services to be provided. In Maine, hours for personal assistants are limited when services are provided at home. Under a settlement agreement that state, an individualized choices about where they want to live. Transportation was then discussed.

 

Amtrak

Transportation connects people. The December, 2020 settlement agreement with Amtrak was then discussed. In summary, 45 accessible stations will be under construction and 135 stations shall be accessible within the next decade. However, Amtrak is not responsible for all of their stations. I discuss Amtrak and the DOJ settlement agreement in

my article “Webinar: Amtrak Settlement Agreement”.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals

When people who are blind go to an intersection, pedestrian signals need to be accessible. DOJ found that Chicago lacks accessible pedestrian signals. Therefore, a lawsuit was filed by DOJ under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and ADA. Law enforcement officer interactions and voting was then focused on.

 

Voting, Law Enforcement and a Useful Resource

Everyone deserves to vote, including people with disabilities. In an investigation, DOJ found architectural barriers including inaccessible ramps in 2020. It is important to survey polling places for accessibility barriers, train poll workers on accommodations and providing an accessible voting machine at each polling place. Regarding law enforcement: it is important for officers to be adequately trained about how to interact correctly with people with disabilities. DOJ concluded by stating that awareness can enable people to know about their rights under the ADA.

ada.gov

is a useful resource, and DOJ has begun a new

beta version

of the same web site. Bottom line: disability access covers a variety of areas.

 

Question for Readers

Of the variety of disability subjects discussed, which was the most interesting for you and why? I will return with another article.

 

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