Justice Department Announces Settlement Agreement with Nueces County, Texas

The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with Nueces County, Texas(County), to improve access to all aspects of civic life for people with disabilities.  The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access, the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and, counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Under the agreement, the County will take important steps to improve access for people with disabilities, such as: physically modifying facilities surveyed by the Department so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities; posting, publishing and distributing notices to inform members of the public of the provisions of the ADA and their applicability to the City’s programs, services and activities.  Notably, under the terms of the agreement, the County will ensure that its websites and all online services, including those websites or online services provided by third parties upon which the Countyrelies to provide services or content,comply with, at minimum, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0.  The County will also officially recognize the Texas telephone relay service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments and train staff in using the relay service for telephone communications; and, develop a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the County’s accessible services, activities and programs.

Today’s agreement kicks off the Department’s activities to honor the ADA’s 25th Anniversary.  Each month, the Justice Blog will highlight different ways that the ADA benefits people with disabilities.Today’s entry in the Justice Blog features information about the Nueces County settlement.

For more information about the ADA or today’s settlement agreement, please visit our ADA website atwww.ada.gov or  you may also call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

Dealing with Companies that Take Advantage

The American corporate model includes something very basic; make money to the greatest degree possible. Lately, corporations have become so greedy that many people who experience forms of disabilities are simply priced out of the market for items, or taken advantage of when they reach for services through corporations. In the meantime, many corporations have chosen not to hire people with disabilities – the vast majority of us have always been unemployed, despite skills we may have.

Do corporations have any level of social responsibility? After all, people who experience forms of disabilities are not exactly the wealthiest individuals in America. To be plain, as a population we command vast sums of money, yet corporations often times perceive us based on an individual basis or use a broad brush to paint us as a population. Corporations also seem to fail to understand that we, as people who do experience forms of disabilities, also have family members and friends.

A Definition of, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’

What is, ‘corporate responsibility?’ It is initiative taken by a corporation to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on the environment and its impact on social welfare. The term usually is applied to corporate efforts that go beyond what might be required by environmental protection groups or regulators. Corporate social responsibility may also be referred to as, ‘corporate citizenship,’ and may involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, yet promote positive environmental and social change.

Companies have lots of power in the community and the national economy. Corporations control vast assets and may have billions of dollars in cash at their disposal for socially conscious investments and programs. Some companies might engage in, ‘greenwashing,’ or faking interest in corporate responsibility. While many large corporations are devoting real money and time to social and environmental programs, many are not. It is very clear that some corporations in America have thrown social responsibility to the wind in favor of every dollar they can gain in any way.

Cable Companies

Cable companies provide services such as television programming and Internet services. For many people who experience forms of disabilities, this is the only entertainment we have. Yet cable companies, very major ones, insist their products are worthwhile despite costing more than $100 a month and presenting shows that have been re-run so many times they should be included in American history courses. While these cable companies may or may not demand that a person have a contract with the company, they certainly have no issue with charging people with disabilities hundreds of dollars if they cancel services.

One person with a disability stated to me in regards to cable television, “They could at least show **something**, just one decent show that is fun to watch.” I agree; my suggestion? Do not order cable television, it smells badly. Instead, order Internet services from the company that offers the best Internet service at the lowest price and order Netflix or Hulu. Netflix; for example, costs around $8-11 a month, leaving cable television companies to wonder where their customers are going.

When you live on a fixed income, cable television services simply are not worthwhile. I dropped cable television and to be plain – I don’t miss it one single bit. Buy a $10 loop antenna, a VCR/DVD player at the Arc or Goodwill, and save yourself a bundle of money by doing so. Watch movies you buy at the Arc or Goodwill, they are just as good as the junk shows cable TV providers offer. Watch broadcast television, Netflix or Hulu, and your own movies.

Banks

The banks in America have people with disabilities by the proverbial’s. As a person with disabilities, you have to have a bank account in order to cash your checks and receive SSI, SSDI, or VA payments automatically. Yet if you go over the amount in your account by even a single dollar you can expect to find yourself facing a, ‘non-sufficient funds,’ fee. Yes, banks in America will not hesitate to charge $30 or more fees to people on fixed incomes who have forms of disabilities.

Banks are in business for one single reason, to make money – tons of it. If you, as a person with disabilities, use web bill pay to pay bills you can expect your bank to take advantage of you if one of the payments are not made at the time you schedule it to be. If one single bill, even a tiny one, finds your bank failing to pay it on the date it was supposed to through web bill pay you can expect to be charged a fee. Banks will do this and then tell you, ‘I’m sorry, it takes time to pay bills through web bill pay.’

A suggestion? Use money orders, envelopes and stamps to pay your bills instead of web bill pay through your bank. Money orders, envelopes and stamps are **far** cheaper than the potential for a bank fee. You can usually purchase a money order for around $1 and gain a great amount of peace of mind.

Large Shopping Stores

Large shopping stores can often times be a menace to the world of people with disabilities. You may very well enter one of these massive grocery/cosmetics/sporting goods and so forth types of stores and find yourself facing great emptiness where availability of a riding shopping cart is concerned. You may find yourself in one of the many aisles attempting to find assistance with reaching something on a high shelf. You may also find yourself wondering if such a massive shopping store has any real respect for you as an individual.

The truth of the matter? A massive shopping store offers you **nothing** more than your local grocery store. In fact – the more massive the shopping store, the more likely you are to find those who work there and shop there to be rather rude.

Instead, purchase your groceries at your local grocery store. Find the other items you need such as soap, shampoo, dog or cat food and so forth at dollar stores. You will save a lot of money by doing so and massive shopping stores can do without the 50+ million people with disabilities in America alone they have utterly failed.

Employers

Employers in America, you gotta love them. Many companies in America tout their compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all while failing to hire proportionate numbers of people who experience forms of disabilities. The fact that the overwhelming majority of people with disabilities in America are unemployed at any level is a shame on this nation.

As a veteran and person with disabilities, I always ask myself if I **truly need** a product or service some company is offering. In most instances I do not. A company better hope and pray I really need their product or service. I receive mail from companies offering products and services all the time – into the round file they go.

I do not even pay attention to the majority of corporations in America, they are not worth my time. If corporations in America cannot hire adequate numbers of the people in populations I am a part of, why should I have anything to do with them? Why should I, ‘upgrade,’ services from them, or purchase their products?

America desperately needs to pass a bill requiring any company with more than 50 employees to ensure that at least 15% of those employees are people with disabilities, veterans, or seniors. We are very much parts of American society and deserve opportunity. Instead, most of us are not employed at any level: full-time, part-time, or even job sharing levels.

Corporations are taking advantage of people with disabilities and they know it. The way to fight back is to ignore their product or service offerings, choosing instead only those you really, honestly need. Repeatedly make statements online about the failure of companies in America to be inclusive, or to provide adequate assistance when needed. Until the vast majority of us are included in the offerings of jobs, products and services, to hades with corporations that have failed us for the duration of American history.

Marketing to People With Disabilities
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/archives/2009/04/marketing_to_people_with_disabilities.html

Hiring People with Disabilities
https://www.sba.gov/content/hiring-people-with-disabilities

10 Tips to Enable People With Disabilities to Get Jobs
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-laszlo-mizrahi/10-tips-to-enable-people-_b_4261901.html

Source: http://www.disabled-world.com/editorials/advantage.php

Justice Department Reaches Settlement Agreement with the National Museum of Crime and Punishment

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a Settlement Agreement with the National Museum of Crime and Punishment (Crime Museum). The museum is devoted to exploring the history of crime, law enforcement, forensic science, and crime scene investigation. The agreement resolves the Department’s allegations that the museum is not accessible as required by the Americans with Disabiliites Act (ADA) because some of its programs, exhibits, and facilities are not accessible to people with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision or are deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals who have disabilities affecting manual dexterity.  Under the agreement, the Crime Museum will adopt measures to ensure that users with disabilities are able to fully and equally enjoy all of its programs, exhibits, and facilities by taking measures such as providing staff assistance or pre-recorded audio description of program and exhibit information for patrons who are blind or have low vision, providing a printed coy of program information not available in print, for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, ensuring that its website conforms to the Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (‘WCAG”) 2.0 level AA, and removing physical barriers such as protruding objects, inaccessible routes, and restroom barriers.

Pressure mounts on Gov’t to Review Disability Law

Persons with Disability (PWDs) are still awaiting government to honour its promise to review the country’s Disability Act, 2006 (Act 715) to ensure it is compatible with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The expected amendment, according to the PWDs, is an international requirement and Ghana as a party to the UNCRPD will suffer a dented international image by signing and ratifying an international instrument only to violate its provision.

They observe that it has been over a year since government promised to amend the Act and yet nothing has been done as per their enquiries.

In her address at the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, told the august gathering, “Government is reviewing provisions of Persons with Disability Act 715 to realign it with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

Nana Lithur explained that the realignment was to harmonise Ghana’s obligations under both local and International Law, adding that “a Legislative Instrument to promote the effective implementation of the Act has subsequently been drafted.”

That statement by the Minister at such a high-level meeting, according to the PWDs, “was good news and heart-warming information for persons with disability and organizations of Persons with Disability in the country who found the Act to be woefully inadequate, and skewed, with ambiguous and discretionary provisions. Unfortunately, PWDs’ hope and expectations have been short lived.”

The Advocacy Officer of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD), Mr Isaac Tuggun, indicated that though the Federation had produced and submitted a gap analysis report to the government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as its contribution to fast-track the review process of the Act, nothing has been done about the anticipated review a year on.

Mr Tuggun said:“From our layman point of view, an appropriate Legislative Instrument for the effective implementation of an Act can be best drafted after the Act has been reviewed and not while the Act is still being reviewed.”

The Persons with Disability Act 715 came into effect in 2006. It preceded the UNCRPD which Ghana voluntarily signed in 2007 and ratified in 2012. The UNCRPD is now part of the Ghana’s body of legislations. In article 4(b) of the General Obligations, the UNCRPD enjoins state parties to harmonise their domestic legislations with the convention.

The Advocacy Officer said the harmonisation would eliminate the difficulties and confusion arising in the application of the two pro-disability legislations, with the same objectives, but which differ greatly from each other in context, enjoinment, and scope.

“For instance, though disability is an evolving concept, Act 715 has a close definition of a person with disability, while the UNCRPD has an open definition to permit the inclusion of emerging categories of disability. UNCRPD recognizes the different needs of women and children with disability and thus provides for them separately. Act 715 lumped women, children, and men together as persons with disability who have common challenges and common need,” he added.

The UNCRPD further provided for political participation and special needs for PWDs in national disaster management. “Act 715, is silent on these issues. Act 715 has cursory provisions some of which are ambiguous while the UNCRPD has detailed and clear provisions,” he said.

With regard to education, Mr Tuggun explicated that the UNCRPD promotes inclusive education at all levels, while Act 715 prescribes the designation of schools or institutions in each region to provide facilities and equipment to enable PWDs to participate in education, thus limiting the opportunities of PWDs to participate in education. That, according to him, is discriminatory.

He said Health care and employment provisions in Act 715 also suffered similar limitations. While the UNCRPD enjoins close consultation and active involvement of PWDs in decision-making processes, Act 715 prescribes nothing on the matter.

“GFD is, therefore, calling on all relevant stakeholders to take keen interest in the promise by government to review Act 715 so that together we create the right legal environment in the disability domain.”

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=342026&comment=0#com

Jean-Pierre Crépieux receives the French Legion d’honneur

ai-jean-pierre-crepieux

On Monday December 8th, Jean-Pierre Crépieux will be the first person with an intellectual disability to receive the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour.

Established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion d’Honneur rewards “personal merit in the service of the nation.”  Jean-Pierre is being recognised for his contribution to L’Arche and the social development of men and women with an intellectual disability.

Born in 1944, Jean-Pierre, nicknamed “Pierrot,” was one of the first people to be welcomed at L’Arche in December 1964. In one of his first letters, in 1965, Jean Vanier wrote that Pierrot was the “nightingale” of the team, always preparing new songs.

Pierrot celebrated his 70th birthday on July 17. Since retiring, he has been looking for ways to share his experience, his life at L’Arche. In 2009 he wrote a book called “Je n’ai pas peur de devenir vieux” [“I am not afraid of growing old”]. About this book, Jean Vanier wrote:

“This book is beautiful. It is profoundly true. And I’m glad that Pierrot wrote it. This is his story – a story of suffering and joy. Pierrot was at the origin of L’Arche. He arrived in December 1964 – a few months after we started in August ’64. He was the joy of this small nascent community. His songs brightened up our windows – and there were a lot of songs! I am personally grateful to Pierrot. His presence, his good mood, his jokes, and even his seriousness contributed a lot to L’Arche becoming what it is. A place where hearts are healed, a festive place, a work place […]”.

Pierrot will receive the Legion d’Honneur from French President François Hollande himself, at the Elysée Palace, surrounded by his friends from L’Arche.

Source: http://www.larche.org/jean-pierre-crepieux-receives-the-french-legion-dhonneur/

Tips for travelling with disability

If you have a disability, travelling is rarely straight forward. So that’s why we’ve teamed up with Carry-Ann Lightley from Tourism for All, to bring you a series of articles to help make travelling easier and more accessible. This months she shares her top travel tips.

I am a wheelchair user who loves to travel, which is why working for Tourism for All (TFA) is my dream job. A break or a holiday, or a simple day trip is important to our lives, giving us something to look forward to, time to enjoy our families, a chance for adventure, or perhaps some time to ourselves, to recover, and acquire memories of happy times. In the past, some of us have encountered barriers to our participation in tourism – disabled people, older people, carers of young people or disabled or older relatives. Here I share my tips to help you get the most out of accessible travel.

Carrie-Ann - travelWhen searching for accessible accommodation, check if the property has been assessed for accessibility, and obtain an access statement if available. If there is a restaurant on site, make sure that you can access it, and that they can provide menus in a format that is accessible to you. Ask the accommodation provider for information about accessible places to visit in the local area.

Check if the venue has accessible toilets – a RADAR Key can give access to over 9,000 accessible toilets. When visiting attractions, check if they provide concessions for a disabled person and companion – most places admit companions free of charge.

The Disabled Persons Railcard allows you and a companion to get a third off most rail fares throughout Great Britain. When travelling by rail, book assistance at least 24 hours in advance with the train company so they can help you access the train and take care of your luggage. If you are arriving at your destination by car, check there is suitable disabled parking available. Following the introduction of a common European disabled persons’ parking card (the Blue Badge), the UK now has reciprocal arrangements with all European Union Member States under which badge holders can enjoy the parking concessions provided in the host country by displaying the badge issued under their own national scheme.

Questions to ask when travelling by air:

  • Can the airline carry my wheelchair? (Especially battery powered)
  • Is there an on-board wheelchair on the plane?
  • Is there assistance available at the UK and destination airport?
  • If the transfer bus at the destination is not accessible is there an alternative accessible taxi service?
  • If oxygen is required on the flight – is this free-of-charge?
  • Always take additional medication in case of delays when travelling and at the airport.
  • Essential medicines that you will need during your trip must be checked through security. They have to be in a clear, plastic, re-sealable bag and in containers of less than 100ml, although please bear in mind that this advice may be subject to change or alteration. For essential medicines of more than 100ml, you will require supporting documentation from a relevant qualified medical professional and prior approval from the airline. This applies to everything from cough medicine through to insulin. You can also be asked to verify medicines at security, which may involve tasting, or testing on the skin.

Most standard holiday company insurance policies will not cover pre-existing medical conditions. However there are specialist insurance companies that will do so, listed on the TFA website. Those without internet access can call us for a printed factsheet to be sent in the post.

Research local bars and restaurants before you travel, so that you can be confident in their accessibility – then all you need to worry about is having a good time! If you need any aids or equipment to help you access the accommodation – e.g. a shower chair – check if they have these. If not, TFA can now arrange hire of any mobility equipment that you require for delivery to your holiday destination in the UK and abroad. We hire wheelchairs, hoists, mobility scooters, commodes, bath lifts, shower chairs, walkers, standing electric hoists, profile beds, standing aids and many more items.

Source: http://disabilityhorizons.com/2015/01/disability-and-travel-top-travel-tips/?utm_source=Disability+Horizons+RSS-Email&utm_campaign=b27565dfda-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_75cf3532a8-b27565dfda-308149321

Govt tasked to revise Disability Act

The Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) has reminded the government to honour its promise of revising the Disability Act in line with international standards and address the discrimination against persons with disability.

The Federation noted that had been more than a year since the Government promised at the 68th United Nations (UN) General Assembly to review Ghana’s Persons with Disability A ct (Act 715, 2006), but nothing had been done.

Mr Isaac Tuggun, Focal Person of the Federation said this in a statement made available to the Ghana News Agency, over the weekend.

The Federation quoted the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, as saying at the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013, that: “Government is reviewing the provisions of Persons with Disability Act 715 to realign it with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.

According to the Federation, the Minister stated that the realignment was to “harmonise Ghana’s obligations under both local and International Law and that “a Legislative Instrument to promote the effective implementation of the Act has subsequently been drafted”.

The Federation said it described then described the promise as “good news and heart-warming information for persons with disability and organizations of Persons with Disability (PWDs) who found the Act to be woefully inadequate, and skewed, with ambiguous and discretionary provisions.”

“Unfortunately, PWDs’ hope and expectations have been short lived,” said the GFD.

“Despite the fact that GFD has produced and submitted a gap analysis report to the Government, through the Ministry of Gender, children and Social Protection, as its contribution to fast-track the review process of the Act, nothing has been done about the said review, after a year now,” it added.

It said an appropriate Legislative Instrument for the effective implementation of an Act could be best drafted after the Act had been reviewed and not while the Act was still being reviewed.

The Persons with Disability Act 715 came into effect in 2006, which preceded the UN Convention on the Rights of PWDs, which Ghana voluntarily signed in 2007 and ratified in 2012.

The United Nations Convention of Disability (CRPD), now part of the body of legislations in Ghana, in Article 4(b) under the general obligations, enjoins state parties to the Convention to harmonize their domestic legislations with the convention.

The GFD said the harmonization would eliminate the difficulties and confusion arising in the application of the two pro-disability legislations, with the same objectives, but which differed greatly from each other in context, enjoinments, and scope.

It said, though disability is an evolving concept, Act 715 had a close definition of a person with disability while the CRPD had an open definition to permit the inclusion of emerging categories of disability.

The GFD noted that CRPD recognized the different needs of women and children with disability and thus provided for them separately, but Act 715 lumped women, children, and men together as PWDs who had common challenges and common needs.

It also said the CRPD provided for political participation of and special needs for PWDs in national disaster management, however, Act 715 was silent on these issues.

“Act 715 has cursory provisions some of which are ambiguous while the CRPD has detailed and clear provisions,” the Federation said.

It said while CRPD promoted inclusive education at all levels, Act 715 prescribed the designation of schools or institutions in each region to provide facilities and equipment to enable PWDs to participate in education, thus limiting the opportunities of PWDs to participate in education.

“This is discriminatory, health care and employment provisions in Act 715 also suffer similar limitations,” it said.

“While the CRPD enjoins close consultation and active involvement of PWDs in decision-making processes, Act 715 prescribes nothing on the matter,” GFD added.

The Federation warned that given the amendment of the Act was an international requirement, and Ghana as a party to the CRPD, Ghana would suffer a “dented international image by signing and ratifying an international instrument only to violate its provision.”

The GFD, therefore, called on all relevant stakeholders to take keen interest in the promise by the government to review Act 715 so that together they could create the right legal environment to improve the disability situation in the country. GNA

Source: http://vibeghana.com/2015/01/04/govt-tasked-to-revise-disability-act/