Law School Admission Council to Implement Sweeping Changes to Testing Accommodation Procedures For Test-Takers with Disabilities

On August 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California upheld significant changes to LSAC’s testing accommodation policies and practices. The court’s decision upheld almost all the changes to LSAC’s testing accommodation procedures recommended in a report by a panel of experts created pursuant to a 2014 consent decree that resolved allegations under the Americans with Disabilities Act in Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) v. Law School Admission Council, Inc. (LSAC), Case No. 12-1830–EMC (N. D. Cal). The District Court invalidated a limited portion of the recommendations (generally regarding timing for evaluating testing accommodation requests and how recent documentation in support of a request for testing accommodations based on mental or cognitive impairment must be) but upheld the bulk of the recommendations as written, including those that: categorize the type of documentation that will be sufficient for various types of testing accommodations requests, establish criteria for evaluating requests, require an automatic review by outside professionals before any request may be denied, and create an appeals process for those candidates whose testing accommodation requests are ultimately denied. LSAC will implement the upheld recommendations starting immediately for testing accommodation requests related to the December 2015 LSAT administration and later administrations.

DOJ & HHS issue TA for Child Welfare Systems

Today the U. S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division together with the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights and Administration for Children and Families issued joint technical assistance about the applicability of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to the administration of child welfare programs, activities, and services. This technical assistance includes a cover letter to stakeholders and an explanatory document that contains a question and answer section. This technical assistance is intended to help child welfare agencies and family courts understand their obligations under Federal law to ensure that parents and prospective parents with disabilities receive equal treatment and equal access to parenting opportunities. The technical assistance document is available in HTML and PDF versions on www.ada.gov.

Post 2015 Agenda adopted!

In the evening of August 2nd, at the UN in New York, the “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was agreed to by consensus. It is to be formally adopted in September at the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.

The document is a supremely ambitious and transformational vision in which poverty eradication in all forms and dimensions is the overarching priority and central imperative of the Agenda. This is not only essential for an inclusive society, but also to achieve sustainable development and to ensure a safe and prosperous planet.

One of the most crucially important new elements of the outcome document is that it has ensured an integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the sustainable development goals throughout the document. Member States pledged that no-one will be left behind and that the Agenda is to be people-centred. The document seeks to ensure, realize and protect the human rights of all.

The final document is very positive for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, containing 11 explicit references. Particularly strong is the paragraph on people who are vulnerable and must be empowered that references “persons with disabilities (of whom more than 80% live in poverty)” (para 23) putting persons with disabilities in the centre of poverty eradication throughout the Agenda.

Finally, Australia, Brazil and Ecuador included persons with disabilities in their closing and final post-2015 statements.

Elizabeth Lockwood has written an update on her blog for CBM: http://blog.cbm.org/post-2015-adopted-with-snapshot-in-sign/

The full text of the Agenda can be found here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/7891TRANSFORMING%20OUR%20WORLD.pdf

Department Reaches Agreement with Carnival Corp. to Remove Barriers to Access on Cruise Ships Inbox x

The Justice Department has signed a settlement agreement with Carnival Corp., to improve access to cruise ships in the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands, and implements accessibility standards and policies to provide greater access on cruises that embark and disembark from U.S. waters or those of its territories.  The settlement resolves allegations that Carnival violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to properly provide and reserve accessible cabins for individual with disabilities, reasonably modify policies, practices and procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities, afford individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation; and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.  Under the agreement, Carnival will provide three percent accessible cabins on 49 ships according to three levels of accessibility: fully accessible, fully accessible-single-side approach to the bed, and ambulatory accessible cabins, implement brand standards that address an array of policies and procedures, and pay $55,000 in civil penalties, and $350,000 in damages.