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US Veterans with Disabilities Toolkit



WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2014--Today the Equal Rights Center (ERC)--a national non-profit civil rights organization--released a new toolkit to help veterans with disabilities advocate for accessible housing.

 

"Every year, hundreds of thousands of veterans return home to new challenges and barriers due to physical and mental disabilities resulting from their service to and for our country," said Melvina Ford, executive director of the ERC. "Under the federal Fair Housing Act, these veterans are entitled to accessible housing and beyond that our gratitude and respect."




 

According to government sources, 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for service-related disabilities, more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War.

 

The lack of available accessible housing for these veterans with disabilities contributes to higher rates of unemployment and homelessness. Approximately 12 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans, which in real numbers amounts to almost 50,000 homeless veterans on our streets.

 

"Our veterans--particularly those who return home with service-related disabilities--deserve equal treatment and opportunity in all aspects of their new lives," said James Schenck, president and CEO of Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed). "It is imperative that we ensure that veterans with disabilities have the resources and education to be effective advocates for themselves and their families."

 

The Veterans with Disabilities Toolkit highlights the rights to accessible housing afforded to veterans with disabilities under Title XIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This toolkit provides: an overview of the rights provided by the federal FHA, information on accessible design requirements of multifamily development, how to request a reasonable modification or accommodation from property owners or managers and answers to frequently asked questions.

Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Regulations

What are we proposing? The IATR Accessibility Committee is proposing Model Regulations for Accessible Taxicabs and For-Hire Vehicles. A copy of the Model Regulations can be found below.


The proposed Definitions and Model Regulations set forth below attempt to address the fact that while many jurisdictions address accessibility to some degree within their local Taxicab and For-Hire Vehicle regulations, there exists no all-encompassing accessibility regulatory framework that addresses each and every issue that is critical to ensure that people with disabilities are afforded equal enjoyment to fully take advantage of public transportation in this arena.

When and where is the Hearing? The Committee will hold an interactive international forum and public hearing on the proposed model regulations. The public hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. The hearing will be held at the IATR 27th Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel located at 601 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113.

How do I comment on the proposed rules? Anyone may comment on the proposed model regulations by:
  • Mail: You may mail written comments to: International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) C/O Sarah Huque P.O. Box 20709 New York, New York 10023
  • Email: You may submit your comments in writing via email to: jmischel@iatr.org
  • By Speaking at the Hearing: Anyone who wants to comment on the proposed model regulations at the public hearing must sign-up to speak. You may sign-up or pre-register to speak before the hearing at the IATR Conference by emailing jmischel@iatr.org on or before September 19, 2014. You may also sign-up in the hearing room before the hearing begins on September 23, 2014. You may speak up to three (3) minutes.

Is there a deadline to submit written comments? Yes, you must submit written comments by September 19, 2014 in order to be considered at the September 23, 2014 hearing. After the hearing you may submit additional written comments on or before December 22, 2014.

What if I require an accommodation for my disability in order to attend the conference? If you require an accommodation for your disability, please contact Jason R. Mischel at the above email address, or Sarah Huque at shuque@iatr.org on or before September 16, 2014. You can also send requests via the above referenced IATR U.S. Mail address. All requests for accommodation must be received on or before September 16, 2014.


Source: http://www.iatr.org/


IATR Model Regulations for Accessible Ground Transportation
By Professor Matthew W. Daus, Esq.

President, International Association of Transportation Regulators
Distinguished Lecturer, University Transportation Research Center (City University of New York/City College)

 


I am pleased to report that the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) will be undertaking a very important and extensive project in the New Year that will involve wheelchair accessible service in the ground transportation arena.  This is a landscape-changing project that will be somewhat similar to, but even more expansive than, our work in the smartphone application regulatory arena.

The IATR board of directors has voted unanimously to commission a project to develop model regulations for accessible transportation.   It is anticipated that this project will achieve the same groundbreaking success as the recent two year initiative involving the IATR's creation of model regulations to address smartphone technology advancements and disruption.  The smartphone regulations have proven to be a true and valued membership service for the IATR's members, many of whom either participated in the IATR's App Committee to develop the rules, or who have already implemented them in whole or part.  As a result of this success, we are now currently undertaking a similar exercise for model specifications for partitions and in-vehicle safety cameras.

The initial stages of this project will involve the formation of a committee and working group to solicit ideas, draft regulations and research policy approaches taken in key jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and beyond.  While participation on the IATR Accessibility Committee will be limited to regulators, there will be significant opportunities and formats for stakeholders, such as automobile manufacturers and retrofitters, accessibility advocates, tourism officials and others, to participate.  We plan to hold an international public hearing in September at the IATR's Annual Conference in 
New Orleans
,scheduled for September 21-24, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency, for interested stakeholders and regulators from around the globe to provide comment and feedback on the proposed regulations.  Updated surveys and data collection will be coordinated and will form the factual basis for many of the findings.

There have been many recent developments in the United States and beyond that have cast a spotlight on the accessibility issues that have been growing in importance for decades.  Many of the issues have centered on challenging the United States Department of Transportation's rules and regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the parameters of the so-called "taxicab exemption".  For example, in New York some of these issues have been, or are currently being, played out in the courts and on the legislative stage, including:  the 20% requirement of livery street hail permits to be accessible; the requirement of the submission of a long term disability plan to the state in order for the city to complete accessible medallion and livery street hail permit sales; the effectiveness of tax incentives for taxi owners who purchase an accessible, or retrofit an inaccessible, taxi; whether an Accessible Dispatch program provides equivalent service to wheelchair users who do not have access to a fully accessible taxi fleet; and if the so-called "Taxi of Tomorrow" must be accessible or not due to the fact that its design resembles a minivan.

There have been accessibility developments elsewhere, both domestically and internationally.  In Washington, DC, after introducing its first wheelchair accessible taxi service in 2011 under its "rollDC" pilot program, it was announced earlier this year that the program would continue with an increase in funding to provide more accessible taxis and service; in Ontario, Canada, the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires municipalities to determine the proportion of accessible taxis needed in their communities; in Australia, the State Government of Victoria has commissioned its Taxi Services Commission to undertake major reforms for its taxi and for-hire car industry, including plans to introduce more accessible vehicles, driver training and a dispatch system; and in London, UK, where all of its taxis are accessible, Transport for London created an "Accessibility App" competition for smartphone apps that will soon be decided and will provide a critical resource with a host of accessibility needs for disabled passengers.

One of the primary issues that regulators have been dealing with, aside from the quantity of vehicles that are and should be wheelchair accessible, is the very meaning of the term "accessible" itself as it pertains to vehicle design, dimensions and specifications.  Further, other concerns facing passengers, industry owners, drivers and regulators alike include safety and standards associated with retrofitting vehicles to include wheelchair ramps, as well as the higher operational and insurance costs associated therewith.  As a result, a number of compelling questions have arisen from these and other issues surrounding this topic.  For example, how far should regulations go in terms of dictating requirements from a licensing point of view, as opposed to simply relying on, or seeking to change, federal anti-discrimination laws (e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act) or laws relating to the safety and manufacturing standards imposed on manufacturers directly (e.g., the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration's regulations)?  Should other agencies with equipment, vehicle and engineering expertise be relied upon, or should ground transportation licensing agencies take matters into their own hands?  And should cities like New York and Chicago be in the business of using government-run or contracted central dispatch systems to deploy a limited or proportional number of accessible taxis and for-hire vehicles, or should we alternatively be taking a path towards 100% accessibility of all vehicles?  These are just some of the many challenges we will seek to find solutions to.

This project will analyze regulatory best practices worldwide, and will include not just the type of preferred or legally compliant vehicles, but also the broader role of other related transportation modes and how mass transit and private paratransit companies can integrate and work more closely with taxicab, sedan and limousine services.  The emergence of brokerage models by human resource agencies in the paratransit world, as well as mass transit agencies deploying and utilizing sedans and taxicabs as a cheaper, more efficient and environmentally conscious substitute for multi-passenger vans dispatched along irregular routes, is one such future approach that will be considered and discussed.

There is no doubt that there will be widely disparate viewpoints that will be expressed.  There were many who said that the development and drafting of model definitions for the terms "limousine" and "taxicab" were too difficult and controversial of a topic to touch; yet, last year, the IATR issued well regarded and almost universally applauded model regulations for smartphone applications that did just that, and are currently being relied upon extensively by our members so they do not need to recreate the regulatory wheel.  Our goal this year is to do the same for accessibility, an issue that seems to never go away and keeps being raised year after year, with no viable long-term solution or plan in sight that would satisfy all stakeholders.  We need to take control of the issue, put our hands on the regulatory wheel and place ourselves in the driver's seat as regulators, and not simply be back seat passengers watching the scenery unfold while issues are being framed or developed by others.  It is part of the core mission of our members' agencies to serve passengers and ensure equal, safe and efficient access to transportation for all, a mission that is shared at IATR.  We look forward to an inclusive, informative, deliberative and thorough process of identifying and supporting best practices and the development of model regulations for accessible transportation.  If you are interested in participating in this process, please contact me directly at 
mwdaus@iatr.org or mdaus@windelsmarx.com


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Mobility International USA (MIUSA), in partnership with three leading U.S. organizations, is proud to announce it has received funding from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the U.S. Department of State to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of disability rights legislation and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) at national and local levels in Kenya, Mexico and Vietnam.

The RightsNow! Strong Communities through Enforcing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities project will develop tools, training, resources, and networks of disability leaders to advance the rights of people with disabilities through effective implementation and enforcement of legislation. MIUSA is honored to administer the project with a U.S. consortium of partners: the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), a disability-led, organization at the forefront of U.S. disability civil rights law and policy, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a global leader in democracy promotion and good governance, and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD), a disability-led organization committed to advocacy and action to promote the global disability rights agenda.

This Consortium will provide technical assistance to civil society and governments focusing on sharing the U.S. experience including development, implementation and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant legislation. Working in partnership with local disabled people's organizations, the project will engage all segments of societies to promote sustainable change.

Mobility International USA is a disability-led organization founded in 1981 dedicated to advancing leadership and disability rights globally.

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I have just one thing to say about Alice Wong's gift to the US disability community known as the Disability Visibility ProjectJust do it!"

Register online to record your story then walk, roll or hitch a ride over to the nearest StoryCorps recording booth. 

If you have a disability, tell your story. If you are family, friend, coworker or ally of someone with a disability think about participating too. The StoryCorps model is based on the simple observation that telling a story in conversation can be a very moving experience for those who hear it. In this case it will become part of the archive of a generation's experience of the past 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act - the ADA.

In the US we are in the midst of a ridiculously politicized struggle to ratify the United Nations charter based on the ADA - the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). Beyond being part of the oral history of the early ADA Era your recording offers real life stories to educate Senators, their staff, and the general public.

What is involved? I'll let Alice answer:

  Some people asked whether they have to talk about the ADA or not and my answer is it's completely optional. The Disability Visibility Project is using the ADA as a springboard to have people with disabilities reflect about their past, present and future. Everyone has an interesting story to tell. It can be about your passions and hobbies, your personal life as a sibling, parent or spouse or something about the work you do. Much of it might depend on your interview partner and what you two share together when it comes to the disability experience. People don't have to talk about activism, disability rights or legislation like the ADA or section 504 of the Rehab Act but they could if those topics are important to them.

To read more: http://criptiques.com/2014/07/03/disability-visibility-project-interview-with-alice-wong/

 

Vancouver banned doorknobs. What a sensible thing to to. Let me be the first to say that this is an idea with "leverage!"


  1. Just like 'burning a CD' and 'rolling down the car window,' there may soon come a day when kids will not know the meaning of the phrase 'dumb as a doorknob.' 

    Thanks to new building code legislation, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to ban doorknobs. In all new construction starting this March, they will be replaced with levers, International Business Times reported. The ban also extends to all faucets.
  2. Source: http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2013/11/vancouver-bans-doorknobs-as-move-toward-accessibility.html
  3.  
Business Insider Mkes the business case:

As of March 2014, all new buildings built in the city will have to include levers rather than doorknobs.

In case you are unfamiliar, this is a doorknob, and this is a door lever. If you are not in the building trade, chances are the difference between the two probably seems cosmetic. But the concept behind Vancouver's ban is simple, and makes perfect sense: Door levers are easier to open for older people, people with injuries, or people with disabilities.


More here:



From Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:


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What are your personal experiences with traveling overseas? 
Where did you go? Was it accessible? What kind of challenges did you encounter? 

Sharing your personal travel experiences with Senators will help them understand the issues citizens with disabilities encounter when traveling and living overseas. Let's give them REAL STORIES to share with fellow Senators and others who may not support the CRPD. If you haven't traveled overseas and would like to, what are some of your concerns?

Email your story to us at WCDT_Disabilities@comcast.net. I'd also like an open discussion here on Facebook.. So, let's talk about it! 

We heard Rep. Tammy Duckworth talk about how veterans and others have been told to store their artificial limbs in overhead bins during flights from overseas. She mentioned in her testimony issues concerning military families with special needs. And, we've heard about common issues such as no ramps, elevators, etc. 

What are your personal experiences and what are your concerns?

Vice President Joe Biden meets with disability advocates in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Vice President Joe Biden meets with disability advocates in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 1, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Today, Vice President Biden met with the leaders of 20 disabilities and veterans advocacy groups at the White House to discuss the Disabilities Treaty. In the coming weeks, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin considering the Treaty, and the Vice President's meeting served as an opportunity to explain the Administration's strong support for ratification of this important Treaty and to discuss next steps in the ratification process. The Vice President was joined by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Judith Heumann, the State Department's Special Advisor for International Disability Rights.

The group met in the Vice President's Ceremonial Office, where Vice President Biden discussed his longtime personal commitment to ensuring that Americans with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities as their fellow citizens to live, work, and travel overseas. He made the case that ratifying the Disabilities Treaty is important because many countries around the world don't have the same high standards as the United States. In many countries, wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters, service animals, and other accommodations are the exception, not the rule. That makes it more difficult, or even impossible, for people with disabilities - including our veterans and wounded warriors to work, study, and travel abroad.

By ratifying the Disabilities Treaty and encouraging other countries to change that, the United States can carry forward its strong legacy of leadership on these issues, breaking down barriers, and making a real difference for those who have too often faced discrimination, inequality, abuse, or neglect.

In addition to discussing the Administration's strong support for ratification of the Disabilities Treaty, the Vice President expressed his appreciation for the groups' work as champions for the rights of people with disabilities. The Administration is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that all Americans - including those with disabilities - have the chance to live up to their fullest potential at home and abroad.

To learn more about the Disabilities Treaty, visit http://www.state.gov/disabilitiestreaty.

Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The facts are on our side. We need pro-CRPD witnesses to testify in a way that answers these questions clearly. If they do, we will win round #1. 

1. How is the CRPD alike and different from the ADA?
2. What would happen to U.S. laws if the CRPD were ratified?
3. How would ratification of the CRPD affect parents' ability to make decisions about their children's lives?
4. Can someone use the CRPD in a court?
5. What happens to the power of state laws if the CRPD were ratified?
6. Would ratification of the CRPD increase access to health services for people with disabilities?
7. How would ratification of the CRPD affect American business?
8. Is ratification of the CRPD by the U.S. likely to have an impact abroad?
9. What will ratification of the CRPD mean for individuals with disabilities, their families and advocates?
10. Do we need to ratify the CRPD?

These are important questions. They deserve clear, full answers.

Wheelchair Travel - The Video

On Sept. 26 the US Access Board issued finalguidelines for outdoor developed areas administered by federal agencies. This release was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandated equal access for people with disabilities to federally funded programs and federal employment. It also established the Access Board itself. The new guidelines cover newly constructed or altered camping facilities, picnic facilities, viewing areas, trails and beach access routes.

 A Webinar on the Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas is scheduled for Oct. 17 from 2:30-4:00pm (ET).


On September 26th the U.S. Access Board issued new accessibility guidelines for outdoor areas developed by the federal government. The guidelines provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes and other components of outdoor developed areas when newly built or altered. They also provide exceptions for situations where terrain and other factors make compliance impracticable.


"The Board is eager to release these guidelines, which were long in the making, to explain how access to the great outdoors can be achieved," states Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA. "The greatest challenge in developing these guidelines was balancing what's needed for accessibility against what's possible in natural environments with limited development."


Requirements for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, and beach access routes address surface characteristics, width, and running and cross slopes. Exceptions are included for these and other provisions under certain conditions stipulated in the guidelines. Departures are allowed where compliance is not practicable because of terrain or prevailing construction practices. Exceptions are also recognized where compliance would conflict with mandates such as the Endangered Species Act and other laws or where it would fundamentally alter a site's function or purpose.


The guidelines originate from recommendations prepared by an advisory panel chartered by the Board, the Outdoor Developed Areas Regulatory Negotiation Committee. They were made available for public comment twice and finalized according to the feedback received. The rule applies only to national parks and other federal sites, but the Board plans to follow-up with rulemaking to address non-federal sites under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at a later date.

"The Board is moving ahead to issue the guidelines first for federal sites out of expediency," explains Braitmayer. "In developing its guidelines, the Board must assess and aggregate their impacts. The Board was able to complete the necessary assessment on sites in the federal sector, but will require more time to analyze the impacts on the broader range of sites controlled by state and local governments covered by the ADA."


The rule applies to federal agencies that develop outdoor areas for recreational purposes, including the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The new requirements will become mandatory on November 25, 2013 as part of the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards, which apply to facilities that are built, altered, or leased with federal funds.


The Board will conduct a public webinar on the new rule on October 17 from 2:30 to 4:00 (ET). To register for this free webinar, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

For further information on the rule, visit the Board's website or contact Bill Botten at outdoor@access-board.gov(202) 272-0014 (v), or (202) 272-0073 (TTY).

 

RTEmagicC_Contrassegno_Europeo_Disabili_fronte_jpgI possessori di pass auto per disabili dovranno sostituire il vecchio contrassegno con quello in formato europeo, presentandosi personalmente all'Assessorato al Traffico e alla Mobilità del Comune di Lecce, in viale Rossini 110. Scadenza prevista per lunedì 30 settembre.

E' in arrivo, infatti, il "Cude" Contrassegno Unificato Disabili Europeo destinato ai cittadini disabili. L'adeguamento alle normative europee da parte del Comune di Lecce prevede il rinnovo per i pass disabili convertendo gli stessi nel formato europeo. Un passaggio che consentirà ai cittadini con invalidità di parcheggiare negli appositi spazi a loro riservati su tutto il territorio dell'Unione Europea. Il Contrassegno Unificato Disabili Europeo (Cude) rappresenta un passo avanti per il diritto alla circolazione nello spazio europeo.

Il nuovo tagliando, identificato dal simbolo internazionale dell'accessibilità bianco su fondo azzurro, che consente la sosta ed il riconoscimento dei veicoli delle persone diversamente abili, cambia oltre che colore, la forma e prevede anche, a differenza del precedente, la fotografia e firma del titolare sul retro del contrassegno. La nuova norma - che impone, dunque, al proprietario del contrassegno di essere presente al momento della firma - servirà anche per evitare l'uso improprio degli stessi.

Per eventuali chiarimenti è possibile contattare il Front - Office del settore Mobilità e Traffico del Comune di Lecce ai seguenti numeri telefonici 0832 230782 - 0832 682786.

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Under the Specific Programme: Preparatory Action "Tourism and accessibility for all", the European Commission has issued an Open Call for projects that will foster accessibility in local tourism development agendas, strategies and practices.

Call Deadline: 22/10/2013
Call Number: 102/G/ENT/PPA/13/511

Objectives

The specific objectives of this call are:

  • To foster adaptation of tourism products and services to the needs of people with special access needs
  • To promote equal opportunity and social inclusion of people with special access needs
  • To improve skills and training with relation to accessibility in the tourism supply chain
  • To help mainstreaming accessibility in all segments of the  tourism supply chain, while at the same time creating a seamless chain of accessibility in tourism
  • To promote, market and disseminate best practices in accessible tourism
  • To provide adequate support and guidance to SMEs
  • To enhance  the quality and diversify the offer  of accessible tourism experiences in Europe
For more detail:

Carers should travel free, say MPs

From This is Guernsey:


Launching the Access To Transport For Disabled People report, committee chair Louise Ellman said: "Changes made ahead of the 2012 Paralympic Games delivered access for disabled people to significantly more parts of the public transport network for the first time and highlighted the immense value of such improvements for all. Yet a year later, there is a risk that some of the momentum from London 2012 is being lost because further key accessibility improvements planned by the Department for Transport are been watered-down or abandoned..."

Carers should be able to fly for free if an airline requires them to travel with the disabled people they look after, a group of MPs have said.

The Transport Select Committee called on the Government to try to amend European Union regulations so carers fly free of charge if an airline requires them to be present because the person they look after cannot perform an emergency procedure alone.

Full article:

http://www.thisisguernsey.com/news/uk-news/2013/09/17/carers-should-travel-free-say-mps/

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