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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.

On 14-15 October, the UN Inter-Agency Support Group (IASG) for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met via video-conference. Over 15 agencies and others participated in the meeting and open sessions, including representatives of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). At the meeting, the IASG decided to further strengthen its collaboration in the promotion of a disability-inclusive post-2015 agenda and in relation to inclusive emergency and humanitarian responses and disaster risk reduction for persons with disabilities. A thematic working group on disasters and conflict will be established to review current activities of the IASG and to develop a workplan for strengthening the UN's inclusion of disability in disaster risk reduction, emergencies and humanitarian crises. Further discussion also included forthcoming international conferences, collaboration for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and inter-agency initiatives, including the UN Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) and the UN Inter-Departmental Task Force on Accessibility (IDTFA). A report of the meeting will be made available on the Enable website, shortly. (

Below is the European report "Mapping of Skills and Training needs to improve accessible tourism services". 

The report includes all findings of the research and data collection, the full analysis of results and a set of conclusions and recommendations. To facilitate dissemination, all country level data and the 20 case study reports my be downloaded here: 

 Authored for the European Commission by Pierre Hausemer, Ivor Ambrose, Kei Ito and Monika Auzinger. 

The study is downloadable as PDF here:

A major part of the Research Study commissioned in 2013 by the European Commission and awarded to VVAENAT and3s Research, involved the preparation of 20 Case Studies, examining accessible tourism training programmes and projects in Europe and abroad.

The selected Case Studies can be regarded as examples of good practice in vocational education and training, although certain weaknesses are also identified, where appropriate.

On the ENAT website the following case studies may be downloaded:

List of Skills and Training Case Studies

  1. ABTA, United Kingdom

  2. ETCAATS, EU Training Project, Sweden
  3. Perfil - Psicologia e Trabalho, Portugal
  4. SCANDIC Hotels, Sweden
  5. Kéroul
 Welcoming Ways, Canada
  6. ATHENA EU Training Project, Czech Republic
  7. Via Libre, Spain
  8. VisitEngland, United Kingdom
  9. People 1st, Welcome All. United Kingdom 

  10. PEOPLECERT, Greece
  11. COIN, Italy
  12. HERMES Airports, Cyprus
  13. Cluster for Accessible Tourism, Bulgaria
  14. Lousã, Accessible Tourism Destination, Portugal
  15. TACTALL EU Training Project, Spain
  16. Ministry of Tourism, Ontario, Canada

  17. Disney Corporation, France
  18. VisitFlanders' Accessibility Training, Belgium
  19. Barrier-Free Destinations, Germany
  20. EU Funded Training Projects


From Martin Heng:

Travelling has always been in my blood. Perhaps I inherited it from my father, who was born in Singapore, travelled the world with the British Merchant Navy and finally settled in the UK, where I was born. I've lived and worked in half a dozen countries and travelled to more than 40. In the 80s and 90s I spent the best part of 10 years on the road, pausing only long enough to make enough money for the next trip.

Imagine my euphoria in 1999 when I landed a job with Lonely Planet, whose books had been my constant companion across three continents over the previous decade! I've been with the company ever since in several different roles, including Trade Publishing Manager and Editorial Manager, overseeing the production of the entire range of printed books.

MIUSA plus.jpg

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.


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:


End Discrimination

Guide Dog Discrimination.jpg

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the nose reads "BLACK OR WHITE: It's Time To End Discrimination." Further down there is additional text, in smaller print, white text on black fur. It reads: "Guide dogs are allowed into cafes and restaurants. Deny them access and you're breaking the law." Opposite the text, where the dog has white fur, is a logo of a dog wearing a harness with the word "Guide Dogs" and the website

She's not a hero.

Not an inspiration.

Just a citizen.

Follow a very normal woman doing something very normal - traveling freely across her own country.

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

Seoul Park.jpg

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 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?

 November 4, 2013, Benetech and Bookshare released this press announcement.

Disabled Veterans Who Qualify Can Download 20 FREE eBooks with 30-Day Trial Membership!

Bookshare FREE TRIAL logo displays veteran in wheelchair and link to sign up page.

Bookshare FREE TRIAL logo displays veteran in wheelchair and link to membership details.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 13 percent of all U.S. Veterans, over 2.8 million individuals, now live with blindness, physical disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. These print disabilities make it difficult, if nearly impossible, to read a newspaper, study a textbook or enjoy a bestseller.

With the evolution of digital accessible books, disabled Veterans may have a new lifeline to reading throughBookshare, the world's largest online library of copyrighted books and periodicals for people with qualified print disabilities.

Today, Bookshare serves over a quarter million members who are blind, have low vision, a physical disability, or a severe reading disability, like dyslexia.

Betsy Beaumon speaking

Betsy Beaumon

"We want to ensure that all qualified disabled Veterans know about Bookshare and how to easily become a member," said Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of the Benetech Global Literacy Program.  "Digital accessible books can break down reading barriers and open a new lifeline to reading to go back to school, learn a new vocation or read for pleasure."

For nonstudent disabled Veterans who qualify, Bookshare now offers a free 30 day trial membership to download 20 digital accessible books and use thefree reading tools and apps until December 31, 2013.

After the trial, a minimal annual fee of $50 includes full access to a vast collection of accessible eBooks, (over 210,000), including military collections. Titles can be easily searched, downloaded and read on a variety of devices like a computer, tablet, smart phone, or MP3 player.  Titles can also be read on a refreshable braille display that uses accessibility features for quick navigation, bookmarking and text-to-speech.

Bookshare is free to any U.S. student who qualifies, thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. This free membership includes qualified Veterans now attending a U.S. school or university.

Disabled Veterans receiving services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, through the Vocational, Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VET Success), may also be eligible for free membership.

Veterans' hospitals and associations please contact

For more information and to sign up, visit

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

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

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


  Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA
 Karen L. Braitmayer Access Board Chair
  Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi
 David M. Capozzi Access Board Executive Director


Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires access to programs and activities that are funded by federal agencies and to federal employment. The law also created the U.S. Access Board to ensure access to the built environment.

Specifically, the Board was established to enforce a law passed a few years earlier, the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968. One of the first laws on the books to address accessibility, the ABA aimed to make the federal government a model of accessibility by requiring access to all facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with federal funds. 

In passing the Rehabilitation Act, Congress determined that the ABA needed better enforcement. As originally written, the ABA effectively left compliance up to each agency with little oversight. Further, comprehensive standards for accessibility were not available at that time. It was clear that a central agency was needed to both establish and enforce accessibility requirements for facilities covered by the law.

According to Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA, "In creating the Access Board, Congress recognized that you can't guarantee accessibility until you clearly spell out how it is to be achieved and have a process in place to make sure that those requirements are met." In fact, the lessons learned from the ABA and the Rehabilitation Act would not be lost on later laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"With accessibility, it's fair to say that the Federal government essentially started in its own backyard," states David M. Capozzi, the Access Board's Executive Director. "The Rehabilitation Act and the Architectural Barriers Act helped lay the groundwork for the landmark ADA and coverage of accessibility beyond the federal realm."

To this day, the Board continues to do what it was created to do. It develops and keeps up-to-date the accessibility requirements of the ABA and enforces compliance with them through the investigation of complaints. If a member of the public is concerned about access to a facility that may have received federal funding, it can file a complaint with the Board. The Board then opens an investigation to determine whether the facility is covered by the ABA and, if so, whether it meets the applicable standards. If a covered facility is not in compliance, the Board will pursue a corrective action plan and monitor the case until all necessary work is completed. The Board typically opens about 50 to 100 cases each year, and has ensured access to all types of facilities covered by the ABA, including post offices, national parks, and social security offices, among others. Since the ABA also applies to non-Federal buildings that are federally funded, the Board's casework has encompassed many other types of facilities as well, such as schools, transit stations, local courthouses and jails, and public housing.

The Board's mission has grown tremendously over the years under later laws. Its work developing and maintaining accessibility requirements is no longer limited to buildings covered by the ABA. Now, the Board is responsible for design requirements for facilities and transportation systems covered by the ADA, electronic and information technology in the federal sector under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, telecommunications equipment subject to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and, most recently, medical diagnostic equipment under Section 510 of the Rehabilitation Act. Through this work, the Board has become a leading resource on accessible design.

"The Board has eagerly accepted the responsibility to address access in new and unchartered areas," says Capozzi. "The Board maintains a very active and varied rulemaking agenda. In fact, just today, the Board is releasing new guidelines that address access to federal outdoor recreation sites." The Board is also developing new guidelines or standards for public rights-of-ways, shared use paths, passenger vessels, emergency housing, classroom acoustics, and medical diagnostic equipment. Having previously developed and updated its guidelines for facilities under the ABA and ADA, the Board is currently refreshing its ADA guidelines for transportation vehicles and its standards and guidelines for information and communication technologies covered by section 508 and the Telecommunications Act. In addition to rulemaking, the Board provides technical assistance and training to the public on its guidelines and standards on a regular basis and funds research on accessible design.

"Often people ask which department the Board is part of, but in fact it is an independent federal agency with authority to report directly to the President and Congress," says Braitmayer. Its governing Board includes 13 members from the public appointed by the President to four-year terms. Over the years, almost 100 people have served on the Board as public members. Since the Board also coordinates policy government-wide relating to accessible design, 12 federal departments are represented on the Board as well.


US Access Board

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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