Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ninth Circuit Issues Important Attorneys' Fees Decision

In an opinion filed on Friday in the case of Hubbard v. SoBreck, LLC, the Ninth Circuit resolved a very significant attorneys' fees question. The plaintiffs had filed suit under the ADA and the California Disabled Persons Act to challenge various barriers to accesibility at the defendants' restaurant. The parties settled many of the plaintiffs' claims before trial, and the plaintiffs voluntarily abandoned others, so the trial focused on only a few of plaintiffs' claims of inaccesibility. The district court, after a bench trial, ruled for the defendant on those claims. The defendants then moved for attorneys' fees under the ADA and the CDPA. The district court ruled that the defendants could not recover under the ADA -- which authorizes an award of fees to prevailing defendants only in cases where the plaintiff's claim was frivolous -- but could recover under the CDPA -- which the district court interpreted as authorizing an award of fees to any prevailing defendant.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit did not address whether the district court's interpretation of the state-law attorneys' fees provision was correct. The court of appeals instead held that, "to the extent that Section 55 does authorize the award of fees to a prevailing defendant on nonfrivolous CDPA state claims that parallel nonfrivolous ADA claims, the ADA preempts Section 55 of the CDPA." This is likely to be a very significant ruling, because it takes away a tool that businesses can use to deter nonfrivolous ADA acessibility suits.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gatlin Loses in 11th Circuit; Won't Run in Trials

See this story, which I picked up from Bashman. When I get a copy of the Eleventh Circuit's order, I'll post it.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Russia Looks for Ways to End Isolation, Invisibility of Disabled

See this interesting article by that title in the Washington Post. It begins:

Vera Samykina is an A student in all subjects who just completed ninth grade, a significant marker in Russian education when some students bow out to pursue a trade or a technical education. But Samykina, 17, is determined to finish high school in two years and then pursue a university degree in English.

She has never been inside a regular classroom, however. Most of her education occurs in her cramped Moscow apartment. Samykina has cerebral palsy, and until she was 15, tutors came to her house three times a week for a couple of hours to instruct her in her various subjects. For the past two years, she has been taught over the Internet by specialists in each subject.

"There is no other way," Samykina said. "I would like to get out more often, but it's very difficult."

People with disabilities are literally almost invisible in Russia, isolated in homes, special schools and sheltered workshops. It is a rare event to see a person in a wheelchair or a blind person or someone with an intellectual disability such as Down syndrome out and about on the streets of a Russian city.

Halfhearted attempts to encourage the employment of the disabled by setting quotas for businesses have faltered. Most employers preferred to pay the low fines for failing to meet quotas rather than actually hire disabled people, according to advocates for people with disabilities.


House Overwhelmingly Passes ADA Amendments Act

While I was driving my kids from St. Louis to Chicago today, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Amendments Act by a vote of 402-17. From Robert Pear's typically great article in the NY Times:

The bill, approved 402 to 17, would make it easier for workers to prove discrimination. It would explicitly relax some stringent standards set by the court and says that disability is to be “construed broadly,” to cover more physical and mental impairments.

Supporters of the proposal said it would restore the broad protections that Congress meant to establish when it passed the Americans With Disabilities Act that President George Bush signed in 1990.

Lawmakers said Wednesday that people with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and other ailments had been improperly denied protection because their conditions could be controlled by medication or were in remission. In a Texas case, for example, a federal judge said a worker with epilepsy could not be considered disabled because he was taking medications that reduced the frequency of seizures.

In deciding whether a person is disabled, the bill says, courts should generally not consider the effects of “mitigating measures” like prescription drugs, hearing aids and artificial limbs. Moreover, it adds, “an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”

I know there's disappoinment in some quarters about this bill. But, while this bill doesn't do everything I would want it to do, it will go at least 80% of the way toward undoing the damage caused by restrictive Supreme Court and appellate court decisions. It will make a huge difference for a lot of people.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Depressing ADA Title II Case From Ninth Circuit

Last week, though I just saw it today, the Ninth Circuit issued this unpublished memorandum opinion in a case called Suarez v. Superior Court. The case involved a deaf arrestee who did not receive an interpreter, and thus could not be arraigned, until he had spent more than a week in jail. The panel unanimously held that the bureaucratic screwups that kept the plaintiff from receiving an interpreter did not constitute the kind of "deliberate indifference" that the Ninth Circuit has held to be necessary for a damages recovery under Title II of the ADA. But, in a highly unusual step, all three judges on the panel filed this separate concurrence, which I reprint in full:

Suarez v. Superior Court of the State of California, No. 07-55234
FISHER, Circuit Judge, concurring, joined by Judges TROTT and THOMAS:

I agree that Suarez has not shown the Superior Court was deliberately indifferent in failing to inquire about the same-day availability of an American Sign Language (“ASL”) translator. I am, however, unsettled by the absence of effective communication and coordination between the Superior Court and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department regarding Suarez’s disability and his obvious need for a translator at his arraignment. Had Suarez been able to communicate through a translator the first time he appeared before the Superior Court, this innocent man would not have had to spend the following seven nights in jail.

Suarez was mistakenly arrested on August 8, 2005, on a warrant that had been issued for another person. The Sheriff’s Department first brought him from the Twin Towers Correctional Facility to the Metropolitan Courthouse a little before noon on Tuesday, August 9, and placed him in a holding cell in the basement. After about an hour and a half, a police officer who works for the Sheriff’s Department apparently realized that Suarez was deaf and taped a sign reading “DEAF” to the front of his shirt. No other action was taken to alert the court to Suarez’s disability. The taped sign proved to be wholly ineffective in alerting the Superior Court staff that Suarez would need accommodation at his arraignment. The court clerk testified that when Suarez was brought from the basement cell to the holding area of the courtroom, she did not see the sign on his shirt because she does not turn to look at the criminal defendants behind her. Thus no one on the court staff realized that Suarez was in need of accommodation until it was too late in the afternoon to obtain a translator for him before it ceased business for the day. Instead, a translator was ordered for 8:30 a.m. the following day. The predictable result was that Suarez was returned to spend another night at Twin Towers.

For the remainder of the week, Suarez was for some reason put on medical holds at Twin Towers, thus negating the court’s scheduled arrangements for a translator. He was then held through the weekend while he waited for the court to reopen on Monday, August 15. Late on Monday morning, Suarez was finally brought to the Superior Court, but the Sheriff’s Department did not inform the court in advance so that it could make the necessary arrangements for a translator. Instead, he simply arrived with the “DEAF” sign taped to his shirt. Once again, the court staff did not become aware of his presence in the holding tank until it was too late in the afternoon for the clerk feasibly to procure a same-day ASL translator. (Notably, the court clerk present that day testified that she also does not turn to look at the defendants in the holding tank – evidencing a common practice.) A translator was scheduled for the next day, relegating Suarez to spending yet another night in Twin Towers – his eighth since his arrest.

Suarez’s week-long saga came to an end when he was finally arraigned with an ASL translator present on Tuesday, August 16, at which point the court discovered that the police had arrested the wrong man and ordered Suarez released forthwith. At the time of Suarez’s arrest and arraignment, the Superior Court had 19 pre-booked and unbooked ASL translators who could be summoned to court without advance notice. I appreciate the difficulties of coordinating more than 400 translators for the court’s 52 locations around the County, but I encourage the Superior Court and the Sheriff’s Department to review their channels of communication and devise more effective ways of timely alerting the Court to a defendant’s obvious need for accommodation. Throughout this litigation, the Superior Court has insisted that it could not have obtained a translator for Suarez because it did not know he was coming to court and did not know that he was deaf. Although “bureaucratic slippage that constitutes negligence rather than deliberate action” is not actionable under the Americans with Disability Act or the Rehabilitation Act, see Duvall v. County of Kitsap, 260 F.3d 1124, 1139 (9th Cir. 2001), this does not mean that a systemic problem of the kind this record reflects can be ignored. Given the interest of the Superior Court and the Sheriff’s Department in the fair administration of justice, I hope they will take the opportunity to review their procedures and take appropriate corrective action.

Gosh, seems a lot more like deliberate indifference than bureaucratic slippage to me.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Judge: Gaitlin Should be Allowed to Run at Olympic Trials

See this article by that title. An excerpt:

A Florida federal judge says barred sprinter Justin Gatlin should be allowed to compete at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier's temporary restraining order is only in effect for 10 days, and the trials don't begin until June 27 in Eugene, Ore.

* * *

Gatlin's complaint alleged that penalizing him for a 2001 doping violation, which involved medication he was taking for attention deficit disorder, violates the Americans with Disabilit[ies] Act.

Two weeks ago, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a four-year doping ban against the reigning Olympic 100-meter gold medalist. Gatlin asked CAS to rescind the 2001 doping violation -- his first of two -- which he had hoped would reduce his
penalty to a two-year ban, allowing him to compete at trials.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Joseph Shapiro on ADA Amendments Act

For those of you who missed it (I did), here's the piece Joe Shapiro did on Morning Edition today on the ADA Amendments Act. The text begins:

Washington is expected to see a highly unusual outbreak of cooperation Wednesday, as two longtime opponents agree on a law that would extend civil rights protection to millions of Americans.

Two groups that have been at odds — people with disabilities and American businesses — have put aside their differences to design a bill that now seems on an improbable fast track through Congress.


SHRM Press Release on ADA Amendments Act

A press release on Ed. & Labor's passage of the ADA Amendments Act from the Society for Human Resource Management -- one of the large management-side organizations that lobbies on employment law issues -- is here. An excerpt:

"Although we agree that the law needs revision, recent legislative proposals for that purpose actually threaten to water down and weaken a bill that has transformed our nation.

"Under those prior proposals, ADA protection would have been expanded to employees with temporary impairments. That would have simply diluted the resources available to employees with disabilities who truly need and deserve accommodations.

"In contrast, the legislation that passed the House committees today is supported by both the employer and disability communities. It focuses protection on those who need it most. It corrects the damage done by court interpretations over the past decade that have weakened ADA coverage for people with diabetes, epilepsy, serious
heart conditions, mental disabilities, and even cancer.

"Both the employer and disability communities have been able to unite behind this bill for a reason -- it is an effective remedy that is perfect for no one, but fair for everyone. It will put more Americans to work, and protect the people most deserving of that accommodation."

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House Ed. & Labor Committee Passes ADA Amendments Act

At a markup today, the House Education & Labor Committee passed (by a 43-1 vote!) the ADA Amendments Act, which is a revised version of the earlier ADA Restoration Act proposal. See this press release, which contains details about the bill and a list of its very impressive array of supporters from both the disability and business communities.

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Ninth Circuit: Comparative Evidence Unnecessary to Show ADA Disability

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit issued this opinion in Gribben v. United Parcel Service. The plaintiff was a UPS driver, who sued after the company denied him accommodation for his heart condition and then terminated him. The district court granted summary judgment to the company on Gribben's ADA claim, on the ground that Gribben had failed to present evidence of how his limitations compared to the average person. The Ninth Circuit reversed, in an opinion by Judge Thompson. The Ninth Circuit held that "Gribben’s testimony alone regarding the significance of his impairment is sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact at the summary judgment stage." Accordingly, "Gribben was not required to submit the comparative evidence the district court required."

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Proposed ADA Regs in the Crossfire

From the Right, here's someone who doesn't know what he's talking about at

The Bush Administration has discovered what liberals have known all along: the Constitution is a mighty comprehensive document, giving the federal government powers over the minutest aspects of our lives.

Case in point: apparently Bush & Co. have discovered that there is a right to miniature golf defined in the U.S. Constitution.

That’s the upshot of a new set of rules updating the Americans with Disabilities Act being released for public comment this Tuesday. Other new rights include easier access to light switches in hotel rooms by moving them 6 inches lower, wheelchair lifts in courtrooms to provide easier access to the witness box, and wheelchair lifts to provide easier access to stages in auditoriums. And the miniature golf courses? Soon at least half the holes will have to be easily wheelchair accessible.

It is, of course, utterly ridiculous that such things are matters of federal regulation.
Unfortunately, it is not innocuous.

From the Left, here's Steve Gold's post, entitled "Good-Bye Full Accessibility":

On June 17, 2008, the Department of Justice issued proposed rules to the ADA's federal regulations which, if adopted, will significantly undercut the original 1990 compromises and will impose numerous regressive restrictions. Many of the proposed rules will ensure that full accessibility will be, at best, postponed indefinitely.

Read the whole thing!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chronicle of Higher Ed on Proposed ADA Regs

See this article, which begins:

As Congress considers a bill that would bolster the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Justice Department has proposed new regulations that would limit the accommodations universities and other entities must provide under the existing law.

The lengthy new regulations, which detail requirements for handicapped-accessible seating and qualifications for service animals, among other issues, are scheduled to be published today in the Federal Register.

The balance of the article discusses two significant changes that the regs would effect: (1) a reduction in the number of accessible seats that are required in assembly areas; and (2) limitations on the species of service animals (and an express refusal to cover emotional support animals).

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Wall Steet Journal on ADARA and Proposed ADA Regs

See this very good article (subscription required). Some excerpts:

The U.S. is moving on two fronts this week to expand businesses' obligations to accommodate disabled people, in a legislative and regulatory push that risks a backlash from millions of businesses worried about costs.

On Wednesday, two House committees will finish crafting a bill that broadens the population entitled to employment rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, reversing Supreme Court decisions narrowing it. The bill could come to a vote before the July 4 recess, if lawmakers reach agreement. Also this week, the Bush administration will begin seeking public comment on 1,000 pages of proposed rules -- covering issues from hotel-room doors to theater seating -- clarifying existing regulations on physical access for disabled people.

* * *

"It's not unrealistic to think that businesses concerned about economic conditions in the country would see what they consider more burdens on them as not welcome," said Curtis Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, a federally funded legal-advocacy group for people with disabilities, which has worked with businesses on the House bill. "We hope we have a bill they can live with and support."

Lobbyists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business group, were more blunt. "We couldn't beat this bill so there was a need for a compromise and there was some sense that the court had interpreted the [law] too restrictively," said Randel Johnson, a vice president at the chamber.

The Chamber and big employers have been working with advocates for disabled people on the legislation, even as they differ on regulatory issues. In February, the two sides began crafting compromise language that would overturn what they agreed were restrictive Supreme Court rulings but not expand too broadly the definition of who is disabled, said Andrew Imparato, president and chief executive of the American Association of People with Disabilities, an advocacy group with more than
100,000 members.

* * *

In the House bill, the Chamber advocated for compromise language making people whose disability "materially restricts" life activities eligible for protection -- language weaker than Democrats had originally envisioned.

Neither business groups nor advocates for disabled people would delve too deeply into the specifics of the regulations, which are to be released Tuesday. More than 1,000 pages long, the rules are highly detailed, with drawings and figures specifying requirements for facilities from amusement parks to nursing homes.


Washington Post on Disability Savings Accounts

Last Friday, the Post had this editorial supporting legislation that would create tax-free disability savings accounts. Here's Senator Dodd's bill. Here's the bill introduced by Senators Casey and Hatch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Slate's Explainer on Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed New ADA Regs

See this piece, which begins:

The Department of Justice is set to propose new rules on Tuesday that would make it easier for people with disabilities to move around public places like office buildings, swimming pools, and miniature-golf courses. According to a government estimate, the changes would cost $23 billion but provide $54 billion in public benefits. How do you calculate the benefits of getting around a miniature golf course?


Commentary on Proposed ADA Regulations

See this post.

NYT on Proposed New ADA Regulations

Robert Pear has a very good story here. It begins:

The Bush administration is about to propose far-reaching new rules that would give people with disabilities greater access to tens of thousands of courtrooms, swimming pools, golf courses, stadiums, theaters, hotels and retail stores.

A proposal would rewrite standards for enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act, passed with strong bipartisan support in 1990. President George Bush signed the act that year.

The proposal would substantially update and rewrite federal standards for enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights law passed with strong bipartisan support in 1990. The new rules would set more stringent requirements in many areas and address some issues for the first time, in an effort to meet the needs of an aging population and growing numbers of disabled war veterans.

More than seven million businesses and all state and local government agencies would be affected. The proposal includes some exemptions for parts of existing buildings, but any new construction or renovations would have to comply.
The new standards would affect everything from the location of light switches to the height of retail service counters, to the use of monkeys as “service animals” for people with disabilities, which would be forbidden.

The White House approved the proposal in May after a five-month review. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, with 60 days for public comment. After considering those comments, the government would issue final rules with the force of law.

Already, the proposal is stirring concern. The United States Chamber of Commerce Says it would be onerous and costly, while advocates for disabled Americans say it does not go far enough.

You can find the proposed regulations here.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

AP on Prosthetics Coverage

Via the Disability Grapevine, I see this article in the Associated Press, which begins:

After bone cancer forced the amputation of her right leg below the knee, Eileen Casey got even more bad news: Her insurer told her that she had spent her $10,000 lifetime coverage limit on her temporary limb and that the company wouldn't pay for a permanent one.

"It was shocking to find out I was going to have to take out a loan to buy myself a leg so I could keep working and living independently," Casey said. At the bank, she said, she burst into tears when they asked what the loan was for.

Since then, Casey has joined a nationwide fight by amputees and the prosthetics industry to get the states and Congress to require fuller coverage for artificial limbs. The insurance industry is fighting the effort, saying such mandates drive up costs and reduce the flexibility customers want.


Voting Accessibility Problems in Ireland

See this dispatch, which begins:

Voters with disabilities have complained about lack of access to a number of polling centres in today’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

It was claimed that about 30 voters could not vote at a polling station in south Dublin, because it did not have a wheelchair ramp available.

Fine Gael councillor Mary Mitchell O' Connor said it was “disgraceful” that voters with disabilities had been turned away from the polling station at Knox Hall, Monkstown.

"Many of the residents from Cheshire Homes were very upset when they could not vote. They did not see an advertisement which was placed in papers alerting them to the fact that Knox Hall was not wheelchair accessible.

“In fact I did not see this advertisement myself,” Ms Mitchell O’Connor said. Returning officer, County Sheriff John Fitzpatrick, later arranged for the Cheshire Home residents to vote elsewhere.

“Knox Hall or any other hall should not be used unless suitable ramps are provided for voters with disabled,” Ms Mitchell O'Connor said.

“The Government spent €50 million on electronic voting yet they are not able to provide simple ramps at polling stations Surely all voting stations should have wheelchair ramps.

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Baltimore Special-Ed Oversight Head Retires

See this interesting article in the Baltimore Sun. It begins:

Three years ago, amid great fanfare, a federal judge ordered a team of state managers to oversee special education in the Baltimore schools, a move that many viewed as a partial state takeover without the controversial title.

Today, the head of that management team, Harry Fogle, is retiring and, as the state scales back on its intervention, he is not being replaced.

The three parties in a quarter-century-old lawsuit agree that services to students with disabilities have improved since 2005, when the state and the city were openly sparring for control of Baltimore's schools amid a gubernatorial campaign.

But deep-seated problems in the city's special-education program remain, and the
system has a long way to go before it is freed from a quarter-century-old lawsuit. And, as state education officials reduce the number of managers in the city - there will be four full time next academic year, down from eight - they worry that the rapid pace of change under schools chief Andres Alonso might result in new problems with special education.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Interesting Post on Harriet Johnson

Here, on the Talking Philosophy Blog.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Areheart on the "Goldilocks Dilemma"

Just out on Westlaw: Bradley A. Areheart, When Disability isn't "Just Right": The Entrenchment of the Medical Model of Disability and the Goldilocks Dilemma, 83 Ind. L.J. 181 (2008). You can find an earlier version of this really good article here.

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Dannin on Privatization and People with Disabilities

Up on SSRN: Ellen Dannin, Counting What Matters: Privatization, People with Disabilities, and the Cost of Low-Wage Work, 92 Minn. L. Rev. 1348 (2008). The abstract:

Privatization is justified on a cost-benefit analysis, that is, as providing better services at lower cost. The value of that assessment depends on including all costs and benefits. However, most assessments appear to be primarily limited to a comparison of wages and benefits. As a result, it appears that many important costs may not be included in assessing privatization.

This article attempts to improve our assessment of privatization by using a small privatization event to identify types of costs not normally considered. The event was the privatization of Internal Revenue Service mailrooms in the period April 2003 to the present. Among the items included in the assessment were costs of the process of privatization, the taxpayer costs from dislocating the job incumbents, and taxpayer subsidies provided to the private non-profit contractor that gave it a market advantage compared with for-profit employers.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New York Magazine on the Autism Rights Movement

See this long, interesting article. An excerpt:

The first person to articulate the autism-rights position, Jim Sinclair, has produced only a few page-long essays. In his seminal invective, “Don’t Mourn for Us,” from 1993, he wrote, “It is not possible to separate the autism from the person. Therefore, when parents say, ‘I wish my child did not have autism,’ what they’re really saying is, ‘I wish the autistic child I have did not exist and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead.’ Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.”

The term neurodiversity was put forward by Judy Singer, an Australian whose mother and daughter have Asperger’s and who is on the spectrum herself, and was first published by the American writer Harvey Blume. “I was interested in the
liberatory, activist aspects of it—to do for neurologically different people what feminism and gay rights had done for their constituencies,” Singer said. Singer, Blume, and Sinclair, voices in the wilderness in the nineties, are now part of a thriving culture: There are Websites and T-shirts, and slang like NT, or “neurotypical” (a playful slur for the non-autistic), Aspies, and auties. The neurodiverse present regularly at autism conferences. Some of the first wave of activists are parents of autistic children, but more recently, autistic adults have been advocating on their own behalf. The Internet has made the climate even more hospitable to an autism-rights position, allowing activists to locate one another and communicate at their own pace. The Web, Singer said, “is a prosthetic device for people who can’t socialize without it.”

These activists argue that autism is not an illness but an alternative way of being. The preferred terminology among disability activists is to speak of a “person with
deafness” rather than a “deaf person,” or a “person with dwarfism” rather than a dwarf. But Sinclair has said that “person-first” terminology denies the centrality of autism and has compared “person with autism” to describing a man as a “person with maleness.”

Harriet McBryde Johnson

I just heard that the legendary writer and disability rights lawyer Harriet McBryde Johnson passed away last night. What a loss. In her memory, I'd suggest rereading her terrific NY Times Magazine article from five years ago about her debate with Peter Singer. My thoughts go out to everyone she touched.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Miller & Thornburgh: Sign UN Disability Convention!

Paul Miller and Dick Thornburgh offer these wise comments:

A treaty that took effect in May could benefit one quarter of humanity: the 650 million people, as well as their families, who live with disabilities. The U.N. International Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities is also the first international treaty that guarantees the rights of such people to equality and self-determination.

People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, yet the United Nations reports that only 45 countries have disability rights laws.

The U.S. hasn't signed the treaty, either, but it should.

The U.S. pioneered rights for people with disabilities when Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws in 1990. As former political officials of two different presidential administrations, one Republican and one Democratic, we strongly believe that the U.S. should ratify this treaty. We believe that it is consistent with American law. It incorporates many of the principles in U.S. law, such as full inclusion and the right to reasonable accommodation. Disability rights are and should always be a non-partisan issue.

In far too many nations, people with disabilities lack rights to vote, work, marry, own property, sign contracts or retain custody of their children. Ninety percent of children with disabilities in less developed nations receive no education. In every nation, people with disabilities are the poorest of the poor. The U.S. is no different: 70 percent of people with disabilities who want to work remain unemployed, despite the fact that such people demonstrate better retention rates than workers without

The treaty will change these statistics. Since the U.N. opened the treaty for signatures just over a year ago, 24 nations have ratified it. An additional 103 nations have signed the treaty, signaling intent to ratify it soon, and commitment to refrain from contradicting its purpose and object.

The treaty enshrines important principles that Americans hold dear: non-discrimination, equal protection under the law and the right to autonomy and independent living in integrated, community settings.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Chronicle of Higher Ed.: Some Colleges Don't Like ADA Restoration Act

See this article, which begins:

Although it has been stalled in Congress for several months, legislation that would broaden coverage under the Americans With Disabilities Act has recently been on the radar of some college officials and the associations that represent them.

Their concern: that expanding the definition of a disability could overwhelm offices that work to accommodate such students on university campuses.

Several higher-education associations have met recently about the bill, both with one another and with key Congressional staff members. Though the bill faces opposition from the Bush administration, its key sponsor hopes to get a modified form to the floor by this summer.

Most universities voluntarily go beyond the letter of the law in accommodating students on their campuses. But broadening the definition of a disability could add even more demand for campus offices that already work with hundreds, if not thousands, of students.

I don't editorialize much, but one paragraph in this story jumped out at me:

"This would be an unfunded mandate," said Bea Awoniyi, assistant dean of
students and director of the Student Disability Resource Center at Florida State
University. She added that money for her office comes from state appropriations,
which would not necessarily increase even if the office must accommodate more

That's pretty rich. Universities are the most "funded" entities around. They don't pay any taxes on all of the tuition they take in, and they get substantial grants and other subsidies from the government. If the central administration at Florida State doesn't want to allocate sufficient funds to staff the disability services office, that's not something you can blame on the federal government or the ADARA.