Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest edition of the Level Access Accessibility News Update, where we tell you what’s been going on in the realm of accessibility—both digital and a bit of physical, too.
First up, a new report details some of the issues faced by individuals with disabilities when trying to use ride-sharing services. Thankfully, that could be changing, thanks to a recent court decision.
- “A report by an advocacy group in New York says Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services are virtually ‘useless’ for people with disabilities because of the relative lack of vehicles equipped to handle wheelchairs and motorized scooters.”
Washington Post: Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps are ‘useless’ for disabled riders, NYC advocates say
- “In a ruling that advocates say could open Uber Technologies Inc. up to additional litigation over providing service to disabled people, a New York state court judge in Brooklyn found that the ride-sharing company’s arbitration clause was too ambiguous to move a disabled woman’s suit against the company into arbitration.”
The New York Law Journal: Brooklyn Judge Denies Uber’s Bid to Arbitrate Disabled Rider’s Case
There were a few big ADA cases that have made the headlines recently:
- “Robert Willich worked as a custodian at Sanderson Farms Inc. and sued the poultry processor when he was terminated after the injury. Willich, who was 49 years old and had a criminal history, told the court that, after applying for 90 jobs, the only work he could find was delivering pizzas at a fraction of the salary and benefits he received at Sanderson. Following a trial, a jury found for Willich on all of his claims.”
HR Dive: Court awards 5 years’ front pay to worker denied a disability accommodation and then fired
- “A disability rights attorney told a federal judge Thursday that a San Diego city code outlawing overnight parking of RVs discriminates against disabled people living in vehicles, in a city grappling with a homelessness crisis.”
Courthouse News: Disabled Homeless People Fight San Diego RV Laws
- “A federal class action has been allowed to proceed against the state Department of Human Services, brought by a group of mentally disabled Pennsylvania youths claiming they were left too long in treatment facilities and not given access to proper treatment.”
The Legal Intelligencer: Mentally Disabled Pennsylvanians Can Proceed With Class Action Over ‘Sad Reality’ of DHS Care
- “Troy Miles and Tanya Bland both worked at the Walmart on H Street in Northeast Washington. Miles was a department manager, while Bland was an overnight stocker. Both claimed Walmart held daily meetings that they couldn’t understand because of their hearing disability and they weren’t provided written notes.”
WJLA: Complaint alleges D.C. Walmart failed to accommodate deaf employees
There’s also been some action on the legislative and regulatory front, with disability activists fighting for the Disability Integration Act, the Department of Transportation taking public comment on revised rules for support animals, and the city of Fresno, California offering help to businesses so they can avoid accessibility lawsuits.
- “Members of ADAPT, a national grassroots group of disability rights activists, descended upon Washington, D.C., to garner support for the Disability Integration Act (DIA). If passed, the DIA would ensure that people with disabilities have a right to live in their communities and receive the appropriate services that enable them to do so.”
Rewire: Disability Activists Fight for the Right to Live in Their Communities
- “Following actions from three major U.S. air carriers (Delta, United, and American), the DOT has announced a review of the Air Carrier Access Act, the law that allows emotional support animals to fly so freely. The agency is soliciting public comment, and indications are that it may rewrite the law to crack down on fake service dogs.”
Outside Online: You May Never Fly with Your Fake Service Dog Again
- “The City of Fresno has launched a new program to help small businesses be more accessible to disabled customers.”
Your Central Valley: City of Fresno to Help Small Businesses Avoid ADA Lawsuits
It’s not all bad news, though!
- “Video games are a tough hobby to get into. In addition to being brutally expensive and impossibly time consuming, they’re also inherently inaccessible to a lot of people, as the physical demands of modern games and controllers are often too much for players with limited mobility. It’s an issue that’s become more visible in the last decade, as non-profit organizations like AbleGamers were established to help provide custom controllers to people with disabilities and console manufacturers started developing accessibility options like the ability to remap all the buttons on a controller.”
The AV Club: Microsoft to introduce new, disability-friendly Xbox controller
- “An organization that’s on a mission to use technology to improve that culture is launching a new website for people with different abilities. Menus4ALL uses free smartphone technology to serve those who are visually impaired.
‘We make it so people who use what is called screen readers, where their phones can talk to them. We code it so that they can hear the menus,’ Helen Fernety, CEO of Menus4ALL, said.”
WBRC: Memphis organization makes reading food menus easier for the visually impaired
- “‘Awkward Moments,’ created by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and featuring the voice and cartoon likeness of Chicago White Sox announcer Jason Benetti, uses humor to turn potentially cringe-worthy moments into opportunities for connection. The animated shorts point out everyday misunderstandings people with disabilities face and show how they can be transformed.
The Mighty: Sportscaster Jason Benetti Faces the ‘Awkward Moments’ Surrounding Disability in New Animated Series
- “A group of advocates and historians is working to document, preserve and share the history of people with disabilities and their activism in Western Pennsylvania.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Group aims to preserve and share Western Pa. disability history
But, sadly, it’s mostly bad news:
- “I interviewed over 25 people living with various disabilities about their movie theater experiences. Nearly all of them had argued with their local movie theaters about lack of access for the disabled and the lackluster response they received from employees about their complaints.”
IGN: How Movie Theaters Are Failing Viewers with Disabilities
- “A deaf, pregnant woman and her service dog were punched by a 59-year-old man Friday as a Frontier jet landed in Orlando.”
The Blaze: Frontier Airlines passenger punches deaf, pregnant woman and her service dog aboard plane
- “Everett resident and respected Native rights activist Anna Haala arrived at the Chinook Nation’s May 8 hearing in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington wearing a striking red and white traditional garment trimmed with intricate beadwork and shell button designs. She also carried with her a handmade red wooden walking stick that caused a stir when she tried to go through the courthouse’s security checkpoint. U.S. Marshals who are contracted to do court security told Haala that even though she needs her stick to walk, she couldn’t bring it into the courtroom because it could be used as a weapon.”
Chinook Observer: U.S. Marshals won’t allow woman’s cane
- “Comprising a significant 10 percent to 15 percent of the global population, people with disabilities are uniquely affected by climate change. This population includes a wide array of mobility, sensory (visual, hearing), developmental, intellectual and emotional impairments, as well as chronic health conditions.”
Environmental Health News: Disability and climate change—impact on health and survival
- “When Metro’s new 7000 Series trains pull into a station, the space between cars can appear to be the same as an open door to visually-impaired riders. On Friday morning, a woman who witnesses said appeared to be blind fell between two cars of a new train at the Van Ness station.”
WTOP: Friday’s incident suggests Metro cars could still pose risk to visually impaired
Have you seen any good news lately? Especially good news? We feel like this particular update could use some more good cheer! Drop your links in the comments!