ADA in the News May 16, 2019

7th Circuit told 'extreme' obesity should be covered by ADA


A lawyer for a former Chicago bus driver who weighed nearly 600 pounds when he was fired told a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday that the federal law banning workplace disability discrimination should extend protections to “extremely obese” workers.

At oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Sherrie Voyles of Jacobs Burns Orlove & Hernandez pulled back somewhat from arguments she had made in briefs that the Americans with Disabilities Act should apply to anyone who can be diagnosed as obese.

Subway accessibility advocates sue MTA over station renovations


The suit charges the MTA with repeatedly violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Southwest Airlines Accused Of Disability Discrimination

Simple Flying

An American passenger has called out Southwest Airlines for alleged disability discrimination. Jon Morrow of Austin, Texas claims that Southwest is making it impossible for passengers like him to travel. Additionally, he alleges that this is in violation of the Air Carrier Access Act.

The Air Carrier Access Act bans commercial airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. In practice, this is widely known as allowing passengers to travel with service animals. Southwest even allow passengers to take miniature horses acting as service animals onboard aircraft. However, it also means that airlines are required to cater to disabilities such as Mr Morrow’s.

David Paterson wants websites to be more accessible

City & State

Former Gov. David Paterson has a new gig, and according to him, it’s one that has been a lifelong mission. Paterson, who is completely blind in his left eye and legally blind in his right eye, is now consulting for AudioEye, a company that offers tools to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities, including vision impairment, epilepsy and autism. New York, in particular, has seen a rise in the number of lawsuits claiming that companies with inaccessible websites are violating the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act. AudioEye is a platform to help websites cater their accessibility offerings to those with a range of disabilities, not just a single tool like a screen reader that can read text to those with vision impairments.

Is Your Business Website ADA-Compliant?


President H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which requires any place of public accommodation to provide access to those with physical handicaps. According to data gathered from 3.5 million households for the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2017, 12.7% of the population surveyed has some type of disability.

The World Wide Web went public on August 6, 1991, and courts are now deciding which websites are and aren’t "public accommodations" regarding the act. Whatever legislation may be forthcoming, the recent hyperbolic growth of website accessibility lawsuits is a strong indicator that careful consideration for adopting website accessibility standards for any business website is paramount.

What does website accessibility entail? Developers are accustomed to adjusting for different browsers, operating systems, keyboards, etc., to accommodate users that have different hardware in place. In order to comply with the ADA, accommodations for public businesses should address those who are sightless or vision-impaired, deaf or hearing-impaired, dyslexic or otherwise cognitively challenged, physically disabled, mobilized or have bandwidth and time limitations.

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), which has been acknowledged by the Department of Justice as an authority to determine what criteria is required for a website to reach ADA compliance, has created a set of guidelines. These state that web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust to comply with public accommodations.

Know the difference: service animal or emotional support animal?

The Beacon

Imagine arriving at work and discovering your coworker has brought a friend along who is sitting in your office and will not stop chatting, fiddling with things, or staring at you. You don’t want to be rude, but this person is interfering with your ability to concentrate and do your job, and he doesn’t have any business being there. His presence makes you agitated, but you do not have the luxury of just getting up and leaving. You have to work, after all.

This is the situation that service dogs are put in every time a person takes an emotional support animal (ESA) into public spaces. ESAs cause distractions and can interfere with the critical work a service animal is performing for a disabled person.

What’s the difference between the two? Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals. There are no provisions that allow cats, peacocks, snakes or any other kind of animal to act as a service animal, though these animals can be ESAs.

The crucial difference lies in what the animal is trained to do for its handler. A service animal is specifically trained to perform a function or task for a person with a disability, such as detecting blood sugar levels on a person’s breath, detecting the onset of a seizure and alerting the person or keeping them safe during the seizure, picking up items and reminding a person to take medications.

This training is lengthy and often very expensive, though the ADA allows people with disabilities to train an animal themselves.

Disturbing treatment of two disabled students results in $1.2 million judgment against school district

Rexburg Standard Journal

A federal judge has ordered a local school district to pay two disabled students and their families a combined $1.2 million for physical and emotional suffering after a jury found the district was liable for inflicting civil child abuse on the students and failing to provide them with appropriate services.

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