the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Housing & Transportation

Opportunity to Comment: FAA Draft Advisory Circular on Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announces the availability of draft Advisory Circular, (AC) 150/5360-14A, Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities, for public review. This AC will provide guidance and recommendations for ensuring access to airports by individuals with disabilities. The draft AC substantially revises and incorporates regulatory updates and recommendations for Service Animal Relief Areas (SARA) at airports. The draft AC was rewritten to improve readability, and to simplify and clarify the regulations for airport operators regarding airport access by individuals with disabilities. Additionally, the FAA is interested in public input regarding the use of wayfinding technologies and other technology innovations at airports.

Comments must be received on or before June 6, 2016. The FAA will also consider comments received after that date to the extent practicable.  [Read more…]

Claims for Compensation Under Historic Settlement Between DOJ and Greyhound May Now Be Filed

Source: Department of Justice

A claims process is now available to compensate people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound. The claims process is part of a consent decree that resolves nationwide Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination claims brought by the Justice Department. Greyhound Lines, Inc. has hired a Claims Administrator to distribute an uncapped amount of compensation to people who experienced disability discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound.

Individuals eligible for compensation must:

  • have a disability;
  • have traveled or attempted to travel on Greyhound between February 8, 2013, and February 8, 2016;
  • experienced a disability-related incident during the travel or attempted travel (for example, lack of accessible transportation or transportation-related services, Greyhound’s failure to make disability-related accommodations, etc.); and
  • submit a Claim Form by mail, email, or online, to the Claims Administrator by no later than November 10, 2016.

[Read more…]

NCIL Responds to National Apartment Association Concerns over ADA ‘Notification’

NCIL is stunned by a recent misleading press release from the National Apartment Association (NAA). The NAA talks about their efforts to promote housing and jobs. Yet one of their lobbying points has nothing to do with providing housing and jobs – in fact, it would eliminate housing options for many Americans.

The NAA stated that during their Lobby Day on March 9, they identified to legislators the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act as barriers to their industry’s efforts to provide housing and jobs. They asked legislators to “support legislation that provides a business owner with the opportunity to cure an alleged ADA deficiency prior to the initiation of a lawsuit.”

This is a rather stunning position to take, considering that the Americans with Disabilities Act largely does not impact housing, other than leasing offices and other places of public accommodations. There, the requirements are relatively simple.

People with disabilities often have accessibility needs that only multi-family units meeting the design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act can meet. That is why people with disabilities have been very supportive of efforts of the apartment industry to build more multi-family housing. We know, and the National Apartment Association surely does, too, that the biggest barriers to housing construction isn’t the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the attitudes in many communities leading to NIMBYism – the “Not In My Back Yard” mindset. Yet this is curiously absent from the NAA’s policy priorities.

Instead, the NAA begs for relief from a law that has little to do with housing. They support a bill that, in its current form, would actually criminalize the process of making a complaint if not done exactly right. Clearly they have hopes of expanding this bill to include Fair Housing.

Why? The Americans with Disabilities Act is over 25 years old. The Fair Housing Act as amended to include disability is 28 years old. We know from history that those two are hardly barriers to economic activities such as housing construction. Why, then, would the NAA support an ADA notification bill, with obvious hopes of expanding it to include Fair Housing accessibility complaints?

Clearly, then, the NAA seeks to shield its members who are not in compliance by weakening the law. But to do so would deny one in five Americans’ right to equal access to housing and businesses. This effort is a slap in the face to people with disabilities who have supported the apartment industry, who are some of the apartment industry’s best tenants, and who have every right to expect that, more than two and a half decades after the passage of accessibility and anti-disability discrimination laws, there will be equal access.

NAA has affiliates all across the country. Please contact the local affiliate (politely!) and:

  1. Tell them that you are disappointed by NAA’s support of taking rights away from people with disabilities through the ADA notification bill, and ask if they support criminalizing people trying to stand up for their rights to equal access.
  2. Ask them to contact the NAA to say that they do not support this legislative priority.
  3. Want to go the Extra Mile? Many affiliates list their members. If the affiliate is resistant, contact the members and ask them question #1. Ask them to let the affiliate know that they do not support this.

It is possible that the person you speak to is not aware of what NAA is doing. Be prepared to summarize or to send a copy of this.

Action Alert: Contact Your Members of Congress Regarding FAA Reauthorization!

Air Travel Issues: Air travel for individuals with disabilities has long been an issue of frustration for many. Despite Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), the Air Career Access Act of 1986 (as amended in 2009) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (as amended by the 2008 ADA Amendments Act), and stronger enforcement by recent Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) leadership, issues persist. It’s to the point where many in our community refuse to consider air travel, particularly persons using Durable Medical Equipment (DME) such as power wheelchairs, scooters, and Assistive Technology (AT).

Examples:

  • Refusal to permit support service animals to accompany passengers with disabilities or improper treatment of service animals
  • Inappropriate handling of DME and AT, to the degree that expensive repairs and replacement of DME or AT occurred. There are instances of it being sent to wrong locations, stranding individuals in airports for extended time periods.
  • Lack of disability etiquette or cultural competency with airport and airline and other support personnel (including security, TSAs, etc.). People with disabilities want to be treated in a manner consistent with non-disabled passengers. At times, some additional assistance may be needed, but it should be done a respectful manner.
  • Inaccessible airports. These continue to decline, but there are some sections where it’s not fully accessible or the accessible options are blocked due to renovations without a secondary option.
  • Poor treatment of individuals who have types of surgeries with metal implants. We understand the need for heightened security since 9/11. Nevertheless, heightened security should never be an excuse for mistreatment of passengers under any circumstances. This has probably occurred as much with seniors as well as those under age 60.

FAA Reauthorization (Due March 31, 2016)

After the current short term 6 month extension approved in September 2015, Congress must pass another FAA Reauthorization by March 31, 2015. There are two bills that have moved in the House and the Senate has another one. None of the current bills moving have addressed disability concerns stated in the previous paragraph. The current bills being considered are H.R. 4441 (6 years), H.R. 4721 (1 year), and S. 2644 (2 years). It’s possible that these bills will be conferenced (meaning brought together) to come up with a final product to address concerns of the Congress and the President in the next 2 weeks.

Take Action

Contact your members of Congress – both US House and Senate – to let them know that you want them to address disability concerns in the final version of the FAA Reauthorization. You can leave a short message, asking them address disability concerns (section 508) in the final version. Feel free to send an e-mail noting some the concerns stated in this article or your short version of own air travel story, noting why our concerns need to addressed.

AirAccess360: Website for Air Travel Stories

NCIL has endorsed www.AirAccess30.org. Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) launched the site in January to collect stories from the disability community about their air travel experiences.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). NCIL is working with PVA and the broader disability community to bring attention to the successes and failures in air travel for passengers with disabilities.

We need all people with disabilities to actively engage with us in this effort. Please share the www.AirAccess30.org website and encourage everyone to share their stories. We will be using these stories to increase advocacy around the ACAA and improve air travel for passengers with disabilities.

Help NCIL’s Housing Subcommittee Introduce the Topic of Accessible, Affordable Housing Into Electoral Races!

By NCIL Housing Subcommittee

equal housing opportunity symbolAt a recent meeting of the NCIL Housing Subcommittee, we were discussing the lack of coverage of housing issues in the electoral races at all levels. We felt that access to affordable, accessible, healthy / nontoxic, decent, safe and integrated housing is such an important issue for not just people with disabilities, but for almost everyone.

As campaign races heat up at all levels around the country, we want YOU to contact your legislators, to attend debates, public meetings, and forums, and ask them this important question:

What is your plan to address the need for affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities, seniors, and low income families?

The more people that we ask this question, the more this will become an issue in races. So go ahead, and ask away! For federal races (House, Senate, and President), please e-mail any response you get to NCIL Housing Subcommittee Chair Brian Peters at bpeters@independencefirst.org.

Letter Requesting Strong THUD 302b Allocation: Add Your Organization As A Signatory by February 19!

Groups concerned about transportation, housing, community development, and homelessness are once again working together to urge Congress to provide the highest possible funding level for the one appropriations subcommittee that funds all of these program areas, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee. Congress will soon decide how to divide its available spending for the next fiscal year, FY2017, among the 12 appropriations subcommittees. These subcommittee allocations are referred to as the “302b allocations.”

Please sign your organization on today! Together, we hope to urge Congress to provide the highest possible amount for the THUD Subcommittee.

Please share this sign-on letter with your networks! The deadline to be included on the letter sent to Congress is the close of business February 19, 2016.

AirAccess30.org Offers People with Disabilities Forum to Share Air Travel Experiences

Source: PVA

Individuals with disabilities now have a platform for sharing their stories, photos, videos and graphics about their air travel experiences.

AirAccess30.org, launched in January 2016 by Paralyzed Veterans of America, enables passengers with disabilities who utilize air travel to share positive and negative stories about their experiences.

The new website, launched in advance of the 30th anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), seeks the help of passengers with disabilities in showing the progress that has been made as well as the work that remains to accomplish the true spirit of the ACAA.

“It’s not just people who use wheelchairs who have problems,” said Heather Ansley, associate general counsel for corporate and government relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “There are a lot of different nuances, and we want to show the importance of air travel for the independence of people with disabilities – from business trips to vacations to travel associated with medical needs.”

AirAccess30.org offers a simple submission form in which air passengers with disabilities can submit their story, an image as well as additional images or videos relevant to describing their air travel experience. The site will also highlight some of the stories received by displaying them for others to review. [Read more at pva.org…]

Demonstration Funding Announcement: The Transit Planning for All Project

The Transit Planning for All project announces the availability of funding for community-based demonstration programs. The purpose of this funding opportunity is to encourage development of an inclusive coordinated transportation system in which people with disabilities and older adults actively participate in both advisory and decision-making capacities. While the intention is first and foremost the development of inclusionary processes and plans, the secondary expectation is that inclusion will result in identifiable and measurable changes in the transportation system that respond to the needs and preferences of older adults and people with disabilities.

Logo - Transit Planning 4 AllTo take advantage of this funding opportunity, communities should download both the request for proposals and the grant application form. All requirements stated in the application form must be met in order for an application to be considered. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM eastern time on Friday, March 18. There will be a conference call to answer questions on the demonstration grants on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. Call toll-free: 866-906-9888; Passcode 2724141.  [Read more…]

New Article: Barriers for Parents with Disabilities Traveling with Children on ADA Complementary Paratransit

Through the Looking Glass (TLG) staff Jean Jacob, Megan Kirshbaum and Paul Preston’s article “Barriers for Parents with Disabilities Traveling with Children on ADA Complementary Paratransit” has just been published in the Journal of Public Transportation, 18 (3): 124-142.  The article summarizes findings from a TLG research project which surveyed 92 transit agencies from across the U.S.  Results indicate that certain policies make it difficult for parents to use paratransit. These policies include limiting the number of children who can accompany a parent, lack of access to chain rides (i.e., no scheduled waits), lack of driver assistance with car seats, not providing car seats, not allowing storage of car seats on vehicles, and fares for adults and children that make regular use of paratransit cost prohibitive, particularly for parents on a fixed income. These policies have serious consequences for parents to obtain and maintain employment, meet their children’s educational, childcare, and medical needs, and, in some cases, even retain custody of their children. Contained in the article are recommendations to make paratransit systems more accessible to parents with disabilities.

Rideshares, TNCs, and Accessibility

Madonna Long, Member of NCIL Transportation Subcommittee 

TNCs – Transportation Network Companies – are also known as Ridesharing. You may have heard of a few of them, such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. Are they considered a public transportation company? TNCs say ‘no’. They respond that they are simply providing technology (via smart phone or other device) that connects people with a ride for a fare. But, isn’t that providing public transportation or an accommodation?

In the disability community, many say they are providing transportation just like taxi companies do. Many believe that these companies are sidestepping the importance of providing an accessible option for transportation to all citizens.

So who is a TNC Driver? A TNC driver is someone who has a personal vehicle and contracts with a TNC. They sign up on the TNC’s app to drive to make money by providing transportation to the public. TNCs so far are only permitted to get customers via an app, and not by other methods (phone, email, transportation stops, hailing) as taxis do.

TNCs are regulated mainly through state public utility commissions. Only a few states have passed legislation governing TNCs. Most regulation and legislation has had little or no protection for people with disabilities. Some local governments have also developed TNC policies, although many do not address accessibility for people who use power wheelchairs and scooters.  [Read more…]