The ADA Report-March, 2019

Court Cases/Articles

Man who is blind using assistive technology on the job.

Four Ways to Hire More People with Disabilities

(SHERM)  As companies face a war for talent and a lack of qualified workers in many fields, individuals with disabilities are being recognized as a source of engaged, committed employees. According to the 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report from the Institute on Disability, nearly 1 in 8 people in the U.S. has a disability, and that number is rising annually. 

Companies that succeed in incorporating candidates with disabilities have seen 28 percent higher revenue and two times higher net income, according to an Accenture 2018 white paper on accessibility. Workplace Initiative, a network of companies, nonprofits and government agencies working to remove barriers for those with disabilities, reports that those companies also experienced reduced turnover, lower recruiting costs, increased productivity and improved customer outreach.  Full Article

Work at Home Gets Skeptical Eye From Courts as Disability Issue

(Bloomberg Law)  A nearly fatal bout with flesh-eating bacteria knocked Gary Brunckhorst out of his job with the city of Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, for almost a year and left him him with painful leg and foot injuries that limit his mobility.

When he was cleared to return to work, Brunckhorst asked the city to let him ease his way back. He requested a part-time schedule during his first four months back and wanted to work from home during that entire time. But Oak Park Heights said no. After Brunckhorst balked, the city eventually fired him.

A federal appeals court in St. Louis earlier this month blessed the city’s decision to deny the telework request. Brunckhorst showed that working from home would have been easier, but an employee’s preference isn’t a required accommodation under federal and state disability law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled.

Employers won 70 percent of the rulings over the past two years on whether they could reject workers’ bids for telework as an accommodation for a disability, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of cases. The analysis examined 30 decisions on the merits of remote work. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which outlaws employer bias based on disabilities, and the Rehabilitation Act, which imposes similar prohibitions on federal agencies and contractors, require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers.
Full Article

Justice Department: Businesses Can Provide Less Than 36" Of Clear Sales/Service Counter Space If Counter Is At An Accessible Height

Seyfarth Synopsis:  DOJ provides guidance on sales/service counter rules in the 2010 Standards that provides some relief to businesses.

Retailers and other businesses should be pleased with the DOJ’s pronouncement on February 25, 2019, that they can lawfully provide sales/service counter space that is less than 36” long, as long as the entire space is at an accessible height of 36” or lower.  While we always thought the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“2010 Standards”) were unambiguous on this point, plaintiffs filed many lawsuits claiming the ADA requires retailers to provide a minimum 36” length of lowered accessible counter that is entirely clear of all objects.  Courts have reached different conclusions, and now the DOJ has weighed in.

The DOJ’s statement came in the form of an amicus brief which Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California had requested in connection with a pending motion for summary judgment.  The sales/service counter at issue in the case was at an accessible height (i.e., 36” or less above the floor), but did not provide a 36” length because it included items such cash registers and merchandise displays on the counter.  The DOJ stated that this counter complies with the Exception to Section 904.4.1 of the 2010 Standards because it is at a uniform accessible height, even if the space provided is not 36” long.  The DOJ also said that the placement of merchandise displays and a cash register on a sales/service counter that is 36” long does not violate the 2010 Standards because Section 904.4.1 “does not so much as mention, let alone prescribe any requirements regarding ‘clear’ counter space.”

While this DOJ pronouncement provides much needed clarification, businesses should consult their ADA Title III specialist attorneys before filling up their accessible lowered counters with anything more than a register and some merchandise displays, particularly if high counters are provided for use by non-disabled customers.


Explore VR Offers Free Training Module on Supporting Employees with Traumatic Brain Injury   

These online training modules give an overview of the basics on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), reasonable accommodation examples, disclosure, and more. More information about Explore VR

New Videos on Using Text-to-9-1-1

Three new videos, presented in American Sign Language (ASL) and accompanied by both captions and audio-description, are available from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). The videos provide information on using text-to-9-1-1 for people who are deaf, deaf/blind, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities. Visit NENA’s YouTube channel to learn more about how text to 9-1-1 works in areas that have the service and what to do in areas where it is not yet available.

Woman wearing sensors on face for augmented communication.

User needs survey for communication device.

The Fluid Interfaces group in the MIT Media Lab is working on concepts for augmentative communication devices that use neuromuscular and/or physiological information as inputs.  We need help understanding what type of device would be most useful for people with speech impairments, and would appreciate hearing about your needs in this 30 minute survey:  GO TO SURVEY.


College Magazine names University of Missouri in list of top ten best campuses for students with disabilities. 

MU student Sophie Endacott and her service dog Hudson.

MU Student Sophie Endacott and her service dog Hudson.

Upcoming Webinars

U.S.Access Board Meeting and Webcast (March13th)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
2:30- 4:00 PM Central Time Zone

The U.S. Access Board will hold its next meeting at the Board's conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The public is welcome to attend in person or through a live webcast of the meeting. The meeting agenda includes election of Board officers and other activities. 

Further information is posted on the Board's website.   
Webcast link:

The ADA and Web Sites: What is Required?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
3:00pm-4:30pm Central

Many businesses and public entities use their web sites to provide information about programs and services, offer registration, enable visitors to purchase goods and services and much more. How does the ADA apply to these web sites? What makes a web site accessible? Are there ADA standards for web sites? Join us for this informative session as the speaker will address these questions and provide an opportunity for participants to ask their own.  Speaker:  Jared Smith, WebAIM

Legal Website Accessibility: Lessons From Case Law

March 26, 2019 12:30pm to 1:15pm EDT

Presented by TransCen, Inc. and the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

Join us for the third of a 3 part series,ADA Lessons from Case Law, where we will examine recent court cases as they pertain to different areas of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

When do the websites of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public such as stores, restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices) need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Are courts across the country coming to different conclusions on this issue? What standards are courts looking to in the absence of the U.S. Department of Justice regulations? What else can courts and settlement agreements tell us about website accessibility? Through an in-depth review of recent court cases and settlement agreements, participants will learn what courts are saying about the ADA’s requirements for website accessibility, including best practices and practical strategies. Note that this webinar is focused on legal issues and will not delve into the technical details on how to create accessible websites.

Rachel M. Weisberg, Staff Attorney and Manager, Employment Rights Helpline, Equip for Equality

Register Today to Attend the National ADA Symposium!

June 16-19, Grapevine-Dallas, Texas -Gaylord Hotel

Gaylord Texan Hotel