New England ADA Center. Letters ADA are cut out against three corresponding angular green quadrilateral polygon.
A project of the Institute for Human Centered Design

April 2023 Newsletter

We Are Changing Our Newsletter Format Next Month

Exciting news! Starting next month, we'll be trying out a new format for our newsletter. We're always looking for ways to better serve you, and we hope this change will do just that. To ensure we're meeting your needs, we'll be including a survey monkey link in our next issue for you to share your thoughts. Stay tuned in your inboxes next month!

ADA Question of the Month

Question: I have a three-year-old daughter with autism. We are working on potty training but the training is taking a long time because of her disability. She still needs a fair amount of assistance with toileting. My recent child care application for 3 to 5-year-olds at local day care center was denied because she isn’t fully potty trained. Can they do that?


The answer is at the end of the newsletter.

Just for Laughs

IHCD Immersive Day of Inclusive Design at Boston Design Week

Institute for Human Centered Design logo

Tuesday, April 25 

9:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. EDT

In-person event: 560 Harrison Avenue,

Suite 401, Boston, MA 02118

We are excited to invite you to IHCD's new headquarters in South of Washington (SoWa) art and design district for a day-long open house. Come for as long as you'd like. Our event will showcase the latest in Inclusive Design practices across transit, workplace, culture, and higher education.

The day will wrap up with an interview and book signing reception with award-winning environmental graphic designer, Coco Raynes, at 5:30 p.m., which will be broadcast live. Registration is required for the interview and book signing reception.

RSVP to attend Coco's in-person interview.

RSVP to attend Coco's virtual interview.

If you need accommodation, please contact Peggy Grafton by email [email protected] or phone at 617-695-1225, dial 0, by April 14th.

Virtual Webcast with Coco Raynes “50 years of Design Evolution”

Portrait of Coco Raynes, a woman with dark hair smiling at the camera.

Tuesday, April 25

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. EDT

Zoom webinar

Join our virtual webcast featuring the work of Coco Raynes, a renowned multi-disciplinary designer. Her five decades of work, cover areas such as wayfinding, universal design, and visual identity. She will discuss her detailed look at innovative problem-solving approaches and difficulties of projects. 

Register for Virtual Webcast with Coco Raynes “50 years of Design Evolution.”

Image source: file photo.

Enhancing Disability Inclusion & Awareness in Hospitality

A multi-story resort hotel is illuminated at night, the lights in the swimming pools cast a blue glow in the foreground.

Wednesday, April 19

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EDT

Zoom webinar

This webinar will explore best practices in entertain-ment, hotels, and restaurants for people with disabilities. Presenters will share tools and resources. 

Register for Enhancing Disability Inclusion & Awareness in Hospitality.

Image source: image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

32nd Annual Autism Connections Conference

32nd Annual Autism Connections, Autism Conference, Save the Date, April 27, 2023

Thursday, April 27

8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. EDT

In-person event: Sheraton Springfield

1 Monarch Place, Springfield, MA 01144

The day-long educational conference brings together professionals, families, caregivers, individuals with autism, sponsors, and exhibitors to build knowledge, inspire and build meaningful connections.

Register for Autism Connections – 32nd Annual Autism Connections Conference.

Boston Center for Independent Living’s 27th Annual Marie Feltin Award Ceremony 

Marie Feltin, leaned forward smiling at the camera in a garden.

Friday, April 28

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. EDT

In-person event: The Westin Copley Place

10 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA 02116

This event honors individuals and institutions that embody the spirit of the late Dr. Marie Feltin. Dr Feltin was a champion for people with disabilities and chronically ill patients. This award has been created in her name to honor people with a similar pioneering spirit. The event will include a reception, silent auction, and recognition of award winners. For those unable to attend in person the program will be live-streamed.

Register for 27th Annual Marie Feltin Award Ceremony.

Image source: file photo.

City of Boston’s 2023 Disability Community Forum

City of Boston Seal

Thursday, May 11 

2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EDT

Hybrid event: 120 Tremont Street 

Boston, MA 02108 

The City of Boston Mayor's Commission for Person with Disabilities is thrilled to announce registration is now open for the 2023 Disability Community Forum. Learn and hear more about the City's disability accessibility initiatives and provide your input about accessibility and inclusion priorities. The event will be hybrid. Participants can join in-person at Suffolk University Law School located at 120 Tremont Street in Boston MA 02108, or online using Zoom. ASL and CART will be provided. To request other reasonable accommodations, please email: [email protected].

Register for City of Boston 2023 Disability Community Forum.

2023 National ADA Symposium – Kansas City

2023 National ADA Symposium in white letters on a red background.

May 21 - 24

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. CDT

In-Person Event – Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

1 E Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108

This four-day training event offers 91 sessions covering all areas of the ADA. The symposium has a flexible schedule to meet attendee needs. Continuing education credits are offered for approved courses. Registration will close on May 5th or when the event is sold-out, whichever comes first.

Register for 2023 National ADA Symposium – Kansas City.

Virtual 2023 National ADA Symposium

2023 Virtual National ADA Symposium in white letters on a red background.

June 12 - 14

10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. EDT

Virtual Symposium

Registration is now open for this three-day virtual training event. It offers 36 sessions covering all areas of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) presented by nationally recognized experts in issues related to the ADA. This year’s event offers accessible design educational programs that include pre-approved American Institute of Architects (AIA) Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) credits.

Register for Virtual 2023 ADA Symposium.

Regional News

Fellowship Program to Resume at the Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Disabilities

A group of people sitting at a table discussing plans.

After a hiatus of over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rhode Island Governor's Commission on Disabilities is reviving its fellowship program. The program provides students and young adults, both with and without disabilities, with exceptional opportunities to enhance their knowledge of national and state disability programs, policy issues, and research.

Fellowship Program to Resume at the Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Disabilities.

Image source: image courtesy of Rhode Island Governor's Commission on Disability.

Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) Grants $2.9M to Municipalities for Accessibility Improvements

Massachusetts Office on Disability logo

MOD recently awarded a total of nearly $3 million to 44 cities and towns across Massachusetts as part of the Municipal ADA Improvement Grant Program. The grant program has been in place since 2017. It gives direct funding to municipalities for accessibility planning or individual projects to remove structural or communication barriers.

MOD grants $2.9M to municipalities for accessibility improvements.

Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) Welcomes Bill Noonan

Portrait of Bill Noonan, a man with brown hair, blue eyes, and slight beard.

Bill Noonan joins MOD as their new Executive Assistant. Noonan comes on board with almost 20 years of administrative experience, having previously worked as the Fiscal Clerk for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Noonan is a Quincy resident and proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts.

Image source: image courtesy of MOD.

New England ADA Center Recognizes the Passing of Civil Rights Activist Melvin King

Civil rights activist Mel King.

Boston’s first Black mayoral candidate, Melvin King, has died at age 94. King was born in Boston’s South End. He graduated from what is now the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, formerly Boston Tech. He was one of the city’s most well-known advocates for local communities of color. 

New England ADA Center Recognizes the Passing of Civil Rights Activist Mel King.

Image source: image courtesy of WGBH.

Remembering Advocate and Friend Eli Wolff

Portrait of Eli Wolff, he has brown hair brown eyes and has a great wide smile.

The New England ADA Center and the Institute for Human Centered Design is deeply saddened by the passing of Elias Abarbanel-Wolff, who had a 20+ year relationship with IHCD. He pursued extraordinary global advocacy in our headquarters for more than five years and collaborated frequently. He lived his life embodying the Olympic spirit, connecting the worlds of human rights and sport in a way that was unparalleled. Elias leaves behind a legacy of professional accomplishments. His role as an educator, innovator, advocate, athlete, leader, devoted husband, father, and friend will never be forgotten.

Remembering Advocate and Friend Eli Wolff.

Image source: file photo.

National News

Prepare to Protect with the New Emergency App in ASL

American Red Cross Logo

A YouTube video in American Sign Language shows how the American Red Cross has designed an all-inclusive Emergency App to improve how it delivers timely, accurate information regarding the weather alerts. It allows individuals to customize 40 different weather alerts to be ready when something is happening in their area.

Prepare to Protect with the New Emergency App in ASL.

First Biden Judge with Disclosed Disability to Join Trial Court

Portrait of Federal Judge Jamal Whitehead, has short brown hair, brown eyes and a huge friendly smile.

Jamal Whitehead, Seattle trial lawyer and the first Biden judicial nominee with a disclosed disability, was confirmed recently with bipartisan support to a seat on the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. Whitehead, who uses a prosthetic leg, will be one of a few life-tenured federal judges open about living with a disability.

First Biden Judge with Disclosed Disability to Join Trial Court.

Image source: image courtesy of Bloomberg Law.

Rejecting Hybrid Conferences as the New Norm Reeks of Ableism

A large audience in a conference views images on a large screen at the front of the darkened room.

The virtual conference format adopted in 2020 due to the global pandemic enabled individuals with disabilities to take part in events that were previously inaccessible to them. In addition to those with disabilities, housebound academics, people caring for children or elderly parents, and pregnant women were able to participate in virtual programs or events across the world. According to the article’s author, failure to offer virtual participation alongside in-person events represents ableism.

Rejecting Hybrid Conferences as the New Norm Reeks of Ableism.

Image source: image courtesy of Unsplash.

Courts Question the Transfer of Employees with Disabilities to Other Positions if They Are Not the Most Qualified

Office workers of different genders, race, and ability are at work a conference room table.

Is an employee with a disability entitled to a transfer as a reasonable accommodation regardless of a most-qualified-applicant policy? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says “yes,” but a number of federal appellate courts disagree. Some courts are questioning whether a minimally qualified employee is entitled to a transfer to a new role, if there are more qualified applicants for that role.

Courts Question the Transfer of Employees with Disabilities to Other Positions if They Are Not the Most Qualified.

Image source: image courtesy of Disability:IN.

There Are No Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Protections if Disabilities are not Disclosed to Employers

People with various abilities, race and ethnicities gather around a table appearing to work together.

Employers cannot discriminate against an employee based on a disability that they are not aware of and are not required to provide accommodations for an unknown disability (like diabetes or depression). Additionally, if an employer learns that an employee's misconduct was caused by a disability, they are not obligated to revoke any disciplinary action that has already been taken.

There Are No ADA Protections if Disabilities are not Disclosed to Employers.

Image source: file photo.

Remote Work Helped Push Disability Employment Up to a Record High

Person uses sign language in a virtual meeting during remote work.

An embrace of remote work brought on by the global pandemic helped the employment rate for disabled people reach an all-time record high last year. The percentage of people with disabilities who were employed rose to 21.3% in 2022.

Remote Work Helped Push Disability Employment Up to a Record High.

Image source: image courtesy of Pexels.

Disability Advocates Announce Endorsement of the All of Us Research Program

American Association on Health and Disability

A nationwide coalition of disability advocates celebrate the release of “No Research About Us Without Us.“ It is an effort to engage more than one million people across the United States in biomedical research to advance health care for all.

Disability Advocates Announce Endorsement of the All of Us Research Program

Participate: Study on Vocational Interest and Disability

Rice University logo with blue shield and little owls.

You are being asked to participate in a research study looking at the Influence of disability on vocational interests. This study is being done by Felix Wu and Fred Oswald from Rice University. You are able to participate in this research if you are over 18 years of age. 

Participate: Study on Vocational Interest and Disability

Answer to the ADA Question of the Month

Answer: It depends. The 3 to 5-year-olds age range is tricky because even kids who are potty trained have accidents at that age. The day care center should do an individual assessment to make their determinations on a case-by-case basis. They should look at how much assistance your daughter needs for toileting and consider how much assistance they provide to children who have accidents.

April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month or Autism Acceptance Month. The National Rehabilitation Information Center has released guidance to help neurodiversity and autism. You can read more at “Autism and Neurodiversity – Differences, not Deficits.”

Show You Know!

Participate in our monthly interactive quiz feature where you answer our disability-related question.

Question: A person with a disability shows up at your business with a dog. The business has a no pets policy. What questions can you ask of the person? Select all appropriate questions from the list below.

1. What is your impairment?

2. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

3. How long have you had a disability?

4. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Email your answer to [email protected] by April 31.

First person to respond with the correct answer will be featured in next month’s newsletter. 

Last month’s Show You Know! answer

Thank you to Howard G. Gerber, P.E., MacRitchie Engineering Inc. for being the first person to submit the correct answer.

March was Women’s History Month. To mark the occasion, we highlighted a woman who made a difference in the rights for people with disabilities. Who is this person?

  • She was disabled at a very young age and was banned from going to school.
  • She fought a state Board of Education to get their teaching license and became the first teacher in their state that used a wheelchair.
  • As an activist she fought for children rights in education for the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • She organized a sit-in protest at a federal building to get parts of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 enforced.
  • She was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living which was the first grassroots center in the United States and helped to launch the Independent Living Movement.

From the list of names provided, who is the person being described?

A: Lois Curtis

B: Haben Girma

C: Judy Heumann

D: Alice Wong

“C:" was the correct answer. 

Judy Heumann was a fierce advocate for the disability community and will be sadly missed.

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New England and Center a project of the Institute for Human Centered Design
We strive to ensure the Newsletter and the content we share is accessible. Unfortunately we have limited control of external websites. Please email us at [email protected] if you encounter any issues accessing the newsletter or related content.

Access New England features topics related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), originating from the ADA Center, our state affiliates, the ADA National Network, and national sources.

The New England ADA Center is a member of the ADA National Network funded by the Administration for Community Living through National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research Grant  90DPAD0011.