A project of the Institute for Human Centered Design
August 2021 Newsletter
ADA Question of the Month
Question: I just moved to a new town for a new job. I found a doctor’s office just down the road from where I live. The office had me fill out some paperwork to learn more about my medical conditions and any current medications I use. The office denied service because I listed Suboxone under my prescription medications. This is medication that treats my addiction to heroin over the last few years. Can the doctor’s office refuse me as a new patient?

The answer is at the end of the newsletter.
COVID-19 Updates
FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Dose for Certain Immunocompromised Individuals
United States Food and Drug Administration
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals, specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. Other fully vaccinated individuals do not need an additional vaccine dose right now.

Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557
Many people with COVID-19 continue to experience symptoms that can last months after being infected. This condition is known as “long COVID.” The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice provided guidance that explains that long COVID can be a disability under Titles II (state and local government) and III (public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Section 1557). The guidance does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability.

Image source: file photo.
New England ADA Center's ADA and COVID-19 Webpage
New England ADA Center IHCD Combined Graphic
People with disabilities have a right of participation in society even during a pandemic. We have collected resources to help people understand their ADA rights during the pandemic. Read more about how the ADA relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional News
Genesis HealthCare Inc. Agrees to Resolve Allegations of Americans with Disabilities Act Violations
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Department of Health and Human Services announced an agreement with Genesis HealthCare Inc. The agreement resolves allegations that 12 of its skilled nursing facilities located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts denied admission to prospective residents because they were prescribed an FDA-approved medication for Opioid Use Disorder. This is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The City of Boston Provides Notice of a Proposed Settlement of a Class Action Lawsuit Related to Curb Ramps
City of Boston Seal
Recently, three residents and a frequent visitor to Boston filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging the state of curb ramps in the city is so poor they often have difficulty getting around the city, in violation of the Americans with Disability Act. The notice informs individuals with mobility disabilities that they may be a member of the proposed Settlement Class.

Massachusetts Sober Home Manager Accused of Offering to Reduce or Forgive Rent for Sex
Department of Justice, United States Attorneys
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit alleging that Peter McCarthy, who operates residential sober homes through his company, Steps to Solutions, Inc., subjected female tenants to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, "The Department of Justice will not tolerate landlords who abuse their power and will continue to vigorously pursue allegations of sexual harassment.”

ADA Coalition of Connecticut (ADACC) Honored at ADA Day Celebration.
City of New Britain honors ADACC with a plaque.
ADACC’s own William DeMaio participated in city of New Britain’s ADA Celebrations. The event featured several booths, free t-shirts, and music by Soul Sensation. DeMaio stretched his legs to participate in the one-mile Walk and Roll event. Event organizers recognized the hard work and dedication of ADACC with a plaque, which DeMaio proudly accepted. DeMaio commented, “It couldn’t be any better.”

Massachusetts Native Siân Heder Puts Deaf Talent, Music, and Family On Screen in 'CODA'
Sian Heder, writer and director of 'CODA'
CODA follows a young girl named Ruby who is torn between pursuing her music dreams and helping her family. As a Child of Deaf Adults (hence the title, CODA), she is relied on heavily to keep the family fishing business afloat as she serves as their main mode of verbal communication. When she discovers her love and talent for singing, she has to challenge the status quo of her family in order to follow her dreams.

Image source: image courtesy of Broadway World.
Participate: Survey About Museums Designed For and By People with Disabilities
Tall spires of the Smithsonian museum set against a blue sky.
Access Smithsonian and the Institute for Human Centered Design are seeking ideas from people with disabilities to redefine and redesign museum spaces that envelop people at the entrance in a sense of confidence and comfort, and reflect their experiences, talents, and knowledge in innovative and vibrant ways. Survey responses requested by September 15.

New England ADA Center is Open and Provides Webinars on the Americans with Disabilities Act
New England ADA Center IHCD Combined Graphic
During this pandemic, compliance with the ADA is even more critical whether you are a municipality, non-profit organization, state agency or business. We are open for business and here to take your ADA questions. Let us help you ensure that everyone can participate in your services. The New England ADA Center provides webinars on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact us at 800-949-4232 or [email protected] with your questions or to request a training.

National News
Department of Justice (DOJ) Settles with Florida’s Volusia County School District (VCS) to Protect Students with Disabilities from Classroom Removals and Other Discrimination
US Department of Justice seal
The DOJ announced a settlement agreement with VCS to address the district’s systemic and discriminatory practices that punish students with disabilities for their disability-related behavior and deny them equal access to programs and services. The complaint alleged that VCS unnecessarily excluded students with disabilities (many of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder) from the school’s education programs and services.

Medically, Legally, and Morally, Emergency Departments Cannot Ignore Addiction Care
Emergency room with three beds separated by curtains.
The treatment a person receives in an emergency department can often make the difference between life and death. This is particularly true for people with addiction. Yet far too many emergency departments fail to provide essential evidence-based and lifesaving care for these patients. That must change. Hospital emergency departments have an obligation to provide equitable care for all patients.

Image source: image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Documentary: 'Not Going Quietly'
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks with disability rights activist Ady Barken
The documentary is the story of 32-year-old Ady Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS. Barkan recorded a viral social media post where he confronted with Senator Jeff Flake about the massive cuts in aid for people with disabilities. Using that recognition, Barkan and others organized a political movement – “Be a Hero.” The movement helped to empower people to confront politicians with their personal stories to demand healthcare justice. Barkan learns that a collective voice and speaking up to those in power can start the path for real change. 

Image source: image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The ADA National Network (ADANN) to Hosts Twitter Chat on Post-Secondary Education and the ADA
On Wednesday August 25th, 1-2 p.m. the ADANN will host a Twitter Chat on Post-Secondary Education and the ADA. Participants can follow @ADANational on Twitter and join the discussion, post questions, and test their knowledge about education and the ADA using the #ADANetworkChat hashtag. No registration is required. Participants do not need a Twitter account to follow the discussion, but must be logged into an account to post or respond to questions.
Fact Sheet: The Americans With Disabilities Act, Addiction, and Recovery for Private Businesses and Nonprofits
ADA National Network
The ADA National Network has released the fourth factsheet in our ‘ADA, Addiction, and Recovery’ series! Learn more about how the ADA applies to private businesses, nonprofits and businesses that are open to the public and whose operations affect commerce for people with addiction to alcohol and people in recovery from opioids and other drugs. Examples include healthcare and nursing homes.

The ADA, Addiction and Recovery Frequently Asked Questions
frequently asked questions
These frequently asked questions (FAQ) came from attendees of our ADA, Addiction and Recovery trainings. These attendees were: people in recovery, their family members, and addiction professionals. The questions cover the following topics: employment, state and local government programs, shelters, housing, recovery homes, healthcare, businesses and non-profits.

Answer to the ADA Question of the Month
Answer: You are a person in recovery who is not currently using drugs illegally and protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your prescription for Suboxone is a legally prescribed drug used to treat addiction. The doctor’s office violated the ADA when it denied your application based upon your prescription for Suboxone. The doctor’s office must change their policy of refusing patients based upon a prescribed medication that treats addiction. Learn more on this topic by reviewing the new fact sheet: “The Americans with Disabilities Act, Addiction, and Recovery for Private Businesses and Nonprofits.”
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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  90DP0087.