A project of the Institute for Human Centered Design
May 2021 Newsletter
ADA Question of the Month
Question: I'm a person with a disability. Unfortunately I contracted the coronavirus and was hospitalized last year. I still have some symptoms that have not completely cleared and it is affecting my work. I'm afraid of being fired because I need a break now and then to catch my breath and give myself a respiratory treatment. What can I do?

The answer is at the end of the newsletter.
COVID-19 Updates
How the Pandemic Could Open More Job Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities
Remote work, person in a power wheelchair wheeling along the side of a street.
The pandemic has hit millions of Americans hard. Unemployment is still higher than before the pandemic, and one of the groups still struggling are Americans with disabilities. The unemployment rate for disabled Americans was 12.6% in 2020 - more than 5% higher from 2019 and the highest in 7 years. That number was even higher for women at 13%. But, changes to the workforce could change that. The switch to work from home could benefit people with disabilities and help them rebound - earning a paycheck and building self-esteem.

Image source: image courtesy of WXYZ Detroit.
ADA and Accommodation Lessons Learned: Covid-19 Edition
Job Accommodation Network
The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to abandon a conventional perspective on where, when, and how work is performed. Employers had to act rapidly to respond to the changing circumstances. The pandemic experience has given several insights – what not to take for granted, how to be safe, the significance of human interaction, and that businesses and workers are capable of adapting. The JAN staff has developed a short list of ADA and accommodation lessons learned.

Accommodating Employees with Covid-19-Related Symptoms
Employers across the United States are receiving accommodation requests from employees who currently have COVID-19 or who have recovered from COVID-19 but have long-term effects. As a result, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) received questions about whether COVID-19 is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and what accommodations might be provided. It is possible that a person with COVID-19 or its long-term effects could meet the definition of disability under the ADA. JAN has provided guidance on accommodations during the pandemic.

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
Vermont Brewery Praised for Hiring Workers With Disabilities
Alchemist brewery worker loads silver cans of beer into a cardboard flat.
The Alchemist [brewery], along with four other Vermont employers, was honored for its business practices around hiring and retaining employees who have physical or intellectual disabilities. Recently, the Vermont Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities gave an award to The Alchemist for reflecting the spirit of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “Spirit of ADA award winners are an inspiration and role model to all Vermont employers,” said Rose Lucenti, who chairs the Vermont Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.

Image source: image courtesy of NECN.com.
Connecticut Governor Appoints New Member to the State Rehabilitation Council
Bill DeMaio
Recently, Governor Ned Lamont announced the appointment of William A. DeMaio, Superintendent of Newington Parks and Recreation, to the State Rehabilitation Council to the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind. He will serve as a representative of employers. Mr. DeMaio has a long history of advocating for people with disabilities. He is currently the President of the ADA Coalition of Connecticut, which is the state affiliate for the New England ADA Center. He served over twenty-five years on the Newington Senior and Disabled Commission of which he was Chairman for more than twelve years. There, he advocated for services and programs for Newington seniors and persons with disabilities.

Image source: image courtesy of Hartford Courant by Cloe Poisson.
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing's (MCDHH) COVID-19 Homebound Vaccination Program Vlog
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
MCDHH has released a new vlog about Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Homebound Vaccination Program. The video resource provides information about the State's program available for homebound people who are not able to leave their home to get to a vaccination site, even with assistance.

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
Register Now for the 2021 National ADA Symposium 
Due to the pandemic, organizers are offering a hybrid event. Registrants have the option to attend an on-site conference in Phoenix, AZ or a virtual conference or both. The Phoenix ADA Symposium is a 3-day event with multiple concurrent sessions to select from each day. It will feature Haben Girma, as the Keynote speaker. The registration deadline is June 25th. The Virtual Symposium has a flexible registration schedule. You may select either Single Day, Multi-Day or Full Conference options. The registration deadline is July 19th.

New Fact Sheet: The ADA and Caregivers: Frequently Asked Questions
ADA National Network Logo
It's estimated that 43.5 million informal (unpaid) caregivers provided care to an adult or child in 2015. While individuals with disabilities of any age may need assistance from caregivers, older people are more likely to develop disabilities, and more likely to require personal assistance and support. The population of people over the age of 65 is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades, likely resulting in a greater need for caregivers, both paid and unpaid. The new fact sheet addresses most frequently asked questions about the ADA and caregivers.

Fact Sheet: Addiction, Recovery and State and Local Governments
Boston City Hall
The ADA National Network has released the third factsheet in our ‘ADA, Addiction, and Recovery’ series! Learn more about how the ADA applies to state and local governments for people with addiction to alcohol and people in recovery from opioids and other drugs by visiting our newest factsheet: Addiction, Recovery and State and Local Governments.

Image source: file photo.
Sampson the Service Animal Learns to Wear PPE
Sampson the Service Animal, a golden retriever wearing goggles, a lab coat and protective paw wear.
Sampson, the golden retriever, has been trained to be a laboratory assistant for his disabled neuroscientist owner and even wears his own canine PPE. Service dog Sampson is required to wear PPE for safety reasons as he helps owner Joey Ramp conduct her crucial lab work every day. Sampson, dressed in goggles and a lab coat, has been trained to perform work or for Joey to continue her education. Joey, 56, suffered traumatic head injuries in 2006 and returned to education to gain a better understanding of the human brain.

Image source: image courtesy of People/SWNS.
ADA National Network Celebrates 30 Years of Service
ADA National Network Celebrating 30 Years!
Did you know the ADA National Network is entering its 30th year of service? In 2021, we will share videos, memories, and events to celebrate 30 years of providing information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Thank you for being part of our family and community over the years!

Follow #ADANetwork30 to learn more about our anniversary events!
As always, our ADA specialists are here to help. Contact us at 1-800-949-4232 (toll-free voice or TTY) or email us at [email protected].
Answer to the ADA Question of the Month
Answer: Communicate your concerns with your supervisor or human resources to begin the interactive process. Under the ADA you have the right to request reasonable accommodations with your employer. Some possible accommodations could include: allow rest breaks, a flexible schedule, or telework. Providing time for medical treatment such as use of a nebulizer or inhaler may be a reasonable accommodation. Keep in mind, employers are not required to incur an undue hardship where providing an accommodation may come at a considerable administrative or financial cost. Visit our website for more information on COVID-19 and employment.
Stay Connected:
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  90DP0087.