A project of the Institute for Human Centered Design
October 2020 Newsletter
ADA Question of the Month
Question: I am deaf and read lips to understand communication. I intend to use a face mask when I go to vote at my polling place. Will polling staff will be wearing masks that have a clear opening to make lip reading possible or use a face shield?

The answer is at the end of the newsletter.
2020 Voting
Massachusetts: Judgement Issued For Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) Program
Vote by mail
The U.S. District Court recently issued a judgement where plaintiffs alleged that the existing AVBM failed to provide meaningful access to voters with disabilities. The judgement outlines procedures to resolve the issues that prevented voters who are blind or have low vision, mobility/dexterities disabilities, or other disabilities that made it difficult or impossible for them to cast their AVBM electronic ballots without assistance.

Image source: image courtesy of Ubisecure.
New Maine System Allows Voters with Disabilities to Cast Ballots Online
online voting
Maine voters who are unable to mark a paper ballot because of a cognitive, visual or physical impairment will be able to cast their absentee ballot online. The Secretary of State's Office collaborated on the new system with InfoMe, the state government's online service provider, and Disability Rights Maine.

Image source: image courtesy of Ubisecure.
Know Where and How to Vote in Your State
Vote 2020
Voting for the 2020 Election has begun. We've compiled resources to help voters find out how and where to vote in your state. If you have specific questions about a polling place, contact your local municipality for more information. Your state's secretary has voter information at the following links:

Image source: image courtesy of Positively Osceola.
COVID-19 Updates
Pandemic Telework Does Not Create Presumptive Right to Telework Post-Pandemic According to EEOC
With telework seeming like the new normal for many, employers and employees have been wondering whether pandemic telework will be seen as creating a presumptive right to post-pandemic telework as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. Recently, the EEOC answered “no” to this burning question in its updated “Technical Assistance Questions and Answers.”

Image source: image courtesy of PGi.com by Getty Images.
Schools Reopen to In-Person Learning, but Teachers Work From Home
teacher working remotely
Teacherless classrooms help maintain instructor safety while giving students access to Wi-Fi and other resources. In the teacherless classrooms, students take virtual lessons while a proctor or substitute maintains order. The arrangement is cropping up in schools nationwide as districts look for creative ways to get students back into classrooms.

Image source: image courtesy of ednewsdaily.com.
New England ADA Center's 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 rights. Read more about how the ADA relates to programs and services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional News
Rhode Island Governor's Commission on Disability (GCD) Fact Sheet Campaign on Twitter
Rhode Island Governor's Commission on Disabilities Logo
The GCD began their social media campaign by posting their first fact sheet, on disabilities and employment, to Twitter on September 15th. Every week through the end of the year, the GCD will post a different fact sheet that will have information on disabilities and employment, housing, civic education, and more. At the end of September, GCD partnered with the Cranston Public Library for a special podcast on the ADA.

Massachusetts Office on Disability 6th annual Disability Summit
Massachusetts Office on Disability
MOD will host the 6th Annual Disability Summit virtually on October 29, 2020 from 9:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. This event is designed to bring together and inspire leaders, advocates, and others from the disability community. The goal of this year's summit is to highlight accommodations, self-care, socialization, and resources during the pandemic that can be applied to our personal and professional lives from a wide range of engaging speakers from state government, non-profit agencies, healthcare, and disability organizations.

RI Board of Elections Will Make New Headquarters Accessible to People with Disabilities
The Governor's Commission on Disabilities (GCD) filed a disability-discrimination complaint with the civil rights coordinator for the U.S. Attorney's Office in August.
The inaccessible public bathroom was only one of the 11 problems the GCD raised with the Rhode Island Board of Elections before the board moved from a state-owned, rent-free building. A recent agreement obligates the Rhode Island Board of Elections to make the new headquarters more accessible within six months.

Image source: image courtesy of the Providence Journal by Bob Breidenbach.
Boston University (BU) OT and Engineering Students Create Custom 3-D Printed Assistive Devices
Boston University sign
For people with arthritis, everyday tasks like holding a can of soda can be painful. Orthotics, easy-grip utensils, and other assistive devices can make life easier for those with physical limitations, but their one-size-fits-all approach and high cost can be prohibitive. Now, 3-D printing offers occupational therapy practitioners and their clients an alternative for creating inexpensive, customized devices. BU students have teamed up to create such devices.

Image source: image courtesy of Boston Magazine.
Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) Welcomes New Staff Members
Vermont Center for Independent Living
VCIL has added three new members to its team. Two of them, Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie and Cara Sachs, will devote a significant amount of time to COVID-19 response and the third, Laura Siegel, will serve as VCIL’s Deaf Independence Program coordinator. VCIL's Executive Director Sarah Launderville is optimistic that the new staff members bring a wealth of experience to the center's team to make Vermont a more equitable state.

The New England ADA Center Remembers Mike Charron
Mike Charron, VCIL
Michael (Mike) R. Charron will be remembered for his efforts to provide greater equity for people with disabilities. He was a disability advocate for Vermont Center for Independent Living, which is the New England ADA Center's state affiliate. He had the distinction of becoming the first Certified American Disability Association coordinator in the country. His affinity for the outdoors motivated his involvement to improve the camping and fishing experience for people with disabilities. He was our friend and ally in the pursuit of equity.

Image source: image courtesy of VCIL.
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 call. 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 ADAinfo@NewEnglandADA.org with your questions or to request a training.

National News
Available Now: The Changing Reality of Disability in America: 2020 Report and Full-length Film
The Institute for Human Centered Design announces the release of "The Changing Reality of Disability In America: 2020." This project, both report and accompanying documentary film, is intended to spur conversation that needs to happen now. It is not intended as an iteration of all of the facets of the disability experience. That’s not possible. We have abundant individual stories that prove that personal and environmental factors can minimize limitations and support being fully engaged societal actors. Too often that experience remains an exception. The necessary quest for the opportunity for full participation continues to apply to all people with lived experience of impairment.
Our goal is to spotlight issues for people too seldom considered as central to understanding disability in America. We want to summon awareness that can help to inform policy as we act to rebuild from the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. We seek to stimulate research with neglected populations. We need to end doing harm and learn what works if we are to measure progress.

Image source: file photo.
Ginsburg Remembered For Impact On Disability Rights
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Best known for standing up for women’s rights, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also played an outsized role in ensuring the rights of people with disabilities. Most notably, she wrote the majority opinion in the landmark 1999 ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. The decision affirmed the right of people with disabilities to live in the community.

Image source: image courtesy of DisabilityScoop by Chicago Tribune's Armando L. Sanchez
Matt Stutzman, The Armless Archer
Armless Archer, Matt Stutzman
One of the most celebrated archers in the world, Matt Stutzman of Fairfield, Iowa, was born without arms. He is one of the few archers in the world that makes a living shooting a bow. He's accomplished this goal all with his feet.

Image source: image courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning.
From Lobby to Penthouse, Elevators can be a 100% Touch-free Experience
Elevator buttons for your feet
The Toe-To-Go elevator system allows riders to operate the elevator entirely with their feet. The foot-activated call button allows for the activation of the elevator, which helps to eliminate a contact point. The large, durable buttons sit just inches off the floor. The system allows for easy retrofitting of existing installations and is wired in parallel to existing buttons. 

Image source: image courtesy of MAD Elevator.
Participate: U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Inclusive Design Challenge
inclusive design challenge
The USDOT announced the opening of Stage I of the Inclusive Design Challenge. The Challenge seeks innovative design solutions that can enable people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities to use automated vehicles. Stage I concept proposals are due October 30, 2020.

Answer to the ADA Question of the Month
Answer: Effective communication is important to consider during this election season. For voters who lip read, poll workers wearing face masks can make communication difficult. Face masks with a plastic insert make the lips visible. The ADA requires that “A public entity… take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with …members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.” Since we cannot assume that all poll workers will have face masks with plastic inserts, we recommend that you contact the election department of your municipality and request that poll workers at your polling place have and use face masks with plastic inserts. Because the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend using face shields instead of mask, we do not recommend the face shield as an alternative. Get more information on Effective Communication and Voting.
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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.