Taking Autism to the Airwaves
By Maryalice Demler
"It's always like, every single time, a clash between good and evil." That's how Alex Moshenko described his passion, professional wrestling, when I interviewed him two years ago. And when his birthday rolled around that year, we decided to arrange a little surprise for the WWE's biggest fan. I thought Alex was going to faint he was so elated about his special meeting with WWE Superstar "Batista".
"I don't know what to say except thank you so much! I want to hug you! Thank you, 2 On-Your-Side, yeah!" beemed Alex.
And when the day came for Alex to meet his idol, face to face, he didn't shrink away from the opportunity to do a little impromptu interview. "First of all," Al said, "How do you get in such good shape? I mean, you're buff!" Batista seemed a little surprised at the question but smiled and answered, "I've been an athlete all my life, participating in one sport of another."
Two years later, Alex says that interview back in 2005 is what really inspired him to do a radio talk show about wrestling.
It's called Al's Wrestling Talk. For over a year now he's been broadcasting on the internet. "I review the Pay-Per-Views, and the shows, and I also have a Wrestler of the Week. And that's the show. And then sometimes I'll have an extra topic with that-- which is normally what happens," says Alex.
What also makes his show unique, is that while Alex talks about wrestling superstars, he also talks about how he's spent most of his young life wrestling autism. And he hopes to inspire others to overcome their limitations.
"That's what I want, to help a lot of other kids who have autism, too. Because I found my talent, I'm sticking to it, and I'm not going to stop," says Alex.
Alex's mother, Monica Moshenko can see the changes in Al. "Look at the confidence this has given him. He's able to stand up and speak to anybody. And he's so proud of what he's doing. It makes me happy for him."
Monica has encouraged his new hobby. Last winter, when Alex was invited to broadcast from Wrestlemania in Detroit, the Super Bowl of wrestling, Monica rented an RV and off they went.
"Who knows where he's going to be," says Monica. "I'm proud that he's done what he's done. But thanks to you and Channel Two, you've always been there for us and we want to thank you for that."
I asked Alex what he wants to say to kids who have autism. "What's your message for them?" I asked.
"A lot of kids with autism can't speak. And right now I'm doing what I can do best because I got the help, which all kids with autism need. It was just like a flame inside of me and its still going. And i love it!"
UB struggles to accommodate the disabled
TOM HALLECK AND HEI HEI CHAN - News Editor and Staff Writer
In 2000, three UB students sued the university, claiming it failed to provide disabled students with reasonable accessibility accommodations.
Three years later, under an agreement reached by both parties, UB was required
to complete a self-audit that identified violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that had been recently established.
While new facilities have been employed and some community members believe that progress has been made, others remain concerned with UB's accommodations for the disabled.
According to Monica Moshenko, chairperson of the United University Professions at Buffalo Disability Committee, architectural barriers exist for disabled students, which are compounded by a lack of empathy on part of the entire university community.
A former UB faculty member for 17 years and mother of a disabled child, Moshenko feels that UB does not "foster a culture of full inclusion."
"(Does UB) provide services based on individual needs, that ensures access to all activities and events at SUNY Buffalo?" she asked.
According to Randall Borst, director of disability services, UB has not been able to keep up with mandatory improvements in a timely manner.
"There are things we are just not working on, that were legally required to be done over ten years ago - actually over 20 years ago," he said. "So has the university moved as fast as it's required to move? No, we haven't."
Borst believes that the slow pace is due to a lack of coordination and funds.
"The UB community has an outmoded way of thinking towards disabilities," he said.
Jennifer Machucki, a disabled 2001 UB graduate, said that she was unable to obtain assistance on campus in times of need.
"I contacted people to get help, but it was difficult to find," Machucki said. "Randy Borst was absolutely no help to me...he told me I should leave if I was unhappy."
Borst does not recall the incident but said that he has never refused a reasonable accommodation.
"In certain situations a timely response cannot be made," he said.
According to Dennis Black, vice president of student affairs, the results of the audit indicated numerous suggestions for improvement, and the university has acted accordingly.
$5 million has already been allocated for physical improvements, and in the future, UB will invest $200,000 annually on improvised accommodations for academic support.
Black said that changes included ongoing faculty-staff training, as well as a new snow clearing procedure allowing mobility-impaired students and staff improved access to campus.
Curbs lowered for wheelchair access were originally being covered with snow when campus roads were plowed.
Christine Muller toured the UB's School of Architecture a few years ago with her son, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and utilizes a wheelchair.
Muller said that they encountered several problems while visiting campus.
"Our experience was not good," she said. "The only wheelchair entrance to the building was not clearly marked... and the power door buttons did not work."
According to Muller, there was no means of access to the basement, and numerous attempts at exiting the building were futile.
When she asked the tour leader about accommodations for wheelchair students, she recalls, "If you can't hack it (walk) you shouldn't be in this program."
When Muller tried contacting UB officials regarding the experience, she remembered the UB administration being "unaffected by our concerns."
Borst said that disabled access on campus has been limited for decades.
"There is always a lot to do, and there are many areas where people with disabilities feel there are things that we should've done, things that could've been done long ago and those are also being worked on."
According to Moshenko, there are still several areas that need improvement, such as emergency evacuation training for dorm residents, student and community support groups and mobility.
Borst believes that much of the delay can be attributed to a shortage of resources and staff availability, but progress is on the way.
"There are considerable access needs that have not been done...we don't have many wheelchair accessible bathrooms - that's one area that will be getting some improvement."
Borst said that the changes necessary to campus are considerably involved.
"I think there are people who suffer considerable inconveniences at best, because of certain physical boundaries that the university is still in the process of removing," he said."In the future, I hope UB can become more updated and universally accessible."
Autistic son inspiration for UB staffer's efforts to increase awareness of disability
By DONNA LONGENECKER
Reporter Assistant Editor
Dustin Hoffman's performance in the movie "Rain Man" is the image that comes instantly comes to mind when most people think of autism, says Monica Moshenko. And she's determined to change that.
Moshenko, administrative assistant for UB's Great Lakes Program, wants to destroy stereotypical views of people with autism and replace them with a multi-faceted awareness of the spectrum of disorders classified as pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). More than 500,000 people in the U.S. are estimated to have some form of autism, including Moshenko's 9-year-old son, Alex, who has Asperger's syndrome.
Four out of five children diagnosed with autism are boys and those diagnosed with the condition often exhibit common traits that vary only in the severity of their impairment of the ability to communicate and socialize. There is no cure for autism and no known biological markers for the disease.
Nine-year-old Alex is the motivation for Monica Moshenko, an administrative assistant with the Great Lakes Program, in her efforts to help parents of children with autism.
"Autism is the third leading developmental disability in the country," says Moshenko, "but it only receives 5 percent of the total funding awarded for research."
Her commitment to finding a cure for autism includes organizing a 5K walkathon, to take place at 1 p.m. Sept. 29 in Delaware Park, to raise money for the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). The organization is the largest non-governmental supporter of autism research in the U.S., committing $10 million in the past six years alone to more than 117 autism research projects and fellowships around the world. For more information about the walk or to register, contact www.autismwalk.org or call 522-9185.
Honorary chairmen for the event, which will take place regardless of the weather, are boxer Baby Joe Mesi and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.
Moshenko has garnered support for the event from members of the entertainment world as well, including actor Jim Carey, who will film a movie in Western New York this fall, and Buffalo native Tom Fontana, award-winning writer/producer of such hit shows as "St. Elsewhere," "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Oz."
In addition to her work on the walkathon and her duties at the Great Lakes Program, Moshenko last year organized a highly successful conference that attracted nationally recognized experts on autism. About 1,000 people attended the conference, which was co-sponsored by the UB Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology.
Moshenko's inspiration—and the motivation for her near single-minded focus in doing everything she can to educate parents of children with autism—is her son, Alex.
"Alex is very high functioning. He's been able to override a lot of the challenges—challenges that are often lifelong—due to really good services and support that I've really pushed for inside the school setting, as well as outside," says Moshenko.
In fact, Alex just finished five weeks of speech therapy at the UB Speech and Hearing Clinic, part of the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.
"I would say it (the UB clinic) is one of the best in the country, with excellent evaluations and staff," says Moshenko.
Alex reads well above grade level, she says, and for someone so young, he appears to choose his words carefully.
In fact, while he is very articulate, conversation is work for Alex, his mother says. He works at making eye contact—something many children with autism have difficulty doing—and works at remembering what it is, exactly, he wants to say.
Yet, it's important to remember, Moshenko adds, that a brief encounter with Alex doesn't give a true depiction of what is at stake for most children who have autism but have yet to be diagnosed. They often are ostracized by their peers and segregated from their classmates. Alex, in fact, was placed in the most restrictive classroom environment, which is the worst environment for someone with autism, says Moshenko, until he finally was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and began intensive therapy.
Misunderstandings abound as to what really is going on in young children who begin to exhibit symptoms of an autistic disorder. Mental illness, mental retardation, labeling a child as a "problem child," and bad parenting have all been attributed to those who have the condition.
"Children with autism are often misdiagnosed as having attention deficit disorder because people don't know the specifics of what to look for," Moshenko says. "There aren't enough trained developmental pediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists—people who have the expertise to know what differentiates different forms of PDD," she says.
The services Moshenko has often single-handedly sought out for Alex have been intense and extensive, including occupational, behavioral and sensory awareness therapy, and many visits to a physician in Rochester specializing in autism.
Just getting a diagnosis of autism was a circuitous journey for Moshenko and her son due to misunderstandings of Alex's behavior by school personnel and trying to find the right doctor who recognized the symptoms.
"Even though I was searching for answers for three years, there were people put in my path for the right reasons at the right time and I didn't give up the quest of looking—I didn't accept the status quo diagnosis from teachers and other people in that field," she says.
While UB is a sponsor of the walkathon, Moshenko hopes one day that the university's medical researchers will take an interest in autism.
"We've got a great medical school; we've got everything here to do autism research," she adds.13–year old wrestling talk show host the spokesperson for “Wrestling Autism”
Yeti and Niko are joined by the one and only "BIG AL" from Al's Wrestling Talk. This 13 year old phenom awes the wrestilng world with his knowledge and his "charisma". It was a great time and a great hour as we unveiled "the KID" as the official voice and spokesperson for Wrestling Autism.
More information can be found online at www.alswrestlingtalk.com and www.wrestlingautism.org
We ask that you will become involved in the national "Wrestling Autism" campaign to raise awareness and funds for research for the thousands of children diagnosed with autism in our country today - over 1.5 million. Remember, April is Autism Awareness Month!!
Al’s Wrestling Talk
The Buffalo News 'An amazing
journey' of mother and son
As radio hosts, they're going on the road to show reality of autism
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
By Gene Warner - NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Illustration: Dennis C. Enser/Buffalo News
Monica Moshenko of Clarence and her son,
Alex, 13, will be taking their radio shows on nationwide tour next year to
raise public awareness about the disabled.
Monica Moshenko of Clarence has her own twice-a-week radio program, a show on disabilities that has featured interviews with actors Henry Winkler and Teri Garr and Lt. Gov.-elect David A. Paterson.
Not to be outdone, her son, Alex, 13, has his own radio show, "Al's Wrestling Talk," which airs live on the Internet every Saturday night.
This is a high-powered tandem -- a mother who has become a passionate advocate for the disabled and a teen with a very high-functioning form of autism.The Moshenkos plan to take their radio shows on the road for the coming year, touring America in a recreational vehicle.
The goal is to meet and greet people with disabilities, raise the public's awareness about the disabled -- and perhaps catch a few wrestling matches along the way.
"It's going to be an amazing journey of a mother and her son," Monica Moshenko said. "He has brought me into a new world I didn't know about before. I can't let it go. I'm so passionate about raising awareness about people with disabilities. I'll stop when people listen and when changes are made."
Moshenko hopes the journey will be captured in documentary form.
"What I haven't seen is talking to people about disabilities in their communities," she said. "Like how they receive services and the discrepancy in services. I also want to get a pulse on America and the largest minority in America -- people with disabilities."
Alex has Asperger syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Asperger's is characterized by difficulty in forming friendships; intense absorption in a special interest; difficulty in understanding social cues, such as sarcasm and tone of voice; and oversensitivity to sound, light and some foods.
Asperger's is on the high end of the broad autism spectrum. While roughly half the children with autism are nonverbal, Alex was an honor-roll student who once questioned Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during a health care conference.
Alex told the New York senator that he was speaking for children with autism who can't.
"Alex is a success story in so many ways, not only academically, but socially," his mother said. "How many kids have their own radio show? How many kids could stand up and ask a question of Sen. Clinton?"
A kid with autism hosting his own radio show?
That speaks to the broad spectrum of autism, a disability now diagnosed in 1 of every 166 children, autism advocates say.
"You have 6- and 7-year-old kids who are wearing diapers, and you have kids who have to be watched constantly, because they run away," said Kathy Eiss, local president of the Autism Society of America. "They have no safety awareness."
In school, some children with autism are in a 6-1-1 class: six pupils, a teacher and an aide, said Tracy Panzarella, clinical services director for Autistic Services.
"On the other end of the spectrum, you have college professors with Asperger's," she added.
Alex, who sits on the high end of that spectrum, is following in his mother's footsteps as an advocate for people with autism.
"It's been kind of like a dream come true for me, to go out there and show people that I have a lot of knowledge for a kid with disabilities," the personable Alex said of his show.
He's also looking forward to taking that show on the road, to let other people see firsthand what he can do. The Moshenkos plan to leave town early in the year; while still seeking sponsors to help finance their trip, they're willing to sell their Clarence home if they have to.
"I'm trying to say that I'm out here," Alex said. "I have a disability. So what? I've gone through that, and now I'm an accepted person in society. I want to show off my talents that got me through a lot."
Alex's problems became evident by the time he was 4. Fireworks would send him to the floor, in tears. His mother had to keep him in a stroller in the mall; otherwise, he would "lose it." He'd only play with certain toys. He would watch a Disney movie over and over and over again. And he was a slave to his daily schedule.
Even a few months ago, Alex sobbed uncontrollably when he saw a frozen dog -- in a cartoon.
"I'm kind of like a robot -- a robot with a soul," he says.
Alex was in a 6-1-1 class in kindergarten. In elementary school, in both Williamsville and Clarence, he was in a regular class with a full-time aide and a lot of speech and occupational therapy.
But in his middle school years in Clarence, a lot of bullying and his own anxiety in a large school led to his being home-schooled now.
His mother didn't hesitate in becoming a forceful advocate. She started a Power Advocates Web site, with special-education information, about five or six years ago. She organized two big conferences on autism. And she set up an autism walk in 2002.
Two years ago, she started her radio program, "Disability News and Views," which started on WXRL and later moved to the Internet. It's available at www.disabilitynewsradio.com.
"Why did I do it?" she asked. "I said Buffalo is behind in autism [awareness]. I wanted people to understand this invisible world these kids live in, especially Asperger's.
"What Alex taught me is to reach
for it, to make it personal."
All content herein is © 2007 The Buffalo News and may not be republished without permission.
October 2006 - Due to an early winter storm here in Buffalo, New York, we suffered a power outage and were unable to air some of our regularly scheduled programs. Here are some photos of the damage we encountered at our home.
Artists, Robots Team Up to Raise Funds for Autism Research
I want you to know that my 25 year old son Nick, a gifted artist, submitted a drawing for this sketchbook of Robots to benefit ASA. I just found out a few days ago that his drawing of a young boy riding a robot is featured in BOTS! Nick knows all about autism as his 12 year old brother Alex was diagnosed with AS when he was six.
I am so proud of him!
All the proceeds for will be donated
to Autism Society of America. You can check out the link to learn
about BOTS online. Please support this terrific project and get a
copy today – only $10 plus shipping!
Monica Moshenko, Senator Clinton and Alex Moshenko
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton hosts Health Care Panel Discussion at the University at Buffalo
I want to let you know that I was invited by Senator Hillary Clinton to attend a roundtable discussion on Health Care which she hosted at UB yesterday. The panel included James Kaskie, Kaleida Health; Rhonda Frederick, People Inc.; Norman Bitterman, Hard Manufacturing; Tim Freer, New Era; Dr. Bruce Holm, Senior Vice Provost at UB and Dr. David Dunn, Vice President for Health Sciences at UB.
As you know I am very involved in the disability community, especially autism, because of my son Alex. He is now 12 years old and grown to be quite an articulate speaker. I asked Alex if he would like to come along with me to ask Senator Clinton a question. He was thrilled about meeting her and the opportunity to talk too. We were given preferential treatment by Senator Clinton's staff and seated in the front row of the auditorium next to Dr.Herbert Hauptman, Nobel Laureate.
After hearing Senator Clinton share her views about health care issues we face, panel members also shared how health care affects them as well. The audience was allowed to ask only a few questions after this. Alex raised his hand and was selected first to speak. He told everyone in the audience (over 150 people including media), that he was my son and there to speak for children with autism that can't. He provided stats of the increase of autism, now 1-166 diagnosed and over one million in the country affected.
Alex then asked Senator Clinton and the panel why this administration has reduced the amount of funding for research and what can be done? Senator Clinton just beamed as Alex spoke and she acknowledged that many people speculate about autism really increasing or whether it is better diagnosed. She believes that autism is increasing and more funding for research must be done to find out the causes and cures.
Alex made quite an impact on Senator Clinton and the rest of audience. I am so proud of him!
I had many questions that I wanted to ask Senator Clinton about various health care issues for people with disabilities. We were given cards to complete to submit our questions after the discussion was over, so anyone that did email me, I have forwarded your question too.
When the panel discussion was over, we walked up to Senator Clinton and Alex gave her three yellow roses to thank her for inviting us. I gave her a t-shirt from the Olympics and some articles about the radio show I host and Alex. Senator Clinton did ask which school Alex attended, as I know she was amazed at Alex's abilities, as were other people on the panel and audience.
I told her it was because of the right diagnosis and years of early intervention at school and home (OT, Speech, social skills, AT and other therapies) that really made the difference. I am thankful for all the staff that worked with Alex in Williamsville and Clarence schools. Several photos of us were taken with Senator Clinton and we will be happy to share these with you!
I look forward to having more health/disability questions answered by Senator Clinton in the near future on my online radio show, DisAbility News & Views Radio.
View this article online and webcast online
What does the WWE,
a young boy with a birthday dream and autism have in common? Find out
on WGRZ-TV News
To learn more about Alex and his dream wish, watch the special interview on Ch. 2 with Maryalice Demler.(click on link) http://www.wgrz.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=30136
Woman helps disabled with Web radio show
Published: Dec. 5 - Buffalo News
Monica Moshenko draws inspiration from her son, Alex, 12, who doesn't let disability keep him from seeking his goals.
By LOUISE CONTINELLI
News Staff Reporter
12/5/2005 (link to story below)
the Talk Radio: Monica Moshenko and DisAbility News & Views
*Special thanks to United Spinal Association for the fabulous article by Rob Ingraham, Senior Editor, “Orbit Magazine” (June 2005 issue).
(click here to view PDF file)
Moshenko (child autism advocate), of Buffalo, New York is one of
nearly 100 mothers from around the United States, and five
foreign countries, who have been featured in the new Child Autism
Enhancement Publishing release: Autism~Heartfelt Thoughts from Mothers.
With 1 out of every 166 children in the United States being diagnosed with autism (an average of 66 per day-a five fold increase from just five years ago), this disorder has reached epidemic proportions. News of an child autism diagnosis can be devastating to a family and the challenges they face in raising a child with autism unfathomable. (child autism awareness)
Parents who have children with autism will identify with the challenges, share in the blessings, and gain strength from the words of wisdom presented in this book on child autism. Friends and family members of
these parents will get a glimpse into the real world of child autism and find a new appreciation for what parents of special needs children go through on a daily basis. Spreading child autism awareness.Child Autism Awareness
As the child autism epidemic continues to grow worldwide it is imperative that society as a whole gain an awareness of this disorder. This book, and the mothers who are featured in it, greatly help in that effort.
Autism-Heartfelt Thoughts from Mothers
ORDER YOUR COPY FOR $20.00 (includes shipping and handling) ONLINE TODAY HERE!
Reaching Out Over the Air: Back in 1998, Alex Moshenko's preschool teachers in Buffalo weren't sure what made him different. But the degree to which he couldn't follow instructions -- "he'd just run off" or "prefer to be playing with objects" instead of other kids, said his mom, Monica -- was reason enough for school administrators to place Alex in a six-student special education class once he reached kindergarten. Click here to view the entire article.
Country Radio Station Airing Live Talk Show that Makes a ...
PR Web (press release) - Ferndale,WA,USA
BUFFALO, NY (PRWEB) January 11, 2005 -- "Disability News and Views," the nation's only live radio talk show that focuses on disabilities, is for the first time ... Click here to view entire article.
Christopher was a hero to many people, yet he always said it was the ordinary people living with disability who were truly extraordinary, said Lewis. His memory will serve as inspiration for the work of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and we will continue in his honor to be steadfast in our goal of finding treatments and cures for paralysis.
The Foundation extends condolences to the entire Reeve Family. Our thoughts are with all those who mourn in the passing of our Chairman. He will be missed for his life, his work, his passion and his ceaseless courage in the face of adversity that brought hope to millions around the world, added Lewis.
For those who care to do so, the family has requested that donations be made in his honor to the Foundation. Cards may be sent to the family in care of the Foundation at 500 Morris Avenue, Springfield, New Jersey 07081.
For updated information, please visit http://www.ChristopherReeve.org.
Dr. Mel Levine, Renowned Pediatrician and Author, Headlines the List of Prominent Guests on Disability News and Views Radio Show.
Prominent Headliners Upcoming Guests on DisAbility News & Views Radio Show and new sponsors join the nation's live radio show that makes a difference!
(PRWEB) February 28, 2005 -- Renowned Pediatrician and Author, Dr Mel Levine, headlines the list of prominent guests on Disability News and Views Radio Show in March. DisAbility News & Views fills a huge void in media, as 56 million people with disabilities are the least unrepresented minority in our country today bringing timely and critical information to the general public live every Sunday on WXRL 1300AM 5-6 PM EST.
On March 13th, staff from Head Start Classroom Program, will share information about the services they provide to families of three and four year old children. Dr. Mary Sweig Wilson, President of Laureate Learning Systems, Inc. (also a sponsor of the radio show) will provide information on software programs available that train cause and effect, turn-taking, early vocabulary, syntax, cognitive concepts, auditory processing, and reading. Laureate programs are used world-wide in homes, schools, hospitals, and clinics.
On March 20th, Vickie Rubin from Early Childhood Direction Center of the Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, NY. ECDC is a free program that assists parents and professionals with linking children with special needs to services in their community. Andrew K. Cuddy, Attorney who specializes in Special Education Law will be in studio on March 27th to share important information on two unbelievable cases involving adults with disabilities that you need to hear about!
The show's host and developer is Monica Moshenko, the mother of 11 year old son with a high functioning form of autism, and 24 year old boy/girl twins. She is also the President of Power Advocates, an agency designed to train and assist parents of children with special needs through the special education system. Moshenko is passionate about making a difference on radio for all people with disabilities, their families and the general public. "My focus is on abilities and strengths people have, rather than the disability and to educate the general public that people with disabilities are people like you and I."
Moshenko has received email from people across the country and most recently from S. Africa and England about the positive effect this radio show is making in listener's lives. Past shows can be accessed online at
While Moshenko brokers the time to host the live show, she has found businesses across the country that believe in the mission of DisAbility News & Views that help support the radio show. Monica's plans for the radio show include syndication in other markets across the country this year.
New sponsors are Autistic Services, an agency located in Williamsville, New York committed to treating, educating, and caring for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and Solution ComfortSeat R Personal Hygiene Assistive Product Line, from Illinois. The state-of-the-art in bathroom Personal Hygiene Assistive Technology, Solution ComfortSeat R Personal Hygiene Assistive Products are the ultimate in clean and comfort in your bathroom at prices for any budget. When toileting becomes painful, difficult or impossible, a Solution ComfortSeatR can help retain or restore independence and dignity.
Other sponsors of the radio show include Future Horizons in Texas, a world leader in autism education providing conferences and publications; Laureate Learning of Winooski, Vermont, research-based language software; ABC Therapeutics in Clarence, New York, providing occupational therapy services and assessments including sensory integration therapy for children and Accelerations Educational Software from South Carolina featuring software that is specifically effective for individuals with autism and other learning disabilities.
National and local businesses and agencies that provide services and products for people with disabilities, families and professionals are can sponsor DisAbility News & Views Radio Show by calling Monica at 716-522-9185 or email e-mail protected from spam bots.
Subject: 9 year old starts an online petition for accessible restrooms on airplanes
Rasha Kawar is a young disability advocate at age 9. She is a beautiful, bright girl who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Rasha should be considered mature, focused and energetic, by any standards. Rasha has written a petition calling for at least one accessible restroom on each airplane, and it is posted on the PetitionOnLine website.
At its heart, this is a question of human dignity. An accessible restroom is not too much, and we believe there are many people like Rasha who needs one, people with disabilities, parents with small children, older people who need assistance, people of large size and others...
Please support Rasha and sign her petition and forward the email and link to everybody in your address book (Family, friends, co-workers, clients, church etc,). If you have a website, belong to a support group, a member of a listserve etc, Please share the link with others.
You can read more about Rasha and sign her petition at: www.ucp.org
Or you can sign the petition at: www.PetitionOnline.com/r9f12n16
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism
POLL FINDS PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES MORE CONCERNED ABOUT DOMESTIC ISSUES IN ELECTION YEAR
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 29-Reflecting disadvantages that impact many of their lives, people with disabilities are more likely to cite certain domestic issues as being concerns of theirs than are their non-disabled counterparts. A Harris Poll survey conducted in June, which asked respondents to identify the two most critical issues they want the government to address, found 13 percent (versus 8 percent of the non-disabled) concerned about education, 11 percent (versus 9) concerned about jobs, and 12 percent (versus 9) concerned about healthcare. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Related to healthcare, people with disabilities are more than twice as worried about Medicare, 5 vs 2 percent. They are also more focused on poverty and programs for the poor, 4 vs. 1 percent, and welfare, 5 vs. 1 percent. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
“We know from our recently released 2004 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities that people with disabilities are twice as likely to live below the poverty line, twice as likely to drop out of high school, and half as likely to be employed as other Americans,” noted N.O.D. President Alan A. Reich. “Given that, it is no surprise that their concerns about these key domestic agenda items are higher. In this national election year, Presidential candidates and candidates for all offices need to be aware of this. There are 40 million Americans with disabilities who are of voting age, and no legislators can afford to overlook this fifth of the population.” (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
In the 2000 election, polling by Harris found that 56 percent of people with disabilities voted for Al Gore, and 38 percent for Bush. Since 41 percent of people with disabilities, or roughly 16 million people, voted, that split played a role in the closeness of the contested election, which should inspire outreach by both parties and individual candidates to the disability community in the 2004 election. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
“Legislators and political candidates will never make a mistake by reaching out to voters who care about disability issues,” said Mr. Reich. “After all, most voters at least have a friend or relative who has a disability, so a commitment to progress on America’s disability agenda benefits all.” (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The National Organization on Disability, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2002, promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. For more information, visit http://www.nod.org/. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES NATIONWIDE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH MOTEL 6
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Motel 6 Operating L.P., settling allegations that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"For too long Americans with disabilities have faced unreasonable challenges in enjoying many things most of us take for granted, such as traveling and staying in motels," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. Today's settlement is a major step in ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy fully the freedom to travel. We commend Motel 6 for its cooperation and are confident that this agreement will serve as a model for other hotel chains. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Under the agreement, Motel 6 will bring its over 600 corporate owned or operated motels into compliance with the ADA by December 31, 2006. In addition, the company will hire a full time ADA compliance officer, provide ADA training to all motel managers, and hire an independent consultant to assess compliance with the agreement. In the event that Motel 6 fails to achieve substantial compliance with the ADA and the agreement, it will pay $110,000 in civil penalties to the United States. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The settlement is part of the Justice Department's efforts under President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. Announced in early 2001, the initiative seeks to provide Americans with disabilities the full access required by federal law. The initiative focuses primarily on securing voluntary compliance. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Information regarding compliance with federal disabilities laws and the rights of individuals with disabilities are available at http://www.ada.gov and also through the Civil Rights Division's ADA information line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD). (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
News in brief from Northern California (Monterey County Herald, CA)August 12, 2004
REDDING, Calif. (AP) - Shasta County's top prosecutor and city police are investigating whether a rash of disability lawsuits involve fraud. District Attorney Gerald Benito said his office received complaints from business owners who feared the lawsuits seeking to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act were extortion attempts. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"We're asking businesses to come forward if they feel they're being shaken down," Benito said. "When you have the same individuals filing case after case, it looks suspicious." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The Record Searchlight reported last month that Sherie White, a paraplegic from Corning, sued or threatened to sue scores of businesses in Northern California for alleged ADA violations. White's lawyer, Lynn Hubbard III of Chico, recently was criticized by a federal judge for filing "a staggering 291 separate ADA actions." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"Obviously, if there's a legitimate complaint, the owners should fix it," Mundy said. "After all, the law has been out for 14 years." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
Usability &Accessibility Working Group announces launch of new web site W3Reports (press release)
The Usability &Accessibility Working Group (UA-WG) today announced the launch of its new web site, http://www.ua-wg.org. The web site aims to conform to the highest accessibility standards, as set down by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C, the leading Internet body. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Visitors to the new web site will soon be able to access a comprehensive glossary, as well as news stories and articles covering the usability and accessibility of web sites. The web site will also contain information about the accessibility accreditation scheme that the UA-WG will be launching in the near future. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI)
Woman wins claim she needs dog to fight depression
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan Civil Rights Commission and a judge have blocked the eviction of a woman who says her late mother's dog helps her fight depression over the mother's death. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The commission and a judge say Christine Emmick has a disability and is entitled to keep her Shih Tzu, Max, despite Royalwood Cooperative Apartments' no-pets rule. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The apartment complex "refused to reasonably accommodate her mental disability by allowing her to keep a dog," the civil rights commission ruled earlier this year. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
That violates the state's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, the commission said. It awarded Emmick $107,749 in emotional damages and attorney fees. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"I was skeptical of the case at first," Mester told the Detroit Free Press on Monday. "But when you look at the facts of the case, the cooperative was violating the law. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"This is not a case where somebody says, "I have a headache, and a dog would make it better.' This woman had a well-documented disability and was able to prove that the dog helps her in coping with that disability." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"The Royalwood Cooperative believes the decision is wrong on the law and the facts," said Patrick Rode. "The dog, as far as the cooperative is concerned, is nothing more than a pet." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
In 1998, Emmick's mother, a South Carolina resident, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Emmick moved her mother to Michigan a few months later to care for her, along with Max. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
The co-op board warned Emmick that the dog had to go. Emmick responded with a letter from her mother's doctors at Cancer Care Associates of Royal Oak. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"Due to the therapeutic and humanistic benefits of owning, loving and caring for a pet, it is felt to be in this patient's best interest to be able to keep her dog with her," the doctors wrote. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Emmick and her mother found a senior subsidized apartment in Rochester Hills that allowed pets. Emmick's mother lived there with Max until she was hospitalized in June 2000, and she died two months later. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Following her mother's death, Emmick took Max back to her Royalwood apartment. In April 2001, the cooperative's board of directors voted to evict her. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Abramsky told the civil rights commission that Emmick's relationship with Max "kept her afloat and stabilized her functionally and emotionally ... without the dog, she would probably spend most of her life in bed." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
Disability Class Action Filed Against UPS, Inc.
(PRWEB) August 13, 2004 -- "Stop playing doctor!" That's the message behind a nationwide class-action lawsuit filed against United Parcel Service last Friday in a Pittsburgh federal court. The lawsuit charges UPS with systemic violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that protects persons with disabilities from employment discrimination. UPS is alleged to have illegally terminated hundreds of employees because it disapproved of their prescription medications. If proven, the claims could expose UPS to tens of millions of dollars in damages. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"Our first concern is that the company stop practicing medicine," said Charles Lamberton, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "These employees are using legal prescriptions under their doctors' supervision. They still do their jobs perfectly well. UPS is telling them they either have to quit their medicine or be fired." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
According to court papers, UPS singles out employees with a history of addiction to alcohol or drugs, and forces them to disclose their prescriptions. The company then prohibits these employees from using any medications it believes are "inappropriate" for someone in recovery. UPS tests the employee's urine to make sure she has stopped using her prescription. If the employee has not quit her medicine, she is fired. "It's outrageous," Lamberton said. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, agrees. With more than 90,000 members, the Washington, DC based non-profit is the largest cross-disability organization in the United States. "When an employer interferes with an employee's medical care, it crosses a line," Imparato said. "Addiction is a disease. Many of these employees also suffer from psychological illnesses that are best treated with prescription medications. There's just no legitimate reason for UPS to be second-guessing licensed physicians. That's why we joined as a co-plaintiff." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
What about driver safety? "A red herring," Lamberton said. "There's no public safety issue here. We're talking about the 260,000 office workers, package sorters and other employees whose jobs aren't safety sensitive. Drivers and pilots are not part of the case." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
If the legal team Lamberton assembled reflects his determination to win, UPS has reason to be concerned. "Kent Spriggs of Tallahassee is probably the top employment class action lawyer in the United States. And Claudia Center of San Francisco is an expert's expert on disability discrimination law. She's argued ADA cases before the Supreme Court and knows all the nuances. It's a highly qualified team and we have a great chemistry." (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Asked what lies ahead, Lamberton replied, "We're going to trial and we're going to win." The lawsuit is Darlene E. Veltri and the American Association of People with Disabilities vs. United Parcel Service, Inc., Civil Action No. 04-1177 (W.D. Pa.). (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
Repost from Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
CHOOSING CHAMPIONS: A VOTER'S GUIDE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION CANDIDATES Public Education Network has created a voter's guide that presents a list of questions highlighting the most pressing concerns and issues in public education today. Public education is a leading issue in American politics. The information in this guide informs voters about important education issues, and helps voters determine a candidate's stance on public education. There are many possible answers to the questions raised in this guide. No single answer is "correct". The questions help identify the education decisions candidates will have to make if elected, and encourage voters to make ballot selections based on which candidates they believe have the strongest public education agenda. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)http://www.publiceducation.org/voter_guide/home.asp
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
The Carmel Pine Cone (Carmel, CA)
Disabled decry suit against C.V. restaurant- San Fernando Valley man seeks millions in damages from local businesses
By PAUL MILLER
A GROUP of wheelchair-bound residents of the Rippling River low-income housing complex in Carmel Valley reacted with shock and bitterness to news this week that a restaurant they've comfortably used for years has been sued for alleged ADA violations by a paraplegic from Woodland Hills. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Jarek Molski, 34, who is paralyzed from the waist down because of a 1988 motorcycle accident, sued 10 Monterey County businesses in U.S. District Court in San Jose during the last two months, seeking more than $1.6 million from each. They are among 205 such suits he has filed in California claiming violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. (Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
His local targets include Tarpy's Roadhouse, five wineries (Georis, Bernardus, Heller, Cloninger, and Rapazzini) and White Oak Plaza shopping center on Carmel Valley Road.(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
One business hit with a lawsuit June 4, The Running Iron, is just down the road from Rippling River, where disabled people have organized to fight an eviction move by county officials, and who are almost as riled up about the ADA suit against their local hangout.(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"I go to The Running Iron for lunch practically every Sunday after church, and I've never had any problem," said Jane Wheeler, who has been confined to a wheelchair for more than 20 years because of cerebral palsy. "I have severe food allergies, and the people at The Running Iron were so nice to me when I explained it to them."(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"There are always difficulties when you're in a wheelchair," said Garie LeBow, another wheelchair user from Rippling River. "But I've been going to The Running Iron since 1990, and it has very accessible bathrooms and it's easy to get around because there are ramps and there are no stairs."(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
"It's absolutely not true that The Running Iron discriminates against disabled people," said Merri Bilek, president of the Rippling River residents association and an amputee who has patronized the restaurant for almost two decades. "The owner, Jenn Foreman, usually greets me with a hug” not only her, but her staff has always been very accommodating."(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
Another outspoken woman, Carolyn Metcalf, who's been in a wheelchair for 30 years, called the lawsuit "ridiculous" and said The Running Iron is"very accessible and very friendly."(Disability News & Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism)
And Chris Sauer, perhaps the most severely disabled woman interviewed for this story, issued a statement through her caregiver: "I have lived in Carmel Valley for 29 years. Since the beginning I have enjoyed going to The Running Iron restaurant. I have had no problems getting into the place and I also had no problems with the restroom."
The owner of The Running Iron for the last 19 years, Nelson Foreman, said he was very surprised to be accused of discriminating against the handicapped.
"I thought I'd be the last person in the world to be sued under the ADA," Foreman said. "Not a day goes by that we don't have one or two people in here in wheelchairs, and we always do our best to take care of them."
But that's not the way Molski sees it. In his lawsuits, Molski describes not only being "embarrassed and humiliated" by improper wheelchair access at local businesses during a visit to the Monterey Peninsula last summer. At many of those businesses, he also claims he was injured.
"On June 8, 2003, plaintiff Jarek Molski entered the parking lot of the Running Iron restaurant, only to discover that the handicapped accessible spaces were all done incorrectly," one of his suits alleges. The restaurant had three spaces marked for handicapped access, "but none had access aisles, and one had no signage."
And when Molski entered the restaurant, "he felt that the entry ramp from the bar was too steep . . . and he encountered a step from the patio entrance," according to the suit.
The story continues: After having a meal, Molski needed to use a restroom. On his way to the men's room, he encountered swinging doors. "Said doors were problematic," the suit says. Also the toilet stall was too narrow and had grab bars 40 inches above the floor, instead of the legally required 33 inches. "Plaintiff injured himself when using the existing grab bars," the suit said.
The day before, at the Heller Estates tasting room Molski suffered "trauma to his upper extremities" when he tried to use the restroom, a separate lawsuit maintains. Also on June 7, Molski claims he was injured while attempting to use the restrooms at Georis Winery and at Tarpy's Roadhouse.
These incidents amounted to violations of federal and state accessibility laws, the suit contends, entitling Molski to "at least $4,000 per day" from the date of his visit until the alleged violations are corrected, plus medical costs, attorney's fees and punitive damages, adding up to millions of dollars.
"These lawsuits are just a way to make money," said a caregiver for disabled people at Rippling River. "And they end up giving all disabled people a bad name."
Molski could not be reached for comment, but his San Francisco Attorney, Thomas Frankovich, said he would need to talk to the wheelchair users from Rippling River before assessing their statements.
"Maybe they are using the facilities differently from the way my client did," Frankovich said. And even if their assessments are based on hundreds of individual visits over 20 years, that doesn't invalidate Molski's problems at the Running Iron and his opinion after just one trip that it deserves to be sued.
And while Molski has filed about 250 ADA suits, Frankovich has handled more than 800 for various clients. None of them has gone to trial, he said, with most settling for "between $20,000 and $30,000” far more than it cost businesses in downtown Carmel to settle suits filed against them last year.
"The attitude of a lot of businesses is pretty bad toward people with disabilities," Frankovich claimed. "Most businesses couldn't care less about access and only come into compliance if they think they're going to be sued."
Residents of Rippling River are starting a petition to support him, Foreman said. Meanwhile, he has hired Dan De Vries, a local attorney who specializes in defending ADA suits.
If all else fails, Foreman is hoping for changes in the law to give small business owners notice before they can be sued for allegedly discriminating against the handicapped.
That's the same cause former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood took to Capitol Hill in 2000, telling a congressional committee that ADA lawsuits are a "money-making scam."
But legislation amending the ADA never made it out of committee, and is no longer under active consideration in Washington.
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
7th Circuit Rejects 'Rare' ADA Association Claim
By Jay Judge
Fired worker failed to allege valid claim under section of Americans with Disabilities Act that bars discrimination based on plaintiff's 'relationship or association' with disabled individual.
Today's column looks at a case of first impression for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involving the Americans with Disabilities Act section covering individuals' personal associations. Larimer v. International Business Machines Corp., 370 F.3d 698 (7th Cir. 2004).
The ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12112(b)(4), forbids discrimination against ''a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.''
This section covers three categories: expense, disability by association and distraction.
The 7th Circuit clarified what's needed to sustain a claim under the association section as well as the limitations on the Den Hartog test, which is equivalent to the McDonnell Douglas test. Den Hartog v. Wasatch Academy, 129 F.3d 1076 (10th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff Thomas Larimer was hired as a salesman for defendant IBM in August 2000 and fired a year later. Larimer's suit contended that he was fired because his twin daughters, born prematurely in May 2001, suffered a variety of maladies and were disabled or might be in the future. Some $200,000 in medical bills were paid under IBM's employee health plan to treat the twins, who nonetheless seemed healthy and normal.
IBM countered that Larimer was fired for not meeting company expectations on the sale of Lotus software and services.
U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow granted summary judgment for IBM, finding no ADA claim under the association section. (The judge also rejected a claim pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which is not covered in this column.)
In an opinion by Judge Richard A. Posner, the 7th Circuit affirmed, offering its first treatment of the association section, the three types of association claims and the Den Hartog test.
The 7th Circuit began with the statute:
''Larimer must lose even if his daughters are disabled or regarded as disabled. He is suing not on their behalf but on his own, under a provision of the ADA that forbids discrimination against 'a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.' 42 U.S.C. §12112(b)(4). Notice first the oddity of requiring the plaintiff to show that he is a 'qualified individual,' since the only definition in the ADA of a 'qualified individual' is the definition of 'qualified individual with a disability' as 'an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.' 42 U.S.C. §12111(8).
''If this is the 'qualified individual' to which the association provision (section 12112(b)(4)) refers, then Larimer cannot obtain any relief under that provision because he has no disability! The term 'qualified individual' in that provision must simply mean qualified to do one's job, as assumed though nowhere discussed in the legislative history and the cases.''
Posner then defined the three categories of association claims:
''Three types of situation are, we believe, within the intended scope of the rarely litigated (this is our first case) association section. We'll call them 'expense,' 'disability by association' and 'distraction.' They can be illustrated as follows: an employee is fired (or suffers some other adverse personnel action) because (1) ('expenses') his spouse has a disability that is costly to the employer because the spouse is covered by the company's health plan; (2a) ('disability by association') the employee's homosexual companion is infected with HIV and the employer fears that the employee may also have become infected, through sexual contact with the companion; (2b) (another example of disability by association) one of the employee's blood relatives has a disabling ailment that has a genetic component and the employee is likely to develop the disability as well (maybe the relative is an identical twin); (3) ('distraction') the employee is somewhat inattentive at work because his spouse or child has a disability that requires his attention, yet not so inattentive that to perform to his employer's satisfaction he would need an accommodation, perhaps by being allowed to work shorter hours.
''The qualification concerning the need for an accommodation (that is, special consideration) is critical because the right to an accommodation, being limited to disabled employees, does not extend to a non-disabled associate of a disabled person.''
The court quickly ruled out types No. 2 and 3:
''This case fits none of the categories. (2) can be ruled out peremptorily; the girls' premature birth and resulting medical afflictions are neither communicable to Larimer nor predictive of his becoming ill or disabled. Likewise (3): there is no evidence that Larimer was absent or distracted at work because of his wife's pregnancy or the birth and hospitalization of his daughters.''
For the the expense category, however, the court found no evidence that IBM considered the $200,000 in insurance benefits in Larimer's evaluation as a salesman and his firing.
Even so, Larimer sought to prove an actionable claim under the Den Hartog test, as set out by Posner:
''Having no evidence, Larimer falls back on the ubiquitous McDonnell Douglas test for a prima facie case of employment discrimination. Den Hartog, the case with the most extensive discussion of the ADA's association provision, purports to use a version of the test that requires the plaintiff to show that '(1) the plaintiff was ''qualified'' for the job at the time of the adverse employment action; (2) the plaintiff was subjected to adverse employment action; (3) the plaintiff was known by his employer at the time to have a relative or associate with a disability; (4) the adverse employment action occurred under circumstances raising a reasonable inference that the disability of the relative or associate was a determining factor in the employer's decision.' Den Hartog, 129 F.3d at 1085; see also McGuinness v. University of New Mexico School of Medicine, 170 F.3d 974, 979-80 (10th Cir. 1998).''
Posner did note that there is some frailty in calling the Den Hartog test the McDonnell Douglas test for ADA association claims, but in the end, the 7th Circuit adopted Den Hartog and found that Larimer had no proof under the test:
''The test is sound, but it's not really a version of the McDonnell Douglas test because it requires the plaintiff to prove all the elements of what would be the prima facie case of discrimination against a relative or other associate of a disabled person even if there had never been a McDonnell Douglas case. This is apparent from the fourth element of the Den Hartog test, which requires the plaintiff to produce evidence that he was discriminated against because of the disability of a person with whom he has a relationship or other association.
''Compare this to the corresponding part of the McDonnell Douglas test, which in the case of employment discrimination based on race or some other invidious ground requires the plaintiff to prove only that he was replaced by someone of a different race” not that he was discriminated against because of his race. A plaintiff who can produce evidence of actual discrimination on the basis of disability has made out a prima facie case without regard to McDonnell Douglas.
''A true parallel to McDonnell Douglas in the association setting would allow a prima facie case to be made out if the plaintiff, having shown that he was qualified in the sense of meeting his employer's expectations (not a 'qualified individual with a disability,' as we explained earlier), went on to show that his employer knew he had a relationship or association with a disabled individual, that the employer fired him, and that he was replaced by someone who lacked such a relationship or association. This would not however be a very sensible test” which shows that there may be limits even to the cloning of McDonnell Douglas. ''
The court found that a true McDonnell Douglas test would not lend itself to an association claim:
''When deciding whether to adapt McDonnell Douglas to a new legal setting, a court should ask not, 'How can we create a formula closest to that one?' but, 'What conditions imply a comparably high likelihood that the employer is violating the statute?' In the present setting a true McDonnell Douglas test, as distinct from the Den Hartog test, would generate the prima facie case of disability discrimination when only the most tenuous basis for an inference of discrimination was present” for example when the employer knew merely that the plaintiff had a second cousin who was sterile, or that he had shaken hands with a person who was HIV positive.
''Better to require, as Den Hartog does though not in precisely these words, that the plaintiff present evidence that his case falls in one of the three categories in which an employer has a motive to discriminate against a non-disabled employee who is merely associated with a disabled person.''
Thus, adopting the Den Hartog test, the 7th Circuit affirmed judgment for IBM, finding no ADA association claim.
Copyright 2004 Law Bulletin
About the Author: Judge, a name partner of Judge, James &Kujawa LLC in Park Ridge, is a defense attorney who specializes in trials, appeals and insurance coverage. Judge graduated with honors from The John Marshall Law School and served as editor-in-chief of the school's law review.
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
New format hastens textbook accessibility
AAPD GENERAL COUNSEL OLLIE CANTOS NAMED TO HIGH-LEVEL GOVERNMENT POST
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 6) -- At an event hosted yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice commemorating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Loretta King announced the selection of Ollie Cantos, General Counsel and Director of Programs for the 90,000-member American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) as Special Assistant to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights R. Alexander Acosta. Cantos is to begin service in his new post on Monday, August 9.
Among other duties, Cantos will play a key role in strengthening national outreach efforts to disability organizations, expanding the list of jurisdictions under Project Civic Access, and increasing the number of state building codes to become ADA Certified. (See http://www.ada.gov/.)
Since June 2001, Cantos served as International Coordinator of Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) whose purpose is to enhance meaningful internship and employment opportunities through job shadowing and hands-on career exploration. (See http://www.dmd-aapd.org .) Under his leadership, the program quadrupled in size and scope. Having just 1,600 mentees in the District of Columbia and 32 states in 2001, DMD grew to encompass participation by more than 6,000 mentees from all 50 states, 3 territories, and 17 foreign countries on 5 continents. Collaboration with employers from the private, governmental, and nonprofit sectors skyrocketed from 250 in 2001 to almost 1,000 in 2003. His efforts led to an expansion of local coordinators from jus(`~`)J Mike Savory J SeLf * * A wak(e)A _dvocacy [Org] (c) 2004 [Org] (c) 2004
Disabled Action CommitteeDAC 4 Virginia
[Disability News and Views Radio Show - Autism Awareness & Child Autism]
2004 ACCESSIBLE AMERICA COMPETITION ANNOUNCED:
MOST DISABILITY FRIENDLY COMMUNITY WILL WIN $25,000, NATIONAL RECOGNITION
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21-The National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) urges America’s mayors and chief elected officials to enter their communities in the fourth annual $25,000 “Accessible America” award competition, open to all U.S. cities and towns. It is sponsored by UPS, as were the past three years’ contests. Entrants will showcase how their citizens with disabilities are participating in and contributing to local community life. Entries must be postmarked by the deadline of October 31, 2004. Phoenix, Arizona was the 2003 winner, surpassing dozens of outstanding entries from diverse communities nationwide. Venice, Florida won the inaugural contest, and Irvine, California was the 2002 winner.
The winner of N.O.D.’s Accessible America 2004 competition will be a city or town where citizens with disabilities have opportunities for full and equal participation in the life of their community, including access to education, jobs, voting, transportation, housing, religious worship, and a full range of social, recreational, cultural, and sports activities. Another area that N.O.D. is giving special focus in the post-September 11 era is emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. The competition highlights thorough community-wide progress and inspires replication.
“People who have disabilities are part of every community, and deserve to feel welcomed in the towns and cities where they live,” said N.O.D. Vice Chairman Christopher Reeve. “Communities that make strong efforts to be accessible and welcoming to those of us with disabilities serve their citizens and visitors, and these communities gain culturally, socially, and economically.”
To enter the competition, communities will submit an official Accessible America application signed by their mayor describing how their city or town (or county that represents unincorporated communities within its borders) provides opportunities for citizens with disabilities to participate fully in community life.
910 16th St. NW * Washington, DC 20006 * 202/293-5960 * TDD 202/293-5968 * fax 202/293-7999
Accessible America Contest - 2
The contest launches a month after N.O.D. released its 2004 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities. The survey highlights ten key gap areas where Americans with disabilities have been documented, since the survey began in 1986, to be at a significant disadvantage in comparison to other Americans. The survey found that 31 percent of people with disabilities consider transportation to be a problem, compared to just 14 percent of other Americans. People with disabilities also report that they eat out, socialize with friends, and go to a place of worship less often than do other Americans, and they are less than half as likely to be employed. Welcoming and accessible communities help to close these gaps.
“Our nation’s commitment to people with disabilities is felt by individuals where they live. Americans with disabilities, who are one-fifth of the population, are eager to participate and contribute just like everyone else,” says Nancy Starnes, N.O.D. Vice President and Director of the Community Partnership Program, and hersel the former mayor of Sparta, N.J.
To learn more about the Accessible America 2004 competition - as well as the numerous benefits N.O.D.’s Community Partnership Program offers to member communities - visit N.O.D.’s web site, <http://www.nod.org>, or call Ms. Starnes at 202/293-5960. Member communities, represented by their mayors, receive guidance, complimentary copies of N.O.D. research reports and publications, legislative updates, alerts and bulletins on disability issues, and tips on working with constituents with disabilities. The program shares information about and promotes replication of model local disability programs through its growing network of towns, cities and counties committed to mainstreaming people with disabilities. Membership in the Community Partnership Program is not a prerequisite for entering the Accessible America competition.
The National Organization on Disability, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2002, promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. For more information about N.O.D.’s programs, visit http://www.nod.org/.
A MESSAGE FROM MONICA: