Congratulations High School Graduates! Receiving accommodations in college is getting easier!

It's high school graduation time. Last week I attended my nephew - Brenden's graduation from Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh, N.C. This week, my cousin's daughter Lilly is graduating from Bronxville High School. Congratulations to the students AND their proud parents.

As a full time lawyer and ADA advocate and part time college adjunct professor, I speak with special education lawyers, college officials and students about their paths to college and the importance of understanding the differences in seeking and securing accommodations for learning disabilities in college.

Colleges and universities are inconsistent with what the medical documentation and testing they require to establish a student has a qualifying disability for ADA/504 accommodations. The RISE Act should make it easier by allowing students to submit documentation used in high school to establish their disabilities. Read more about [the RISE Act here ][1]

[1]: https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/education/transition.php - disqus_thread

ADA Advocate Donna Drumm on panel to present: ABC’s of ADA

Update May 30, 2017 This presentation was cancelled and will be re-scheduled in the Fall. May 5, 2017

Donna Drumm, Esq. and ADA Advocate has been invited as a panel member to speak on the ABC's of the ADA.

Joining her are distinguished speakers:

Lucia Chiocchio, Esq. Eva David, Esq. Crystal Collins, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
Moderator:
Lisa M. Bluestein, Esq.

This program will provide an overview of the rights and obligations under the ADA. Attorneys who represent business owners, real estate owners and developers, as well as landlords and tenants should attend.

The event will be held May 9th and is sponsored by the Westchester Women's Bar Association. For more information please go to this link

Donna Drumm attends lobbying session in NY Capitol for Dreams Law

May 1, 2017 Donna Drumm attended a lobbying session in Albany, NY at the Capitol Building to meet with members of the Assembly and Senators to advocate for Dream's Law.

She campaigned with Dream, Dream's mother, Diana Lemon and members of Friends of Karen "With the help of NY State Representative, Sandy Galef, and NY State Senator David Carlucci, Bill #S1165 (Dream Bill) is about to go before the New York State Senate. This bill would add an amendment to the Public Health Law to deem that a central venous line is “medically necessary” and, therefore, “to ensure as part of discharge planning for transplant patients with a central venous line, the designated caregiver shall be consulted on his or her capabilities and limitations in administering medications and providing proper central venous line care.” Dream Bill is poised to become Dream Law but still needs more public support.

If you would like to help support Dream Law, here’s what you can do: Call, write and/or email NY State Senator, Kemp Hannon, Chair of the NY Senate Health Committee and ask him to support this bill and share with your friends and ask them to do the same (#DreamLaw2017). Community Office: 595 Stewart Ave., Suite 540, Garden City, NY 11530; 516-739-1700 Albany Office: The Capitol – Room 420, Albany, NY 12247; 518-455-2200 hannon@nysenate.gov"

More Information about the Dream Bill and to sign the petition.

Pictured (left to right) ADA Advocate, Donna Drumm, Esq., NY Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Assembly District 22, Dream Shepherd of DreamsLaw, Diana Lemon - Dream's Mother & Activist Extraordinaire!   

Pictured (left to right) ADA Advocate, Donna Drumm, Esq., NY Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Assembly District 22, Dream Shepherd of DreamsLaw, Diana Lemon - Dream's Mother & Activist Extraordinaire! 

 

Donna Drumm becomes member of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)

Thanks to my fellow attorney colleagues who practice with special needs children in K-12, I was introduced to the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. This month I was accepted as a member. It is my intention to share my knowledge of seeking accommodations for college and graduate students.

"COPAA is a community that works to increase the quality and quantity of advocate and attorney representation; and, through that vehicle,

Achieve Better Outcomes for the Families We Serve

We believe the key to accessing individualized, effective educational programs is assuring that students with disabilities and their parents are equal members of the educational team." (from COPAA's website home page)

Attention Airport Travelers in Wheelchairs

If you are a person who needs to travel through an airport in a wheelchair, or have a family member who does, read on:

I was discussing traveling with a person who due to their disability regularly travels through airports using the airport's wheelchairs. She described to me long waits for airport personnel to arrive with the wheelchair, being stranded in the middle of an airport because the wheelchair attendant's shift was over and she walked away and delays in getting to connecting flights while waiting for attendants to arrive at one gate to transport the person to a connecting flight's gate.

I accompanied this person before at an airport while they were using the wheelchair and found the airport personnell to be pleasant and accommodating. This story shocked me. Now my eyes are opened. Protect yourself and protect your family members.

Rules to protect your rights

"The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel where needed." Preparation is important - when you make your reservations, telephone the airline and request their wheelchair reservation application. Fill it out and submit. Bring a copy with you to the airport.

"All carriers are now required to have a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) immediately available (even if by phone) to resolve disagreements which may arise between the carrier and passengers with disabilities."* If you experience difficulties at the airport, speak to staff or ask them to put you in touch with the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Prior to leaving home, find out the CRO phone number for each airport you use during your trip. CROs are available 24/7.

Your Complaints Count

By law, "carriers also must respond within 30 days to written complaints about their treatment of disabled passengers, and specifically address the issues raised in the complaints. In addition, airlines must properly code and record their disability-related complaints in connection with required reporting to the Department."** Airlines place an enormous amount of importance on the disability related complaints they receive. One major airline received under 100 in one year. How can that be? Let your voice be heard.

Please reach out to me if you need an ADA Advocate for you or your family's travel.

For more information here are two articles:

https://wheelchairtravel.org/does-the-delta-difference-extend-to-travelers-with-disabilities/

https://wheelchairtravel.org/faq/how-to-hold-airlines-responsible-for-acaa-violations/


Citations to this article:

Advocate for students with disabilities transitioning to college and the workforce

Thanks to the Westchester Women's Bar Association's presentation for parents, special needs attorneys and advocates on understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act and discussing strategies for educating parents and students on advocating in college and the workplace.

Once a special needs child enters college, the accommodations they can receive in college are completely different. The child, since they are now 18, must advocate for themselves by contacting the college's disabilities office and follow the college's procedures. The procedures to gain reasonable accommodations change from college to college. Services their parents did not pay for in K-12, may incur additional expenses. Consider researching prospective college or universities breadth of services they offer for special needs students or disabled students as part of your college admission journey. Many colleges have the reasonable accommodations requests procedures on their websites. If they do not, call the admissions department to ask to speak to a representative of their disabilities office.

When the young adult goes into the workforce, they may seek accommodations (under Title I of the ADA), at any time during the hiring and interview process. Any qualified individual can seek reasonable accommodations for their disability. Timing of asking for the accommodation is a personal decision and many factors should be weighed.

Please contact me if you are a parent or advocate for a young person entering college in need of accommodations, I can help!

Donna Drumm teaching Masters of Health Administration program @ Mercy College

Beginning next week, I will be teaching students in Mercy College's Master of Health Administration program Law, Government and Policy. Preparing for the course has given me more knowledge to empower students to make a difference in three ways: 1) The 'formal way', learning how to write a bill and bring it to a Comgressman.

2) Impacting policy from the workplace or 'behind the desk' advocacy.

3) Having no governmental experience, the activist way - someone who is not a professional politician or health administrator, who believes something should be changed and has the will to do so.

I bring this to my clients who having experienced the difference an ADA Advocate can bring to a court setting, are empowered to want to start up non profits or write books to help others suffering from disabilities to become aware of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Donna Drumm speaking on ADA Accommodations after High School

Donna Drumm, ADA Advocate and attorney will be presenting for the Westchester Women's Bar Association a round table discussion on accommodations for students transitioning into high school or the work force.

Date:
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. (light dinner served)

Place: White and Williams, LLP 427 Bedford Road, Suite 250 Pleasantville, NY 10570 Free parking in indoor lot on Bedford Rd. Do NOT park in underground lot.

Charge:
$20 for WWBA Members $30 for Non-Members

Students who receive accommodations through IEP in elementary and high school, encounter an entirely different set of rules when they go to college or enter the workforce.

The Education Committee of the Westchester Women's Bar Association is sponsoring this presentation. Lawyers who represent children with special needs and attorneys who represent schools will each find valuable ways to expand their practice to continue to represent their clients as they enter into college or the workforce after graduating high school.

Special guest speaker, Molly McBride from the Office of ACCESSibility at Mercy College will contribute from the school administrator's point of view.

For more information please follow this link: http://wwbany.org/event-2454531

ADA and Employers - Nurse in psychiatric ward using cane for arthritis denied job reassignment

In a departure from circuit courts throughout the United States, a nurse who suffers from arthritis and uses a cane was denied transferring to another position in the psychiatric hospital. This article is relevant for health care managers and human resource professionals. For more read the case analysis here: http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/557966/employment+litigation+tribunals/Court+Employees+Seeking+Accommodation+Must+Compete+For+Reassignment

ADA and Employment - Does the ADA protect a dissatisfied customer service worker? 9th Circuit says NO

This just in... from the law firm of Ogletree Deakins...

USA November 10 2016 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a failure-to accommodate claim brought by a customer service employee who was fired for poor performance. According to the court, the former employee, who suffered from endometriosis and headaches, was not able to show that she was qualified to perform the essential functions of a customer service job. Kelley v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 13-36114, United State Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Factual Background

As a customer service associate employed by AMZN WACS, Inc. (which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.), Jodie Kelley was responsible for fielding questions from customers and resolving complaints. While employed by Amazon, Kelley who suffered from endometriosis and migraine headaches, took medical leaves on an intermittent basis. In 2010, her job performance began to decline as evidenced by her “Expressed Dissatisfaction Rate (EDR), which was derived from customer surveys.” After attempting, unsuccessfully, to remedy Kelley’s deficiencies, Amazon fired her.

The definition of the term “qualified individual with a disability” reflects this remedial purpose. Accordingly, the definition 1) requires an individualized assessment of a particular individual’s capabilities; 2) focuses on the essential functions of a particular position; 3) looks at particular positions, not work in general; and 4) considers whether a person can work with reasonable accommodations.

Kelley filed suit against Amazon alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Washington Law Against Discrimination, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Washington ruled in favor of the employer, and Kelley appealed.

The Ninth Circuit’s Decision

Kelley argued that Amazon failed to accommodate her disability. The court found that Kelley’s failure-to-accommodate claim failed because there was an issue as to whether she was qualified to perform the essential functions of her job with or without a reasonable accommodation. According to the court, “customer service is the reason for the existence” of Kelley’s position. Moreover, the court found, “[o]ver the course of at least eight months, she regularly failed to meet the EDR standard required for her team even after repeated attempts by Amazon personnel to improve her performance.” Thus, the court concluded that Kelley had failed to create a jury issue regarding whether she could “deliver adequate customer service with or without a reasonable accommodation.”

With regard to Kelley’s suggested accommodations—including a transfer to another customer service position and a medical leave of absence—the court found that “[a] reasonable trier of fact has no basis to conclude that any of the accommodations . . . are reasonable.” With regard to a transfer, the court found that there was no record that positions for which Kelley was qualified were available. With regard to a leave, the court found that Kelley had not produced any evidence that her impairments were treatable or that her “tone of voice”—which Kelley had claimed was responsible for her performance deficiencies—“could be remedied through medical treatment that would require a leave of absence.”

Finally, the court rejected Kelley’s argument that Amazon failed to accommodate her by failing to consult with her doctor. The court ruled that while consulting with an employee’s doctor “is a potential method of discovering a reasonable accommodation, it is not a reasonable accommodation in and of itself.” Thus, the court affirmed the district court’s granting of summary judgment in Amazon’s favor.

Key Takeaways

With the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2008, and the follow-up regulations that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed in 2011 implementing the amendments, it is clear that the overall message for employers is to prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who want to work and who are qualified to work. Since that time, it often seems that employers are having to and/or are assuming that employees who raise a concern of a medical condition must immediately jump into the discussion about the need for an accommodation.

This case is a good reminder that in defining who is a “qualified individual,” the ADA looks at whether an individual with a disability is qualified for the specific position at issue, not at whether he or she is qualified for work in general. The Ninth Circuit confirmed that Jodie Kelley was not qualified to perform her customer service job because of her performance record. Thus, the accommodation was unnecessary.

While this decision is a good outcome for the employer, caution should be used to examine whether employees are able to perform their jobs and are therefore “qualified individuals” as more often than not the scope of the ADA is broad. A qualified individual with a disability is an “individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential function of such position”. The definition of the term “qualified individual with a disability” reflects this remedial purpose. Accordingly, the definition 1) requires an individualized assessment of a particular individual’s capabilities; 2) focuses on the essential functions of a particular position; 3) looks at particular positions, not work in general; and 4) considers whether a person can work with reasonable accommodations.

Employers in a similar position to the one in this case should consider whether there is a written job description of the essential functions of the job. After you have confirmed that the employee is qualified despite the medical restrictions, engage in the interactive process. Finally, do not forget to document your findings!

Summertime is ADA Accommodation Time for Schools

As an adjunct professor, and ADA Advocate, I work in post secondary schools and have seen a a trend in colleges and universities working with students with invisible disabilities. The process is different than high school. There is more responsibility on you as the student to self-identify and seek accommodations from your school's ADA Coordinator. Negotiating for your invisible disabilities is new territory for many schools, but remember, you have the power of the Americans with Disabilities Act behind you! KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

Here is an excellent article to start published by:
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Students With Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities, Washington, D.C., 2011.
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html

LiftingUp Westchester Board of Directors @ April 14 GALA

Congratulations to LiftingUp Westchester... Where Hope Takes Flight... Oasis of Hope Gala

The Oasis of Hope Annual Gala was April 14, 2016. One of the many programs the fundraiser supports is:

"Rainbow Outreach" which offers a safe environment and therapeutic weekly activities for 50 developmentally disabled adults and referral services for these individuals and their parents.

Pictured are the Board of Directors
fron left to right first row:
Michael Heffner, Alan Goldman, Donna Drumm, Carol Schiro Greenwald, Linda Gallo
Second row: Walter Simon, Helen Hamlyn (President), Rev. Richard Kunz (Chair), Paul Anderson-Winchell (Executive Director) and PJ Louis
Not pictured: E. Barbara Wiggins
Lifting Up Westchester is a non profit organization.
Learn more about LiftingUp Westchester here

Recent ADA Accommodation News by Donna Drumm Certified ADA Advocate

Recent ADA accommodations work

Workplace accommodations - working with client on obtaining work place accommodations for visible and invisible disabilities.

Warrant accommodations - worked with client to receive accommodation to appear by telephone.

Divorce - work with client to receive accommodations for hearing on child custody matters.

Presentations - On April 20th at Mercy College I will be presenting: "Accessibility in the Workplace" to graduating students and staff. This is being sponsored by the Office of ACCESSibility, an innovative service offered to students with disabilities.

The focus of the presentatiion is to empower students to advocate for ADA Accomodations in the work place during interviews and the initial hiring process.

The presentation will be held Wednesday, April 20th from 2:30-3:30 PM at the Dobbs Ferry campus.

Interviews - Greenwich radio station WGBH interviewed Paul Anderson Winchell, Executive Director of LiftingUp Westcheseter and me about LUW's upcoming Gala, volunteerism and our mission.

Dr. Karin Huffer, my mentor and founder of Equal Access Advocates, interviewed me for her ADA Advocacy class at John Jay College in Manhattan. The interview will be part of the class work beginning in Sept. 2016.

Volunteer "Judge" for Pace Law School's Moot Court Competition - I joined attorneys and professional judges in observing first year law students present arguments on jurisdiction. It's hard to be a judge when the finalists are all so excellent. Nicely done students!!!