From AAPD (4.29.11):
White House Monthly Disability Briefings
By Jenifer Simpson, Government Affairs, AAPD
On Thursday April 28, AAPD participated again in the monthly disability outreach call that is conducted by Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. These briefings focus on recent Administration leadership efforts and include key speakers working on disability policy and are open to anyone in the disability community, but are not press briefings. This call included some updates about the White House website in addition to presentations from Michael Strautmanis, who is Chief of Staff to Valerie Jarrett (who is Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison) and by Mazen Basrawi, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice.
White House website upgrades: Kareem Dale mentioned first that there have been upgrades to the “Disabilities” link on the White House home page, including links to recent Presidential position statements, such as on the budget, international issues, etc. There is also a new online form for questions on disability and related policy. Online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/disability-issues-contact Dale said that he receives about 100 email inquiries a day but that all of them will be answered.
National Autism Month: Strautmanis spoke first and talked about the establishment of April as Autism Awareness Month and a presidential global initiative to expand autism awareness, research and education worldwide. He said that about one percent of children in the U.S. have autism spectrum disorders, including his own 14 year old son. He emphasized the need for changes in dealing with autism, saying that the federal process has to involve intergovernmental coordination of the various agencies to look at causes, treatments and prevention. See WH Press Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/25/meeting-needs-people-autism
ADA Enforcement: Mazen Basrawi spoke next about the critical steps forward that DOJ is taking to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. He noted that his background included being an attorney as the Disability Rights center in California and working on the ADA Title III case that the National Federation of the Blind brought against Target for inaccessible websites. Basrawi focused on recent DOJ efforts under Titles II and III, saying they had settled and reached agreements in 25 cases in 17 states over the past two years. He talked about the successes in their Project Civic Access, reporting that they had entered into agreements with 27 counties, cities or states for non-discrimination under Title II. He also mentioned the commitments reached under ADA Title III with the Hilton Hotels, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Quiktrip gas/stores and with movie theaters. He also mentioned the recent settlements made with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) to make the online law school application process accessible to blind applicants as well as the agreements with five universities that schools cannot use inaccessible technology. Basrawi encouraged call listeners to let DOJ know about any concerns or complaints they may have with barriers to access.
Baswari reported that DOJ had received over 1,000 comments and oral testimonies in response to their July 2010 Advanced Notices of Rulemakings involving
Accessibility of Web Information and Services Provided by Entities Covered by the ADA, Movie Captioning and Video Description, Accessibility of Next Gen 911, and about Equipment and Furniture. However, he did not specify when any NPRMs or final rules would be issued.
1. Read DOJ April 26 notice about ADA Settlement to Make Law School Application Processes Accessible to Blind Applicants http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/April/11-crt-519.html
2. Read latest agreements reached under Project Civic Access and other ADA cases at http://www.ada.gov/new.htm
3. If you are not already signed up for notices about the monthly White House disability briefings, send email to [email protected] and in the email provide your name, the name of your organization, your title, your email address and phone number and then you will be added to distribution list.
For further information on how AAPD works with the Administration, please contact [email protected]