Landmark Agreements Establish New Model for Online Accessibility in Higher Education and Business

PRESS RELEASE Settlement with MIT Follows Similar Agreement with Harvard University to Caption Online Content Agreements Represent the Most Comprehensive Set of Online Accessibility Requirements BOSTON—The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) announced today a landmark settlement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that institutes a series of new guidelines to make the university’s website and online resources accessible for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. The settlement follows a similar agreement with Harvard University in November 2019, which together represent the most comprehensive set of online accessibility requirements in higher education and provide a new model for ensuring worldwide online and digital accessibility in academia and business for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. MIT, one of the most celebrated academic research institutes in the world, has agreed to provide industry standard captioning for publicly-available online content, including video and audio content posted on MIT.edu as well as MIT’s YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud pages, certain live-streaming events and online courses such as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), MITx and MIT OpenCourseWare. The terms of the settlement are included within a consent decree, which can be enforced by the court. The court must approve the consent decree before it may become effective. MIT must also implement a public process to manage these requests. MIT is also required to submit reports every six months beginning in June 2020 to NAD and the Disability Law Center with information about the number of requests received, among other details. This settlement was reached four years after this litigation began in 2015, when it was filed in the U.S....

CREEC and Justice Catalyst Law Launch Housing Discrimination Initiative

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and Justice Catalyst Law are joining forces to combat housing discrimination in a new initiative that focuses on housing providers who discriminate against people participating in medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid and other drug addiction disorders. This type of discrimination causes individuals with addiction disorders to have difficulty obtaining and maintaining housing, and vastly complicates their recovery. As a first step, we’re investigating the extent of the issue. “We were troubled to learn that housing providers in the recovery community might be discriminating against people in medication assisted treatment,” says Brian Shearer, Legal Director of Justice Catalyst Law.  “Evidence shows that MAT works, but housing discrimination might deter people from using it, further exacerbating the opioid crisis at a time when supporting any and all tools for treatment should be of paramount importance.” CREEC’s breadth of experience successfully challenging disability discrimination in multiple settings including housing puts us in an excellent position to help investigate a problem we fear many face at a time when opioid abuse continues to be a prevalent issue in our society. The Director of CREEC’s Accessibility Project, Martie Lafferty states, ”People with opioid addiction who participate in MAT as part of their recovery deserve the same access to housing as anyone else. Housing providers should serve these individuals on an equal basis. It’s the right thing to do and it’s the law. CREEC is excited to partner with Justice Catalyst Law on this critical issue and hope this will be the first of many opportunities we have to work together.” To learn more about our...

Immigration: Updates and Ongoing Battles

All too frequently we hear news of abhorrent actions taken against immigrants seeking refuge in our country: Bans on people because of their religion or country of origin. Unnecessary obstacles in asylum cases. Inhumane treatment of immigrants at our borders. Brutal treatment and neglect of immigrants who are imprisoned in ICE’s jails. Expansion of private prisons to detain immigrants despite the companies’ abysmal records of human rights violations. The barrage is constant and the conditions our fellow human beings are living in are dire. This is why CREEC and others are determined to fight – and win – this battle. While we can’t possibly name all the work being done, here you will find an update on some recent efforts being made, some battles being won, and steps being taken toward future wins. In November, ICE filed a motion to dismiss the Fraihat case brought by CREEC and co-counsel. On February 24, CREEC and co-counsel will argue in court that our case should continue. This nationwide class action lawsuit challenges the federal government’s failure to ensure detained immigrants receive appropriate medical and mental health care, its punitive use of segregation in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and its failure to ensure that detained immigrants with disabilities are provided accommodations and do not face discrimination. Our clients have experienced undeniable neglect and discrimination and the progress being made should result in much needed systemic change of a broken and unlawful system. On January 15, 2020, NPR investigative reporter, Tom Dreisbach, published a piece (“Despite Findings of ‘Negligent’ Care, ICE to Expand Troubled Calif. Detention Center”) summarizing recent events and their...

FAC Program Helps Secure Effective Communication for Mr. Sam

Following a stroke, 94-year old Mr. Sam from Mississippi needed some transition time in a rehabilitation center. Imagine his family’s frustration when application after application was rejected…because the rehab facilities were not willing to provide a sign language interpreter for Mr. Sam who is Deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL). “It was unreal”, said Mr. Sam’s son, Craig Samuels, “we even had a verbal ‘yes’ from one facility only to have that’ yes’ turn into a ‘no’ when they learned that their offer of a whiteboard would not adequately serve my dad’s post-stroke communication needs. It was a nightmare.” And, as the Samuels family learned, their experience isn’t uncommon. Luckily the Samuels family has a network of support that helped them get on the right track and, ultimately, in touch with CREEC. When Mr. Sam went to the Emergency Room after his stroke, he was not initially provided with adequate interpretation. Mr. Sam’s stroke worsened his hearing condition, rendering his hearing aid completely ineffective even for short, simple communications. In addition, the left side of Mr. Sam’s body and his vision were impacted, making simple written whiteboard communication and video ASL interpretation also ineffective. As a result, Mr. Sam could not communicate at all with his health care providers nor they with him without in-person ASL interpretation. A good friend of the Samuels family who is also a Deaf advocate, assured them that Mr. Sam is guaranteed effective communication by law. With his support, they pushed and soon received excellent services for the rest of Mr. Sam’s stay at the hospital. When it was time to take the...