The [AT] Connects Blog

A Report Finding Barriers to Accessibility at Amtrak Stations

Posted By Anne Long | Oct 21, 2013
Reported by Eric Buehlmann

A new report outlines Amtrak and station accessibility for people with disability.  A copy of the report can be found at 

Following a review done by the Protection and Advocacy Network with other disability organizations that visited 94 stations in 25 states and the District of Columbia, the National Disability Rights Network released a report today demonstrating Amtrak’s negligence in following the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Amtrak was given 20 years to come into compliance with the ADA because it was understood the time and resources required to update the system were extensive,” continued Decker. “But here we are 23 years later and not only has Amtrak ignored the larger architectural barriers, they have not even addressed easily fixed issues like the restrooms.”

The barriers found during the reviews include things like stairways with no ramp or elevator alternative, restrooms that were too narrow for people using mobility devices to access, ticket counters that were too high for people using wheelchairs to reach, parking lots with poorly marked, crumbling, or unlevel accessible spaces, and platforms that were not level with the trains.

In addition to architectural barriers, reviewers found many stations lacking the visual displays that allow people with hearing loss to access announcements made with loudspeakers.

The stations reviewed were in: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

NDRN’s report is called “All Aboard (Except People with Disabilities).” It contains a full review of Amtrak’s non-compliance with the ADA, state-by-state findings of the reviews, and recommendations for Amtrak, Congress and the Administration.

Specifically, NDRN calls on Congress to utilize federal funding for Amtrak to enforce compliance with the ADA.  NDRN has also reported the violations to the Department of Justice and is requesting both the Departments of Justice and Transportation to develop a plan with Amtrak to reach full accessibility.

JAN Webcast Training Schedule

Posted By Anne Long | Oct 21, 2013
JAN Webcasts are available at no cost. Gather your employees together in a room for live, in-service training. Educate yourself, management, and other employees on disability etiquette, assistive technologies, management techniques, and the latest on accommodations and the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All Webcasts begin at 2 pm eastern and are 1 hour. You must register to attend. One registration is equivalent to one login.  

For more information:

Make the Strategic Case for Disability in the Workplace

Posted By Anne Long | Oct 16, 2013

The following information is forwarded to you by the Great Lakes ADA Center ( for your information:

The Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University in the ILR School Outreach Division has developed a free, self-paced course that provides the necessary tools to enable leaders to build a case within their organization on how inclusion of people with disabilities can add a significant advantage to the organization’s strategic plan.

Course Title: Make the Strategic Case for Disability in the Workplace

Target Audience:  HR Practitioners and Managers with Employees (eg hiring managers)

Course Description:

With human capital development and the search for talent being one of the most pressing problems of businesses today, it's imperative to consider all possible labor sources. People with disabilities represent a potential labor force of eager and exceedingly capable people who can strategically advantage your business. The focus of this course is how organizations can access the largely untapped talents of individuals with disabilities to meet the strategic objectives of their organization.

The course covers the following key areas:

  • Why individuals with disabilities should be a part of a human capital strategy
  • Myths and misconceptions about people with disabilities
  • How to successfully recruit this talent pool
  • Aligning these efforts with an organizational strategy and global imperatives
  • How to get implementation in your organization

Course Length: Approximately 1 hour. This course is self-paced, start any time. There is no instructor engagement during course. Students complete online polls and a final quiz.


Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources Matches Students with Devices

Posted By Anne Long | Oct 14, 2013

By Sara DiRienzo, WIND Information Specialist 

Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources Matches Students with Devices in Allen H. Stewart Summer School for Visual Impaired 

Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources (WATR), Wyoming’s Assistive Technology Act Program was invited to the Allen H. Stewart Summer School for the Visually Impaired in Casper, Wyoming to demonstrate assistive technology solutions to students and their families. 

The Allen H. Stewart Summer School for the Visually Impaired, in association with the Lions and Montgomery Trust Fund, is a camp for kindergarten through high school students with visual impairments.  Students who attend the camp are required to participate in classes, activities and learning opportunities. Volunteers travel from all over the United States to participate as instructors, and guide students through different learning tracks such as computer science or music.  The camp’s purpose is “not a summer camp.  It is a school for the Blind and Visually Impaired -- it uses the Expanded Core Curriculum for the Visually Impaired and Blind.  The teaching staff is made up of professional educators and certified teachers of the visually impaired.  A certified low-vision specialist provides a written evaluation for each student in conjunction with an eye exam with a local optometrist.” 

John Paul Harris, Wyoming Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) project coordinator, worked with 17 students in small groups demonstrating assistive technology systems, answering questions, and letting the student try devices for themselves. 

“While at the camp, I worked with a teacher of the visually impaired from Cheyenne and one of her students.  We were able to match the student with an AT device that the student absolutely enjoyed--the Victor Reader Stream.  The student was very excited to use the device for his upcoming year as a high school senior and then as a student at Casper Community College.  The student had not had an opportunity to trail the device until the WATR demo at the camp,” said Harris.  

The Victor Reader Stream is a handheld DAISY digital talking book reader that can be placed discreetly in a pocket and used with headphones. The device also has many other features that makes it useful for older students, such as the audio note recorder.  

“The student said he thought he was going to be bored by the demonstration.  However, he was surprised because he did not know such a device existed,” continued Harris. 

WATR participates in many events throughout the year to connect students to assistive technology to enable them to be successful in the classroom. To find out more about WATR and our program, visit

AAIDD Webinar: Employment-Renewed Investments

Posted By Anne Long | Oct 09, 2013

Supported employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities emerged in the 1980s, clearly showing the untapped potential of people to work productively in integrated jobs.  While supported employment has expanded little in the last decade, there is a renewed investment nationwide and in some other countries. This webinar will share the renewed developments in supported employment and the threats that remain to further improvement and expansion that must also be addressed.


Posted By Anne Long | Oct 03, 2013


For Immediate Release
October 2, 2013

Contact: Colin Schwartz
Phone:  202-521-4309

WASHINGTON, DC (October 2, 2013) -- The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) have issued a call for Fortune 1000 companies to participate in the pilot phase of the Disability Equality IndexSM (DEISM). The DEISM is a national, transparent benchmarking tool that will offer major employers the opportunity to receive an objective score on their disability inclusion policies and practices and identify avenues for continued improvement. It is also intended to help build a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

The “soft” launch or pilot phase was announced yesterday at the USBLN® 16th Annual Conference & Expo in Los Angeles, California. The purpose of the pilot phase is to refine the DEISM survey further prior to the 2014 launch of the first Annual DEISM survey.

“The feedback about the DEISM at the USBLN® Annual Conference has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Jill Houghton, Executive Director, USBLN®. “The opportunity to participate in the pilot is a very unique opportunity and we are excited to report that employers are already stepping forward.”

“With new requirements that federal contractors set hiring targets for people with disabilities, contractors and other employers are looking for new ways to appeal to the untapped workforce and growing purchasing power of Americans with disabilities,” said Mark Perriello, President and CEO, AAPD. “Created by leaders in the business and disability community, the DEISM is poised to be a powerful educational tool for all those seeking information on a company’s disability related efforts.”

The deadline to apply to be considered for participation in the pilot phase is November 15, 2013. There is no fee to participate. Additionally, pilot participants will receive:

• Exclusive access to view the DEISM survey questions and receive unofficial, non-public results 
• The unique opportunity to work with and provide feedback on the survey to DEISM staff

Fortune 1000 companies interested in participating or needing more information about the pilot should contact Jani Willis at

For more information on the DEI and the pilot launch please visit:

About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) 
The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN® serves as the collective voice of over 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN® Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation’s leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) 
The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. AAPD promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD’s members, including people with disabilities and family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site:


About AAPD

The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Our members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: