The Desk

July 22, 2014

EEOC Announces Expansion of “Disabled”

Today I’m working on clearing some content off of my desk so that I can return to better productivity. Today I’m going to share with you a bit of the processes (but not all of them!) I go through to come up with some of the answers that are shared with my readers.

This particular topic isn’t quite as old as the research from the Meet the Press April 27 assertions about Asian women being the lowest paid of the minorities. And it doesn’t quite match the things I found about how recruiters review profiles on LinkedIn. Oh, there are quite a few things that have been crushing The Desk. But the matter of the expansion of the definition of “disabled” needs to be better organized and in a folder of its own.

It was late February or early March when I read an email that brought awareness of the fact that the EEOC had expanded the definition of “disabled” so that it now includes non-visible disabilities. The case related to Williams v. Toyota Motor Mfg. where a production line worker developed carpel tunnel syndrome and was not provided with sufficient accommodations for her disability. You’d think a simple thing like muscle strain would not give rise to such a momentous change in the law. But another phenomenon that was happening was people with diabetes or having been diagnosed with breast cancer were also suing their employers for disabling conditions that kicked them out of the employment arena.

12" wire cart accessibility device

A shopping cart or accessibility device?

I took this change in law to the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s March (or was it April) meeting because the Committee focuses on accessibility issues for seniors and the disabled. They needed to know about this change in definition. Also significant to the group’s awareness was the fact that I was the one who brought to their attention the matter of non-visible disabilities at the August 2013 meeting. The Committee, therefore, in its efforts to effectively serve its constituents was leading other organizations with regard to the matter. And the Committee could be said to be on the cutting edge of disability awareness and accommodation regulations and ways to address how they provide accommodations.

Unfortunately, that Public Comment was omitted from the meeting minutes in spite of the fact that several who were present asked for the information to be repeated while they feverishly copied the name of the case into their notes. It was necessary to find that email message again or at least the additional Web content that backed it up so that the accuracy of the shared information could be assured. And that’s when The Desk started growing its slush pile.

My efforts to commute on public transportation were meeting with increasing denials. My efforts to effect change and improvement through membership on the Committee were being met with increasing resistance and suspicion. I was finding I was spinning my wheels while being cut out of conversations and opportunities to provide input on driver training modifications. Worse yet, it began to appear that the presentation I’d done regarding non-visible disabilities was going to become (or had already become) yet another instance of watching my work be credited to someone else’s efforts while I sat on the sidelines with a reputation as a troublemaker but no attribution to the originator of the content. That isn’t what consulting is about.

  • Out of frustration, I took a new step by bringing my concerns to the Metro Board. But first, I wanted in my hand an official definition of a non-visible disability. I found What is an Invisible Disability?
  • It’s one thing to go before a body with a lot of platitudes and shrieks about “do something”. But a governing body has little room for action when it has few facts on which to operate. If I were on that body, I would want to know the size of the population that’s being affected. In answer to that, I researched on the string “how many suffer from non-visible disabilities

It isn’t clear whether Metro will make modifications to their operator training so that the drivers are much more sensitive to the fact that there is a class of commuter that is disabled but the evidence of their limitations is not obvious. They should not be accused of being shiftless homeless people. They should not be denied transportation. They should not be forced to over-exert themselves when simple deployment of a ramp (that is supposed to make boarding easier) could be done. They need to be cognizant that the person may have just exited their doctor’s office and are operating on instructions to limit certain activities. They may be suffering from an ailment that causes impairment to their balance.

Pass-ups happen to more than individuals using wheelchairs. Sometimes they happen because the person wasn’t paying attention; the bus approached and they didn’t collect their self fast enough so that the operator could stay on schedule. Those with sleep apnea may doze off without any fault on their part. Or just the fatigue of having to ride the bus all day to accomplish a paltry number of things (one or two) has worn the individual into an ennui. Unfortunately, the Chair of the Committee doesn’t seem to appreciate these conditions.

Furthermore, commuters should be treated with respect. Insulting words and insinuations are simply not appropriate and will cause your customer base to be motivated to find an alternative.

There you see some of it. These are just part of the process of collecting the information that falls on The Desk that needs to be reported to you, especially as today’s content relates to the volumes about the expansion of “disability” as it relates to non-visible disabilities.

Sponsored Link:

Sociopolitical Aspects of Disabilities: The Social Perspectives and Political History of Disabilities and Rehabilitation in the United States

 

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