Region 2 - Northeast ADA Center

The Northeast ADA Center, Center, located at Cornell University, serves New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The Northeast ADA Center is housed in the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Ithaca, New York. We work closely with partners and affiliates to address the diverse and varied cultural, economic and informational needs of the stakeholders across our region.

Empowering Individuals through the ADA Trainer Network

The Northeast ADA Center’s ADA Trainer Network (TN) is a capacity-building initiative aimed at helping TN members implement the ADA in their local communities. Our more than 125 active members come from all walks of life; they are professionals, disability service providers, individuals with disabilities and allies. TN members who attend orientation training receive access to an expertly designed and easy-to-use curriculum that they can use to deliver trainings in their communities.

The goal of this training is to:

  • Equip TN members with current, relevant information about the ADA and disability inclusiveness.
  • Prepare TN members to present this information in a manner that fosters change and collaboration.
  • Link TN members with others who can partner in bringing about change.
  • Engage TN members in a process of continual environmental scanning to identify emerging needs.
  • Nearly 90 percent of surveyed members agree that TN membership has provided professional development opportunities that have prepared them to be a key resource for ADA and disability-related issues in their local communities.

Feedback from TN members

A counselor at the University of Puerto Rico said the network materials “have helped me guide the faculty as well as my students, their parents, and the employees of my institution.”

A Community Outreach Coordinator with a Center for Independent Living in New Jersey reported that volunteers and staff of a local performing arts center received “information to gain understanding about people with disabilities that enter into places of business and how to properly serve them” and “the need and importance of attitudinal barriers and how to overcome them.”

The Territorial Executive Director of the Virgin Island Developmental Disability Council said the TN has encouraged the “development of a collaborative partnership with nonprofits that represents the consumer and the public transit system.” As a result, public transit drivers have received “driver training to sensitize them to the needs of their consumers, particularly those with disabilities and/or mental illness.”

Advancing Organizations through Training and Education

In addition to our monthly webinars and on-demand trainings, the Northeast ADA Center provided 15 in-person trainings to over six hundred New York City Board of Elections employees. The trainings covered ADA requirements affecting polling place workers on election day, including physical accessibility requirements for polling locations and effective and respectful communication techniques. One employee reported having “become more cognizant of what structural changes need to already be in place or modified . . . to make the voting process more inclusive to people with disabilities.” A legal professional stated, “the physical location of my workplace will now look to maintain the premises to ensure compliance from transient barriers.”
An ADA coordinator said, “we are currently making all our 1240 poll sites accessible.”

Putting the ADA to Work with the Just-In-Time Toolkit for Managers         

The Northeast ADA Center, in partnership with the ADANN, developed, implemented, and is currently evaluating the Just-in-Time (JIT) Toolkit. JIT enables employers to more fully implement the ADA and inclusive practices within their organizations. It is designed to educate mid-level managers and supervisors about how to better manage and include individuals with disabilities in their organizations.

As of January 2016, we have fully implemented the JIT within fourteen organizations, including four government agencies and 10 private sector companies, many of whom are federal contractors.   A multi-national electronics company manager stated, “It is the front line managers who make or break the culture within an organization around disability with the first conversation they have with an employee who may have a disability.”  

By educating managers, employers hope to create a culture that is truly accepting of all types of diversity, as well as an “always available” resource on company policies and practices for managers.