The Northeast ADA Center, located at Cornell University, serves New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
The Northeast ADA Center is a program of the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, which is housed in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. The goal of the Center is to increase ADA implementation in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by educating and empowering the diverse range of ADA stakeholders in order to increase their knowledge of the ADA, to make better decisions regarding disability inclusiveness, and to implement the ADA in their own lives, workplaces, businesses and communities. As part of our outreach efforts, we provide training, technical assistance, and information on the ADA.
Building Capacity through Partnership
The concept of capacity building emphasizes how educating and empowering individuals and institutions can lead to stronger governments and more viable businesses, ultimately strengthening communities. The purpose of the Northeast ADA Center’s capacity-building efforts is to assist in ADA implementation and to facilitate change in behavior, policy and practice within communities. The Center offers two capacity building programs during this funding cycle: (1) Customized Service Agreements (CSAs) and (2) the ADA Trainer Leadership Network.
Customized Service Agreements
CSAs are designed to provide intensive, sustained support toward improved implementation of the ADA. The Northeast ADA Center is partnering with health care facilities to improve access for customers with disabilities; small employers (including state and local governments as employers) to better implement the employment provisions of the ADA, and facility access professionals to increase physical access to buildings within our region. CSAs include needs assessment, identification of organization-specific ADA implementation goals, and a collaborative work plan to support goal achievement. The Center provides consultation, training, and ongoing technical assistance in support of goal attainment for each of our partners.
The Northeast ADA Center worked with Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes to improve access to patients with disabilities. The ADA Center collaborated with PPSFL to create a disability inclusion statement and a formal patient accommodation policy. Improvements were also made to the online scheduling system that enables patients to identify accommodation needs with every appointment scheduled. Training on disability and reproductive health care, disability etiquette and reasonable accommodations for patients with disabilities was also provided. The Northeast ADA Center is actively seeking partners who wish to improve implementation of the ADA in all of these areas.
Empowering Individuals through the ADA Trainer Network
The Northeast ADA Center’s ADA Trainer Leadership Network (TLN) is a capacity building initiative aimed at helping members implement the ADA in their local communities. This project is also actively implemented in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Pacific ADA Centers. Our more than 125 active members come from all walks of life—they are professionals, disability service providers, individuals with disabilities and allies. After attending an orientation training, TLN members get access to an expertly designed and easy-to-use curriculum of materials so they can develop and deliver trainings in their communities. Nearly ninety percent of surveyed members agree or strongly agree that TLN membership has provided them with professional development opportunities that have prepared them to be seen as a key resource for ADA and disability related issues in their local communities.
The ADA Trainer Leadership Network curriculum is used extensively by over 40 counselors in the New York State Vocational Rehabilitation System - ACCES-VR - to train their community stakeholders on the basics of the ADA. ACCES-VR transition specials implement this training with the Workforce Development System. The intervention is especially helpful in implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which requires the state workforce development system to actively include people with disabilities in their vocational services. The ACCES-VR Business Service Specialists, are actively using the curriculum to reach out to the employer community and help them better understand the ADA. Many more VR counselors across the country use the ADA TLN in similar ways in their local communities.
Title I Research: Increasing Understanding of ADA Implementation among Small Employers
The purpose of the Center’s research efforts is to identify region-specific barriers, facilitators, and best practices for implementing Title I of the ADA in small private and public sector organizations (15-500 employees), in order to identify a package of innovative approaches that mitigate barriers to ADA compliance. As a result of this project, small business and public-sector employers will enhance their capacity to implement Title I of the ADA in ways that will result in improved hiring, retention, and experiences of individuals with disabilities in these workplaces. The focus on small employers was determined based on small business' role as an important driver of the economy in Region 2. More than half of all workers in NY and NJ are employed in small businesses. These rates are even higher in the territories: 80% of employees in PR and 91% of employees in the USVI work for small businesses (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2014). Though the employment rate for individuals with disabilities is less than half that of individuals without disabilities (Erickson, Lee & von Schrader, 2014), small business employment remains an attractive option for individuals with disabilities. Over 70% of people with disabilities prefer working for a small firm as opposed to a large firm (Ali, Schur, & Blanck, 2011). While both small and large employers cite barriers to employing and advancing individuals with disabilities, some issues are more common among smaller employers. At this time,we are building the small business toolkit and will use the tools with our small business CSA partners to help with Title I implementation in their organizations.