In This Issue


Going Somewhere? Accessible Ride-Sharing Arrives in Salt Lake City Thanks to UberWAV

Remember the classic cars of the 1950s? Or the block computers of the 1980s? It’s a fact of life that improving technology is changing the way we live, work, and play. It even impacts transportation with the explosion of “share-a-ride” companies. Now, anyone with a computer or a cell phone can request a driver to pick them up and take them to their desired location. These services have been great for many people with disabilities who can’t drive, unfortunately, until recently, people using wheelchairs were often left without this option. Thanks to the DLC, that’s changed.

For a very long time, people with disabilities in Utah have listed poor transportation options as one of the major barriers they face. As the DLC strategized about methods of addressing the increasing disparity between transportation available to typical users and what’s available for folks who use wheelchairs, we began talking to Uber, a popular share-a-ride provider. Uber had been operating an option for Uber riders in Utah called Uber Assist. The program did provide assistance for people with disabilities, however, it could only help certain people in wheelchairs and it did not provide access to people using power wheelchairs.

The DLC and Uber worked together to find vehicles and drivers that were properly equipped to provide safe and reliable rides to people using power chairs. After several months of searching, we were able to get a vehicle provider on board to get Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) up-and-running in Utah.

Last month, Andrew Riggle, the DLC’s Public Policy Advocate, and Eliza McIntosh, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Utah, took the inaugural Uber WAV ride to the Utah Center for Assistive Technology in Salt Lake City.

You can request an Uber WAV ride for yourself directly through the Uber app on your mobile phone. Simply download and install the app from your app store. Open the app and select “Access” on the vehicle icon slider and then select “WAV.”

Unfortunately, due to the limited number of providers and drivers of WAV vehicles currently on the app, vehicles may be limited but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still request a ride. Uber is aware when rides are requested, and an increased demand will help get more vehicles on the platform to ensure even more access.

So go ahead, request a ride, better yet, request two rides. Or maybe three. Keep requesting rides and help us bring accessible transportation to even more Utahns.


Other Transportation Options

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding riders with disabilities.

UTA provides transportation through a fixed-route bus system, TRAX lightrail system, and FrontRunner commuter rail system. UTA buses and trains should always be 100% wheelchair accessible and lift- or low-floor access equipped. UTA also provides Paratransit (curb-to-curb) service to individuals with disabilities who are functionally unable to independently use the fixed-route bus service either all of the time, temporarily, or only under circumstances. For more information, read our Paratransit Travel fact sheet at http://disabilitylawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads2/2016/07/AR-Paratransit-Travel.pdf.

Riders with disabilities using the fixed-route bus service should also be aware that they can request assistance from the drivers. For safety reasons, requests for assistance should be made prior to when the vehicle is in motion. Specific accessibility information, including “how-to-ride” tips grouped by disability type and information regarding Paratransit Services can be found at http://www.rideuta.com/Rider-Info/Accessibility/Paratransit-Services.


When Medicaid Decided Food Wasn’t Necessary

Although our primary office is located in Salt Lake City, our free services are available to anyone living in Utah. Please call us if you experience disability discrimination or you aren’t getting what the law says you should from an organization designated to help people with disabilities, like Medicaid.

We recently heard from a wonderful family living near Myton, UT (population 604). Valerie Scholes, 29, and her brother, Dennis (Den), 31, live in rural ranch country, together with their parents and several more siblings. Their entire family participates in their physical and emotional care and Valerie and Dennis always have company, spending their days in their bright, cozy living room engaging with their family. At night, their mother, Carol, sleeps in a recliner next to Valerie and Den’s father shares a room with him. Their three siblings also pitch in, delighting in the way Den teases and shares his passion for cars and supporting Valerie’s love for babies, jewelry, and “anything with four-legs.”

In the past, Valerie and Den’s disability caused them to aspirate when eating. As a result, ten-years ago, Valerie began using a feeding tube and four-years later, Den did also. Medicaid covered the cost of their liquid diet, their only source of nutrition—at least until this year. When Den’s annual reauthorization of services came around this year, Medicaid declined to pay for the food, stating there was no medical need for it and suggested the family purchase the food with Food Stamps. When Valerie’s review came around a few months later, Medicaid issued the same decision. The cost of just one-month’s food for the two siblings is $700 and Medicaid’s decision hit the Scholes family hard. Fearful for Valerie and Den’s health, they reached out to the DLC for help.

“Nate [Crippes] was awesome,” said Carol of the DLC attorney that helped them. “Medicaid gave us the run-around and [Nate] waded through 300-pages of medical records to find the three that would help us with our case. He went above and beyond, even accompanying us to an appointment with the nutritionist to gather information to prove the liquid food is specialized and serves a medical purpose.”

Nate represented the Scholes through the Medicaid appeal process, and as a result of his efforts, Medicaid reversed their decision and began to pay for Valerie and Den’s food again. Several months later, the Scholes are still thrilled with the result and grateful that their focus could shift back to giving Valerie and Den a meaningful life.


The Utah Legal Needs Survey

As we travel around the state for outreach and meetings with clients, we’ve seen how diverse Utah communities are. Nobody knows the unique needs of a community better than those who live, work, and serve there. That’s why we’ve spent the past several months asking Utahns from across the state to share how they think we can better serve their communities. We’ve learned a lot thanks to the nearly 650 people who responded to our Utah Legal Needs Survey. You can read a full report of the survey at http://disabilitylawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads2/2016/07/ULNS-Report.pdf, but for now, here’s a bit of what Utahns had to say:

  • THE RURAL VIEW: Every county in Utah was represented in the survey with 45% of respondents hailing from counties with populations under 117,000. 33% came from counties with populations ranging from 117,000-700,000 and only 22% of respondents came from Salt Lake, Utah’s most populated county.
  • THE RURAL EXPERIENCE: The top three civil legal issues experienced by the 45% of respondents living in rural counties with populations less than 117,000, were 1) health-benefits related (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.) 2) public benefits-related (SSDI, Food Stamps, etc.) 3) disability rights.
  • LIMITED INCOMES: The top problems facing Utahns with limited incomes as identified by the same 45% of respondents living in rural counties, were health-benefits related, housing disputes, and family law.
  • THE DISABILITY VIEW: 80% of all respondents had a disability or had a relationship with friend or family member with a disability which helped them understand the needs of people in their community.
  • TOP CHALLENGES: The top challenges facing Utahns with disabilities as ranked by respondents who had a disability or knew someone with a disability were: 1) Getting or keeping a job; 2) Finding affordable housing; 3) Getting the supports needed to live in community neighborhoods; 4) Getting medical equipment, devices, or assistive technology that would help them be more independent; 5) Getting an appropriate education.
  • RESOURCES: The top ways in which the DLC’s limited funds should be used as ranked by respondents who had a disability or knew someone with a disability were: 1) Help people with disabilities get accommodations needed to keep a job; 2) Help parents of school-age children with disabilities get appropriate accommodations; 3) Represent individuals with disabilities who experience employment discrimination.

bLAWg: Intro to Special Education Law 101

A child starting school for the first time is heart wrenching for any parent, but the stress level can increase dramatically when your child has a disability. Thank goodness the law provides extra supports and protections for students with disabilities in public schools.

A student with a disability can be evaluated by the school, in order to determine if their disability is impacting their education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows parents to refer their children for an evaluation if they think they need special education.

Special education includes, but is not limited to, specialized instruction. For example, a student with autism may need specialized instruction related to reading skills, or a student with a learning disability could need specialized instruction in math.

Special education includes related services, including, but not limited to, speech services, transportation, physical therapy, occupational therapy and more. Speech therapy may be determined appropriate for a student who has a speech impediment. Transportation may be appropriate if the parent and school decide that the student should attend a specialized school.

Finally, special education provides for accommodations in the school setting, such as a quiet place to take a test or a preferred seating assignment. Accommodations are provided to enable students with disabilities to learn and progress on equal footing with other students.

At the Disability Law Center (DLC), we often have parents calling us to say that their child was evaluated for special education services but found not eligible. The good news is there are alternatives. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides an avenue for students to receive accommodations in school when they have a disability. These types of accommodations are called Section 504 accommodations.

If your child is found not eligible for special education services, the best approach to getting Section 504 accommodations is to bring a recommendation from a professional to the school. Examples of professionals are doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. The professional should state what the disability is that requires accommodations and if possible, recommend appropriate accommodations to the school.

Examples of Section 504 accommodations include, but are not limited to, assignment modifications, additional time on tests or assignments, behavior support, and more. The accommodation must be reasonable and serves to break down a barrier to student learning created by the student’s disability.

Parents are the primary advocates for their children. The DLC encourages and is proud of parents who advocate for their children in the school setting. If you have questions or need help with your child’s special education services, feel free to contact the DLC at (800) 662-9080 and ask to speak with a Short Term Assistance Advocate, or contact us online at www.disabilitylawcenter.org/contact.

For more information about Section 504 accommodations and special education visit http://disabilitylawcenter.org/resourcestopic/ or call (800) 662-9080.


Employment Discrimination – En Espanol

Sabía usted que un empleador con 15 o más empleados no puede discriminar a una persona por su discapacidad en el área laboral o el proceso de contratación?

Es ilegal que un empleador:

  • Limite o clasifique a un candidato o empleado en una manera que afecte sus oportunidades de empleo o estatus por una discapacidad.
  • Haga suposiciones acerca de sus candidatos o empleados actuales que tengan discapacidades.
  • Que ofrezca promociones de trabajo o asenso basado en suposiciones.
  • Que excluya o niegue trabajos o beneficios a un individuo porque el empleador sabe que el empleado o candidato tiene un miembro de su familia, compañero de negocios, asociación social, u otra relación o asociación con una persona con discapacidad.

Si usted es un empleado y sabe que puede hacer su trabajo con una acomodación razonable, usted tiene el derecho a pedir acomodaciones razonables a su empleador bajo el Titulo 1 de la ley ADA.

Si usted siente que ha sido discriminado en su trabajo a causa de su discapacidad, contáctenos. Existen leyes que lo protegen!

www.disabilitylawcenter.org/en-espanol.