New NGO Formed to Promote
Several disability rights scholars have joined together to form
The Tangata Group, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting
disability rights. The group's name stems from the Maori language;
"tangata" translated means "the essence of being human."
The founders hope to consult on domestic and international human and disability
rights issues, including matters involving the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Americans with Disabilities Act,
and accessibility issues.
The NGO was founded by Professor Janet Lord, one of the original
drafters of the CRPD, Professor Michael Schwartz, a professor at Syracuse
University College of Law, and Professor Brent Elder, a professor at Rowan
University. The founders hope to promote better understanding of disability
rights and accountability for countries who signed the CRPD.
Full Story: Api Podder, Tangata Group Is Founded to Address the
Rights of People with Disabilities Worldwide, My Social Good News, Dec. 14,
2016, available at
Video of Violence Against Teen with
A video that was streamed live on Facebook was shocking as it
depicted acts of violence being committed against an eighteen-year-old male
with schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder. Spokespeople from the
disability community say, as horrible as the video was, they were more
surprised that the acts were recorded. Violence against people with
disabilities is much more common than the public thinks. The U.S. Department of
Justice reports that "people with disabilities are more than twice as
likely to be the victims of violent crimes as those without disabilities,"
with people who have mental disabilities being the most at risk.
Rebecca Cokely, the executive director of the National Council on
Disability thinks that the extent of violence against people with disabilities
is even greater, especially when the abuser is a family member. Those cases are
unlikely to ever be brought to law enforcement.
Full Story: Mitch Smith and Richard Pérez-Peña, Beating of
Disabled Teenager Highlights a Crime That Often Goes Unpunished, The New York
Times, Jan. 6, 2017, available at
EEOC Publication on Legal Rights of Employees
and Applicants Under the ADA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a
document that explains applicant and employee rights under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) for people who have mental health conditions such as
depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. The EEOC's goal is to raise
awareness of the protections that people may not realize they have under the
ADA in a manner that is easy to understand. EEOC says that employment
discrimination based on mental health conditions is increasing, and it wants
employees and employers to understand what employment discrimination is, when
reasonable accommodations are necessary, and what role EEOC plays in protecting
Press Release: EEOC Issues Publication on the Rights of Job
Applicants and Employees with Mental Health Conditions, U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission, Dec. 12, 2016, available at
Supreme Court to Review Definition of FAPE
The Supreme Court is preparing to review the case of Endrew F., a
child with autism whose parents brought a case against his school district in
Colorado over the meaning of free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) under
the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. The Supreme Court will
review this case because there is currently a circuit court split over whether
FAPE means children with disabilities are entitled to "some educational
benefit" or "meaningful benefit."
There are policy arguments on both sides. Many parents argue for
the "meaningful" standard as they believe it would create better
access to education and related services for their children, while school
districts argue that higher standards would mean increased cost and cuts in
Full Story: Rebecca Beitsch, Stakes High in Special Ed Case Before
Supreme Court, DisabilityScoop, Dec. 15, 2016, available at
DOE Published Guidance on the Civil Rights of
Students with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has released new guidance
regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools, in the form of
a resource guide, a Dear Colleague Letter, and a question and answer document.
The DOE also released a Dear Colleague Letter and a question and answer
document regarding students' with disabilities rights in charter schools.
The documents touch on schools' responsibilities under Section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, and presents
best practices for avoiding restraint and seclusion, and the legality of such
The guidance pertaining to charter schools also addresses student
rights under Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Catherine Lhamon, DOE Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, says
that "vigilant attention to the rights of students with disabilities will
help ensure fair treatment for every student and that every student has equal
access to educational programs and has an opportunity to experience
Press Release: U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on
Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities, U.S. Department of Education, Dec.
28, 2016, available at
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Disabled World / Assessment
and charts show statistics of world countries efforts to address the rights of
persons with disabilities