January 2018 E-Newsletter

In This Issue

Letter from the Managing Directors

Dear DRA Family,

We hope you enjoyed the holiday season and that your 2018 is off to a great start. We would like to start this New Year by THANKING EACH OF YOU who chose to support DRA in 2017 and by sharing some stories of the changes your generosity helped bring about.

Thanks to YOU, in 2017, DRA:

  • Brought more than 11 cases across the country challenging discriminatory policies and practices to bring about equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities;
  • Hired and trained a talented new Wolinsky Fellow, Emily Seelenfreund, who will make New York’s schools and subways more accessible for all New Yorkers;
  • Will expand our East Coast operations—moving into a new office in February 2018—so that we can bring more high-impact cases ensuring that schools, prisons, transportation, technology and more empower, rather than exclude, people with disabilities; and
  • Brought our first Larry Paradis Legacy Fund case to ensure Uber’s fleet becomes available to wheelchair users.

Our plans are BIG in 2018—our 25th anniversary year.  DRA will continue to tackle the most urgent, most appalling inequities facing people with disabilities.  We will celebrate our 25th anniversary with a fall gala in the San Francisco Bay Area and we will launch a campaign to ensure the Larry Paradis Legacy Fund lasts in perpetuity.

You can read more about our Wolinsky Fellow, the Larry Paradis Legacy Fund, and some of our recent cases below.  Thank YOU for making all of this possible.

Here’s to another quarter century of pioneering civil rights work,

Composite photo: Sid Wolinsky, Michelle Caiola and Kate Hamilton

Sid Wolinsky, Michelle Caiola, and Kate Hamilton
DRA’s Managing Directors

New Wolinsky Fellow

In September of 2017, DRA welcomed our new Wolinsky Fellow, Emily Seelenfreund. Ms. Seelenfreund received her law degree from Harvard Law School in 2017 and her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Alabama in 2012.

Emily Seelenfreund“I’ve aspired to a career as a disability rights attorney for as long as I can remember. As a wheelchair user myself, I am inspired by the widespread victories DRA has achieved in New York City, the city I grew up in but always struggled to fully access due to its widespread architectural barriers.

Recently I’ve worked on DRA’s subway system cases. I remain hopeful that it will make convenient travel throughout the City more possible for all individuals with mobility disabilities. The main focus of my fellowship is increasing access to New York City public schools for students with mobility disabilities.

Thanks to all of you who support DRA, I’m hard at work on addressing these important issues for New Yorkers with disabilities.”

Learn more about Emily Seelenfreund on our website.

Ensuring the Larry Paradis Legacy Fund Lasts in Perpetuity

DRA’s Larry Paradis Legacy Fund was established in August of 2016 to honor our late co-founder’s legacy. The Legacy Fund supports three types of high-impact cases:

  • cases that protect the underserved
  • cases that forge new legal ground
  • cases that risk it all—where fee recovery may not be possible but where the impact is critical

In July of 2017, thanks to the generous support of donors like you, DRA launched its first Legacy-Funded case: our lawsuit against Uber challenging its exclusion of wheelchair users in New York City.

DRA and Larry’s family would like to ensure the Legacy Fund lasts in perpetuity, launching at least one new case with $150,000 in seed funding every two years.Portrait-style photo of Larry Paradis. He is smiling in a collared shirt and tie.

But to accomplish this, DRA needs your help.

This year, DRA launches a campaign to raise $1.5 million to ensure Larry’s legacy continues to change the landscape for people with disabilities.

Give Now

Be sure to choose the “Larry Paradis Legacy Fund” designation.

Impact Report

Challenging Hulu’s discrimination against blind and visually impaired individuals

A laptop with large chunky headphones plugged in.On November 20th, 2017, DRA filed a complaint challenging Hulu’s discrimination against blind and visually impaired individuals. Audio description tracks have been used by blind and visually impaired individuals to enjoy TV and movies for years, but Hulu has refused to include these tracks on any of its streaming content.

Making a public park accessible to people with mobility disabilities

A woman using a power chair is at the base of a granite stairway in a park.

On November 29th, 2017, DRA negotiated a settlement ensuring New York’s Four Freedoms Park honoring Franklin D. Roosevelt will offer equal access to all visitors with mobility disabilities.

Ensuring blind diners have equal access to new technology at restaurants

Fork with stacked plates and bowl.

On January 9th, 2018, DRA negotiated an agreement ensuring tablets used at Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and many other restaurants across the nation will be accessible to blind diners.