March 2022 Newsletter
In This Issue
- Letter From the President & CEO
- New Board Member Profile: Sofia Vergara
- Interview with DRA’s Rebecca Williford
- Impact Report
With 2022 well underway, and one-year leading DRA under my belt as of this week, I’m feeling more energized and optimistic than ever about our work and critical role in the disability community, today and tomorrow. DRA’s strategic plan provides a clear path for the future: expanding our impact, deepening our partnerships, strengthening our internal culture, broadening our diversity, and bolstering our financial stability. We’re excited to now be moving from planning to action.
As this issue’s Impact Report demonstrates, in recent months we’ve helped advance the rights of people with disabilities through a variety of settlements and new case filings addressing everything from digital accessibility to crosswalk safety to equal access to participate in school field trips. Two of our victories that I’m most excited about increase the accessibility of podcast streaming services and payroll and HR systems.
Indeed, our new strategic plan clearly affirms our commitment to serving Americans with disabilities nationwide, across all diversity dimensions including geographic diversity. Our goal is serving those who cannot otherwise be served, not just in New York and California, but everywhere in between. Several ongoing cases in Kentucky and other states reflect this commitment to increasing access to, and equity in, all aspects of community life—whether urban, suburban or rural.
Behind these successes are, as always, the amazing people who comprise the DRA family. On that note, we recently welcomed a new board member, Sofia Vergara, who you can learn more about in this issue of our newsletter. We’re also pleased to kick off a series through which we’ll highlight our talented staff. We’re starting with one of our longest tenured employees, Rebecca Williford, recently promoted to Deputy Director of Litigation. Additionally, we’ve welcomed two new staff members to the DRA family: Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Knestrick and Staff Attorney Madeleine Reichman.
Of course, we’re also powered by DRA’s extended family—our many clients, partners and other supporters without whom we could not succeed. In that spirit, we thank you for joining us on this righteous journey.
With gratitude and hope for the future,
DRA is excited to welcome Sofia Vergara to our board of directors!
“I hope that I can contribute to this work from the unique perspective as a person with a disability who has worked in the field of education for many years. I am very excited to work with everyone at DRA to carry out and strengthen the mission of this organization.”
Rebecca Williford has been with DRA since 2008 and was recently promoted to Deputy Director of Litigation. She specializes in impact litigation on behalf of people with disabilities and has achieved multiple precedents on matters of first impression, advancing the rights of people with disabilities nationwide.
Which of DRA’s cases that you have worked on are you most proud of?
“In 2013, we tried (and won!) a case against the City of New York for its failure to include people with all types of disabilities in its emergency preparedness plans. Not only did this case address life-and-death issues for people with disabilities in emergencies, but I was able to work on every aspect of the trial, even as a relatively new attorney at the time, thanks to DRA’s commitment to my professional development.”
DRA Files Lawsuit Challenging Inaccessibility of Major Podcast Platforms
In December, DRA and National Association of the Deaf filed a lawsuit against three major providers of podcasts—SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora—to end their exclusion of deaf and hard of hearing Americans from each company’s extensive podcast streaming service.
DRA and Lighthouse of SF Work with ADP to Enhance Accessibility of the HR and Payroll Company’s Products to Blind Users
DRA and LightHouse of SF reached an agreement with ADP TotalSource® to enhance the accessibility and usability of the ADP Workforce Now® solution to LightHouse staff who are blind or have low vision and use screen-reading software to access digital content.
Federal Court Orders New York City to Install Thousands of Accessible Crosswalk Signals Over the Next 10 Years
In a first-of-its kind decision that will remake the streetscape of New York City and improve safety and accessibility for all New Yorkers, in December a federal court ruled that NYC must install accessible pedestrian signals (APS) at 10,000 intersections over the next 10 years, ultimately equip all signalized intersections with APS in the next 15 years, and prioritize installations where they are most needed.
Federal Court Rules Children with Diabetes in NYC Denied Equal Access to Field Trips and Bus Transportation
In a victory for children with disabilities, in January a federal court ruled that the City of New York’s Department of Education routinely denies students with diabetes access to field trips and bus transportation and must remedy these violations.