October 2017 E-Newsletter

In This Issue

Letter from the Managing Director

Dear DRA family,

Thanks to all who made DRA’s inaugural New York gala a night to remember. Together we celebrated our 2017 Eagle Awardees for their outstanding advocacy for the disability community: the Museum Access Consortium (MAC), Rebecca Alexander, and Starbucks.

Lucy Jones and Francesca Rosenberg with the Museum Access Consortium (MAC)’s Eagle Award
Rebecca Alexander and her brother Peter Alexander with her Eagle Award





Lucy Helm holds Starbucks’ Eagle Award with Sid Wolinsky
Aerial view of guests at MoMA





View more gala photos on DRA’s Facebook page

DRA, responsible for making New York’s yellow taxis, subways, police department, emergency planning, and voting places available to EVERYONE, is ready to double our impact. Together, we raised $500,000 to support DRA’s expansion in New York.

Your support enables DRA to effect change throughout the nation, using both our New York and California offices.  We have been able to hire additional dedicated attorneys who will tackle critical issues like juvenile justice, broken sidewalks, emergency planning for people with disabilities, and access to public schools for children with disabilities. Your investment allows us to challenge discriminatory of goliath entities like Uber, the United States Army, and the New York MTA—so that people with disabilities have a fair shot at participating fully in society.

DRA’s growth campaign continues and there are many ways you can help:

Thank you for joining us in the important battles ahead.

Sid Wolinsky Headshot


Sid Wolinsky's signature
Sid Wolinsky
Managing Director


DRA is Growing

New Board Member

Cristina Rubke, Of Counsel at Shartsis Friese LLP, rejoined DRA’s Board of Directors in November of 2016.

Portrait photo of Cristina Rubke

Why did you decide to re-join DRA’s Board?

“I’ve always loved and respected DRA for its important and effective work. But part of my support for DRA is selfish. As a person who was born with a disability, I am often the de facto disability representative.

At some point it would be awesome if people with disabilities were fully included everywhere—AP classes in high school, private law firms, sporting events, panels at professional conferences, etc. Then my presence in those places wouldn’t be as noteworthy simply because of my disability. DRA’s work moves us closer to that reality.”

Why is DRA’s work important/urgent?

“I’m particularly passionate about DRA’s work to ensure accessible transportation.  Exciting technological innovation is happening every day and this has the potential to be a historical stepping stone for inclusion in society.  Unfortunately, many of the new innovations are not including people with disabilities.  It is absolutely critical that these innovative transportation options accommodate people with disabilities.”

Other details you want to share?

“I like to sail and ski.  I’m also a part of a land use planning group in San Francisco. One of the issues we’re looking at is the use of water taxi services.  I really want taxi services to be accessible for people who use wheelchairs and I know DRA has my back on that.”

New Attorneys & Fellows

DRA is pleased to welcome new staff in its California and New York offices!

In our Berkeley, CA offices, Thomas Zito joins as Senior Staff Attorney, Melissa Riess joins as Staff Attorney, and Paul Leahy begins his DRA fellowship.

In our New York offices, Maia Goodell joins as Senior Staff Attorney and Emily Seelenfreund begins her Wolinsky fellowship.

Larry Paradis Posthumously Receives ABA’s Paul G. Hearne Award

On August 14, the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights presented the 2017 Paul G. Hearne Award, sponsored by Starbucks, to DRA’s late Co-Founder and Executive Director, Larry Paradis. The award was accepted by members of Larry Paradis’ family.

Larry Paradis’ family members and DRA staff


We are deeply grateful to Larry’s family for donating the award’s honorarium to the Larry Paradis Legacy Fund, established to support the high impact and novel cases Larry was so known for.

Impact Report

New York City School System Fails to Provide Necessary Services to Students with Disabilities in the Bronx

A classroom with desks arranged in clusters. The wall says "SI SE PUEDE!"On July 27, DRA filed suit on behalf of Bronx students with disabilities who are being denied special education services.


Court Report Confirms Dismal State of Sidewalks for Disabled New Yorkers

On August 10, a new federal court report confirmed the dismal state of New York City’s crumbling sidewalks and curb cuts.

Eatsa Agrees to Make its Cutting-Edge Technology Accessible to Blind Customers

A person's hand touches an Eatsa cubby. The cubby cover display's the name "Janet M." and has the instructions "TAP TWICE" encircled in the upper right corner. A container of food is visible behind the cubby cover.On September 14, DRA negotiated an agreement with eatsa to ensure its self-service restaurants across the country will be accessible to blind customers.


FDNY Violates ADA by Pre-judging Veteran Applicants as Unfit

On September 20, DRA filed a Charge of Discrimination after the Fire Department of the City of New York disqualified a Marine Corps veteran for his years-old PTSD diagnosis, without evaluating his current capabilities.

Mount Sinai Hospitals Agree to Landmark Class Action Settlement to Improve Health Care Services for New Yorkers with Disabilities

Street view of Beth Israel Medical Center
Photo by Violette79, CC BY 2.0

On October 12, DRA negotiated a landmark settlement improving accessibility to Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Continuum Health Partners for disabled New Yorkers.