September 2020 E-News: Finally, Some GREAT News
In This Issue
- A Letter from the Interim Executive Director
- Spotlight on Ptahra Jeppe, 2020 Wolinsky Fellow
- DRA’s 2020 Virtual Gala
- Impact Report
Dear DRA Supporters,
Great news is hard to come by in 2020 and I’m delighted to have an opportunity to share some with you today. Earlier this month:
- DRA virtually welcomed our 4th, talented Wolinsky Fellowship Attorney, Ptahra Jeppe;
- Just in time for November elections, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina granted DRA and our clients a motion for preliminary injunction, ordering the state’s Board of Elections to make their absentee voting program accessible to voters with disabilities; and
- DRA Board member Shane Burcaw along with his new bride Hannah Aylward (the duo behind Squirmy and Grubs) will emcee our October 29th Virtual Gala! You’re invited to attend, become a sponsor, and become a virtual host.
DRA’s Wolinsky Fellowship is an ongoing two-year fellowship named in honor of DRA’s Co-Founder Sid Wolinsky. The Fellowship offers recent law school graduates the training and tools to pursue a career in public interest law. Strong preference is given to Fellow candidates with disabilities. Ptahra (who you’ll learn more about below) and the Wolinsky Fellows before her are funded by the Wolinsky Fellowship Fund, which so many of you have contributed to over the years. We are deeply grateful for your support and the opportunity, especially in the face of 2020’s financial challenges, to welcome Ptahra to DRA’s team of civil rights warriors!
As you’ll read, DRA is rising to meet 2020’s unique challenges, wielding high-impact litigation to bring about equality and justice for people with disabilities facing illegal discrimination across the country. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and I couldn’t feel prouder to work for such a hard-hitting organization. I look forward to sharing inspiring stories of impact when we virtually gather on the evening of October 29th.
With hope and heart,
Kate Hamilton, Interim Executive Director
Image: Kate Hamilton signature
In September of 2020, DRA welcomed our new Wolinsky Fellow, Ptahra Jeppe. Ms. Jeppe received her J.D. magna cum laude with a curricular focus in Disability Law & Policy and an M.S.Ed. in Disability Studies from Syracuse University College of Law. She received her B.A. magna cum laude with departmental honors from Adelphi University.
“As a native New Yorker, I have been inspired by the victories DRA has achieved. As far back as I can remember I have aspired to be a disability rights attorney so that I can advocate for individuals with disabilities like myself. Thanks to all of you who support DRA, my dream has become a reality.
My passion and scholarship are in the area of Special Education Law. As a result, I am excited to work with DRA where I hope to accomplish systemic change through impact litigation that results in meaningful access and opportunity for students with disabilities.”
While we cannot gather in person, we will honor the hard work and incredible impact of DRA at our Virtual Gala on Thursday, October 29th at 5:00pm PT / 8:00pm ET.
Join us to hear more about our most recent groundbreaking work, celebrate the achievements of this past year, and pay tribute to 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hosted by Shane Burcaw and Hannah Aylward and including many special guests, the Virtual Gala supports DRA’s ongoing work. Join us as a sponsor, sign up to attend the event, and make a contribution today!
In July, the day after the anniversary of the ADA, DRA and partners filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections for excluding blind North Carolinians from their Absentee Voting Program.
With the November election drawing closer, DRA and partners filed an application for a preliminary injunction that would require the NCSBOE to provide accessible means for requesting, receiving, marking, and returning absentee ballots.
In a historic victory, in September a judge granted the motion for preliminary injunction, ordering the NCSBOE to make their Absentee Voting Program accessible to blind voters by the November election. This ruling affirms that all North Carolinians deserve to vote privately and independently from home, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
In August, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against First Urology, a full-service urological medical and imaging practice with roughly 20 locations in Kentucky and Indiana, challenging the medical practice’s illegal policy of refusing to help patients with disabilities transfer from wheelchairs or other mobility devices to examination tables and diagnostic equipment, in violation of the ADA and other disability rights laws.
This lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to require First Urology to purchase and provide accessible medical equipment, and seeks an order requiring First Urology to institute policies, procedures, and training appropriate to the provision of medical care to patients with mobility disabilities.
In September, DRA filed a lawsuit against payroll processing and HR giant ADP for failing to make its industry-leading products and services accessible to blind professionals who use assistive technology.
Many companies and organizations have successfully made their products and services accessible, but ADP has not incorporated these features into its cloud-based HR product. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief requiring ADP to make its program accessible to blind users.