Access

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

The ADA’s goal is to provide individuals with disabilities opportunities to live their lives like individuals without disabilities, and to be integrated into all aspects of American society.

DRM is committed to enforcing the ADA and the Maine Human Rights Act. Every day, DRM is fighting to address the unequal treatment of people with disabilities in employment, housing, and access to services across settings.

Listen to Kristin Aiello on MPBN's Maine Calling

MPBN's Maine Calling Presents: "The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25"

How the ADA changed life for Americans with disabilities.

Guests:

  • Kristin Aiello, Managing Attorney, Disability Rights Maine
  • Amy Sneirson, Executive Director of the Maine Human Rights Commission
  • Dennis Fitzgibbons, Executive Director, Alpha One

    Listen Now!

Kristin Aiello Authors Maine Bar Journal Article

Click to read Kristin's article, "The ADA Turns 25", which appeared in the Maine Bar Journal's Fall 2015 Edition.  

For the full version of the Fall 2015 Maine Bar Journal, visit: http://msba.mainebar.org/barjournal/mbjfall15lr.pdf.

 DRM's Recent Work

DRM Intervention Ensures Equal Access for the Deaf at Maine Dental Practice

As a result of a legal intervention by Disability Rights Maine, a Maine dental practice which discriminated against a Deaf woman instituted a new ADA policy to ensure equal access for the Deaf, underwent ADA training for all staff regarding rights of the Deaf, and underwent monitoring by the Maine Human Rights Commission to ensure that discrimination does not happen again, in addition to individual relief provided to the woman.

A Deaf woman contacted Disability Rights Maine after a dental practice refused to provide her with effective communication, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, to be present for her minor son’s dental appointments. The woman attempted to bring her child to the dentist and requested an interpreter so that she could understand what care her child needed. The practice refused her request, based on their policy of not providing ASL interpreters.

DRM attorney Kristin Aiello, who represented the woman, stated, “In a previous appointment with her child, our client attempted to communicate with the practice in writing, which proved to be ineffective. For her child’s next appointment, she attempted to work out the problem by providing the practice with resources for hiring an interpreter for her next appointment. The practice ignored this request.”

The Maine Human Rights Commission concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe discrimination occurred. “The finding in this case was that the failure to provide an ASL interpreter in these circumstances is illegal under state law,” a DRM attorney Kristin Aiello said. “The law is clear that health care providers must consult with the person about what auxiliary aid or service will provide effective communication. This did not happen. Instead, the practice made a unilateral decision without consulting with our client. As a result, our client was denied effective communication.”

After reasonable grounds were found, DRM attorney Aiello represented the client through the conciliation process at the Maine Human Rights Commission where she successfully negotiated a settlement which included policy revision, training, and reporting and monitoring over two years to ensure compliance with its nondiscrimination policy.

Due to DRM Intervention, Maine DHHS Offers VRI

As a result of systemic litigation led by Disability Rights Maine Attorney Kristin Aiello, every Office of Family Independence, Department of Health and Human Services across the State of Maine is equipped with Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) to help ensure effective communication with the Deaf. Prior to legal action by DRM, the Office of Family Independence lacked the capacity to provide Deaf clients with effective and equal communication. After attempting to address this matter by settlement, Disability Rights Maine filed a lawsuit to pursue declaratory and injunctive relief from the federal court to address the deprivation of civil rights of Deaf individuals. In the lawsuit, DRM asserted that the State of Maine discriminated against a Deaf woman by failing to provide her with an interpreter and failing to afford her an opportunity to participate in services that was equal to others, and that while the State of Maine provided hearing individuals with limited English proficiency with instant interpreting services, the State failed to provide equal service to Deaf individuals through VRI. The case resolved in 2014.

 Resources

A Basic Guide to Self-Advocacy

This manual is intended to provide a simple yet informative overview of how to be a self-advocate. This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have specific questions or need assistance with a particular issue, please contact Disability Rights Maine.

 News

 Systemic Work

Service Animal Task Force


DRM Managing Attorney Kristin Aiello was recently appointed by the Maine Legislature and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to serve on a Task Force to Ensure Integrity in the Use of Service Animals as authorized by RESOLVE Chapter 36, LD 872, 127th Maine State Legislature, “Resolve, Establishing a Task Force To Ensure Integrity in the Use of Service Animals.”  The Task Force was charged with the duty of reviewing and making recommendations about service animal issues, including training requirements, certification and documentation of service animals, housing issues, and public education to the Legislature.  Attorney Aiello was appointed and designated as an attorney who specializes in disability law with experience in both state and federal laws governing service animals. The Task Force presented its Report to the State of Maine Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry on Thursday, February 4th at 1 pm.

​ADA Rights Trainings


DRM Managing Attorney Kristin Aiello and State ADA Accessibility Coordinator Eric Dibner recently teamed up to present a series of ADA rights trainings at the Maine Career Centers serving Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, & Somerset Counties. The Maine CareerCenters are a statewide network that provide a variety of employment and training services at no charge for Maine workers and businesses.  Attorney Aiello and Mr. Dibner provided training on topics including the definition of “disability” under the ADA and the Maine Human Rights Act, accessibility, what employers can and cannot ask, modifications, reasonable accommodation, harassment, retaliation and  effective communication. Trainings were provided on February 3 at the Wilton Career Center; on February 9 at the Lewiston CareerCenter; on February 23 at the Skowhegan CareerCenter and on March 3,  at the Augusta CareerCenter.

ADA Coalition

DRM coordinates an ADA Coalition comprised of persons with disabilities and representatives of agencies with an interest in furthering inclusion and access. To date, the coalition has worked on activities regarding the upcoming 25th anniversary of the ADA, law enforcement and interaction with people with disabilities, and voting rights. To learn more about the ADA Coalition, contact Riley Albair at 800.452.1948, Ext. 216 or via email, ralbair@drme.org.