[Nfbmo] Hang onto your hats & toupees, a big bag of wind is blowing no good for disabled people

Gary Wunder gwunder at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 9 02:10:19 UTC 2016

I am delighted to see discussion of this kind on our list. I do not like lawyers who seek damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act and go to no effort to seek remediation before going to court. I also don't care much for settlements that involve money but do not involve change to the sites or facilities. A the ADA is under attack already, and a number of newly elected members of Congress believe that the law should be reviewed because of abuses of this kind and a general desire to see that business functions under less burdensome regulation. 

I do not know if the press is the fourth estate, but I do know that I grew up in a time when the only peak at truth we got was because of the press. Watergate was nothing more than a piece of tape found on the door of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. Many people were content to see it as nothing more than a third-rate burglary. Only through the persistence of some dogged reporters and a tacit buy-in by their editors who could've demanded they get off that story and onto something more productive did we learn about the establishment by the White House to set up an enforcement mechanism that would take the place of the FBI and the CIA for the purpose of serving Richard Nixon and, in his opinion, the United States of America. It is only through the press that we learned about the deception of a president who publicly said there was no way we could lose in Vietnam and privately lamented that he saw no way we could win. It was only through the press that we learned about sales of arms to a country which Congress had forbidden us to assist, and don't forget the role of the press in letting us know when the president lied about his extramarital affairs, one involving an intern.

It is true that I think our media is too beholden to corporate interests and money, but we must have some entity that is willing to put shoe leather into stories. The Internet is great for echoing what someone else has found out, but there is a difference between fact and opinion, and we need people who are paid to differentiate between them.

For me the take on this is to see that positive stories about the Americans with Disabilities Act also find their way into what is seen on television and read in newspapers. Without discounting the abuse noted on 60 minutes, the positive side of the law is that it helps us in seeking access where no access would otherwise exist. Nine out of every 10 employment discrimination cases are decided in favor of the employer, so this law does not make it easy for people with disabilities to score big time when alleging discrimination.

We may be at a place in history where it is necessary for us to reiterate for the public and for ourselves why it is that we have the programs we do for education, rehabilitation, and employment. I think we make a mistake if we believe that these are innate civil rights, meaning that we believe they are so fundamental that no one will question them. They were not considered civil rights until late in the 20th century, but I think that this has been a long enough period that some of us would be hard-pressed to make the arguments for why they should continue.



-----Original Message-----
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Eugene S Coulter via Nfbmo
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 1:25 PM
To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List
Cc: Eugene S Coulter
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Hang onto your hats & toupees, a big bag of wind is blowing no good for disabled people

While I agree that it would have been great to have a positive story on the 25th anniversary of the ADA it is equally important to  hear about abuses in the law. I watched the 60 minutes story and had little problem with it. It is entirely  appropriate to reveal  what used to be called "ambulance chaser" lawyers taking advantage of the law to make millions of dollars  by recruiting  disabled people to sue businesses. One lawyer had over 2,000 clients. One thing that made the lawyer's actions  damning is that 
businesses   were not asked to fix the problems  before the lawsuits were 
Unfortunately  you would not expect in a story like this for them to cover the positive aspects of the ADA much as you would not expect  that a story on steroid use in baseball would be for them to talk about the players who were not using steroids.
Just my thoughts.
-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Garcia via Nfbmo
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:44 PM
To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List
Cc: Daniel Garcia
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Hang onto your hats & toupees, a big bag of wind is blowing no good for disabled people

The irony in this is that Donald Trump has often complained about the media being dishonest. Although for different reasons, I do agree that some folks in the media are indeed dishonest.

Whereas in the past many people thought of the media as "the fourth estate", it is becoming abundantly clear that journalism is a business. These folks have a mortgage to pay and kids to send to college. So they will do whatever is necessary to generate ratings. They would consider a story that portrays the ADA as positive to be boring. Whereas a story about people supposedly abusing the system generates outrage and controversy. "If it bleads it leads" is not just a cliché, it is the way they do business.

Thank you for sharing this message.

Daniel Garcia

-----Original Message-----
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of nancy Lynn via Nfbmo
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2016 10:27 AM
To: mcb chat; nfbmo list; NFBC List
Cc: nancy Lynn
Subject: [Nfbmo] Hang onto your hats & toupees, a big bag of wind is blowing no good for disabled people

Nancy Lynn seabreeze.stl at gmail.com 3148840611 -----Original Message-----
From: Carl Jarvis via acb-l
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2016 9:38 AM
To: acb list
Cc: blind-democracy
Subject: [acb-l] Hang onto your hats and toupees, a big bag of wind is blowing no good for disabled people

So some of us thought that 60 Minutes represented fair journalism, did we?  Well, that's just exactly what we've been taught to think.  But if we think outside their propaganda box, we see that 60 Minutes is owned by a giant corporation, and that corporation has its own agenda, which may very likely not be ours.  The following article sheds some light on what is coming down the road.  How many of us have told 60 Minutes what we think of their "Fair" reporting on ADA?
Carl Jarvis

60 Minutes Slams ADA, Boosts Trump Agenda

by Law Office of Lainey Feingold on December 6, 2016

Linda Dardarian, Anderson Cooper and Lainey Feingold

Linda Dardarian, Anderson Cooper and Lainey Feingold

On December 4th, 60 Minutes aired a

13 minute story on “drive by lawsuits” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The segment, which followed a puff piece on Paul Ryan, questioned lawsuits filed by three lawyers, two of them being sued by their disabled clients for


Anderson Cooper, the show’s host, did not mention a single ADA lawsuit he thought was valid, a single ADA lawyer he believed scrupulous. He did not interview

a single disabled person whose ADA claim he found to be meritorious.
No disabled activists were interviewed — though a few, as described here, had their

(partial) images used in the background footage.

This was puzzling. In June 2015 Linda Dardarian and I spent hours with Anderson Cooper and his crew for a 60 Minutes piece about the 25th anniversary of

the ADA. The interview with Anderson Cooper went well. Cooper and his staff told us that they admired the work we do, and that they thought it was great

that ADA enforcement was making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

After our interview we spent hours with the film crew demonstrating accessible technology the ADA had achieved. Experienced film makers carefully set up

their high end equipment to get the perfect shot. The film crew came back weeks later to take footage of members of the disabled community doing things

that ADA enforcement makes possible.

The piece never ran. The ADA’s 25th anniversary came and went on July 26, 2015 without a word from the producers. When 2016 rolled around, we figured the

piece was dead. We were disappointed, but know that media stories don’t run for any number of reasons.

Then, less than a month after Trump’s election, a ghost of the ADA story was resuscitated into the piece viewers saw on December 4. Two hours before it

ran, one of the producers called us. “I just wanted you to know you won’t be in the piece,” he told me. “We decided to go with a piece just about the drive-by


Why would 60 Minutes decide to run a negative story about the Americans with Disabilities Act now, eighteen months after filming?
Why craft a story that

left out hours of film and interviews about effective ADA advocacy.
There can be only one explanation.

Someone at 60 Minutes wanted an anti-ADA piece to support Donald Trump’s anti-regulatory, anti-ADA, and anti-disability agenda.

The pro-ADA piece that 60 Minutes Killed

The story that 60 Minutes initially planned to run had a very different message. Our hour plus interview with Anderson Cooper was wide ranging, covering

ADA enforcement work we have done with our clients for more than twenty years.

We talked, for example, about Talking ATMs achieved through

Structured Negotiation,

the alternative dispute resolution process that is the subject of my new book. If you look closely, you’ll see a picture of a Talking ATM at minute 12:53

of the video.

That shot was taken while the 60 Minutes camera crew spent time with Jessie Lorenz, a blind activist in San Francisco who was involved in the negotiation.

We encouraged 60 Minutes not only to shoot the background footage known as b-roll with our clients, but to interview these advocates as well. Lorenz, Executive

Director of Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco and a single mom who has been featured in a

Facebook promotional video,

does not appear in the show.

Anderson Cooper and his team were also very interested in the work that the American Council of the Blind has done in Structured Negotiation to convince

national pharmacies to offer

talking prescription labels.

Back in Linda’s office, the 60 Minutes camera team spent hours filming the

ScripTalk talking label system

with a high tech robotic camera. Because of ADA enforcement through Structured Negotiation, this system is available through Caremark, Humana, Rite Aid,

and other U.S. pharmacies.

My picture of that filming appears in this post, along with the picture taken of Anderson Cooper standing between Linda and me. We knew that those hours

of capturing the perfect shot would result in a few seconds of on-camera time, and that our engaging interview would be edited down to just a few minutes

or less. We didn’t realize that the entire subject of ADA enforcement through Structured Negotiation would be left on the cutting room floor.

Which Lawyers? Which Lawsuits?

Structured Negotiation is just one way disabled people and their lawyers enforce the ADA, and Linda and I were not the only disability rights lawyers left

out of the reimagined ADA piece on 60 Minutes. Lawsuits have played a critical role in fulfilling the civil rights law’s promise. The 60 Minutes producers

were given names of lawyers across the country who work to enforce the ADA through lawsuits, administrative complaints, and other strategies.

The national

Disability Rights Bar Association

is comprised of private and non-profit lawyers who represent disabled people using a host of strategies, court cases a valuable tool in our tool boxes.

But Anderson Cooper and his team chose not to put a single DRBA lawyer on camera. Instead, the show featured three lawyers — two being sued for malpractice,

one that was sanctioned for what a court found to be unethical behavior.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have long been a target of the right in the United States. I guess 60 Minutes thought another hit piece was needed as political power

in the country is shifting.

Disabled People as Dupes, Not Activists

The 60 Minutes episode didn’t just leave out the nation’s disability rights lawyers. One of the most hurtful aspects of the 60 Minutes video was its portrayal

of disabled people and ADA issues generally. The disabled people Anderson Cooper chose to feature in his story were presented as dupes of unscrupulous

lawyers. People who only became involved in ADA enforcement when lawyers contacted them.

Like other civil rights laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted because disabled people took to the streets to demand their rights. Chained

themselves to busses demanding transportation, filled the halls of congress with stories of exclusion and a thirst for independence.
Today, 26 years after

passage of the ADA, the disabled community is stronger than ever, with more grassroots organizations and social media skills than ever before.

Not only was this activism nowhere in the 60 Minutes story, but 60 Minutes used b-roll footage of activists who believed they were contributing to a fair

25th anniversary story.

Ingrid Tischer, Development Director at the

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund,

is one of those advocates who we encouraged 60 Minutes to contact.
Tischer’s body, but not her face or head, can be seen in the footage running during the


“How dare you slip footage of me from the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC), a state-of-the-art example of built universal design, without any contextualization,”

Tischer posted on Facebook. “I don’t appreciate being background scenery for your propaganda.” She shared more when we spoke after the episode ran:

I was gut-punched by Anderson Cooper’s segment because it did indeed spotlight fraud — the fraud of right-wing propaganda masquerading as journalism. Where

was the point of view of ordinary disabled Americans — like me — who could speak to the righteous and still-inadequate enforcement of our most basic civil

rights through the ADA? I trusted Anderson Cooper and 60 Minutes enough to shoot B-roll with them. But I guess a woman going about her job, her life, thanks

to the rule of law was just too damn accurate and fair.—

Ingrid Tischer,

writer and disability advocate

Erin Lauridsen, a blind San Francisco advocate and technology expert is another person who appears (from the back) on the episode.
Lauridsen crossing the

street with her guide dog is the last shot of the whole story. “I feel sick,” she told me, “that my image was used in such a biased and harmful piece.”

In June 2015 when 60 Minutes asked us for names of people to film for the episode we thought they were creating, the producer who contacted us was excited.

They wanted lots of shots of improvements to technology and the built environment attributable to enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “It’s

a real opportunity I think,” one of the producers wrote me in a June 5, 2015 email, “to educate everyone about how this way of thinking about design can

have a big impact.”

When they dusted off the ADA story after the election and decided to twist it into an anti-ADA piece, someone at 60 Minutes decided that educating the public

about the value of the ADA no longer mattered.

The hit-piece that 60 Minutes Aired

Minutes 5:35 – 6:00 of the 60 Minutes Episode are made to order for Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda. First there is a picture of the ADA Standards for Accessible

Design. Cooper tells listeners that the standards comprise 275 pages.
He then goes on to mention various aspects of the built environment covered by the

standards with plenty of images but zero context.

Cooper shows a light switch, for example, with no mention that if mounted too high, a wheelchair rider cannot turn on a light when entering a room. He shows

carpeting and pooh poohs regulations governing pile height, failing to explain that a manual wheelchair user will be unable to maneuver on improperly designed


The ADA Standards for Accessible Design were not crafted out of thin air. They are based upon the experiences of disabled people and empirical studies.

In many instances they represent compromise; some disabled people will still be unable to use aspects of the built environment that comply with the standards.

The Standards for Accessible Design make the ADA a reality in the built environment. 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper should be ashamed to ignore their true

meaning to feed the Trump anti-regulatory agenda.

The December 4 story was tailor made for another overlooked aspect of the Trump agenda — limiting enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Trump properties have been sued for ADA violations

many times, most recently less than three months ago. And Republican Senator

Jeff Flake from Arizona gleefully tweeted

that his “bill stops frivolous #ADA lawsuits featured on @60Minutes by giving small businesses a chance to fix problems.”

Although Trump and Flake sparred during the run-up to the election, Flake’s bill fits neatly into a Trump vision of an unregulated business environment.

60 Minutes apparently thought that vision needed a boost with its biased and unfair story about ADA enforcement.

Lainey Feingold is a disability rights lawyer and author.  Her book, Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits, tells the story of twenty

years of disability rights advocacy on accessible technology issues using a dispute resolution method focused on win-win solutions and relationship building.

More information on her website at


or follow her on




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