Big Data and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Date Written: 2017


While big data offers society many potential benefits, it also comes with serious risks. This Essay focuses on the concern that big data will lead to increased employment discrimination. It develops the novel argument that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be amended in response to the big data phenomenon in order to protect individuals who are perceived as likely to develop physical or mental impairments in the future. Employers can obtain medical data about employees not only through the traditional means of medical examinations and inquiries, but also through the non-traditional mechanisms of social media, wellness programs, and data brokers. Information about workers’ habits, behaviors, or attributes that is derived from big data can be used to create profiles of undesirable employees. It can also be used to exclude healthy and qualified individuals whom employers regard as vulnerable to future medical problems. The ADA, which now protects only individuals with current or past disabilities and those who are perceived as having existing impairments, can no longer ignore the discrimination threats posed by predictive health data. The Essay analyzes these risks and propose a detailed statutory response to them.

Download Paper

Hoffman, Sharona, Big Data and the Americans with Disabilities Act (2017). 68 Hastings Law Journal 777 (2017); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-33. Available at SSRN:

Webcast: Disclosing Disability in the Workplace

Source: NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities (VCU-RRTC)

Webcast, Disclosing Disability in the Workplace

July 13th, 2-2:45pm ET. Registration is free and required.

This presentation will review the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) pertaining to disclosure of disability in the workplace and examine the considerations that workers with disabilities must make in deciding whether to disclose.  Research findings from several recent studies of the disclosure decision will be presented.

Celebrate the ADA: Toolkit for 2017 Themes

Source: Project of the ADA National Network/

Celebrate the ADA

Throughout the year, celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Anniversary (July 26) in your workplaces, schools and communities. While much progress has been made, much remains to be done.

This Tool Kit is a project of the ADA National Network and its ten regional ADA Centers across the United States that provide information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Themes for June 2017

Olmstead Decision – 18th Anniversary (6/22)

Countdown to ADA Anniversary

Explore & Learn the ADA

Sharing ADA Stories

Recreation, Play & Travel

Voting Access

Questions on the ADA?

The ADA National Network and its ten regional ADA Centers located throughout the United States are your comprehensive “one-stop” resource for information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Contact your ADA Center in the ADA National Network at 1-800-949-4232.

Ensuring Accessibility of Health Care Facilities and Providers

Source: CMS.Gov & Florida Disability and Health Program

The CMS Office of Minority Health Issue Briefs offer insight and examination into a variety of health and health disparity topics. The briefs are a concise summary of a particular issue and examine policies that impact the quality of and access to health care for minority and disadvantaged populations. Issue Briefs evaluate CMS programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, to include recommendations and suggestions relating to the issue at hand.

Adults with disabilities are almost twice as likely as other adults to report unmet health care needs due to problems with the accessibility of a doctor’s office or clinic.9 Structural, financial, and cultural barriers persist for people with disabilities when trying to access care.10 Many individuals with mobility disabilities face difficulties locating or otherwise traveling a burdensome distance to physically accessible services.11 Providing equal access to health care for people with physical disabilities involves many factors including, but not limited to:

  • Facility access. This includes accessible routes from parking or bus stops into the building, accessible parking, accessible entry doors with the required clearance width, clear floor space, and maneuvering clearance, accessible restrooms, and accessible signage for people who are blind or have low vision.12
  • Health care services access. This includes accessible scales and exam tables to facilitate a medical exam, accessible treatment and diagnostic equipment (including infusion chairs, mammography machines, and radiology equipment), appropriate resources for individuals with visual and auditory disabilities, and staff trained to assess patient needs and safely help patients move in between and transfer on and off medical equipment.

Download Issue-Brief-Physical-AccessibilityBrief

Download: In-depth-guide-on-accessibility-for-healthcare-facilities


Expo Conference Materials

2016 KT Conference

This section of the Expo features archived presentations and files from the 2016 KT Conference. These include captioned YouTube videos, edited transcripts, and downloadable copies of presentation files (PDF and text versions). This Conference Archive is pre-approved for 10 hours CRC-CEUs through 12-11-17. You must complete an evaluation to receive your verification of completion form.

Source: Expo Conference Materials

NDLA ADA 25 Celebration July 27

The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) is a member of the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) Steering Committee.  NDLA is a coalition led by 15 national organizations run by people with disabilities with identifiable grassroots constituencies around the country.  As a member, NOND requests that  you consider assisting our organization in raising funds for the NDLA ADA 25 Celebration which will be held in Washington, DC on July 27.

This exciting community-wide celebration will be the largest ADA Anniversary event in the United States.  Please pledge your support today!  Sponsor packages are available at all levels and include great visibility to demonstrate your support for the disability community!  Sponsorship information and ticket sales are available on the National Disability Leadership Alliance’s website at

Please join disability rights leaders and activists, Members of Congress, Administration Officials, and others as we gather to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This community wide celebration is being hosted by the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA).  Individual tickets can be purchased for $50.

Date: Monday, July 27, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM 11:00 PM
Location: Grand Hyatt
1000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001


If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of NDLA’s ADA 25th Anniversary event please contact:

Disability Employment Policy — What Are We Missing?

Disability Employment Policy — What Are We Missing?
by Guest Blogger Paul Hippolitus, Director, Disabled Students’ Program, Equity & Inclusion, University of California, Berkeley

Watch a YouTube video of Paul Hippolitus discussing UC Berkeley’s ”Professional Development and Disability” course.

As a longtime advocate and professional working in support of the employment of people with disabilities, I was very excited to recently report for work at the University of California, Berkeley — to have the privilege of assisting the University’s students with disabilities with both their education and career ambitions.  UC Berkeley has some of the “best and brightest” of our young people with disabilities, so helping them to achieve their career goals seemed to me to be the easiest assignment I would ever have.

During my first few weeks at Berkeley, I embarked on a quest to ask every student with a disability I met the question, “What’s your career goal?” I couldn’t wait to hear about their lofty goals, serious plans and impressive ambitions.

Much to my chagrin, the response I most often got (about 99 percent of the time) was the student casting their eyes to the ground and saying, ”I’m not sure, I guess I’ll go on to graduate schools; or, law school; or medical school.”

I was shocked. Our “best and brightest” were just as perplexed about their career potential as most people with disabilities.

It took several months before these students trusted me enough to tell me what they were really thinking when I had asked them my question. They candidly told me that they felt they had to stay in school as long as possible because they were afraid that when their school years ended, they would be forced to spend the rest of their lives at home, on disability benefits, watching TV, because they were sure no one would hire them.

Here I was among the highest achieving of our young people with disabilities, and they lacked a basic self-confidence about what they had to offer as productive workers. It was then I began to realize, if these students lacked self-confidence about their employment worth, surely most of our young people with disabilities must likewise doubt their employment potential.

Happily, it didn’t take much of an effort to begin to turn that lack of self-confidence around. All it took was me urging them to believe in themselves, to appreciate what they had to offer the world and to begin to teach them the knowledge they needed to get going.

Still, I wondered, why this was my experience, at this high level of academic achievement? Well, it starts with the parents, teachers, family and friends asking our young people with disabilities that empowering question, “What do you want to be when you grown-up?” While this vital question is regularly asked of our nondisabled youth, it’s too often avoided when talking with our young people with disabilities.

What kind of an impact or signal does this failure to ask such a question send to our youth with disabilities? I asked them and what they told me was it teaches them that parents, teachers, family and friends don’t expected them to work because of their disability.

So, nurturing these students’ self-confidence became my first task.  And it started by simply showing them there was at least one person who could see their employment potential.

Next, I began a paid work internship program for our students. After all, how can they compete for jobs upon graduation if they don’t keep-up with the nondisabled students who were participating in summer jobs and internships along the way?

Our new internship program was just the medicine they needed to feed their new found self-confidence. Working with the State of California Department of Rehabilitation, we were able to place many of our students with disabilities in internship or summer paid work experiences. This not only boosted the students’ self-confidence about their employment potential, it also gave them the added building blocks they needed to more successfully compete for jobs and careers upon graduation.

Our quest for summer jobs and internships created a new “sense of possibility” among our students and changed the whole campus climate. Our students began encouraging each other to seek internships. An excitement began to build around each student’s search. The students began to help each other with their internship possibilities by freely sharing internship placement information and experiences.

Still, as we move forward, one more step was clearly needed. And, it turned out to be the most important one.

After self-confidence and work experiences or paid internships, it was clear to me that there was a serious gap in the students’ knowledge about the world of work. Having never been there or educated about what the world of work expects of them, they were both unsure and ill prepared for the transition. So, this was one more piece of the puzzle needed before our program would become complete. This next component of our program was a response to the reality that the world of work is, quite literally, a new and unknown world to the uninitiated. So, if you have never experienced the workplace (internships help, but not completely) how can you expected to know the intricacies of work place culture, values and “rules of the road”, unless someone teaches you them?  If you’re not informed on these subjects, you’re more likely to make critical mistakes which can keep you from getting a job, much less sustaining a career. Since school is a great place to teach new knowledge, I started a course called, “Professional Development and Disability”. This course was designed to document and teach our students this important information.

There are numerous other school based efforts designed to teach students with disabilities information about the world of work. However, as valuable as they are, they’re rarely complete. Most often, they teach skills around “how to” look for work, prepare a resume and perform in that all important interview.  These are important skills; however, real success in getting and holding a job is knowing and understanding the deeper subtleties of the work place.

Our “Professional Development and Disability” course goes into depth on these additional considerations. It challenges the students to conceptualize how to best present themselves and their disabilities; it helps them to understand how to disarm and education employers and co-workers about their disabilities; to better understand workplace culture and values; to develop effective work place habits and practices; and to learn how to navigate disability employment considerations (accommodations, disincentives, laws and related emotional considerations).

The “Professional Development and Disability” course has helped our students; however, I am convinced that it can likewise help other young people with disabilities who are still in school, people who have recently acquired disabilities and those individuals with disabilities who have never worked before and are now considering entering the workforce.

Remember, such a course of instruction is but one of several important components needed to help make employment possible. Even so, it may be the most over looked one in our disability employment policy.

For the most part, over the years, disability employment policy has overlooked the idea of “product development”. We ask employers to hire, but we don’t spend enough time teaching applicants with disabilities how to “market” themselves effectively. One without the other is an incomplete equation.

In the words of our students in this course, “the best form of disability advocacy is your career”.

For more information:

Paul Hippolitus is the Director of the Disabled Students’ Program at the University of California, Berkeley, which was recently named one of the top five universities serving students with disabilities in the United States. The Disabled Students’ Program provides legally mandated classroom accommodations to over 1,200 students with disabilities and was one of the first of its kind in the country. Paul also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living and the World Institute for Disability.