Regional News in Review – December 2012

Restaurants’ accessibility is scrutinized Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones sent a detailed questionnaire in November to 12 restaurants on […]

Restaurants’ accessibility is scrutinized

Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones sent a detailed questionnaire in November to 12 restaurants on or near Nicollet Mall to determine whether they are wheelchair-accessible or otherwise complying with federal law requiring accommodations for people with disabilities.

The U.S. Attorney’s office periodically looks into different types of venues to see if they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Restaurants are expected to meet the ADA requirements that were in place at the time of the restaurant’s construction or latest renovation.

Federal officials have the option of directing restaurants to resources to help them become compliant. or filing a lawsuit. The group of restaurants were chosen because they are in the same general area, not because of any specific complaint or problems.

Among the questions the restaurants will be required to answer are:

· Is there a telephone device for the deaf available at the host station so a restaurant can take reservations from people who are deaf or have a speech impairment?

· Is the route through the main entrance and into the restaurant accessible to persons with disabilities?

· If the restaurant has a bar or counter, is any portion of it lowered for accessible to someone in a wheelchair?

· Does the restaurant have written policies on how it will handle people with hearing disabilities or use a wheelchair?

· Does it have a written policy specific to persons with disabilities who use service animals? (Source: Star Tribune)



Parents face charges for punishment

An Eagan couple is accused of neglect and malicious punished involving the care of their autistic teenage son. Gregory and Angela Danner are each charged with two gross misdemeanors in the case.

A criminal complaint issued in Dakota County details the alleged neglect and abuse of the 15-year-old boy who is reportedly diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Police say the teen told them that Angela Danner, his mother, and Gregory Danner, his stepfather removed his bed and lights from his bedroom and used foam to block outside light from seeping into the room as a form of punishment. He was only given peanut butter sandwiches to eat. He was forced to exercise excessively. The boy was largely confined to his room and monitored by video camera from another room.

If found guilty, the Danners face a maximum of one year in jail on each criminal count. (Source: KARE-11, Pioneer Press)



They dance with Parkinson’s

The dance class Jessica Roeder has been leading most Fridays since January at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth is like any other, in most respects. Students start slowly with stretching exercises and work their way up to more complex moves during the 75-minute session. Their dances range from ballet to flamenco to folk. But there is a difference; this is the Parkinson’s Dance Studio in Duluth. The dancers either have the nervous-system disorder that causes tremors and hampers muscle movement or they are the spouses and friends of people with Parkinson’s.

Students go through the dance movements as best they can. One is in wheelchair. Another uses a walker instead of a ballet bar. Dancers find the class challenging and yet relaxing. Roeder got the idea for the class from a PBS News hour feature about a similar class offered in Brooklyn. Someone sent her a video link and she was hooked “Immediately, that very night, right away this was what I wanted to do with my life,” Roeder said. (Source: Duluth News-Tribune)



Minnesota Social Security offices reduce hours

Minnesota Social Security offices will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – a reduction of 30 minutes each weekday. In addition, beginning January 2, 2013, offices will close to the public at noon every Wednesday. The change took effect in mid-November.

While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims work without incurring the cost of overtime. The significantly reduced funding provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year makes it impossible for the agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past.

Most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office. Many services, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, obtaining a proof of income letter or informing us of a change of address or telephone number are conveniently available at www.socialsecurity.gov or by dialing our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778. Many of our online services also are available in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov (Source: Social Security Administration)