Using ADA as a framework for compassionate return to work. A convo with Josh Klipp, CASp, Esq

Episode 13 May 24, 2020 00:57:30
Using ADA as a framework for compassionate return to work. A convo with Josh Klipp, CASp, Esq
Freewheelin with Carden
Using ADA as a framework for compassionate return to work. A convo with Josh Klipp, CASp, Esq

Show Notes

Made Welcome's Founder and Principal Josh Klipp, CASp, Esq speaks to the importance of making the built and digital environment accessible for people with disabilities. He drives home the point that if we were to listen to this population, we would be much better off during the COVID pandemic. He dives into his journey becoming a CASp and why equity matters.

Prior to founding Made Welcome, Josh practiced employment law for nearly 16 years, specializing in the American's with Disabilities Act. Josh is also a Certified Access Specialist through California's Division of the State Architect, #812 in all of California, and is certified to provide guidance on accessibility in the built environment. After practicing law for nearly 2 decades, Josh left litigating to do all things disability for one of the world's largest tech companies. Because of his experience in workplaces and events, Josh understands the challenges and nuances faced by employers, event producers and venues. Josh brings not only his technical expertise to bear, but also his skill from years volunteering as a settlement Judge at the San Francisco Superior Court. Josh takes tough situations and helps everyone find a good path to a better, happier and more accessible place. On nights and weekends, Josh moonlights with his band, the Klipptones, and is a volunteer Planting Leader with Friends of the Urban Forest. 


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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:04 You gotta start somewhere and you know, I had a really great boss. We want the best bosses I ever had. And I remember she called me into her office and pretty early on after I started there and each of us in the office had to have sort of an area of expertise because then we could be a resource to the other attorneys in the office. And she called me into her office one day and she basically just told me like, gosh, you're going to be our ADA expert. I was like, yep, okay, so and and so I started educating myself. Welcome to freewheeling with carton this podcast, share stories of people with various disabilities and shines a new light on accessibility topics. Our goal is to knock down barriers so we can roll through life a little easier and build a community. To do this together, please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions. We welcome you on your journey towards inclusion for all and now your host and Waikato, global disability advocate and wheelchair. Speaker 2 01:07 All right. So welcome back to another episode of free will with carton. I have Josh clip here joining virtually. Hi Josh, how are you? Good. And are you curtain? I'm well just hanging in there from all of the coven and still sheltering in place for the time being. So very, very strange times we're living through right now. Well yeah. So I brought you on here today just to talk about your journey because I know you work with people with disabilities historically and now you've started your own consulting business to help lead trainings and you're a cast, so certified access specialist in the state of California. So tell me a little bit about your journey and what you do today. Speaker 3 01:55 Yeah, yeah, that's a lot of questions and I'll be digging and I also just want to say that I hope at some point, you know, it would just really make the, make the point that I wrote an article recently that we would be in a much different place with covered the 19 if we had listened to people with disabilities because accessibility is playing such a critical role right now in our ability to function as humans, as companies. So I just want to kind of lead with that before I dig into kind of my own personal story. Speaker 2 02:26 And I'll even echo that because it's so interesting. So I was on a call today of people just sharing things that have helped relieve them during this time, either meditation, prayer, nature, whatever it is. And it's so interesting just to see how people who do not currently have a disability are just going off the walls insane with their mental health. And it's really sad to see that. But for me having a progressive disease and you knowing just seeing people with different disabilities that were kind of these warriors and we face obstacles on a daily basis and for me this is just like another hurdle, another bump in the road. It's nothing that's really changed my mental health status because I've built it up so strong just living with it for 27 years. That's that's, Speaker 3 03:23 That gives me chills. I really appreciate your sharing that. You know some, something else I also want to, I also want to say is that one of the things I really want to call out is how the ways that, and I'm going to say particularly United States, we sort of handled this by making these statements of well you know a few people got to go. If so, we can get our economy open. Let's be honest. You know, who they're talking about are really vulnerable people and that includes people with disabilities much of the time. And you know, in conversations with my friends, you know who have disabilities. This is really distressing because essentially I think people with disabilities already feel really devalued. And so now our, our politicians and our leaders have just said it out loud. And I think really any part of quote returning to normal needs to include a conversation and an apology for the ways that we have mistreated people who are particularly vulnerable and people with disabilities. Speaker 2 04:27 I would totally agree with that because even here in the state of Georgia, it's all of the announcements are the medically fragile and the vulnerable population and they're really emphasizing medically fragile and saying that you guys are going to stay home and you're going to continue to stay home, but the rest of the world is going to start picking up. Right? Right. It's like, well that's what, what, where's the equity in that statement? So I think we just continue to, it's, yeah, I just feel like we take one step forward, two steps back kind of, and it's how are we always making sure that we're including everyone and this is just inclusive language and making decisions that are inclusive of everyone, not just one particular group. Exactly, exactly. So, I mean, I'll take the personal choice of staying home and I'll continue to stay home just because I am more at risk, especially with my lower lung function. Speaker 3 05:33 Yeah. Yeah. It's just, I, I really worry that we don't consider the mental warfare that has been waged on, on people with disability, the psychological warfare that's been waged from people with disabilities in this whole rush to return to normalcy. So I hope, and I try to imagine a future because if somebody was saying to me the other day, and you've really got to, when you're in these dark places, visualize, you know, really visualize what you, what you, what you want for the world. And I really, I want to imagine and visualize a world where, yeah, where we have these honest conversations. I think all of our country's dysfunction is really coming to the, to the foreground right now. And I really, I really want to imagine a world where we take that on and we, we become better humans. Speaker 2 06:22 And it's not even just people with disabilities. I mean, I know we're kind of do railing on just the covert conversation, but it's so top of mind. I mean, even thinking about other minority groups too, there's been a lot of racial slurs being thrown around and other derogatory terms, especially with Asian Pacific, um, regions as well as African Americans are really taking a death toll on this as well. So it's, it's just a really crappy time. Yeah, no better words. But I would say it's such a great learning experience for so many who don't normally know how to overcome challenges and barriers on a regular basis. So it's also given people a lot of time to just pause and reflect rather than react and just continue on. And I mean, obviously our environment is certainly benefiting from this. All the birds and chipmunks are Roman on the highways, like they have free range. So, yeah. Well, yeah. So let me, I guess I can start with some of your questions. Let's do it. Let's dive in. Yeah. So your first question was you asked him about my journey, Speaker 3 07:39 How I got here and um, you know, I, when I, when I decided to go to law school, I decided to go to law school because I believe strongly in injustice and making the world a better place. And it's funny story I don't tell too often is when I was in undergrad, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do next. And so I started going to classes like African-Americans in the law and you know, these sorts of classes and I really wanted to go to a women in the law class, but my university didn't offer one. So I snuck into another university that Speaker 2 08:11 We won't tell anyone too late. Anyway, I ended up, Speaker 3 08:17 When I applied to go to law school, you, you know, you write essays and I, it was very adamant that I wanted to be a civil rights attorney. And once I got into law school, aye Speaker 3 08:28 Decided that really wasn't for me because what my perception of civil rights attorneys were that they would spend basically their entire career on one case. And you may or may not ever see an end to that case, it may or may not go your way, you know, and, and, um, and so I really being the kind of person I am, I wanted something a little more hands on, a little more, how can I impact on the day to day? And so I did a little research and that's of what shuffled me into employment law. Hmm. And my first job as an employment attorney, well I should say my first jobs out of law school were with the courts and working for the judicial system and gave me a really a healthy respect, I think for that process. And then I went into litigation. I did employment law, uh, with the, um, my first job was with the, uh, United States postal service. Fascinatingly enough. Topically enough, uh, God, yeah. Speaker 3 09:29 Yeah. As an attorney, as an attorney doing employment law for the postal service. Interesting. Okay. Yeah. Start somewhere. You gotta start somewhere and you know, I had a really, I had a really great boss while I was there. We, one of the best bosses I ever had. And I remember she, she called me into her office pretty early on after I started there one day. And, and um, each of us in the office had to have sort of an area of expertise because then we could be a resource to the other attorneys in the office. And she called me into her office one day and she basically just told me, right, no Josh, you're going to be our ADA expert. I was like on the spot. Yep. Okay. So and so I started educating myself. I really, you know, just started understanding it more deeply and making sure that, you know, when it came up in my own practice and the practice of my colleagues and they had questions that I knew how to answer those questions and that really, that one meeting was what sent me, I guess professionally on that path. Speaker 3 10:30 When I, when I look at my own personal history and I was raised by my, my mom has a disability, she had polio when she was a kid. And, um, some people think, Oh well then that must be it. That must be why you got into this. Cause your mom, I don't, not, not consciously, but I guess at a subconscious level it was, yeah, it was always around me and I was always aware of how she adapted, how she behaved, what kinds of things she would do too, you know, I guess in a way accommodate her reasonably accommodate herself or make her own built environment accessible or, you know, and I like to say, you know, I, I never thought of my mom as somebody who only had, you know, one functional arm. I only thought of my mom as somebody who had a really strong right hand when it was on the back of your neck when you were in trouble. Speaker 3 11:22 Anyway, funny how we remember people. So, yeah. So, so I, uh, you know, I practiced for total of about 16 years and ultimately I just got really tired of litigating because it just felt like it was always looking backward and not looking forward and not looking at ways that we could proactively change the world that we live in. And so that was when I, I left the public sector and I went and I left litigation and I to to work in the tech sector for a couple of years. And that's how you and I met. Speaker 2 11:58 Yeah. Right at though company. Yeah. That's so awesome. How just just interviewing so many different people as well since starting this podcast, it seems just like a lot of things just fell into people's laps and I feel like so many people have think they have their life planned out for them. And one simple conversation can totally change your life or one door that opens up can totally change the trajectory of where you're going. So it's kind of cool to see that's kind of how it happens is just one meeting fell into your lap. Okay. You're now the designated ADA coordinator running free. Speaker 3 12:38 Well, and I think part of it too, I mean there's, there's this, um, we can't remember some Jim Carrey movie where he says he's going to say yes to everything. Right. And I think a big part of that also though, is being willing to say yes. And I think why I kind of bring that up too is because you know, no, you gave me some questions to think about. And one of the sort of a common theme is sort of what kinds of responses do you get to people in your line of work. And there are some people that are resistant and there are some people that say yes. And so I think, you know, just as you point out, yeah. One conversation can, it sort of changed your life's trajectory. It can, but only if you are open to it only if you say yes to it. Speaker 2 13:26 Right. And it's so true. You have to be in, have an open mindset in order to be receptive of change or just new thinking out of the box creativity. So all that comes with opening up a new opportunity. Right. So what are you currently doing now? Speaker 3 13:46 So I currently have a consulting practice that I started called a made welcome. And it's funny because I started with a very, what felt like a very clear idea to me. And it's, it's sort of more of, I think the, the thing about accessibility and about the ADA is there is just so there's so many applications. Yeah. Very large law. Well and so many ways that it plays out in built environments and digital environments and the ways that, you know, are the ways that we have the procedures that we set up or don't set up the ways that we track things or don't. It's, it's really hoof. It is big. And so originally my idea was to focus primarily on accessibility for workplaces and events. And I chose those two areas because first of all, it's a really interesting cross section of issues that come up. Secondly, it's what I know most about, you know, sidebar, right? I, uh, Speaker 2 14:48 I haven't been, we do a lot of events. Oh, nice. Speaker 3 14:52 And so, you know, and, and actually, I, you know, I, I've done accessibility initiatives for fairly large events in, in my, in my history. So it's something that, um, yep. And also these are areas where I feel that accessibility can often be overlooked. You know, uh, an employer moves into a new office space. You know, and just sort of assumes it checks all the ADA boxes, right? That's what they say. Like, Oh, it's ADA compliant. I don't even know what that means. And um, and it's not, you know, it's just there are, um, we move into these physical environments, but we don't consider the ways that what we do in those environments are impacted by, you know, how we need to actually function in them. Speaker 2 15:35 And that's so true. There's the ADA law and then there's a whole nother thing on top of it for universal design and that is non-included and many brick and mortar places. So just because you checked the box for ADA compliance, okay. You've got your grab bars correctly measured and at the right Heights, but what about pull tabs and reachability and high contrast and all that kind of stuff? The big cabinet, you just moved into that, uh, that accessible stall because you didn't know where else to put it in the bathroom, right? Oh, that's everywhere. Oh my gosh. I think I call out a new restaurant every other weekend when COBIT is not happening. But lots of Twitter chats and direct messages to employers that just say in management, just say, Hey, this trunk cannot be in here. Stock your cleaning supplies in it, but the stall is here for a reason. Right. And this space is here for a reason. Right? It's not here for you to put a cap on. If you use a wheelchair, you need five feet to turn around. That's right. That's right. Yeah. Well you and I both know that one. So that's what I find Speaker 3 16:54 Interesting is that, you know, and events is also a really good example of it where you could have a large event venue that when you look at the blueprint, it meets all their criteria. But then when you throw all this stuff in it for the event, suddenly it's impossible to navigate sometimes even if you don't have a disability. So really looking at the ways that we treat our or temporary events in permanent environments. Well all that to say though, that's kind of where I started out and where I have gone is kind of wherever it's taken me right now, I partner with a local architecture firm and I'm doing a survey of accessibility for the university of California, Berkeley for their programs. Yeah. For all their programs, services and activities, which is a lot. Speaker 2 17:42 I bet. Well better now because it's in the kind of off season, but also the school's closed, right? Because of the pandemic. Speaker 3 17:52 Yeah. So theoretically this should be something that should be pretty straightforward to do, but you'd be surprised. But it's, but it's a big project. It's an awesome project. And then another thing you and I have talked about this in the past is that San Francisco where I live has a, an accessible business entrance program, which essentially requires all business owners to have their primary business entrance evaluated for accessibility. And um, yeah. You know, so, Speaker 2 18:21 Which is so major. I mean, I took all of those resources that you gave me and I send it to our city Councilman and they're like, okay, yeah, we'll think about it. And I'm like, of course like we need to fix this. Right. I really liked that. How San Francisco particularly is, has required that and said any new primary entrance needs to be fully accessible. Speaker 3 18:48 Yeah. Well, it's not even new primary entrances. It's, it's every business needs to basically find a way. Yeah. And San Francisco that, you know, because we're, there's some real geographical challenges to that. But I think kind of moving on to some of your questions though, where you talk about like, you know, what kinds of responses do you get from, from people? Um, when you talk to them about accessibility. It's been really fascinating to me, the ways that people will respond when, when we're talking about how to make their business accessible. There are some people who are really, uh, I have, I have to say for the most part, nine times out of 10, I, I'm really moved in some way by people's willingness to try, and maybe it's because it's the city breathing down their neck. But when I'm standing up, but when I'm standing out there with them and then I'm saying, you know what, okay, you've got five steps here. Speaker 3 19:42 There's your right on the sidewalk. You can't build a ramp here because it would take up the entire sidewalk. How can we, how can we fix this? And we come up with a way we find a way. And you know, it's, I have to say, I appreciate a lot of the responses that I've gotten and I will say, I don't know if it's fair to say this, I'll just say this is my experience. That's some of the most compassionate and immediate responses I've gotten, have been from people who, there are a lot of, uh, come from different types of backgrounds. People who are immigrants, people who are maybe not, you know, economically so well off. And this is the, no, I mean, there are businesses already on the edge, but I think, but my point is people who have empathy and compassion is where I tend to get people, the responses that are really, let's, let's figure this out. Let's get this done. Speaker 2 20:28 That's really neat. Especially with the difference. And I wonder if that's the different ethnicity is being more accepting is maybe just deeply rooted into their, they're typically more family oriented and more like inclusive of others. I think it's, do you think there's any difference in that? I think the United States views family dynamics and like inclusion for everyone a little bit differently than some other countries that I've traveled to and visited. Speaker 3 21:01 You know, I think it could be a number of things. I think that's probably, you know, for some people it's probably that for some people it could be just sort of, um, it could be cultural. I know for some people it's just the work ethic, you know? Uh, it was one, uh, one restaurant I was evaluating and I pointing out essentially that because of the way the door swung, uh, there wasn't sufficient maneuvering clearance and the guy just went in, so no Asian gentlemen and he just went, got a drill and hung the door the other way. Speaker 2 21:35 I love it just right there on the spot. Speaker 3 21:36 Yeah. He's like, Oh, okay, we're just fix it. And yeah, you didn't need to do anything. You didn't need to knock out the whole front of the building. You just had to change the door swing. Speaker 2 21:46 Right. Do you find that it's a lot of those just little minor changes or do you think it's also a lot of major construction? Cause I think that could be another reason why businesses are hesitant to doing it because they think it's going to cost a lot of money. Speaker 3 22:00 Right? No, that's exactly right. So I find that more with, you know, with, with uh, business where you're looking at kind of the totality of the building. If they're already in a lease or they own it or something like that. And now, you know, they're thinking about, Oh great. You know, I've got a, like I said, like knock out the entire front of the building or take out this supporting wall or something like that. I've, I've gotten that pushback before and my answer is, well, you know, what's it worth to be able to, uh, let somebody use the restroom. You know, what's it worth to have somebody who would be able to get in, get in the front door, you know, companies state their values publicly all the time. Well live up to them, you know, so, so that's kinda, I do get that. And then there's also, there's the, there's the built environment. Then there's also sort of how businesses or how companies handle the accommodations process. And I think we're seeing, I mean, tell me if I'm wrong here, but have you heard, how many times did you hear before coven? 19 you know, somebody needing to work from home for some reason and the employer just flipping out Speaker 2 23:10 Actually. Yeah, we have seen that with our delivery partners where it was an even internally in, in our sales, it was, you have to be in the office every single day, nine to five, no ifs, ands, or buts. Right. And it's so funny because when Covin kind of first took the first way, then the United States and all of our sales teams who many of them were required to work in the office every day, they started working from home after the first week. I messaged one of the sales leaders and was like, so this is the way sales is going to be in the future. Right? And she's like, ha, not even a chance. And now, I mean, we're almost three months into it and things are probably gonna be a lot different. I think mindsets have definitely are going to be shifting. So I think a lot of that is attributing to disability accommodations for so many people asking to work from home and even denied that accommodation. Speaker 2 24:11 So while we have human beings, I mean the reason that we're still at the top of the food chain is because of our ability to adapt. And it's, it's really fascinating to me, you know, when it's one slice of the population that you know, to whom we have attached the Scarlet letter, one slice of the population asks for, it's something to be able to enable the, uh, enable full participation. And you know, we, we couldn't adapt to that. But suddenly when a virus comes in and slaps you around a little bit, well now we can adapt. But I, it'll be really fascinating to me, you know, working in this in this area to see what lessons we learned from this and how we carry it forward. And yeah. Which is why I say, you know, if we had listened to people with disabilities, we'd be much better prepared for this because we would, we would know and not be so afraid of these, of these adaptations and probably be a lot more technologically suited for it. Speaker 2 25:12 And, um, even our built environments, you talk about like having buttons on doors so you can, you know, you don't have to put your hand on a handle and touch something, you know, just these, these basic kinds of things that if we had prioritized accessibility, this wouldn't have been so traumatizing. Yeah. And I've even heard things of, okay, now buildings are going to have elevator attendance inside of them so that not everyone is touching all the buttons. So I mean, that technically in of itself is in a combination as well. Someone who doesn't have dexterity or maybe can't see the buttons or the veil is wrong or anything. That's where an elevator attendant, what I've come into play many a times and I've actually seen that in San Francisco they have elevator attendance and you're downtown elevators, which is so cool because even even I'm confused with what pot, no press. And I could see. So yeah, it's interesting that we're learning so many things have about people with disabilities and how those accommodations are turning into reality. Right, right. Anything else that you've noticed about different accommodations through this pandemic? You know, one of the things that I, yeah, actually one of the things this is, this goes more to kind of best practices is as we're learning to communicate, I'm over technology, you know, we can't so face to and hadn't have a meeting. Speaker 3 26:44 And so if you're presenting something, you know, how do you present something when everyone on, you know, nine people on the zoom call are on video, but one person is, you know, their Internet's out or something, and so they're on the phone. How do you describe what you're presenting? If it's a visual presentation and that goes to best practices for you're presenting to people who may be blind or have visual impairments, Speaker 2 27:07 Great descriptive text, descriptive videos, Speaker 3 27:11 Captioning. You know, if you're, if you are trying to participate in a meeting and like your kids are screaming or something or, or whatever reason, you want a captioning, you know, how, how to make that work. And so all of these things that had we, I've been doing things like, you know, working from home was, was art was built into the process. Captioning was built into the process. Best practices for presenting to people who are blind or have visual impairments was built into the process. Imagine how much more smoothly we could have managed this. Speaker 2 27:42 You're just speaking all the things. It's so great. You know, I've just, yes, everyone is so true. Just descriptive text and language and captioning and alternative texts on images and all of that. Now everything's all digital. It's just Start building with inclusion in mind and designing for all and thinking about everyone, Speaker 4 28:06 Right? Speaker 2 28:07 Yeah. There's just so many things that we're learning from this pandemic and it's, it's kind of nice that people who are non-disabled are kind of opening up their eyes to that. And I know it's been decades of us knocking on the door asking for accommodations, asking to be seen to be heard, all that. And now we're finally getting some peace with it. Speaker 3 28:33 I hope so. I mean, I could see it going, you know, I could see going different directions and you know, um, I think, you know, as you, as you kind of pointed out at the beginning of the, of the, of our talk today, um, yeah, how the state of Georgia is, is you know, reopening but, but you know, you, you stay home, you know, we're opening but not for you. And so you're absolutely right that how we, what we do next is really important. And that's another, you know, another little article that I recently wrote is very short, but it basically just talks about using the ADA is a framework for a compassionate return to work. And what I mean by that is it gives us, it gives us some kind of structure, right? We have the, we have the CDC guidelines, we have, you know, unfortunately no one can test despite what we're told. That's not happening on a large scale. So Speaker 2 29:27 I don't think we have enough tests to do that. Speaker 3 29:31 Right. So when we talk about things like, you know, things like I'm working from home staggered shifts, maybe we should be back in cubicles and not these open floor, uh, open plan workspaces. You know, the kinds of things that people have been asking for. Again, and other sort of other examples of that and the ways that we will process those kinds of requests or those kinds of mechanisms to be a safer work environment. That's all ADA. Yeah. If you want to know how to approach implementing safe practices at work, I would say look at the CDC guidelines. And then if you're like, I don't know how to do this, look at the ADA, it's, it's right there. Speaker 2 30:15 Do you have some example call-outs that you could make? Speaker 3 30:19 Well, yeah, I mean, I would say specifically, we've already talked about, again, sort of setting up the infrastructural stuff, but let's say for instance, you know, now employers are going to be talking about, I mean, they're going to be getting a lot more requests from people who are either have some type of immunoccomprono compromise or live with somebody who does, right? So if you're trying to figure out how to deal with that, and this person says, I need to work from home a few days a week, or I need to, you know, work on a staggered shift or I need to work in a different part of the building. You know, all of those things are the kinds of things that would typically come up in the ADA context. But now they're just going to be coming up, period. And so if you want to know how to process that, you can take a look at the reasonable accommodations process where you engage, you know, you, you, you, what are the essential functions of their position? What do they need to be able to do those essential functions? You know, do you need medical documentation supporting it or not? You know, once you've put it in place, how do you ensure that it stays in place? All of those things that's all laid out in the ADA, but it's all applicable basically. It's, uh, pretty big percentage of our workforce now. Speaker 2 31:31 Right. Is there anything about the legislation that you wish could be changed? Thinking about whether or not you're thinking about going back into the workforce or back into events or just in general changing the legislation? We're improving it. Speaker 3 31:50 Mmm. The ADA is a, is a pretty well written law. I'd actually met the guy, one of the guys who helped write it. And so yeah, I'm just facing on his last name right now, which is embarrassing, but Tony, uh, come up with it at some point anyway. Nice. You know, I think what I think is unfortunate about the ADA, but as unfortunate about a lot of laws is that really the, the primary enforce enforcement mechanism is a lawsuit. And I just think that that's really unfortunate. If I could do anything differently with the ADA, I would want there to be some kind of, I guess for lack of a better term, alternative dispute resolution process upfront that would be required. And I don't mean as a precursor to litigation, although maybe that's how it would have to be set up, but some way that, you know, some carrot instead of a stick all the time I guess. Speaker 3 32:50 Because you know, so many people are not going to Sue their employers. They don't want to lose their jobs, you know, over over something. And so they, you know, and so they suffer. And if there was some way that, that it could be, I suppose incentivize as opposed to, you know, and a defensive posture, that to me would be the greatest change. How does that work in the law? I guess by virtue of the fact that it's a law. I don't know how that works, but if there were a way to change how we think about it or how we approach it, I guess that's what I would, I would, I would wish for. Yeah. Speaker 2 33:22 So I know there's mediation requests, which I've done a good handful of them because hiring a lawyer and doing all that and the time I've been in a lawsuit regarding ADA and it took five years, it was insane. And so it was like for something as simple as making sure that there's right grab bars in the, in this bathroom that I sued. So that kind of thing wasn't worth it. But it, if it was a major issue, more like a class action lawsuit with multiple people involved, that's where I could see it be helpful. Um, but mediation requests still, they take a while. They can be six months to a year, but it's much quicker than a lawsuit. It doesn't require a lawyer. Speaker 3 34:09 There are some, you know, there are some reporting requirements built into the law, which is useful from a documentation perspective, but there aren't, as, as far as I'm aware, there isn't a lot of Hafter weight behind ensuring that, you know, if you haven't met all of the reporting requirements, that there's some consequence for that. And I think that kind of goes to really frankly, whatever is the priority of the, the administration in place. So, you know, when we were looking ahead back in 2015 at the 2016 election, you know, one of the elements of Hillary Clinton's platform for instance, was a stronger enforcement of the ADA. Speaker 2 34:51 Yeah, I saw that. Speaker 3 34:52 And uh, yeah. Yeah. So unfortunately that hasn't really, it hasn't really been a big priority of this administration, but I think that that would be another way that, you know, if there were basically more teeth to the reporting requirements, that would be another thing that, uh, that would be helpful. Speaker 2 35:10 Right. I think enforcement is definitely the key because right now also States are, you know, it's a federal law, but it's enforced technically upon the state. I have that correct. And the state doesn't really have any ADA police officers going around doing audits and stuff. So there technically is no enforcement other than patrons who are filing claims or Speaker 3 35:38 That's right. And it lands, it basically lands on, on you, on the shoulders of people who are impacted by it. So people with disabilities are in end up having to also take on the burden then of enforcing the law, which I think kind of taking it back to the San Francisco's accessible business entrance program is why that is so great because it creates this reporting requirement that then there some accountability. You know, they're, they're not going to lose their business license over it. Um, but they will have, you know, somebody with the city of San Francisco breathing down their neck asking them if they've, you know, done these remediations and if not, or shake your fist. I mean, it's more than anything. So, uh, I think that's, that's why, and what's also great about this program, I will say, is that it's, it's a manageable peace. Speaker 3 36:24 It's just doors. You know, you start with just doors, you know, and then maybe a few, you know, a couple of years from now, now you start to talk about, all right, once I am in your, in your establishment, can I access whatever it is you're offering? Is there, is there maneuvering space for meeting to, to sit at this table and eat dinner with my friends? You know, and then once you establish that and then then move it on to, what about the restrooms, you know, are the restrooms accessible? Were things like, like service counter Heights or you know, where you put your condiments, you know, and, and just that kind of does these basic things. But I think it starts somewhere. And what's great about starting somewhere is even though it's, yeah, it's just limited to two to the door, what it really is also, there was an opportunity for education, you know, and that has happened to me with a number of places I've gone where they've said, Hey, you think you could come look, look inside too and tell us how we're doing. And I will, of course I will. Mmm. But that's, that's kind of my point is that it, it at least starts somewhere. So it's, that's why I think it's, it's more than just, uh, an entrance evaluation program. It's really an education program. Speaker 2 37:39 I actually had an experience with that with a local coffee shop that was a nonprofit. It's called refugee coffee here in Atlanta. And I went into their facility and it's just a coffee truck, like one of those food trucks, but then they have this kind of garage establishment that they recently purchased and it's very inaccessible and they don't have any accessible bathrooms. And so I reached out to the owner and said, Hey, this was my experience. Just checking in to see any progress or updates on when we could get that accessible and you know, obviously so thankful for my feedback. And she ended up inviting me and being like, Hey, let's, let's just go through the whole place and we can take the whole checklist down and make the recommendations and, you know, if you want, we would love to have someone come and lead our training cause we're a small nonprofit and just trying to do well in the world, um, help refugees and sell coffee. Speaker 2 38:43 And I was like, yeah, sure. So I led a disability etiquette training that, uh, kind of just had stored from a bunch of other trainees that I've done in the past. So, yeah, I mean it's, it's interesting how those people that say yes to one thing, they're kind of like, Oh, well what about the rest of it? So it's a mindset shift and it's the people that are wanting and willing to work with you to make the experience welcome for all and accessible and inclusive for all. Those are the business owners that I think will really make it in the end. Yeah, I guess I should add, they're going to get some bad Yelp reviews. You don't want that. The power of power of our social media and internet. Totally. Yeah. Speaker 3 39:33 Yeah. One of the questions you did ask me in these questions you sent me ahead of time was about becoming a certified access specialist, which sort of ties into San Francisco's, this is entrance evaluations. That program is that the evaluation needs to be done by either an architect or a certified access specialist. And um, the, you know, it's funny, you know, my, my background, I came at this obviously as I said earlier, you know, from an, as an attorney, from a legal perspective, what were the legal processes and requirements in that, that kind of thing. And that's mostly around process, around reasonable accommodations in the workplace and physical built environment requirements. I would kind of just sort of look those up on a need to know basis depending on what was in front of me. You know, what question I had in front of me, but I didn't really know. Speaker 3 40:23 It's sort of the, I guess the, I don't want to say the totality of them because I don't claim to know the totality of it now. It's really complicated and it really depends a lot of things. Um, but, but sort of the universe of it, I had really hadn't been as aware of the universe of it. And I wanted to, I wanted to know more about, you know, accessible paths of travel and about accessible restrooms and about just, you know, even things like alarm systems and, uh, you know, reach ranges, these kinds of things that I just wanted to know more. And a friend of mine who, uh, as an architect, she said, Oh, you know, Josh, you should become a cast. And I was like, I don't know what that is. And I looked it up and I thought, well, you know, okay, uh, if I can pass the bar exam, I can become a cast. Speaker 2 41:11 Sure. No, it was hard. It was a really hard exam. And honestly, I did not pass it the first time. And um, and tell us what were all the elements on the exam? Speaker 3 41:24 Yeah, so, so, well, so the certified access specialist program is unique to California. There are actually only two States in the country right now that have, that I'm aware of that has this type of certification. And it's basically effectively a licensed to advise on accessibility in built environments. So for whoever's listening, if you wonder what I'm talking about, built environments is that that are physical spaces around us. And then there's also accessibility in digital environments. This was kind of what were you and I were talking about earlier, things like captioning on videos, um, you know, things like making sure that your websites are accessible to screen readers. So I kind of break it into those two categories. Built environment and digital environment. But anyway, so California has this program and it started the program, I want to say in around 2006 and it was just sort of a voluntary, you know, that I don't think the test was terribly hard at that time. Speaker 3 42:18 The idea was to give design professionals an expert resource to go to and somebody who had met some threshold of knowledge to be able to advise on this. Mmm. And it morphed into something a little more stringent because around 2009, California was getting a lot of of um, well, you know, I hate this term, but they call him the sort of drive by lawsuits where somebody would, you know, a lawyer. And then I'm going to say a scourge to my profession, bunch of lawyers who, um, take advantage of attorney fee clauses in, in various statutes and would file just, you know, hundreds and hundreds of, of 80 lawsuits or in California fair employment housing act on react. And I'm so anyway, so they, they kind of tightened up the requirements of the CAS program so that they could modify the law. So that if you had, if you had consulted with a CASP prior to implementing some type of built environment, building a building or doing a modification to a building, it would afford you, not protection from a lawsuit but at least more time to fix whatever it was you were being told. What's wrong. So it just built in a little more of a cushion before you were immediately liable for some sort of inaccessibility. So, Speaker 2 43:50 And what's the other state that has this program? Speaker 3 43:54 Texas. Speaker 2 43:56 Oh, how random. Yeah, no, that would be like the last date that I would think would have something like this. I mean, this pretty progressive I would say. Yeah. Yeah. I wonder if Austin is leading that change, Speaker 3 44:12 So I don't know. Yeah. You know, I honestly have no idea. I haven't really, Speaker 2 44:15 I mean, either way it's amazing. Yeah. I just, I would think like New York, cause they're usually, it's usually like California and New York and then Illinois would come next I feel like. Speaker 3 44:26 Right, right. No, I, I agree. Yeah, I think you're right about that. I don't, I, yeah, I don't know. New York doesn't have it. Speaker 2 44:32 Interesting. Which you're right, that isn't, and I know they do a lot to, or disability inclusion, at least that's what I've seen in the last five years. But anyway, especially with transportation, they've changed that tremendously with their ride shares and subway elevators. They're working on renovating and adding elevators to most of their stations. So, but that's beside the case. Speaker 3 44:59 Yeah. Well, and yeah. Yeah. So it was a pretty tough, I'll be honest, it was a pretty tough certification to get because you know, you're, you're tested on everything from any aspect of accessibility in any federal law, whether it's, you know, um, public accommodations or even public housing, you know, to two completely different sets of laws or national parks, you know, accessibility, national parks, just fill in the blank anywhere, anywhere in the built environment where there could be any law pertaining to accessibility could be on that exam. So that is probably why there are, I guess maybe a thousand of us in the entire state of California. It's a pretty, um, Speaker 2 45:39 Pretty Speaker 3 45:40 Tough certification to get. My number is 812 so Speaker 2 45:43 There you go. Made it under a thousand. Be proud of yourself. Speaker 3 45:50 I, you know, I was pretty, it was a pretty happy day when I got that news that I got I fast. Yeah, I was pretty stoked. I actually, I have to say I felt probably happier about that though when I found out I passed the bar exam. Speaker 2 46:03 Oh man. And I have friends going through the bar exam right now and it is rough. Yeah, it's interesting. Speaker 3 46:10 Well, there's no, there's no like prep course for it. You just have to, they say, here's what you have to know. And they just give you like, uh, Speaker 2 46:18 A list of statutes and laws, just, you know. Okay. Go memorize. Good luck. Good luck. Good luck with that. Yeah. Wow, that's unique. Um, random question. Did you, I think you watched Crip camp, right? The disability revolution. Netflix movie. Yeah. So cool. Right. So I actually led like five sessions internally at our company regarding a discussion about that film after I had everyone watch it on their own time and it was so cool just getting, yeah. I mean we aren't going to watch it on, on company hours, um, but we can certainly talk about it and, and, and, but it was so cool because we had people from, you know, if you will, disabilities, allies and everyone under the sun who joined in those conversations and they were super intimate. But what were your thoughts on some of that? Just your, you, you're a lawyer, you're also an access specialist. Just the disability revolution, their creation of ADA, that whole movement. We didn't even learn about that in elementary school or any history lesson. Like isn't it, I Didn't know anything about that until that movie came out. That's all. Speaker 3 47:33 Yeah. I mean I think I knew probably more than, than most people for a couple reasons. First of all obviously cause this is the work that I do, but also because I'm in the Bay area, which is sort of considered the birthplace of it insurance, you know, the United nations Plaza is a mile from my house and now I actually, you know, doing work for UC Berkeley, which of course features that had Roberts building and ed Roberts being the, uh, gentleman who fought to attend UC Berkeley while in an iron lane. Um, yeah. Right, right. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. When I think about a wheelchair up the stairs, that was pretty powerful image. It was, um, you know, I think I know about the sort of civil rights aspect aspect of it from kind of the larger overarching perspective. But what I think about when I, a lot of times when I watched that, when I went, well, when I was with what I was thinking about a lot when I want, when I was watching, it was honestly what it must've been like for my mom who is of that same age and went through her whole life, you know, with one functional arm and people staring at her or their arm and telling her she couldn't do it. Speaker 3 48:49 And thinking about the ways that these little things that we do for one another, right. It can really change the trajectory. And again, I know this is kind of a theme that keeps popping up, but for my mom it was, she had a teacher in high school. We pulled her aside one day and said, uh, I'm going to teach you how to type with one hand. And wow, that one act made all the difference in my mom's life because then she could go to college, then she could become a secretary, which is what she did. And eventually she put herself through all through college and got her master's degree in social work. The only one of her family to ever even leave Milwaukee and wow. And I just think w when I watched that movie, I just think about, I honestly, I thought a lot about her and what it, what that must have been like for her and how, what I learned, you know, whether I knew I was learning it from her or not about resilience and about adapting and about you gotta you gotta do it. Gotta find a way. Speaker 2 50:05 Right. Speaker 3 50:05 And, um, and it also of course, like gave me even more admiration for Judy human, even if that were possible, Speaker 2 50:12 Can I be your best friend? She's my idol. I never heard about her before this movie. And I'm like, you are the person that I asked that I try to be every day. Speaker 3 50:23 Yeah. Yeah. She, well, and I, and it was, it's Speaker 2 50:28 Also really interesting to me because, you know, my mom was of that generation, this is her term, not mine. She calls us, she says, Oh, the polios, the polios. Right. She uses, you know, and, and, and, and Judy human is a polio. And so I feel this sort of like this sort of, I don't know, third hand kinship with her. I just an ultimate profound appreciation and looking and you know, it's really interesting, you know, we look w we look at people who have interest, we're Changemakers Judy human, we don't, wow, she's amazing. But if you, you know, we really watch that movie. She was a pain in people's backside and there were, you know, look, look at how she had to stand up the power in those, that footage of her testifying and really sticking it in their faces. <inaudible> making people feel uncomfortable. But sometimes a lot of times that kind of discomfort is what makes us move. Speaker 2 51:32 No, you are going to, and it was those legislators who dragged the other one back to the table and said, you're going to sit down and listen to what she has to say. That was power. But it just took those two ally that were legislators who listened to them and said, no, we believe in what you're saying and we, we want to make this happen for you. And again, even with that teacher of teaching her mom how to type and took that one person that said, no, I listen, I hear you and I see you and I want to see you be successful. Those are the people that are helping to move and shake this world in my opinion. Yup. Yup. It takes, but it's interesting this, that disability, Oh sorry, go ahead. No, I was just saying it just takes some people willing to stick their neck out and people willing to stand by them. Speaker 2 52:26 Right. There's those elite in those follow two different kinds of people, but the disability hierarchy terminology that they referenced was interesting, like the polios being at the top and then slowly trickled down into the others. What were some of your thoughts on that? You know, I've heard that before. It's interesting. I actually think what I've heard from other, other friends of mine is that the hierarchy actually is the very top. This is, and this is not exists. Yeah. This hasn't gone away. It's feels very present. Absolutely. And I think, you know, look at how we think about things like the Paralympics or the special Olympics. Right, right. Just, just, just put yourself, you say Paralympics. What do you imagine you say special Olympics? What do you imagine? You know, that the hierarchy really is, um, probably I think at the top. Amputees. All right. And then it kind of goes, Speaker 3 53:26 Goes from there. And it's really people who have profound mental disabilities that kind of end up sort of at the bottom or who are perceived to have that, right. Yeah. Speaker 2 53:36 Or nonverbal. Speaker 3 53:37 Right, right, right. Where we, I can't remember the name of the, of the couple in that movie who are adorable and you know, but that's, that's kind of that example. I think Speaker 2 53:46 They both have CP. I remember, I don't remember their names, but I think they both had cerebral palsy. Right, right. And it was, Oh, you guys have kids. Yeah. We have kids. We raised kids. Right. And we both use power wheelchairs. Right, right. Speaker 3 54:05 Yeah. I thought it was, um, man, I'm so, I'm so happy that movie exists. And frankly, I'm so happy it came out. While we're all stuck at home, everybody has to watch it. Speaker 2 54:17 Yeah, that's a true, I mean it was a little disappointed to see that it wasn't like mainstream promoted by Netflix. I only heard about it because I saw it on someone's newsfeed of something. It was like, Hey, go watch this movie. But I'm glad that was even there. Right. The power of social media can certainly amplify a message or any type of move in or content. Yeah. But yeah, it's, it'll be really cool to see if that movie continues to take off and who knows if it's going to be an award, you know, maybe an Oscar or something. Would that be so cool? I think it totally deserves the ranking for that. I mean, how often do we ever get a movie in the Oscars with people with disabilities? There's just this whole another topic of conversation. I know that we can talk about how disabilities are portrayed in the media and sexuality. It's Realty, is it, um, just yeah. How people are treated as unconscious biases. There's so much to talk about. Equal disabilities. So, um, did you have any other thoughts? And any, you know, primary takeaways you want to leave the audience with? I mean, I think Speaker 3 55:29 The takeaways really are too, again, I think it's really relevant to this moment. I think this is just really frames the kinds of questions and issues that I spend my days working on, which is how, how have we been about this in the past? How could we be better? Had we been listening and what lessons are we going to learn and how are we going to implement those lessons? The lessons that we're learning right now, um, in all of the ways that you and I have talked about, two, just know what to make our world a better, more accessible, more inclusive, more compassionate place. We have such an opportunity, I feel at this moment in time, two, to grow and to, to evolve to a higher place than where we have have been. And my hope is that, that we do that generally, but also that we do that with the lens of accessibility with the lens of the ADA with what that, well, the framework and the lessons that that gives us. I really hope that that we as a society, as a world, as company by company, community by community, take the opportunity to do that. Well said. I'll leave it with that. Thank you, Josh. You can find [email protected] all right, close made dash welcome all right, sounds good. Thank you. Thanks curtains. Great talking to you. You too. Speaker 1 57:04 Hi. Thank you friends for listening. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions. Tune in next week for another disability topic.

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