Tag Archives: Americans with Disabilities Act

The EEOC and FedEx Continue Battle to Define Employer Requirements under the ADA

In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class-action disability lawsuit against the multi-billion dollar business, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.

FedEx Ground truck in front of a parked car.
FedEx Ground is facing EEOC discrimination charges for its treatment of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. photo credit: torbakhopper fedex ground illegal deliveries (this episode actually lasted over five minutes but flickr only allows 90 second uploads) via photopin (license)

Two years later, the lawsuit is still underway after a judge denied the company’s motions to dismiss or strike it.

Court documents provide a rich source of learning about how the government views a business’ obligations to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

The case comes behind another FedEx case concerning an employee who was Deaf.

In 2015, the National Association of the Deaf intervened in the lawsuit. Unlike a previous EEOC v. FedEx case, this time, a national Deaf advocacy group joined.

According to the association, they intervened on behalf of “two deaf women who worked for FedEx Ground without access to qualified sign language interpreters or other reasonable accommodations.”

In 2016, FedEx’s Motions to Dismiss and to Strike were dismissed by U.S. District Judge, Mark R. Hornak.

Picture shows a screen shot of someone using sign language in an ASL video on the EEOC website.Learn more about this current case in ASL.

Overview

In a 2014 press release, the EEOC said, “FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants. The shipping company also failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings.”

Female news broadcaster with image of Hurricane Matthew in the background.
As pictured, this news broadcast wouldn’t make any sense to the Deaf community. No interpreter for those who use ASL. No captions for those who are Hard of Hearing. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community needs visual communication. photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video NASA’s 3D view shows Hurricane Matthew’s intensity via photopin (license)

“FedEx Ground refused to provide needed equipment substitutions and modifications for deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers, such as providing scanners that vibrate instead of beep and installing flashing safety lights on moving equipment,” according to the release.

Stop sign shows a person light in green and a person lit in red.
Just like the lights on this sign show it’s safe to cross the street, color changing lights can send visual signals to people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. photo credit: My Buffo Should I stay or should I go? via photopin (license)

Employees worked at facilities in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia.

After attempting to remedy the situation with FedEx, “The EEOC’s lawsuit arose as a result of 19 charges filed throughout the country citing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing people by FedEx Ground,” according to the press release.

Failed resolution

“The agency consolidated these charges and conducted a nationwide systemic investigation of these violations. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr, said in the release, “FedEx Ground failed to engage in an interactive process with deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and applicants to address their needs and to provide them with reasonable accommodations. That’s why we filed this lawsuit — to remedy alleged pervasive violations of the ADA on a national level.”

People sit around a room on several sofas.
Employee engagement requires effective communication. Sometimes that requires accommodations. Trust employees to know what they need. photo credit: TEDxSKE (Lebanon) TEDxSKE salon: 08.09.16 via photopin (license)

A lose/lose scenario

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “…FedEx Ground should have provided effective accommodations to enable people with hearing difficulties to obtain workplace information that is disseminated in meetings and in training sessions. … by failing to do so, FedEx Ground has marginalized disabled workers and hindered job performance. This is a ‘lose/lose scenario.'”

Button says Failure is always an option.
Not preparing ahead to meet the needs of employees can lead to the business and employees losing opportunity. photo credit: Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis Failure : @sharkthang : Quote : Prisma : Wave via photopin (license)

This case supports part of the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan’s six national priorities: eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.

Blue bag with money symbol on it tied with a rope.
Discrimination lawsuits can be costly and inconvenient. photo credit: dolphinsdock Money Bag in Blue via photopin (license)

According to court documents, The EEOC “seeks:

  • a permanent injunction to prevent FedEx Ground from engaging in disability discrimination;
  • an order directing FedEx Ground to implement policies, practices, and programs to provide equal employment opportunities and reasonable accommodations for aggrieved individuals;
  • back pay;
  • compensation for past and future pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses;
  • instatement of aggrieved individuals or front pay;
  • and punitive damages.”

No procedure = operating procedure

According to court documents, “The EEOC pleads that ‘FedEx has not implemented a corporate-wide procedure’ for accommodating deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.”

When “faced with a legal duty to seek reasonable accommodations, an employer’s complete and uniform failure to do so can fairly be conceptualized as a standard operating procedure of unlawful conduct.”

What happens when the EEOC goes fishing

Man on beach in sunset gathers his large fishing net.
The judge compares the EEOC to someone who has gone fishing and already cast their net–so they can reap the benefits. photo credit: Prabhu B Doss Networking. via photopin (license)

According to court documents regarding FedEx’s attempt to dismiss or strike the case, “EEOC has provided, and at oral argument FedEx Ground acknowledged possessing, a list of 168 named individuals that are the subject of this suit. And while the EEOC generally ‘may not use discovery.. .as a fishing expedition to uncover more violations,’ here the EEOC has already cast its net.”

Previously, the EEOC had placed a form on their website information requesting leads about FedEx Ground employees who had been denied accommodations during hiring or at work. In stark contrast to FedEx Ground’s training videos, the EEOC’s video is in American Sign Language.

“If some other aggrieved individuals–those meeting the statutory criteria for the claim as pled–are added to the haul . . . sometimes permissible fishing expeditions legitimately catch fish,” the judge said.

Many fish swirl around in the ocean.
If your business policies don’t respect people with all abilities, there are likely many fish for the EEOC to catch. photo credit: forum.linvoyage.com Fish soup IMG_1172s via photopin (license)

FedEx Ground complained that defending themselves against so many was unreasonable.

“FedEx Ground will not necessarily suffer impermissible prejudice. The EEOC’s central claim is based on an alleged failure to engage in an interactive process in order to give disabled individuals a statutorily-mandated reasonable accommodation. If it turns out that FedEx Ground indeed failed to do that, all individuals who were unlawfully discriminated against could be entitled to relief…”

What FedEx Ground failed to understand about the EEOC

According to court documents, “…The EEOC has significant discretion to investigate discrimination claims and … to litigate on behalf of a potential group of aggrieved people” and can “maintain class action suits even where it does not attempt to conciliate on behalf of each member or potential member of the class)” if they have informed the company that some people have suffered certain discriminatory conditions.

FedEx Ground’s statement

In this report, FedEx Ground said, “We value our deaf and hard of hearing employees, and we strive to give them, like all our employees, every opportunity to be successful — including working with them to provide individualized and reasonable accommodations.”

“We have cooperated with the EEOC throughout their investigation and are disappointed that the EEOC was not willing to engage in legitimate, good-faith discussions to conciliate and resolve these allegations. We are confident that we have complied with the law and intend to vigorously contest the EEOC’s unfounded allegations,” they said.

When should accommodations have been provided?

Many lifejackets are restrained by cords.
Ensure that your employees swim, not sink, by making all meetings and trainings accessible to people with all abilities. photo credit: tompagenet IMG_6282 via photopin (license)

According to a 3PlayMedia report, “..FedEx Ground blatantly violated the ADA by failing to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters or closed captioned training videos in the following situations:

  • Mandatory initial tour of the facilities,
  • New-hire orientation for applicants,
  • Staff meetings,
  • Performance meetings, and
  • Safety meetings.”

From the perspective of people with deafness and hearing loss

Eisenberg & Baum, LLP of New York, ASL-fluent attorneys, addressed the case. “If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, it can sometimes be hard to get your employer to address your needs. Lack of reasonable accommodations can make your work life miserable, and make it harder for you to do your job.”

What must happen before an ADA lawsuit

“Before an ADA lawsuit can start, the employer must also have taken some ‘adverse employment action’ against the deaf or hard-of-hearing employee. This could be refusal to hire, failure to promote, firing, or discrimination in shifts, positions, or hours. It could also include harassment, if the behavior is serious enough to create a hostile work environment.”

Reasonable Accommodations can be used to complete work duties

Man looks at camera as he holds a phone handset while another person on video waits for him to continue speaking.
People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing have been using videophones and captioned phones for many years now. photo credit: Ian Broyles i invented a video phone to the past via photopin (license)

“For example, a deaf woman may not be able to answer telephone calls. However, she may request a text telephone, voice carry-over telephone, or a captioned telephone, which would allow her to perform the essential work of responding to phone calls. This would be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act unless it was unduly burdensome on the employer.”

Positioning your business to be ADA compliant

Older man in a boat on the water pulling up a fishing net.
Liken the EEOC to the Old Man and the Sea. They are experienced and despite all challenges, they can catch big fish. photo credit: Emanuele Cardinali The Old Man and the Sea via photopin (license)

First, understand that the EEOC is a good fisherman.

According to its website, since the start of FY 2011, the commission has filed more than 200 disability discrimination lawsuits recovering $52,000,000. “The Commission secured this relief through jury verdicts, appellate court victories, court-entered consent decrees, and other litigation-related resolutions.”

Lawsuits include all “segments and sectors of the workforce” concerning a large variety of disabilities.”

Click here to review a list of EEOC cases.

How to avoid the EEOC fishing at your business

To avoid competing against the EEOC protecting the rights of your employees, you must fish better from your own pond. Like most people who fish well, prepare ahead of time.

The secret to good conflict resolution is fishing well with catch and release

Woman in boat holds a large fish she apparently just caught.
How well do you fish? Are you soliciting employee feedback regarding accommodations? photo credit: Kris Krug Antonia Wilson – Salish Sea Charters – Winter Salmon Fishing – Galiano Island via photopin (license)
  • Cast your line. Accessible hiring, training, and meetings. Have public policies that encourage complaints and management interaction.
  • Use the right bait. Avoid any practices or lack of policies that allow discrimination to take place. This includes training any supervisory personnel about supporting all abilities from the first week of hire. Build a nurturing workplace environment. The wrong kind of bait may lose your catch and the EEOC won’t use the wrong kind of bait.
  • Reel in your fish. When complaints are received, call in teams of people with similar abilities and ask them what can be done, what are potential cost-saving short cuts, and about other suggestions.
  • Let them go and multiply. Address needed changes, have follow-up dialogues, and encourage open door policies to discuss future needs. If this encourages more employees with similar needs to apply, it’s because you have strong policies that support your employees. Applicant metrics are a good standard for measurement of policy effectiveness.

    Two large fishing nets are hung in the water beneath a colorful sky.
    When you prepare ahead for success, you’ll cast out your net and gather new clients and funding sources. photo credit: Christopher Crouzet Cu Đê River, Da Nang via photopin (license)
  • Cast a new net. Reap the benefits of encouraging clients with similar abilities to support your efforts. Promote within the disability network, which has a strong word-of-mouth campaign. Enjoy the bounty!

Learn more about the EEOC

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website.

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Why do People Need CART?

Like sign language, Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART, may be used as an accommodation for individuals or groups of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing at live events, in public places, at government proceedings, in classrooms, or where the need arises.

Two girls speak in sign language.
Some children with hearing loss are mainstreamed and don’t learn sign language. photo credit: Learning sign language via photopin (license)

CART may be needed when people who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf:

  • need to receive communication information;
  • amplification alone isn’t sufficient;
  • precise word choice matters, such as in meetings or during class,
  • when they need extra time to review spoken language, and/or,
  • they don’t know or prefer sign language.

Avoid making assumptions about hearing loss or deafness

When a person has a hearing aid, assistive listening device, or cochlear implant, those devices don’t make communication perfectly clear. They are machines with limitations.

Some people with hearing loss speak as if they can hear and may read lips. Because of their speech, assumptions are made about their hearing, while their speech doesn’t reflect their hearing. It is possible to be deaf and speak.

Lipreading is not exact, and is dependent on the individual’s skill at reading lips, the accents and methods of pronunciation used by each speaker, and distractions. Lipreading is hindered by distance from the speakers, inability to see the lips, and darkness or low lighting.

People who prefer and use sign language may use CART too, particularly when they need transcripts to digest what was said.

Statue of Liberty holds up torch and seagull flies overhead
Whenever possible, offer the individual freedom of choice regarding their accommodations. photo credit: New York – Liberty Island “Statue of Liberty & Seagull” via photopin (license)

Trust the individual to know or learn what accommodations they need to adapt to their environment, which is always changing.

How often is CART needed?

Few people use CART daily, but rather, as a part of their communication tools. A similar tool that many who use CART use is the captioned telephone, currently a free service for individuals who provide documentation of their hearing loss or deafness.

However, during intense language sessions, such as during meetings, conferences, training, classes at school or college, CART may be needed for longer periods of time and with greater regularity.

Sign language and CART provide some of the fastest communication access.

One woman takes notes for another.
Note taking is a lower-tech option for accessibility. It is much slower than CART, so more information is lost. photo credit: Design as Inquiry – Socially shared PLEs via photopin (license)

Note taking, an older form of accommodation for people with hearing loss or deafness, is dependent on the point-of-view of the note taker, who may not know what notes are most important. Without specialized shorthand equipment, note taking is slower. As a result, information can be lost.

CART providers can work from different locations

CART providers may work in close proximity to the individual or group, or they work may remotely, listening to what is said via computer or phone. Some webinars and online events provide CART as an accommodation for those who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf.

In classroom settings and other situations when an overhead projector or technical vocabulary is used, or when computers are used in combination with lecture, the CART provider would be at a disadvantage working remotely because they couldn’t see what is referred to when someone says, “Look at this” or “See this here.”

In live situations, when the CART provider is unclear about what is said, they ask questions for clarification. This isn’t possible remotely.

CART transcripts

Notebook with many pages
CART transcripts can serve as part of the student’s notebook to study for tests. photo credit: english note book via photopin (license)

The person who is Hard of Hearing or Deaf may request a transcript from the CART provider. Since what is typed is only seen for a few seconds or minutes, and also because the person requesting CART may be reading lips and processing ideas while reading CART, transcripts give consumers the chance to review content and remember or learn it.

CART transcripts may be essential for student success.

When CART may not be appropriate

Even advanced readers may have difficulty with CART, because people may speak quickly, causing many words to cross the screen rapidly. While not terrible for a few minutes, this could become overwhelming.

Some people know or are more comfortable with sign language. They may have learned sign language first, and are more comfortable with symbolic or iconic language, as opposed to print, which is based on spoken—and heard—language.

CART should not be requested for an individual based on an assumption that the person may prefer it.

When possible, government recommendations are to accommodate individuals based on their requests. They have determined their needs based on experience that the event organizer, business leader, or teacher should weigh heavily during decision making.

When CART is the preference

Others may not know sign language or are more comfortable with CART. In some cases, sign language or CART is preferable because of the individual’s style.

Amplification with devices such as assistive listening devices, note takers, and close seating with a view of the speaker are other accommodations that might be requested in combination with CART.

One law student and blogger who is Deaf debated the use of interpreters versus CART for law classes, showing how each experience differs. The blog post shows the intricacies—and the humanity—involved in receiving communication support.

How Sign Shares uses CART in the office

Sign Shares, Inc./International provides CART, or Communication Access Realtime Translation, as one of the communication options available for people with hearing loss or deafness.

Some staff members at Sign Shares benefit from using CART during meetings and events, while others prefer sign language. Sign Shares honors staff requests.

Requesting a CART provider

Do you need CART for an event, class, meeting, or other auditory experience? Request CART from Sign Shares here.

More information about CART

Yesterday’s blog shared about What is CART?

 

 

 

Disability Study Points to Important Factors for Employee Retention

A national British study involving major employers and employees determined two major factors related to the retention of employees with disabilities: organizational values and reasonable adjustments, or accommodations.

The research was conducted by the Business Disability Forum, which includes businesses that employ 20 percent of the United Kingdom workforce. The study involved 352 employees. It follows an earlier employees with disabilities study conducted with 145 businesses.

Woman wearing business suit and smiling.
According to the report, retaining each employee saves a company an average of the American dollar equivalent of $43,000 a year. photo credit: Happy businesswoman via photopin (license)

According to the report, retaining employees with disabilities saves money for businesses, because it’s cheaper to keep them than replace them: “…staff turnover in just 5 sectors cost UK business more than £4 billion each year and the average cost of replacing individual employees is estimated at £30,000[1]. The business case for investing in retention is a compelling one.”

Wheelchair ramp placed at bottom of stairs.
Sometimes, employers and employees have differing views on what accommodations are needed. While the ramp is an accommodation here, a wheelchair can’t roll over the stairs. photo credit: Ramp to No where via photopin (license)

One of the areas needing to be addressed were workplace accommodations. According to the study, employees with disabilities felt their employers knew their legal obligations to provide accommodations, while few employees knew where to get advice about them from within their place of work:

  • “Less than 7 in 10 employees with disabilities were ‘very’ or ‘mainly’ confident that their employer has the knowledge to manage legal obligations with respect to adjustments;” and
  • “Close to 3 in every 10 employees with disabilities indicated that they were ‘very’ or ‘mainly’ confident about where to source advice about adjustments from within their organization.”
Business people hold meeting with a man on video.
Advanced technology offers solutions for the needs of all employees. Sometimes, people don’t know the options they have to get the technology. photo credit: Skype panelist via photopin (license)

Existing programs could have provided accommodations for employees, but employees didn’t always know about the programs, according to the report. “Far fewer employees than employers report awareness of the Access to Work program which can assist with funding specific adjustments for individuals that would not reasonably be expected for all employers to fund.”

The Access to Work website says that employees can apply for grants to assist with accommodations.

In the U.S., Centers for Independent Living, resource centers for people with any disability, and vocational rehabilitation programs assist with accommodations for people with disabilities:

Human with a question mark
The study revealed that line managers need resources and support with employees with a disability. photo credit: question mark via photopin (license)

According to the report, organizational barrier to employee with disability retention involves what they refer to as “line managers”  most directly. Line managers need skill and confidence in addressing disability-related needs, and in some cases, employees said that line managers had negative attitudes toward disability.

Man with a cochlear implant
Does your company website include profiles of individuals with disabilities? photo credit: Cochlear Implant via photopin (license)

The report provides suggestions for employers, including:

  • giving visibility to disability, such as having employee testimonials on recruitment webpages and staff profiles, and having staff networks for employees with disabilities;
  • building the skills and confidence of line managers by providing “centrally stored, up-to-date advice and guidance on all aspects of how disability affects employers on the intranet” and providing support them when hiring new team members with accommodations needs;
  • having a “stand-alone disability-related absence policy and clear guidelines for line managers about how disability-related absence is managed;”
  • having a workplace adjustment process that involves employees in the accommodations process. Line managers need training and guidance with this, according to the report; and
  • “reviewing performance appraisal systems for unconscious biases that limit the progress of employees with disabilities.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] See: HR REVIEW (Feb 2014)

The report, State of the Nation: Retaining and developing employees with disabilities – Stage 2,

World ASL Poker Coming Soon to Austin

According to a post from the Deaf Network of Texas, the World ASL Series of Poker, or WASP, Tour #5 will be held in February in Austin, Texas.

Royal Flush poker hand with cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
photo credit: I Win via photopin (license)

The ASL poker series was developed to “bring renowned poker games to all deaf, hard of hearing, interpreters, and family members of deaf or hard of hearing adult poker players of all languages in different regions of America,” according to the series’ website.

The group was formed by Texas residents Jay Levine of San Antonio, Matt Erickson of Austin, and Dan Stoddard of Austin. Tournaments will be held at different casinos. 

There has been debate about whether people who use ASL can do so in poker games and at casinos, and when, if at all. This relates to industry rules that English only is accepted in poker, usually unless the dealer and all the players at the table use the same language. Notepads have also been in use.

Anyone wanting to play games at a casino who uses sign language should contact the casino ahead of time to learn what restrictions apply during play.

Here, you can read about an example of casino staff and a deaf advocate debating when the Americans with Disabilities Act applies and when it doesn’t in relation to poker.

WASP, however, invites a variety of abilities to play.

The event will be held Friday, Feb. 5 in Austin at the Austin Deaf Club, 8818 Cullen Lane, Austin, Texas 78748.

Admission for Friday night only or for Saturday night only is $10. Saturday full-day admission is $20. Early admission paid on Friday offers a discount of $25 for both days. Additional fees may apply, contact event coordinators or the flyer below for more information.

For more information, contact wasptour@gmail.com.

See the Tour Flyer.

 

 

EEOC sues McDonald’s for Discrimination against Applicant who is Deaf

While many people were Christmas shopping, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, filed a lawsuit for disability discrimination against McDonald’s.

According to a Disability.gov update, the EEOC has charged McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s Restaurants of Missouri with disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“An applicant who is deaf applied for a job at a McDonald’s in Belton, Missouri. When the restaurant learned that the applicant needed a sign language interpreter as a reasonable accommodation for his job interview, they allegedly canceled the interview and wouldn’t reschedule it,” according to the Disability.gov update.

Man speaks and sign language interpreter signs with hands what he's saying.
Sign language interpreters aren’t a want for employees who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and request them, they are a need. While employees may not need interpreters for most tasks, if they request an interpreter, the request should be taken seriously.

How might McDonald’s management have broken the law?

According to the ADA, “Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including State and local governments.”

According to the EEOC’s press release, they filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for violating federal “by refusing to accommodate and hire a deaf applicant…”

“When the Belton restaurant manager learned [the applicant] needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled the interview and never rescheduled it, despite the [applicant’s] sister volunteering to act as the interpreter. Restaurant management continued to interview and hire new workers after [the applicant] made several attempts to schedule an interview,” according to the press release.

According to the press release, “EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including training for all McDonald’s managers on accommodations for applicants with disabilities, particularly those who are deaf.”

Disability symbol
“People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran said.

“People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran said in the press release. “Providing equal employment opportunities to all job applicants – including those with disabilities – is not just the law, it is good for our economy and our workplaces.”

According to a Disability.gov bulletin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a service for people who use American Sign Language (ASL). The Direct Video Access program helps people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing get information in ASL about employment discrimination issues, including filing discrimination complaints. Call 844-234-5122 from 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, to be connected to an EEOC representative who is fluent in ASL.

 

Governor recognizes Sign Shares at awards

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recognized Sign Shares, Inc. | International of Houston at the 2015 Lex Frieden Awards in Fort Worth on Oct. 21 for the Small Business Award.

The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities renamed the annual employment awards after civil right’s champion, Lex Frieden, who was “instrumental in conceiving and drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

The Fort Worth Mayor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities hosted the sold out event.

Governor Abbott speaks about Sign Shares.
Governor Abbott sent a video to the awards ceremony.

Though the governor couldn’t make the ceremony, Governor Abbott recognized Sign Shares in a captioned video, where he said, “These awards honor those who go above and beyond what is required to ensure that all Texans have a chance to put their skills and talents to use in the workplace.”

“Today I’m proud to help recognize the award winners . . . It includes Sign Shares International of Houston, where the entire staff focuses on ensuring full inclusion and raising awareness of accessibility issues in the community,” he said.

Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich
Sign Shares staff at awards (l-r): Christina Goebel, Eva Storey, and Anthony Butkovich

Sign Shares’ CEO, Eva Storey, was present to accept the award. Together with Storey were Sign Shares’ Executive Assistant Anthony Butkovich and Advocacy Community Projects Manager, Christina Goebel.

“We are proud to employ people with all disabilities and wish to inspire other companies to do the same as our company is here to guide both employee and employer through the process within such a deserving community,” Storey said.

Eva Storey and Christina Goebel concentrate on their speeches before taking the stage to accept the award.
Eva Storey and Christina Goebel prepare before speaking at the Lex Frieden Awards.

At the ceremony, Goebel thanked Storey and Butkovich for making her feel wanted, needed, and accepted with her deafness, and for the access and inclusion Sign Shares provides to staff.

If you are an entity that wishes to open the doors for people with disabilities,  contact Sign Shares’ offices at info@signshares.com .