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BBI Receives $6.2 Million Award for Southeast ADA Center to Advance Understanding of Disability Rights, Responsibilities

Posted on Wednesday 9/8/2021
Burton Blatt Institute

For the third time in 15 years, the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI)—headquartered in the Syracuse University College of Law—has been awarded a five-year, $6.2 million grant to advance and support understanding of rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through its Southeast ADA Center (SEADA Center).

The funding comes from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Community Living National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

Based in Lexington, Kentucky, the SEADA Center is one of 10 regional centers in the ADA National Network, providing information, training and guidance about the ADA throughout the eight state Southeast region. BBI provides the center with analyses of legal issues affecting the ADA as well as other resources such as “plain language” legal briefs written by Syracuse Law students.

“The complexity of the issues facing the disability community is daunting, along with the increasing need for reliable information in the public domain. The Southeast ADA Center will continue to provide up-to-date, accurate and accessible information on all aspects of the ADA,” says Peter Blanck, University Professor at Syracuse University and Chairman of BBI. “The center’s role is, perhaps, most important than ever in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families by fostering ADA understanding and compliance.”

“In the next five years, the Southeast ADA Center will continue to be an important source for information on the ADA,” says Barry Whaley, project director and co-principal investigator. “In addition, we will engage in dynamic research exploring the intersectionality of race, ethnicity and disability across the domains of employment, technology equity and poverty.”

SEADA Center’s educational and advocacy work—providing ADA training, technical assistance, research and user-friendly information—reaches and supports more than one million stakeholders annually across the Southeast region. The renewed funding will allow the center to achieve multiple objectives, including:

  • Encouraging and supporting meaningful partnerships among the disability community, government, business and community organizations to facilitate ADA implementation.
  • Improving and expanding training, technical assistance, and information dissemination that promotes voluntary compliance with the ADA.
  • Empowering individuals across the diversity of disabilities and at the intersection of race, ethnicity, age and gender to increase understanding of ADA rights and responsibilities.
  • Customizing and disseminating outreach materials to culturally and linguistically underserved populations, including Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and Latinx communities.
  • Conducting research that produces new knowledge and understanding of barriers to employment and economic self-sufficiency, to increase the civic and social participation of people with disabilities.
  • Creating a comprehensive website with a searchable database that is regularly updated.
  • Supporting advocacy and education among students and youth with disabilities.
  • The new funding will support the center’s initiatives through 2026.