President and CEO of Stein Consulting LLC.
October 23, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Joan Stein, president and CEO of Stein Consulting LLC. Joan’s company works with its clients to find answers, options and opportunities. Focusing on ADA compliance, event planning and operations and fund development, the company provides consulting services to employers and can assist with compliance with newly-implemented OFCCP regulations. It also provides litigation support to companies faced with ADA litigation. Ms. Stein will discuss the company mission in depth as well as breaking the stigma associated with disabilities and the value  making public accommodations accessible to both business and the general public.

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BENDER CONSULTING SERVICES

OCTOBER 23, 2018

“DISABILITY MATTERS”

1:00 PM CT

 

 

 

 

Services provided by:

Caption First, Inc.

P. O. Box 3066

Monument, CO 80132

800-825-5234

www.captionfirst.com

 

 

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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

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     >> MODERATOR: Welcome to "Disability Matters" matters with Joyce Bender. All opinions are those of the hosts, guests and callers. Now the host of "Disability Matters," here is Joyce Bender

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Hi, everyone, welcome to the show. Hope you're having a great day and getting ready for all those little children trick-or-treating. Well, that is in the United States, which is why I have to send a very special shout-out to -- okay, what can I say? Ireland every week. I'm thanking Ireland every week. You are awesome. So many great listeners. But all of you throughout the world that are listening to this show, thank you, thank you so much. You're helping me change life for people with disabilities. You are helping me work to end stigma and I know from being in Kazakhstan, Japan, Indonesia and Panama, I know how terrible it is. So thank you. Also, special shout-out to my good friend Yoshiko Dart. I want to keep the spirit of Justin Dart alive. Yoshiko, how do I know you're yelling back saying hi Joyce!  We love you. And I have to thank Highmark, our lead sponsor. What a great company. And they have been our lead sponsor. We had a bronze sponsor at the beginning of the year, AudioEye, and we certainly appreciate their support also. May I mention next Monday, October 29th, David Holmberg, the CEO of Highmark, will be receiving the prestigious award. So thank you, Highmark. And now on with the show.

    We have one of my most favorite people on the show today. I just love her so much. And that would be Joan Stein, the President of Stein Consulting, LLC, who I view as an expert in the area of accessibility and accommodations. Joan, welcome to the show.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Thank you, Joyce. Thank you very much.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: So Joan, would you mind by telling our listeners, not just nationally but around the world, how you first became involved as a leader in the disability community?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, it's been quite a long, interesting journey. I graduated from college last century with a degree in social work and I worked for about 10 years in the fields of -- at that time it was called mental health and mental retardation. And we know that our systems and our language have evolved since then. So I worked specifically with adults and children -- adults and children with developmental disabilities and then I met -- that was in state college, Pennsylvania and I moved back to Pittsburgh, where I was born and raised, and worked at an agency which is now called Milestones. At that time it was Allegany east center. I ran a long-term foster care program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. And I did that and then moved into administration and into development for that agency. And then in 1990, I went to work for another agency which unfortunately is no longer in existence, three rivers center for independent living known as TRCIL. I was the development director and director of public relations for TRCIL when the ADA was signed into law in July 26, 1990. As a result of that I said to the board of directors, let's make a business. This is going to require knowledge that we have and expertise that we have as an organization comprised primarily of people with disabilities, and the business community was going to need it.

    So we created what was at that point in time already had been done in hospital community, we created a for-profit wholly unsubsidiary of a nonprofit and we created a company called accessibility development. And we moved to a 405 square foot office in three Gateway center and began business. That was in April of 1992. So from the accessibility standpoint, I've been doing this kind of work since actually since 1990 when I went to work at trickle. So I ran ADA incorporated until July 2013, when unfortunately Joyce, as you remember, being my close friend, my husband had a massive stroke and I closed the company and went to spend the last six months with him as he tried to recover. Shortly after he passed away in January of 2014 -- my memory is fading on that unfortunately. I received an email from a friend of ours, Steve Irwin, who asked me to come out of retirement because they had a partners meeting and his partner had an ADA case. So within a week Stein Consulting LLC was created and instead of having an office in downtown Pittsburgh with five staff members and lots of overhead, I branched out on my own working from my home or going to do site inspections at my clients' places of business and I've been doing that and continuing that work since February of 2015. So it's been quite a ride, quite a ride indeed.

    And I enjoy every minute of it because what I've always said from the very beginning, my job is to help businesses by identifying and removing the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from entering and fully participating either as customers or employees or guests. So rather than beating them over the head with a stick, I show them quite often how really relatively easy it is to remove those barriers. And when they realize that and they realize that people with disabilities have quite a bit of discretionary income, they recognize the fact that instead of it being what people used to call an unfunded federal mandate or burden, it is actually an opportunity, because when you welcome people into your place of business, they are going to return and they are going to spend money and they are going to tell other people. And so what I try to do is make it a win/win situation.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Wow! That is awesome. And you know, Joan, so you know, has tremendous expertise in this area. I'm saying that because if you are listening to the show or if you know of someone that needs these type of services, Joan is expert in this area. Now, Joan, Stein Consulting, give us an example, though, of some of your projects or work that you do.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, my longest-standing client is the United States golf association, the USGA which sponsors the men's U.S. Open every year. I finished my 14th U.S. Open. June of 2007 was the first U.S. Open I ever did at Oakmont. What I do with them and the with the U.S. Open I work with them all year to help them to -- what they do is they literally go to a golf course and build a city for 50,000 people a day. So all the tents that are up, if any of your listeners have been to a U.S. Open they know what I'm talking about. It is an entire city with tents and refreshment areas and concession stands. Our merchandise tent is 38,000 square feet. It's bigger than the football field.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Holy cow.

     >> JOAN STEIN: You can imagine how important it is. What I do is make sure whatever they design and construct is accessible to people with disabilities. So I work with them year round doing that. Funny to say that one of the most important items that I pay attention to are the porta-johns. Wherever there are a set of porta Johns that they have one that is accessible. The manufacturers of these porta John companies try to pull the wool. They'll probably get mad at me saying it but it's the truth and I've experienced it every year. They try to tell the USGA and the vendors that these porta-johns are wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant because they aren't. They have a solid counter next to the toilet instead of having clear floor space so somebody can pull their wheelchair next to the toilet and transfer. The unfortunate part of that is that the ADA regulations, the design standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act talk about the built environment but they don't talk about manufactured items. So there is no underwriter's laboratory for items such as porta-johns or feminine item dispensers or things like that. These manufacturers believe if they slap the wheelchair logo in the catalog and say ADA compliant everybody buys it. I make sure they build everything correctly and for 10 days I'm on site from 5:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night. I manage a troop of 145 volunteers that -- we have disability services. We have 17, six-passenger golf carts we drive people around the course. Three of them have a ramp so you can drive your wheelchair up onto the golf cart. We drive you to the various locations around the golf course. We have grandstand seating where the wheelchair seating is absolutely in the first row. You have an unobstructed view to the green and make sure all of our areas -- all of our concession areas are accessible and we just -- our job is to make sure that people with disabilities and seniors enjoy themselves at the tournament. And I can't tell you -- when I train the volunteers before the tournament, I tell them to be prepared to get hugs and handshakes. Because people think we'll never be able to go to a golf tournament. I'll never be able to get around and some people say why is this golf course -- why are there hills here? Why not more cement here? It's a golf course. We do the best we can. Where people can't traverse the terrain we drive them in golf carts.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Wow.

     >> JOAN STEIN: It's the most fun I have all year.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Let me ask you, Joan, what do you think caused them to start doing this?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, you know, it's interesting and I will say this publicly, I say it all the time. The USGA is head and shoulders above all sports venues and organizations. They -- the reason -- they had started doing it a number of years ago but in 2007, when I was introduced to them, to the director of operations, a gentleman at the time who was the director of operations, Frank Busse. I was introduced to him because Pennsylvania had a requirement that the golf course and what we were building be inspected for accessibility. A local building inspector didn't know anything about disability but he knew me and he called me and said I have to go to a meeting at Oakmont country club. As a golfer I would never turn down an opportunity to even walk on the grounds of Oakmont Golf Club. Within five minutes Frank and I were talking about a contract because he knew that I was going to help them. And the big -- I would say the big difference, quite honestly, is they have the right attitude. It does cost them some money to do this. But the feedback that they get and the positive responses they get from everybody involved is just unbelievable. They -- the USGA exemplifies what I say about the ADA. It's the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do, and it's the law. They do it because it's the right thing to do.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You know what, though, that is amazing because just as you said; it costs them a lot of money to do that.

     >> JOAN STEIN: It does.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And it would be so great if other places would start doing that -- other sports.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Absolutely, absolutely. I do some work with the PGA of America and they are working on their program. But I will tell you, for the past -- like I said, for the past 12 years I have been working very, very closely with USGA and it's been a wonderful experience, it really has. Some of the other things I do are related more specifically to facilities. I do facility inspections for everyone from convenience stores and banks and restaurants and retail establishments, to -- I'm in talks right now -- hopefully I'm not talking out of -- off the top of my head, but I'm in discussions right now with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to work with them on enhancing their accessibility. They are -- again, they have the right kind of attitude. They want to do the right thing. And they want to do the smart thing. Because if you think about the zoo and who comes to the zoo, parents pushing baby strollers and grandparents. Families. And there is nothing more important than enabling a family to enjoy something together. Instead of having to say well, grandma, we're going somewhere and there are too many steps for you. Or you can't get into the building. Or, you know, we'll go out to dinner but you can't use the restroom. I'm hoping that -- I'm truthfully hoping that in some period of time in the not too distant future that I'm going to be retiring because there won't be need for me. Unfortunately I don't think that will be the case. I think I'll probably work, like you will, until we're 100.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes, I agree with that, yes indeed.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Right?

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Yep. That's the way we are. There is no doubt about that. So Joan, if someone is listening and they want to reach you, should they go to LinkedIn or where is it best to reach you?

     >> JOAN STEIN: They can reach me at my email address JWSTEIN0731@gmail.com, call me, or reach me LinkedIn. My website is under development right now. My phone is with me all the time. Phone or email is always a good way to be able to reach me.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: All right, you got it. So Joan, there is this thing out now -- well, it has been that they're trying to get passed called the ADA Education and Reform Act. And this is called ADA Education and Reform Act weakens the Americans with Disabilities Act.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And is really not how it sounds. It sounds so good, ADA Education and Reform Act. But it isn't all so good. How do you feel about that, Joan? What would that do to the ADA?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, Joyce, this is not the first time it's been attempted. Back in the mid 1990s the first time this was attempted was Clint Eastwood was complaining because his restaurant in Carmel, California got cited because he didn't remove barriers. He got Representative Mark Foley who was infamous from Texas and it was called the Foley act. It never got out of committee. And the ADA, Education and Reform Act is either the third or fourth attempt at it. The problem -- the problem that -- I have a fundamental problem with this. And that is that it is requiring the basic Tenet of it is requiring notification to a business owner that they have barriers and time to cure their barriers. It has been 26 years. How much more time do you need?

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh yeah, I know. That is so true. And you know what, so it started with the Foley Act then, right?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Right, right, right. Exactly. And the problem is that I will grant there are some glitches in the enforcement of the ADA that make it difficult, or more difficult, for the enforcement of it. One, it was designed to be a complaint-driven law because it was designed to put the -- to empower people with disabilities to help enforce it. Because it requires a complaint from a person with a disability who feels as though their rights have been discriminated against. And then they can either go to the Justice Department and file a complaint; or they can go to federal court. Now, the experience over the past 26 years with the justice department receiving complaints and then investigating and then adjudicating has been limited. And it is even more limited since the new administration. In fact, the biggest fear I've had since the -- one of the biggest fears I've had since the 2016 election is the fact that the justice department would literally drop everything to do with the ADA.

    Now, they've limited the ADA’s effectiveness by not moving forward on the requirements and regulations and adopting the guidelines that were developed for hospital equipment and furnishings. So, you know, they've already pretty much tied the hands of the justice department for enforcement. So whereas business owners are used to having maybe OSHA inspects them or the EPA inspects them, or the health department inspects them, they just wait and I will tell you that for 26 years people have said to me -- potential clients have said to me I'm not going to do anything until I have to. And I say to them that's like painting a sign on your back that says kick me. Because if you wait for a complaint to come, which it will eventually, and you are told either by the justice department or the federal courts this is what you are going to do, this is how much money you are going to spend, and this is when you are going to get it done. You lose total control of the process. Or if I say turn the posse into a parade. Do it on your own time, use the tax credits that are available to you to the IRS for barrier removal, and make it a positive statement.

    That's one of the main problems that I have with the Education and Reform Act and the Foley Act and all the other iterations of it is that they are trying to limit the enforcement. Now, this one I'm afraid this one may have more -- may take more -- take more ground with it than its predecessors have simply because with the infusion of the drive-by lawsuits and that's what really is driving it this time. I really thought that all the attempts were gone until the drive-by started. If your listeners don't know what we're talking about, what has been happening in the last four years is that there are groups of law firms and advocacy organizations that do what are called drive-by lawsuits. And basically what they do is pull into a parking lot of a business and they look around. And they maybe take some measurements with a slope tool to see what the slope is of the parking space and the designated accessible parking space. And they look to see if there is a sign and look to see if there is an access aisle and look to see if there is a curb ramp. If any of those things are missing or incorrect they file a complaint against the business. They say we're sending you this letter. Here is what we're complaining about. You can settle for X amount of dollars and fix it and we'll go away. We won't take you to court. So basically what they do is send settlement letters.

And what happened -- are you there?

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.

     >> JOAN STEIN: The laws get the fees. Sometimes they give money to the plaintiffs, and that's it.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: That's it.

     >> JOAN STEIN: And so that's what has been driving this.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, you know, why I brought that up so all of you will know, this is terrible. Just as Joan said. Hopefully, you know, this is not going to move forward, but title III of the ADA prohibits places of public accommodation like businesses or like service establishments, places that are open to the public, like a grocery store, or a doctor's office, from even homeless shelters from discriminating against people with disabilities. So if a person with a disability should encounter an architectural barrier like Joan is talking about, that prevents that person from accessing the business, that person has three options: Speak with the business, file a complaint with the Department of Justice, or file a lawsuit! The ADA Education and Reform Act upends a key provision of the ADA by preventing people with disabilities from immediately going to court to enforce their rights and to press for timely removal of that barrier. And without that -- without that enforcement mechanism which is what Joan is talking about, people with disabilities, they are going to really be hurt. You know, as Senator Casey said, you know, what am I going to do? I go to get my -- a person goes to get their hair cut at a style salon, no access, and what do you have to do? Say okay, I have to wait what is it now, 120 days?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: To know if I can get my hair cut. You know what his point is. And what this would cause, in my opinion -- what this would do is cause so many people from saying well, you know, I'm not going to even do this, you know. Like a small business. I'm not going to worry about it for right now because you know, if this goes through, first they have to tell me, you know, then they have to file a complaint if they even know how to do that, and then I get X amount of days to let them know I think it's 60 days, I don't remember what it is, you know, before they'll look at this. The whole total thing is 120 days. You know what that will cost? People say I can live without that for now.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, and the more disturbing part to me is that it takes us back 30 years and relegates people with disabilities to being second-class citizens again. It relegates people with disabilities to say -- it makes it okay for movie theater to say no, I don't want you in here. I will never -- Joyce, I will never forget Judy telling the story when she was a young girl. She used a wheelchair and she and her mother went to the movies in New York. This was before the ADA. And the only place that Judy could sit in her wheelchair was in the aisle of the movie theater. And she and her mother bought their tickets. Sat down in the movie theater and the usher came and said you have to leave. You are a fire hazard and made her leave the movie theater.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Yeah. Isn't that unbelievable?

     >> JOAN STEIN: It's unconscionable.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: That's terrible. It gets me so fired up. But we are going to go to break and then we'll be right back. If you've been listening, we're talking to Joan Stein, the President and CEO of Stein Consulting, LLC. Tell everyone about this show, everyone. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice where disability matters at Voice America.com. Don't go away. We'll be right back with Joan.     

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Hey, everyone, welcome back. We're glad you joined us. We're talking to Joan Stein, President of Stein Consulting. Before we went to break we were talking about the ADA Education and Reform Act. One of the things I was asking Joan is if she believed this proposed legislation is already impacting the commitment of small businesses. And is that what you think, Joan?

     >> JOAN STEIN: I think so. I think -- well, when you look at the information about it, it may not be impacting small businesses as much as it impacts larger businesses, because all of the trade associations from the American lodging association to the real estate agency, the real estate organizations and chambers of commerce. They're all supporters of the legislation. So anybody that's tied in with them is basically hearing from these organizations hold on, don't do anything. At least that's what I believe they're hearing from them. So the small businesses unless they're tied into these agencies and organizations, they are probably not doing anything simply because, you know, I got to tell you, Joyce, so many times over the years I've had a business owner say to me but I've never had anybody complain or they say but I've never had anybody in my store in a wheelchair. Maybe it's because they can't get in. And they don't realize that. What I find so very often is that the businesses -- businesses pay attention to the ADA for one of two reasons. Either they have someone in their life that has a disability so it matters to them, or they've had a complaint filed against them and they are attuned to it. Either way, it becomes front and foremost.

    I'm working with a client now who has to remain nameless because it's a confidential project that I'm working on. But they were investigated by the justice department. And they are a very large publicly-owned company, and the issue is they thought they were doing things right. And they hired architects and the architect said don't worry, we have this under control. They hired contractors and the contractors listened to the architects and in this one situation they renovated a restaurant 10 years ago that they made so many ADA errors it was unbelievable. And so what happens is that even with small businesses, when a small business owner says to me but I don't understand my architect said everything was covered. I don't understand, I have a building permit from the city. Why isn't anybody paying attention to this? It's because they don't pay attention to accessibility. And they don't pay attention to ADA. Building inspectors inspect for plumbing, for heating and ventilation and air conditioning, they inspect for fire or they don't pay the amount of attention to accessibility as they need to. So the business owner, rightfully so, believes, I've got everything covered. I have this building permit. The building permit isn't worth the paper it's printed on in terms of accessibility or in terms of protecting you from being -- from having a complaint filed against you.

    So I really think, you know, it's -- I would love to see the ADA Education and Reform Act just become the ADA Education Act and use that impetus to educate businesses on not only the importance of accessibility but the value -- the return on their investment that they can get by making their stores and their libraries and their medical offices and their movie theaters and their grocery stores accessible because if people come in, they will spend money. There is a return on their investment. But people don't -- they need -- education is the key to it, it really is.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: We need to get you working with the airlines.

     >> JOAN STEIN: As my father used to say that's a whole other kettle of fish.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You mentioned Judy. She was a speaker here on Monday this past week and she had a hard time getting here. We didn't think she was going to get here because they said they could not get her wheelchair to fit in the airline, the plane.

     >> JOAN STEIN: What?

     >> JOYCE BENDER: We called a friend of ours that called and said hey, they work for this airline, what the deal is here. They did get it on. So she got it on, went home, got it on. Got off the plane. They broke the arm off the wheelchair. This has happened to her before. And in addition to all this, I have a friend that all of you listeners know, Kelly, the CEO of NCIL who says he and a lot of his friends if they're able to, they take another form of transportation.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Other than the plane because they are tired of being hurt getting off the plane.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Exactly. Exactly. And what condition the wheelchair is in when they get there. See -- part of the problem, too, is that the airlines operate under the Air Carriers Act, not under the ADA. Airports are obligated to comply with the ADA but the airlines themselves operate under the Air Carriers Act. It is not as strictly enforced. And so -- but that's been a problem for years. I have friends who have had literally their wheelchairs destroyed by the airline. And what do you do? That is your personal means of transportation.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, my friend is a senior executive on the board of AAPD, which I'm so honored to have the vice chair with our chair being Ted Kennedy Jr.  I am going to actually suggest they meet with you because someone has to advise someone -- this is becoming a really national problem.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would be happy to meet with them.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: As I said -- and Kelly, who uses a wheelchair. As you know, Joan, the national organization for the centers on independent living. So if he is hearing it by a lot of people

     >> JOAN STEIN: Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: I'd say it's a lot of people.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes, yes, yes.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: So that will be one of my things that I work on.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Good, we'll work on that together.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Okay. Do you believe, Joan, that all these accommodation issues impacts employment?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes, unfortunately it does. And again, it's lack of education; and it's lack of awareness. It's an employer thinking oh, I'm going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make an accommodation so that this person can come and work for me. Joyce, you know this better than anybody in this country, that's not the case.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, and Joan, I cannot stress -- I've been doing this employment crusade for people with disabilities since 1995. Still to this day, as recently as last week, when I say why do you think people don't want to hire people with disabilities? I mean to a Fortune 500 corporation when I'm speaking to a large group. Someone always raises their hands and says because of the big cost of accommodations. They always say that.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Right, right.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Always, which is not true.

     >> JOAN STEIN: It was probably an H.R. person that answered that.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: It was. How did you know that?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Because they are the ones who need to be educated the most.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, if you don't understand this -- you know, for example, having a restroom where the person cannot transfer is not accessible. I mean, I really would encourage you, if you are listening to this show and if you work somewhere where you have any issues or if you know of someone that does, now you know Joan and this show is on demand and you can get it from iTunes, so you know you need to share the show with others. But right now I'll get ready to go to our last break and then we'll be right back to talk more to Joan Stein on "Disability Matters", Voice America.com. I'll be right back.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Welcome back to the show. We are on with national expert on accommodations, Joan Stein, the President and CEO of Stein Consulting, which it's so great, Joan, to have you on. So you know, I know Joan very well. And I just love her. I mean, I will tell you right now.

     >> JOAN STEIN: It's mutual.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: She is the real deal. There is no question about that. And Joan, you have done so much already, but you always have this passion, just what you said earlier, the two of us will never stop doing this because we're both on a crusade. I want to ask you what caused that, who was or is your role model?

     >> JOAN STEIN: My dad was my role model. He is gone 11 years but he lives in me all the time. He told me as a very young child, do what you love and love what you do.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And you listened.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes, yes, I do. I did and I still hear him in my ear. And he was my role model. He loved what he did, and he loved the people that he worked with. And the interesting part about it is my dad was a traveling salesman. He sold a men's gift line and he was gone five days a week. And for many, many years I thought we had the largest family in the world because I had all these aunts and uncles. They were all my dad's customers. He became friends with everybody that he worked with. And I remember saying to him when I was very young daddy, you know, you must have a lot of brothers and sisters. He said no, honey, they're all my friends but they are like family. And Joyce, as you and I both know, we choose our -- you are my family of choice. I love my biological family but I love my sisters, too.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. God gives us friends to apologize for our family in some instances. Not mine, but there are cases where that is a fact.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes, it is.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You're right. Your friends do become your family, they do. There is no mistake about that.

     >> JOAN STEIN: That's right.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And people that I've met in business, like you, you are a perfect example, Joan.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Sure.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And you know, you are like my sister and it is like that with so many people, especially in the disability community. Because we are all -

     >> JOAN STEIN: We're a very close community.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: We're all in this together. And Joan, once again, you know, you have done so much. You were telling everyone all these things that you've done and worked on but if you had to say one thing that you consider your greatest accomplishment, what would that be?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Well, you know, it's interesting. This is October 23rd. October 20th was a very sentimental anniversary, not only the fact that it would have been my parents' 74th wedding anniversary. They've both been gone for a number of years but on October 20th, 20 years ago, I was in New Orleans and I had been hired by the equal employment opportunity commission to be their ADA expert on a landmark Title I case. The EEOC versus DuPont. Now, you can well imagine that when a complaint gets -- when a case gets raised against DuPont in New Orleans, it is kind of like what it used to be like with U.S. steel in Pittsburgh. It was the employer and DuPont was the employer in New Orleans. To make a long story short I was hired by the EEOC and worked with this brilliant attorney, who he and I are still very close friends. He sent me an email on the 20th and said happy anniversary. And the long story short is our client, who was the plaintiff, had worked at a chemical plant, the DuPont chemical plant in Louisiana for a number of years and had a number of physical disabilities. And came to work every single day. And they -- the people at the plant and her supervisors treated her so horribly that they forced her onto disability and then terminated her. And it was such an absolutely egregious case that when we went to trial and it went to the jury after three days of testimony, the DuPont's attorney said to the jury, this is not -- his opening comments were, this is not about Laura getting the money, this is about the government getting the money. So he set the tone that this was, you know, DuPont was going to be -- the government was going to take money away from DuPont. Long story short, the jury came back with a question two hours into their deliberation and said if we find for the plaintiff, does she get the money or does the government get the money? The jury awarded her 1.23 million dollars.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Wow, wow.

     >> JOAN STEIN: And you know what, Joan? Here is how long I've known you.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: I remember this.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes. It was a landmark case. And it got appealed all the way up through the state Supreme Court and the verdict held. It was written up in all the law journals.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, that was absolutely historic. I can see why -

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yes, it was. And like I said, I have lifelong friends as a result of that. This woman was so determined and she was seriously physically disabled but she was so dedicated to her job that she -- she was just incredible. And had the strongest disposition to be able to withstand -- they tortured her, literally tortured her and she said I want to work. They said oh, go home and watch TV. She said I don't want to go home and watch TV. I want to work. This is how I define myself. And Joyce, you see this every day. We define ourselves by what we do. We define ourselves -- what do you say, jobs are freedom, right?

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Uh-huh, yes. Competitive jobs mean freedom just as she said. First question, what is your name? Second question, what do you do?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Exactly. So I would say my work with DuPont in the EEOC and Greg Judd really stand out for me as a major accomplishment and such an incredible team to work with.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, Joan, it has been truly a pleasure to have you as our guest today. Thank you.

     >> JOAN STEIN: I love every time.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Don't forget on demand and iTunes you can get this show. What message do you want to leave with our listeners today?

     >> JOAN STEIN: Don't give up the fight. It's the right thing to do. Welcome people into your business, allow yourself to be welcomed into a business, and participate. And the last statement I want to say to everybody is vote. As Justin Dart said, vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: What a great message. That's right. I hope you heard what Joan said. Don't be one of those that sits home and says I don't have to worry.

     >> JOAN STEIN: Yeah, you do. Every vote counts.

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Don't be one of those that says every vote does not count. How many times have we seen close races in the hundreds. Make sure you vote. Remember those countries I've been to? Oh my gosh, you are so lucky you can vote. Well, we end every show with a quote and today that quote is, change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for said President Barack Obama. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice where disability matters at Voice America.com. Talk to you next week.