Meeting privately with the mediator, the Homeowners Association says putting in a lift or ramp is completely unnecessary - there are so many friendly people going to the monthly meetings it would be easy for Helen to just ask people to carry her and her wheelchair inside.
What should the mediator do?:
A) Communicate the proposal to Helen and her attorney as a possible reasonable modification;
B) Inform the Homeowners Association that this suggestion would illegally require Helen to ask others for help rather than using the clubhouse independently as other homeowners do;
C) Explain that this may be offensive to Helen and could undermine the negotiations.
Answer: B and C
To avoid derailment of your ADA or Housing Discrimination mediation, look for these three attributes in your mediator:
1. Knowledge of Disabilities. Your preferred mediator understands how a disability affects the individual and how the disability might be accommodated in the workplace or housing without undue burden. People with disabilities facing accessibility issues frequently feel like their needs are not understood. So find a mediator who instills confidence in the claimant that the mediator “gets it”. Cases are more likely to settle when both sides feel understood.
2. Disability Access. This is not just knowledge of building standards, but also an understanding of policy modifications, the interactive process dance, and balancing of the rights of individuals with legitimate business needs.
3. Disability Law. This means general knowledge of the ADA, FHA, and IDEA and their amendments, case law developments, and guidance issued by the regulatory agencies - but also what the laws were meant to accomplish.
An experienced mediator who has these attributes can effectively explore the range of settlement options, and not take mediation time to learn the law or lead the parties down a dead-end.
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