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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 28, 2003

UI Law Professor Sandler Receives Iowa Civil Rights Award

Leonard Sandler, a University of Iowa professor of law, was recently honored by the Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc., for his leadership in helping to improve the lives of persons with disabilities across the state.

Sandler received the Iowa Civil Rights Award for an individual in ceremonies on Oct. 23. in Des Moines. This is the second such honor this year for Sandler, who teaches in the College of Law's Clinical Law Program, and directs assistive technology, disability and systems reform projects. Earlier this year, he received the Isabel Turner Award from the Iowa City Human Rights Commission for his work in helping persons with disabilities in Johnson County.

In his work, Sandler supervises law student interns who use traditional and non-traditional approaches to removing legal, architectural and attitudinal barriers confronted by persons with disabilities. In the 13 years Sandler has been teaching in the Law Clinic, some of its notable statewide initiatives have included:

--persuading Iowa to adopt the ADA Accessibility Guidelines as the
state accessibility code in 2004.

--conducting workshops on how communities can access federal and state funds to help renters, landlords and homeowners with disabilities or functional limitations modify their homes, acquire assistive technology and remove barriers to independent living.

--helping draft and lobby for a state tax credit for small business to hire, retain or accommodate workers with disabilities as well as a consumer protection "lemon law" warranty act for assistive devices.

--developing and distributing best practice materials to ensure that Iowa consumers and providers understand their rights, responsibilities and ways to improve the system for delivering mental health and developmental disability services.

--promoting universal design standards in homes and apartments to improve their accessibility for disabled persons, drafting legislation to establish minimum design standards and helping Iowa City draft and adopt the first ordinance in Iowa that requires publicly funded homes to have a no-step entrance, reinforced bathroom walls, wider doorways and thermostats and controls that are placed at easy-to-reach heights.

--helping the Iowa Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Commission draft legislation to establish that residency, rather than legal settlement, is the key eligibility criteria for receiving mental health services.

--establishing one of the first legal clinics in the country to provide free legal representation for individuals and their family members who have HIV or AIDS, and no-cost community education, grassroots and legislative advocacy on related matters.

--providing free technical assistance and advice to private and public businesses, agencies and organizations on disability, employment, universal design standards, web design and accessibility and other issues. Such organizations include the Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball club, the Coral Ridge Mall and mall stores, the New Pioneer Co-op stores, the Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, the Systems Change network, the Iowa Disability Advocates, the Evert Conner Center for Independent Living, the Johnson County Coalition for Persons with Disabilities and Johnson County SEATS (paratransit).

--co-authoring the amicus brief on behalf of the National Council on Disability in the U.S. Supreme Court case Chevron v. Echazabal regarding ADA protections for an employee who poses a direct threat to self or others.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,