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independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

Action Alert: Senator Harkin Needs Your Help on CRPD in October!

Source: US International Council on Disabilities (USICD)

Yesterday, September 27, Senator Harkin went onto the Senate floor to ask for a vote on ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Unfortunately, he was opposed by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and a vote was not taken.

CRPD Logo - Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesThe Senate recesses this Friday, and will return November 12th for the final session of the year. We need your help to ensure CRPD receives a vote upon the Senate’s return!

From now on, if Senators are not willing to commit to supporting the CRPD, but are not willing to state specific concerns and work to resolve them with new RUD (reservations, understandings and declarations) language, then we must count them as opposed to the treaty!

The opposition continues to generate calls, and your Senators need to hear from you throughout the recess that the community supports this issue. CALL often and spread the word. Attend town halls and candidate forums. Tell them we will not wait any longer: the time is now!

Visit to take action!

See also:

For Immediate Release: Senator Harkin (D-IA) Requests Unanimous Consent for Disability Treaty, But Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) Objects

Contact: Kevin Locke, U.S. International Council on Disabilities, (202) 359-6960

USICD President Marca Bristo says because of a well-funded campaign of misinformation waged by the fringe opposition, some senators do not support.

Senator Tom Harkin said this afternoon from the Senate floor, “This is another sad, irresponsible day in the history of the United States Senate.” This statement came after his request for unanimous consent on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or Disability Treaty, was objected to by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), citing disproved concerns about US sovereignty.

This latest action by the right falls on the heels of the United Nations statement on September 16, that Guyana became the 150th nation to ratify the treaty. Of the 158 countries that have signed the treaty, only eight have still to ratify it. Unfortunately – and conspicuously – the United States is one of them.

President of the US International Council on Disabilities Marca Bristo said, “We are tremendously grateful to Senator Harkin for his continued fight to ratify the treaty, alongside more than 800 disability organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, businesses, veterans groups, human and civil rights groups, and faith organizations. This is the American mainstream. It is disappointing that some senators do not support it due to a well-funded campaign of misinformation waged by a fringe opposition. We are united in demanding that senators put aside politics and irrational, fear-based arguments advocated by extremists on the right.”

An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Task Force

NCIL’s Mental Health Civil Rights Task Force continues to follow two significant pieces of federal mental health legislation. As you may recall, Rep. Tim Murphy introduced H.R. 3717, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013″ in December of last year. This bill would reauthorize the SAMHSA programs without the reforms NCIL supports. It also singles out people who are “disabled” (but not dangerous) for involuntary treatment. The bill also cuts support for advocacy and mental health peer support. NCIL opposes H.R. 3717 and other bills that single out people for reduced rights based on disability.

Recently, Rep. Ron Barber introduced H.R. 4574, the “Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014″. This bill reauthorizes SAMHSA programs but without the reforms NCIL supports. These reforms are:

  • a majority of consumers on state mental health planning and advisory councils (which are required to review and comment on state community mental health block grant – MHBG plans)
  • that each state provide for consumer peer support organizations and / or consumer-run community mental health services in its MHBG plan; and
  • that state mental health planning and advisory councils coordinate activities with Statewide Independent Living Councils under section 705 of the Rehabilitation Act.

NCIL supports H.R. 4574. We urge Representatives to support amendment of the bill with the reforms discussed above. To that end, we are beginning to work on crafting alternate legislation to bring forward during the next Congress in 2015.

The NCIL Mental Health Civil Rights Task Force also maintains an active presence on Facebook – join us on our Mentally Healthy Independent Living page. Task Force meetings are held via teleconference and usually take place on the first Thursday of the month at 3:00 Eastern. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 2 October. Please contact Task Force Co-Chair Krista Erickson at for further information. The Task Force extends its thanks to Mike Bachhuber, Co-Chair of NCIL’s Civil Rights / ADA Subcommittee for contributing much of the above material.

Information Alert: Senator Harkin to Ask for Unanimous Consent on the CRPD Today!

We’ve just learned that Senator Harkin intends to go onto the Senate floor at approximately 12:45 p.m. Eastern today to speak on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and ask for a unanimous consent vote on the treaty.

NCIL and the US International Council on Disabilities hope to get as many people in the gallery as possible, so please join us in supporting Senator Harkin if you are able. Gallery passes can be obtained from any Senate office.

If you are not able to attend in person, we believe you should be able to watch it online.

Please call your Senators now and ask them to support ratification of the CRPD. The world is watching!

NCIL, Not Dead Yet, and Disability Rights Community Respond to the Tucker Hire

The National Council on Independent Living has signed on to the following letter to the Disability Rights Legal Center regarding its recent decision to hire Kathryn Tucker, formerly employed by Compassion & Choices, as the new executive director of DRLC.

Source: Not Dead Yet

September 13, 2014

Not Dead Yet LogoBoard of Directors
Disability Rights Legal Center
800 S. Figueroa St., Suite 1120
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Dear Board members, Disability Rights Legal Center:

We understand you have hired Kathryn Tucker as the new executive director of DRLC.

Many of the signatories to this letter have worked with DRLC for years, enjoyed our working relationship toward furthering disability rights, and appreciated the work of DRLC.

We wish to engage in dialogue with you about the serious concerns we have over Ms. Tucker’s work in her previous position at Compassion & Choices that has placed members of the disability community in significant danger.

As you probably know, many prominent disability rights organizations across the U.S. have taken formal positions opposing assisted suicide laws. The legalization of assisted suicide is a very serious problem, and is of the utmost importance to many in the disability community. Ms. Tucker’s actions have significantly and directly aided in establishing assisted suicide laws, and she has materially contributed to the efforts toward their further legalization, in state after state. While Ms. Tucker’s work on pain relief is laudable, it is overshadowed by her work toward the legalization of assisted suicide through her leadership role at Compassion & Choices.

As organizations many of which have partnered with DRLC in the past, and which hope to have productive collaborations with you in the future, we would be very troubled if the hiring of Ms. Tucker were seen as a message to the disability community—or to society at large—that the DRLC has taken, or may take in the future, an opposing position to that of the established disability community on the legalization of assisted suicide, isolating itself from its natural allies.  [Read more...]

Statement of Solidarity with the Victims of Police Violence in Ferguson, MO

The National Council on Independent Living has signed on to and fully supports the National Council on Disability’s Statement of Solidarity with the Victims of Police Violence in Ferguson, MO. The full text is available below, or can be read on the National Council on Disability (NCD) website.

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teen, was shot and killed by a police officer. The disproportionate and militarized response by law enforcement in response to non-violent protests and peaceful assembly by residents of Ferguson gained attention from around the world including alarm from the United Nations. That same month, Kajime Powell and Ezell Ford, both unarmed African American men were fatally shot by police, raising additional concerns about the ways police officers respond to individuals with disabilities—particularly African American men with disabilities.

The National Council of Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress, and other federal agencies about policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities, joins the legion of civil rights and civic organizations to call for greater justice and accountability.

NCD recognizes that these tragic events are part of a larger social pattern involving racial profiling, police brutality, inequality, systemic racism, and segregation in addition to the marginalization and discrimination of people with disabilities and supports the Department of Justice investigation into the death of Michael Brown. The End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), currently under consideration by the United States House of Representatives, would prohibit the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law enforcement agencies.

As David Perry and NCD’s Lawrence Carter-Long detailed in an article for The Atlantic last May, “encounters with police have also taken an unnecessarily violent turn for people with disabilities that are not psychiatric or intellectual, including conditions that are physical or sensory” making disabled individuals at increased risk for incarceration, harassment, violence or death at the hands of law enforcement.  [Read more...]

The ADA Image Project

by Mary Lou Mobley

Jaime Lewis enjoying a beautiful sunrise from an accessible fishing dockBy the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2015, I will develop a collection of original fine art photographs to commemorate some of the many advances in American society made possible by the ADA. Images will be published in a coffee-table book, a 2015 calendar, and as individual prints. Additionally, at the end of the project key images will be made available for free to disability rights groups to use in their marketing and outreach campaigns.

There is some urgency as the campaign ends on September 28th. For a pledge of $10 or more, you can enter a dedication in the project’s coffee table book. At higher donation levels, you can sponsor a family with members with disabilities for a day-in-the-life or portrait-style photoshoot and prints or an album. And there are other incentives as well at different pledge levels.

Leading Statewide Strategic Planning

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETOctober 7, 2014; 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF).

Strong, effective SILCs are leaders in statewide strategic planning. While the SPIL is a strategic plan to advance independent living in the state, it does not constitute a strategic plan for the SILC as an organization. With pending changes and new allowable activities for SILCs in the transition to the new Independent Living Administration, it’s an important time for SILCs to develop their own strategic plan to strengthen the organization, the SPIL and the IL community in the state. Join us on this national teleconference and webinar to learn why it’s important to have a SILC strategic plan. Our presenters will share concrete ways to develop your strategic plan, including tips for planning in light of the transition to the Independent Living Administration at HHS.  [Read more...]

50 State Call to Action: Ratify CRPD Now!

We have entered a key moment for ratification of the CRPD. The Senate has returned to work and will only be in session through September 23 at the latest. After an exhilarating July, in which a new resolution for ratification passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) with bipartisan support, and in which our collective voice was heard loudly through phone calls, social media, and a strong coalition presence on the Hill that included business, veterans, civil rights, and disability advocates, we must seize this moment.

CRPD Logo - Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesPlease see the new one-page summary of the resolution (PDF or plain text) that passed out of the SFRC and its amendments. These amendments address significant concerns that have been raised by opponents of the treaty and clear the way for ratification of the treaty. Bipartisan Senate supporters are now working to secure commitments from their colleagues for the final vote, and our community organizations must act now. Without action in September, achieving success this year becomes significantly more challenging as we face election season and a lame duck session of Congress.

Take Action

Visit and call your Senators! The message is simple: RATIFY CRPD!

Additional efforts are needed from advocates in the key states of Georgia (Chambliss & Isakson), Mississippi (Cochran & Wicker), South Carolina (Graham & Scott), North Carolina (Burr), Ohio (Portman), Missouri (Blunt), Kansas (Roberts) and Iowa (Grassley).

If you or your Board Members have personal reach to any of these key members, now is the time for you to make that call to the Senator, by-pass his staff if possible, and get a commitment that he will stand with the disability and veteran communities.

This is a crucial moment for us to join Bob Dole and our Senate champions to get this done. We cannot be silent. Thank you for your long support and your advocacy at this crucial moment!

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on CILs and AJCs: Strategic Partnerships that Lead to Better Employment and Economic Advancement Outcomes

  • Wednesday, September 24, 2014; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Register online

LEAD Center Logo - www.leadcenter.orgA growing number of Centers for Independent Living are providing employment services to meet the needs of their customers and to improve the employment and economic advancement outcomes of individuals with disabilities. Join us to learn about findings and tools from a LEAD Center Demonstration Project completed with five Centers for Independent Living, the National Council on Independent Living and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals to improve collaboration and coordination between the CILs and AJC management and staff.

Target Audience: Workforce Development Professionals, Policy Makers, Individuals with Disabilities and related stakeholders.

Please note: This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations, please contact Brittany Taylor at within 48 hours of the webinar.

NASUAD’s Latest Work to Further MIPPA Outreach Efforts

In collaboration with professionals in the aging and disabilities network, the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) has developed outreach materials to promote Medicare low-income subsidies to beneficiaries with disabilities.

NASUAD Logo - National Association of States United for Aging and DisabilitiesIn 2008 Congress passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), Pub. Law 110-275. MIPPA is a multi-faceted piece of legislation that contains several important provisions that directly change the Medicare program.

NASUAD created 3 posters to educate Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities about subsidies that may help them save on Medicare costs. NASUAD also developed a Tip Sheet for MIPPA outreach professionals to use as a quick reference tool about Medicare low-income subsidies and referral resources.

Feedback from local Centers for Independent Living and national stakeholders enabled NASUAD to improve these materials and establish an effective dissemination plan.

The posters include an editable space wherein outreach professionals may add contact information for their preferred referral source.

View or download the materials.