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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Memo of Opposition to H.R. 5902, the Disability Community Act, which Interferes with the Provision of Community-Based Services in Order to Fund Institutional Settings

August 15, 2016

The National Council on Independent Living strongly opposes H.R. 5902, the Disability Community Act.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingDespite the purpose implied in the name, H.R. 5902 actually interferes with the provision of community-based services which enable people with disabilities to live in the community, while at the same time providing significant Federal funding to institutional providers serving one small segment of the Disability Community – individuals with developmental disability and intellectual disabilities.

The Act was created in response to recent changes to the FLSA overtime regulations, which raise the salary threshold for workers who are exempt from the payment of overtime. These regulations impose costs on a wide range of providers including those that provide community-based services as well as operators of institutions. In response to these increased costs, H.R. 5902 increases the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 90% for Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) and waivers serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

H.R. 5902 only addresses the needs of a small segment of the Disability Community – those receiving services from providers that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Although the name of H.R. 5902 suggests broad-based support for the entire Disability Community, the legislation only focuses on funding providers that serve a very limited segment of the Disability Community: people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to a 2012 Census Bureau report, there are 51.5 million adults with disabilities in the US. The same census data indicates that less than 2.2 million of those individuals have an intellectual disability or other type of developmental disability.

Based on these numbers, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities only account for about 4 percent of the Disability Community, which means that H.R. 5902 fails to address the needs of 96% of the Disability Community[Read more…]

Victim-Centered Advocacy on Social Media: A Word of Caution from the NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee

The rise in our use of social media to broadcast news and injustices done to our sisters and brothers makes it easier to advocate & share information quickly. “React with CAUTION!” advises the NCIL Abuse & Violence Subcommittee, as there can be serious impacts for victims of violence when we share their stories.

Being “person-centered” comes naturally for disability rights advocates, yet remembering to be “victim-centered” can be a little more difficult when our hackles are raised by sensationalized stories about people with disabilities. “We must put the victim at the center of any action we take as advocates,” reminds NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee Co-Chair Roberta Sick of the Crime Victims and Safety and Sexual Violence Prevention Projects at Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas.

Being victim-centered means that we always consider what the victim wants first. A victim may not want their news-worthy story shared, or may have a specific time in the criminal justice process when they want the story shared. Being victim-centered also means helping people to stay safe when they are not ready to leave a dangerous situation or relationship.  [Read more…]

DOJ Files Lawsuit Against Harris County Texas Over Inaccessible Polling Places

On Thursday, August 4, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Harris County, Texas alleging that the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide accessible polling places for disabled voters.

The county’s polling places were surveyed in 2013 and 2016, and the DOJ found that many had architectural barriers which rendered them inaccessible to some voters with disabilities. Additionally, polling places failed to accommodate voters with vision-related disabilities.

The lawsuit would require both accessibility improvements and poll worker training on accessibility in Harris County, which includes the city of Houston. Read more about the suit.

If you have had an experience with an inaccessible polling place, you can find directions to file a complaint with the DOJ. If you file a complaint, please also send an email to Jim Dickson, Co-Chair of NCIL’s Voting Rights Subcommittee, at

National Aging and Disability Transportation Center Announces Grant Opportunity Funding Innovations in Accessible Mobility

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) invites applications for development of program innovations that increase accessible transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities and maximize the utilization of FTA’s Enhanced Mobility of Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) program and other federal funding investments. The grants of up to $50,000 each, which will be awarded to as many as six communities for a 12-month period, support program innovations and approaches that increase accessible transportation options for those groups. The NADTC is an FTA-funded technical assistance center that works to further the availability and accessibility of transportation options for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers.

Eligible applicants include public transit agencies; councils of government; metropolitan planning organizations; tribal agencies, Area Agencies on Aging; Community Action Agencies; Centers for Independent Living; ARCs (Intellectual Disability service organizations); and community organizations involved in the administration, delivery or coordination of public transit, human services transportation, aging, or disability services. Apply before August 26, 2016. For more information, contact Eileen Miller, NADTC Senior Program Associate at (202) 872-0888.

August 10th Teleconference for NADTC Innovations in Accessible Mobility Grant Applicants

Join National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) staff on August 10 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern for an informational teleconference about the NADTC Mobility Grants. NADTC will address questions about grant scope, funding and the grant application process. Applicants should plan to participate.

  • Dial-in: 888.599.4876
  • Passcode: 8816955

Disabled Parenting Project is Seeking Mothers with Disabilities!

In recognition of National Breastfeeding Month, Disabled Parenting Project (DPP) is seeking mothers with disabilities willing to write a guest blog about their experiences breastfeeding. For more information, email

Post-ADA Anniversary Update from the Disabled Parenting Project

Logo - Disabled Parenting ProjectThe Disabled Parenting Project (DPP) hopes you had a wonderful ADA anniversary! In case you missed the DPP events, below are links so you can catch up. Also, please see an exciting survey opportunity for parents with disabilities.

  • ADA & Parenting blogs: Please take a few minutes to check out some of our great blogs in honor of the ADA!
  • ADA Twitter Chat: Did you miss our Twitter Chat? Check out the recap!
  • Webinar: The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation invited the DPP to participate in a great webinar, “Parenting with a Disability: Know your Rights and Take Action.” The webinar is now available on YouTube.
  • Survey opportunity: The DPP is posting this on behalf of a colleague who is a parent with a disability:
    My students and I are doing research on parents with disabilities and their perspectives on quality of life. If you are a parent with a disability, over 18, and currently live in the United States, please take our anonymous survey to help further our research. The researchers will share the results with the group. Here is the link to the survey – Once you click this link, you will see the informed consent information that will tell you more about the survey. Please email me if you have any questions at

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Uniform Guidance for SILCs

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar:

August 30, 2016; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETThe Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently released new rules regarding the expenditure of federal funds. These new rules apply to all SILCs – nonprofit and government entities alike. These new rules, commonly referred to as Uniform Guidance, combine and update the old OMB circulars (110, 122, and 133) for nonprofits, along with guidance for other federal grantees.

Understanding the new Uniform Guidance is critical to spending federal funds appropriately. Continuing to operate and spend under the previous guidelines could cause real problems. Sign up today to make sure you have the latest information.

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone.

Target Audience: SILC Chairs, Executive Directors, staff, and Council members

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this webinar, participants will have knowledge and resources that will enable them to:

  • Describe OMB’s new Uniform Guidance and how it relates to SILCs;
  • Identify which aspects of the new Uniform Guidance have changed and how to address the new requirements at their SILC;
  • Understand key prohibitions in Uniform Guidance to ensure federal expenditures are reasonable, necessary, allowable, and allocable; and
  • Identify resources for further information to implement necessary changes to comply with Uniform Guidance.

Meet Your Presenter

Paula McElwee is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for the IL-NET and SILC Training and Technical Assistance projects at Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU). In addition to providing individualized technical assistance, Paula moderates training calls monthly for new CIL Executive Directors and Program Managers and for SILCs. Her blog is a repository of technical assistance questions and answers from CILs and SILCs. Paula was the first Director of Link, Inc. in Kansas (one of the first states funded through the Rehabilitation Act) beginning in 1979. She worked in the disability field in Kansas for 25 years, and was appointed by two governors to serve three terms on the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas before moving to California in 2000. She previously served on the board of Resources for Independence of the Central Valley and served as interim executive director for four CILs in California, assisting the boards to transition to their next executive director. Paula has provided training, facilitation and consultation with state associations, SILCs, and numerous centers throughout the country.

Presented by SILC-NET: A program of the IL-NET national training and technical assistance project for Centers for Independent Living (CIL-NET) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILC-NET). The IL-NET is operated by ILRU, Independent Living Research Utilization, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL).

CIL-NET Presents… A National Onsite Training – Affordable, Accessible, Integrated Housing: Expanding Options for People with Disabilities

CIL-NET Presents… A National Onsite Training:

August 23-25, 2016; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

Registration Fee: $150.00

  • Registration Deadline: Extended to August 15, 2016
  • Guestroom Reservation Deadline: Extended to August 12, 2016

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETCIL-NET is organizing this outstanding training opportunity to make sure that you and your co-workers are equipped to help individuals find housing, all while increasing the stock of affordable, accessible, integrated housing in your community!

Please join us in Pittsburgh this summer to learn from leading housing experts in Independent Living and housing.

Target Audience

CIL Administrators, Housing Specialists, Advocates and others concerned with increasing the availability of integrated, affordable, accessible housing for persons with disabilities.  [Read more…]

Election Websites: A Delusion Asking for Trouble

Source: electionLine

By Jim Dickson

Responsible public policy and the law require that all election related information and processes made available to all voters must be accessible. That means that the format it is saved in must be something that a screen reader used by individuals who are blind or visually impaired can read.

The Presidential election is almost upon us, total compliance for November would be difficult if not impossible. However, there is one small step towards accessibility that election officials could take in time for November’s election.

Make your sample ballot accessible! 

Americans with disabilities want to be educated voters. Accessible sample ballots would obviously help us. We could also take less time in the polling place if we already had our minds made up for whom we were going to vote for if we could use an accessible sample ballot. The sample ballot could be made accessible without disrupting the rest of the Election website. There are several vendors that have the ability, for a reasonable price of course to make the sample ballot accessible.

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the largest cross disability membership organization in the country, has on our website ( a list of experienced companies which specialize in website accessibility. Plus, other resources are there to educate election officials about what needs to be done to make their entire website accessible.

Recently the New York State Board of Elections was sued in Federal court because their online voter registration system was not accessible.

Don’t be next! Start now to make your website accessible by developing a plan in conjunction with a first step of providing an Accessible Sample Ballot.

Jim Dickson is the co-chair of NCIL’s Voting Rights Subcommittee and one of the founding members of the United States Election Assistance Commission’s Board of Advisors.

LiveWell RERC’s App Factory: Call for Proposals

The LiveWell RERC has just released its annual App Factory call for proposals. Each year, the LiveWell RERC’s App Factory invites experienced organizations or individual developers based in the U.S. and Canada to submit proposals for financial support to develop assistive and/or accessibility apps for mobile platforms (e.g., Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows), sensors, home automation, wearables, the Internet of Things (IoT) and/or cloud computing.

Through a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Community Living, Health and Function (LiveWellRERC) seeks to enhance the use and usability of wireless technologies for people of all ages and abilities. The LiveWell RERC’s mission is to promote ICT access to existing and emerging technologies for all people regardless of ability; and to develop and validate ICT applications to improve the capacity for independent living and community participation. Included in this effort is the RERC’s mobile applications development project, the “App Factory”.

Proposals for 2016-17 are due on September, 15 2016. More information on the RFP can be found at

If you have any questions about the App Factory, please feel free to contact Ben Lippincott at or John Morris at