the advocacy monitor

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

Accessibility Remains a Challenge for Voters with Disabilities

Over the past two years, the media and the country have taken note of the disability community’s massive political interest and power. In 2016, the #CripTheVote and #RevUp campaigns created spaces for the disability community to rally as a voting bloc. More recently, ADAPT made headlines nationwide for their summer protests of repeal bills for the Affordable Care Act. Now that 2017 and its local and state elections are over, all eyes are looking toward 2018 midterms and how the disability community will impact those elections. However, the bigger question is: what still needs to be fixed before 2018 to ensure that people with disabilities have the same access to the vote as non-disabled voters?

VOTE Emblem features the universal sybol of accessibility holding a paper with Choice check marked and Option uncheckedUnfortunately, voting access hasn’t grown as the same rate as recognition of voters with disabilities. Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released their survey of polling places during the 2016 election. This survey found that of the polling places they studied, 60 percent of polling places had barriers outside the polling place that could impede a disabled voter’s access to the vote. Inside, 65 percent of the polling places they surveyed had at least one impediment to casting a ballot for people with disabilities. Despite laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that mandate accessibility for polling places, compliance with these laws and voting access in general still has a long way to go to achieve true accessibility. Sadly, this statistic isn’t surprising, as a study performed at Rutgers University in 2012 found that during the presidential election, over 30 percent of voters with disabilities surveyed encountered at least one difficulty in casting their ballot, while only 8.4 percent of voters without disabilities encountered difficulty. There is still a massive disparity in voting access for people with disabilities.  [Read more…]

NCIL Medicaid Buy-In Task Force Seeks Personal Stories from Beneficiaries

The Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) Task Force of the NCIL Employment Subcommittee has been working for more than a year on two policy proposals that would remove work disincentives for people with disabilities of retirement age or older. We have already had meetings with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Congressional staff, and we are looking for your help to move these proposals forward.

We need the NCIL membership to help identify individuals who fit in either of these two situations / scenarios:

  1. Childhood Disability Beneficiaries (CDB) who are past or reaching full retirement age – within a year or two. We want to change SSA rules so that a CDB would have the same work rules (lack of earning restriction) that all SSA retirees have at full age of retirement. As the rules stand now, they have to continue with SSDI work rules even past age of full retirement.
  2. Beneficiaries using the Medicaid-Buy-In who are approaching or passed age 65. We are proposing a change to Ticket to Work legislation to remove the current age limit (65), or at least make it full age of retirement.

Upon identifying these individuals, we are hoping to cultivate personal stories to be provided to elected officials, SSA staff, etc. to help bolster our policy ideas and arguments. Because we have some great momentum on our policy ideas, the value of these stories cannot be overstated and will play a critical role in continuing to move these ideas forward.

Please contact the Employment Subcommittee Co-Chairs, Sam Liss (sliss_980@comcast.net) or James Turner (jturner@lincidaho.org).

NDLA Urges Congress to Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Coalition Calls for Disability Support of Pro-Immigrant Policy and Programs

NDLA Logo - National Disability Leadership Alliance - Nothing About Us Without UsThe National Disability Leadership Alliance, of which NCIL is a proud member organization, calls on the United States Congress to develop and pass into law the DREAM Act, legislation that would restore protections and services under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA Program gives around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children the opportunity to work and study in this country without the threat of deportation. Recipients of DACA have registered with the United States, submitted to deep background checks, and are engaging with their communities.

DACA is critical for immigrants with disabilities. Some immigrants with disabilities are in the United States in order to receive disability related supports and care that are not available in their country of origin. Without the program, DACA recipients who are disabled immigrants face the threat of medical deportation. Also, some DACA recipients are home care workers or personal assistants, providing critical support for people with disabilities. Without that support, people with disabilities would lose their link to live in their own homes instead of institutions. Read more at disabilityleadership.org.

EIN SOF Recruiting Electronics Users with Disabilities for Focus Groups in San Francisco and DC

EIN SOF is recruiting electronics users with disabilities for eight disability-specific focus groups in:

  • San Francisco, CA – Sunday, December 3 (1:00-8:00 p.m.) and Monday, December 4 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)
  • Washington, DC – Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)

If you or someone you know might be interested in being considered and is available on the above dates, please email Tari Hartman Squire at Tarish@mac.com with the Subject Line: “SF Focus Group” or “DC Focus Group”.

Specifically, they are looking for electronics users with disabilities in the following categories:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Blind
  • Low Vision
  • Mobility Disability
  • Limited Dexterity
  • Autistic
  • Parent of Child with Autism

Kill the Tax Bill Over the Recess!

The House passed their tax bill yesterday, and the Senate is expected to vote on their bill when they return from recess. Congress will be back home until November 26, which means that local action is critical to prevent this terrible bill from becoming law!

The Senate’s tax bill is an unquestionable threat to the disability community. If this bill passes, disabled people will lose access to programs and services to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. People will lose their health care to help the rich get richer. This bill is an attack on our community, and it’s on us to ensure that it does not become law.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

When the Senate tried to decimate Medicaid and destroy the healthcare system, our community led this country to victory. Now, we need to come together and do it again! Over the recess, we must demand that our Senators commit to voting no on any bill that will pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting programs people with disabilities depend on. Here are some of the ways you can take action.

  • Set up a meeting: Meet with your Senators in their local offices. Bring other disabled people so you can share your stories and tell them how harmful this bill will be for their constituents.
  • Talk to your Senators at local events: Is your Senator hosting a town hall? Are they making a showing at your town’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Use these events as an opportunity to approach your Senators and tell them why they need to oppose this bill.
  • Set up a protest: If your Senators won’t commit to opposing this bill, set up a protest at their offices! Coordinate with local ADAPT chapters and other disability activists and give them no other choice but to listen to your concerns.
  • Call your Senators: Continue to call your Senators DAILY and demand they vote no on this bill. Use the Senate Directory to find your Senator’s contact information or reach your Senators’ staff in DC by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Tweet at your Senators: Find their Twitter handles at Contacting Congress, and use the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.
  • Find other ways to contact your Senators: Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. And find your Senator’s email address, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.

[Read more…]

Sign-Up for NCIL’s Youth Transitions Email List

Are you struggling to find ways to incorporate youth transition into your Center’s programs? Have you found a set of youth transition practices that work well, that you would be willing to share with other Centers for Independent Living?

35th Anniversary Logo: NCIL – National Council on Independent Living. Celebrating 35 Years of Advocacy. Graphic features party candles.If you believe in the capacity of young people with disabilities and want to learn more about best practices, or if you would like to share your wisdom, then consider joining the NCIL Youth Transitions Coordinators Email List. You need not be a Youth Transitions Coordinator by title to join the list; anyone who works with or would like to learn more about working with youth is welcome.

Those who join the list will:

  • Be notified about upcoming calls to discuss youth transition best practices
  • Be able to network with others concerned with youth transition
  • Receive announcements regarding fruitful opportunities for youth, which can be disseminated as appropriate
  • Have a forum through which they can get their questions answered

Sign-Up for NCIL’s Youth Transitions Email List.

If you have any questions, please contact Hindley Williams, Youth Transitions Fellow, at hindley@ncil.org.

Urgent Action Needed: Tell Your Representatives and Senators to Oppose the Terrible Tax Bill!

The House will take up their tax bill today, with a vote expected tomorrow! The Senate Finance Committee began marking up their bill earlier this week. These bills will lead to dangerous cuts to programs people with disabilities rely on. We need to stop them, and we need to take action now!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile there are differences between the House and Senate bills, both will provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at our expense. Both bills significantly increase the federal deficit, which will lead to major cuts to the programs most important to disabled people – likely including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing, education, and more. And, the Senate just added a provision to their bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which the House will support when the bills are combined in conference. This means that on top of already terrible program cuts, millions more people will be uninsured and premiums will increase significantly.

Take Action Now!

Contact your Representatives AND Senators today and tell them you oppose their tax plan! Tell them that tax cuts for the wealthy should not be paid for by cutting the programs and services the rest of us rely on. Tell them that their bills will bring harm to people all over the country – including their own constituents! Congress is using their tax bill as a vehicle to make devastating cuts to programs AND as another chance to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We cannot let this happen!

Call your Representatives and Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can also find your Senator’s email address, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress[Read more…]

Organizers Forum: Parenting and Disability

  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • RSVP

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHear from members of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Parenting Task Force! We’ll talk about issues facing parents with disabilities and what disability rights advocates can do.

Speakers:

  • Kelly Buckland, Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living
  • Sarah Launderville, Chair, NCIL Parenting Task Force, and Executive Director, Vermont Center for Independent Living
  • Kimberly Tissot, Executive Director, ABLE South Carolina

[Read more…]

Bender Virtual Career Fair: Employment for People with Disabilities

Are you a person with a disability looking for a career opportunity or internship? This Virtual Career Fair is FREE for students and alumni with disabilities to attend. Competitive opportunities for every level of candidate, from experienced professionals, recent college graduates and college students with disabilities, to meet online with employers across the nation including Amazon, Apple, Citrix, DuPont, Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, US Department of Energy, & More!

Students and alumni are invited to interact with employers via chat sessions.  [Read more…]

Free Business Acumen Webinar: Information to Action – Strategic Planning and Change Management

The results of your Community Based Organizations (CBO)* environmental scan, SWOT analysis and feedback from stakeholders and champions may highlight opportunities for growth and development or a need to respond to a changing environment. The results of your research may indicate that some parts of your operation may need to change. Whether the change is related to improving efficiencies, providing a better or different service, working with different partners or something else, the development of a strategic plan will guide the work that needs to be done. With a well-informed strategic plan in hand, you will work with your team and others to implement the needed changes. This process requires specific attention to ensure that you meet the targets that you have outlined and that the people impacted are informed and engaged in the process.

Business Acumen Center Logo - Providing Resources to Sustain Disability OrganizationsJoin on November 15, 2017 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Eastern as Mark Davis, Executive Director at the Ohio Provider Resource Association and the Center for Epidemiological Research for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities describes how to use the information collected during your environmental scan and SWOT analysis along with the feedback and insight you received from stakeholders and champions to develop and implement your strategic plan.  [Read more…]