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

Action Alert: Tell to Your Members of Congress To Increase IL Funding!

Congress will return to DC in mid-November, but it’s been reported that work on FY 2017 spending is already underway. This means that it’s crucial for your Senators and Representatives to hear from you as soon as possible! With members of Congress at home campaigning, now is the perfect time to meet with them or have them visit your CIL to educate them on the importance of the independent living program.

The current short-term continuing resolution (CR) funds the government through December 9, 2016, and it includes a .496 percent cut to most FY 2016 spending levels. These cuts are just the latest in what has now become a pattern of funding cuts for IL over the past six years or so. Not only must we ensure that this cut does not make it into the longer-term spending bill, but we also need to keep fighting for our goal of an additional $200 million for the independent living program! We need this additional funding now more than ever in order to restore the devastating cuts we’ve experienced, address the increased demand for independent living services, and effectively carry out our new fifth core service.

The independent living community works day in and day out to provide services to millions of people with disabilities around the country; people living in every single district and territory in the country. CILs have fought for decades to ensure that people with disabilities can remain in our own homes, control our own lives, and participate in our communities. In doing so, many people have become less reliant on long-term government services, actually saving States and the Federal government money. It is vital that our members of Congress understand the important role the IL program plays in their community, the dire need for additional funding, and importantly, the incredible value of the program.

Please check out our fact sheet and talking points, and then call your Senators and Representatives!

Once you’ve talked or met with your Senators and/or Representatives, please report back to your Regional Representative! See below for contact information.  [Read more…]

An Update from the NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee

On October 14th, The Arc’s Voter Support Service went live. They are currently finalizing an app that can be downloaded, but in the meantime The Arc encourages voters to save the site to the home screen of their smart phones for easy access. It not only provides voters with a quick and simple way to report any issues faced at polling places on Election Day, but also aims to provide immediate assistance to ensure that their vote is counted. To learn more about this important new service, visit

Earlier this year, AAPD and NCIL delivered a questionnaire regarding disability issues to the presidential candidates. As of this week, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns have submitted answers.

With the election only three weeks away, CILs should be preparing to make calls to consumers reminding them to vote and making sure they have a way to get to the polls. The Voting Rights Subcommittee has provided the NCIL 2016 Phone Banking Guide that includes tips regarding effective messaging, scheduling calls, and logging them as they are made. The Phone Banking Guide is available in PDF, Word, or plain text.

Visit for more resources from the NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee!

Join Us October 26 for Medicaid: The Basics – Part I of the New Medicaid Advocacy 101 Webinar Series

Medicaid: The Basics

Wednesday, October 26, 2016; 3:30 p.m. Eastern / 2:30 p.m. Central

Register online.

Cost: This webinar is free for NCIL members! Registration for non-members is $25.00.

Registration is limited to 95 spots. Sign up today!

What is Medicaid anyway? What decisions does the state make and what decisions are made by CMS? Differences in how states arrange their Medicaid program by populations, benefits and contracting make significant differences for individuals receiving services. Join us as we explore the foundational elements of today’s Medicaid programs.  [Read more…]

Donald Trump Responds to REV UP Presidential Questionnaire

We are pleased to share with you Mr. Trump’s response to the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and the REV UP Campaign 2016 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire. We greatly appreciate Mr. Trump submitting his response.

Toolkit Logo - Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power! RevUp! Make the Disability Vote CountThe questionnaire was sent to all of the current presidential candidates on 20+ state ballots. To date, Mr. Trump is the second candidate to respond to the questionnaire, following Secretary Clinton.

With only 21 days until Election Day and early voting already taking place in many states, we need your help getting out the word about these questionnaire responses to educate the disability community, and the rest of the country, on how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would address issues that are important to people with disabilities.

People with disabilities and their families account for 62.4 million voters this election, approximately one fourth of the electorate. Please take a few minutes to reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues to share the REV UP Presidential Questionnaire responses from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Sign A Letter of Support for the Access Living ADA Lawsuit Against Uber!

  • Deadline: 12:00 Noon Central Time; Monday, October 17, 2016

The Access Living ADA lawsuit against Uber regarding wheelchair accessible rides has been widely covered in the press.

Access Living (of Metropolitan Chicago) has organized a sign on letter regarding access to transportation, including transit in the new economy. Please join Access Living in making a public statement for cross-disability solidarity. Access Living believes that advocating for transit access cannot leave some groups behind, even as other disability groups may have benefited from new transit choices.

Once the signatures are gathered, the letter will be made public in order to demonstrate the seriousness of holding transit services accountable under the ADA. Access Living is asking for national, state and local groups to sign on to the letter below.

If your organization is willing to sign on, please email Amber Smock at with the appropriate full name of your group by 12:00 Noon Central on Monday, October 17. The letter will be made public on Tuesday, October 18.

Letter of Support:

We the undersigned organizations, affirm and support the right of people with disabilities to travel services under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. For decades, transportation issues have been at the forefront of our movement for independence and civil rights in the United States. People with disabilities have the moral and legal right to equivalent transit services, including, but not limited to, rideshare services like Uber.

Furthermore, we emphasize that transit services must serve ALL people with disabilities as defined by the ADA, not just some of us. While new developments in the transit industry have benefited some people with disabilities, these developments have left others out of the mainstream of American life, effectively relegating them to social isolation and invisibility. We, like others in our society, have employment, family, social and civic obligations that require us to be able to travel in a speedy and affordable fashion. The current status quo is not acceptable. It is long past time to ensure equivalent ride service for all. Disability transit considerations should always be part of the original planning of systems, not an afterthought.

We, the undersigned, support the efforts of Access Living and other groups to hold transit services accountable for serving people with disabilities.

Signatories to Date:

  • Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
  • ADA Legacy Project
  • Brazoria County Center for Independent Living
  • Center for Disability Rights
  • Chicago Hearing Society, a division of Anixter Center
  • Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts
  • Disability Rights Center
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Disability Rights Oregon
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Council on Independent Living Region 6 – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas and Louisiana
  • Northwest Down Syndrome Association
  • Road to Freedom Bus Tour
  • Texas Disability Project

NCIL GOTV Phone Bank Guide

Did you know that phone banking has been recognized as “the single most effective tactic” in encouraging voters with disabilities to turn out at the polls on Election Day? On October 12, 2016, NCIL’s Voting Rights Subcommittee released its “2016 Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Phone Banking Guide,” a brief but thorough resource designed to help both individual advocates and organizations strategize a comprehensive GOTV phone banking plan for the remaining weeks leading up to Election Day. This resource includes guidelines on creating a phone banking plan and schedule; tips and best practices for making GOTV calls and encouraging individuals to see the value in their vote, especially on issues important to the disability community; and a sample GOTV call log to help you track you outreach.

Visit for more resources from the NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee!

Call for Applicants: Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Internship Program

The summer 2017 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program is now open for applications until January 10, 2017.

The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) launched its internship program in 2013. USICD’s internship program focuses on U.S. citizen youth with disabilities from across the country who intend to pursue careers in international development or foreign affairs.

USICD Logo - US International Council on DisabilitiesThe summer 2017 internship program will bring a group of talented U.S. citizen graduate students, recent graduates, and rising juniors and seniors with disabilities to Washington, DC, for nine weeks. This will include a one-week training and orientation program followed by an eight-week internship at an international organization in the Washington, DC, area. USICD will cover the cost of accessible housing during the program, reimburse travel expenses to and from DC, and provide a limited stipend. It is anticipated that the program will run from May 28 to July 29, 2017. These dates may be subject to change.

[Read more…]

NIDILRR Invites You to the 2018-2023 Long-Range Plan Stakeholder Listening Sessions

Throughout the rest of 2016, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) leadership will be hosting a number of listening sessions across the country to help inform future funding priorities and strategic direction. Mandated by Congress to develop a Long Range Plan every five years, the agency aims to continue to be responsive to the needs of key stakeholders – especially people living with disabilities.

“We fund some of the most talented and innovative researchers and technology developers in the country,” said NIDILRR Director, John Tschida. “We need to make sure that this research and development focuses on improving the everyday lives of people with disabilities.”

NIDILRR will hold five, three-hour public meetings in the following locations. The meetings will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. local time. You can attend in person, listen by phone, or provide comments by email. See more information, including event registration[Read more…]

Information Alert: Appropriations Update (Corrected)

Just a day before the September 30 deadline, President Obama signed into the law the short-term continuing resolution (CR) that the Senate and the House both passed on September 28. Despite long negotiations and disagreements on several key issues, the CR passed with a vote of 72 to 26 in the Senate and 342 to 85 in the House. The CR made a small (.496 percent) across-the-board cut to FY 2016 spending levels with a few exceptions, and it will fund the government through December 9, 2016.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingCongress is scheduled to return after the election in mid-November. Because the CR expires in December, they will have to resume negotiations for FY 2017 funding during the lame duck session. Leadership in both the House and the Senate have indicated that they prefer to pass either individual spending bills or “minibuses” (a way of breaking up the 12 individual spending bills into a few small packages), rather than one larger omnibus bill.

Either way, we need to continue talking with our members of Congress to ensure they know how vital it is to increase funding for the Independent Living program. Please refer to our previous alert for NCIL’s talking points as well as a list of the members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. In the meantime, we will continue to keep you updated as negotiations start up again.

Note: NCIL’s October 4 Appropriations Alert incorrectly stated that the CR was set at FY 2016 levels.

Calling Future Media Professionals with Disabilities: Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Resume Review, Speed Interviews and Flash Mentoring

The Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 (LCA2.0) Team – EIN SOF Communication and The Loreen Arbus Foundation in collaboration with City University of New York (CUNY LEADS & CUNY Coalition of Students with Disabilities), Deaf Film Camp, National Disability Mentoring Coalition, PolicyWorks, SIGNmation, DisBeat and NY Women in Film & Television – proudly announces our LCA2.0 Call-to-Action Summit on Monday, October 31; 12:30 – 4:30 pm at CUNY in NYC.

The Summit focus is to expand opportunities for aspiring media professionals with disabilities, and includes Resume Review, Speed Interviews and Flash Mentoring by media professionals with and without disabilities, plus networking opportunities and panel discussion on How To Make It in Media Industries.

We are calling on our network of students, recent graduates, veterans with disabilities, academic and corporate leaders to help disseminate this announcement to all who might be interested in participating in the Summit. Kindly forward this announcement to your networks with a reminder the application deadline is 11:59 pm on Thursday, October 20, 2016.  [Read more…]