the advocacy monitor

independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Resources for Finding, Reaching, and Assisting Veterans in Your State

John Johnson, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee Co-Chair, recently attended and presented at the national AgrAbility Training Conference. Twenty six states were represented at the conference. John participated in a session called un-conferencing, the topic of which was working effectively with veterans. In an un-conferencing session, a topic and facilitator is provided and participants determine what is discussed and shared during the session.

AgrAbility programs in our nation deal with farmers, farming, ag business and rural communities, and how to serve and interact with persons with disabilities who live and work in that venue.

The participants of this April 3rd session identified 4 topics the full house wanted to discuss:

  1. How do we find veterans in our state?
  2. How do we reach veterans in our state?
  3. The best methods for assisting veterans
  4. Veteran-related resources

In attempting to answer those questions, the following list has been generated. Consider using these lists in developing and implementing outreach to veterans. Additions and corrections can be sent to:  [Read more...]

RespectAbilityUSA Releases America at Risk: Job Crisis for People with Disabilities – Views on Solutions from 3839 People on the Front Lines

RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, is proud to release a new toolkit for policy makers, leaders, and activists along with a formal report, America at Risk: Job Crisis for People with Disabilities — Views on Solutions from 3839 People on the Front Lines.

The toolkit and report are designed for those who want to expand job opportunities for people with disabilities based on the real-life experiences and opinions of those most impacted by the crisis of lack of jobs for people with disabilities in America. This issue is important because:

  1. More than 9 million working age Americans with disabilities survive on benefits, which costs taxpayers billions.
  2. The employment gap between people with and without disabilities continues to expand, causing people with disabilities to live in poverty and isolation.
  3. The majority of young Americans with disabilities can and want to work and deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream.
  4. The Social Security Disability Trust Fund will exhaust its funds in 2016 [1].
  5. There are promising practices that can help on all these fronts, plus enable employers to access to the real talents since people with disabilities also have abilities that can make our nation stronger.  [Read more...]

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Stop Medicare Reform Mistakes That Are Impeding Access to Wheelchair Repairs!

Many Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mobility equipment and repairs is becoming increasingly challenged as a result of recent Medicare reform. In July 2013, Medicare introduced the Durable Medical Equipment Competitive Bidding Program. This program lowers the amount that Medicare pays for mobility equipment and limits who can supply and repair these items. As a result, access to repairs for integral mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers is becoming increasingly limited. For example, the program has redefined many wheelchair accessories and related equipment as rental rather than purchasable items. In addition, new face-to-face regulations have been added, which require those who have been previously approved for mobility equipment to see a doctor before they can purchase or repair their wheelchairs.

Take Action Today!

It is imperative to tell Congress why these Medicare reform mistakes are unacceptable barriers to independent living and to improve access to wheelchair repairs now!

Do so by sharing your own story, or send a prewritten letter directly to your members of Congress. We encourage you to call Congressional offices as well. You can look up your Congressman’s office phone number using the American Association for Homecare Congressional Directory.

For more information and personal testimony about how Medicare Reform mistakes are negatively impacting people with disabilities around the country, and how to speak up for positive reform, please visit

Memorandum: 2014 Regional Advocacy Awards

To: NCIL Members
From: NCIL Regional Representatives
Regarding: Regional Advocacy Awards
Date: April 18, 2014

Nominate someone from your region online.

2013 Region IV Advocacy Award Winner Dawn AlfordEach year at the Annual Conference, NCIL recognizes individuals and / or organizations for outstanding advocacy efforts. NCIL encourages you to nominate someone in your region who you believe is deserving of this award. Please take a few minutes to complete the nomination form by May 30, 2014.

Purpose of the NCIL regional advocacy award: To recognize individuals or groups/organizations within each region for outstanding systems advocacy efforts consistent with independent living goals and philosophy at a national, state, or local level.

Eligibility for the regional advocacy award: The nominee does not have to be a member of NCIL. In the event that the winner is not a member of NCIL, upon receiving the award he or she will receive a complimentary Individual Membership to NCIL for the remainder of the year.

Selection process: The Regional Representative will solicit written nominations from membership within their region. Regional Reps are strongly encouraged to solicit input from the members in their region in selecting the award winner. To the greatest degree possible, the selection process should be free of actual or perceived conflicts of interest. One award winner will be selected from each region.

Recognition: Regional Advocacy Awards will be presented to the winners at NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living, during the Awards Luncheon at Noon on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

Urgent Action Alert: Contact Your Senator Today and Tell Them to Pass Senate Bill 1356!

NCIL + APRIL Logo.aiFrom now through April 25, Senators and Representatives will be in their home districts. We need our advocates to start scheduling time to make personal visits if at all possible, or by phone to urge their support to bring S.1356 to the Senate floor for a vote.

Reauthorizing the Rehabilitation Act is NCIL and APRIL’s top priority and it will be one of the greatest advancements for Americans with disabilities in years. There is increasing urgency to get the Reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act passed now!

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has not been reauthorized since 1998, even though Congress requires it to be reauthorized every five years. S. 1356, which contains the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, was passed out of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in July on a strong 18-3 vote. The next step is a floor vote by the entire Senate.

Disability and Independent Living advocates have worked tirelessly with legislators to strengthen the language within the Rehabilitation Act. S. 1356 contains significant improvements to the Independent Living program, including the creation of an Independent Living Administration (ILA), which will be located within the Administration for Community Living. The proposed changes are a bipartisan effort to allow individuals with disabilities to maximize their independence and ability to participate fully in all aspects of American society.

When you talk to your Senator, tell them that, according to the Rehabilitation Services Administration, during fiscal years 2008-2010, Centers for Independent Living:

  • What's the fix? Senate Bill 1356 - Independent Living belongs to the people. the core services of advocacy, information and referral, peer support, and independent living skills training to over 3.7 million individuals with disabilities;
  • Attracted over $910 million through private, state, local, and other sources,
  • Moved 10,711 people out of nursing homes and institutions;
  • Saved states and the Federal government nearly $194,000,000;
  • Provided personal assistance services to 260,000 people with disabilities;
  • Assisted 135,000 people in securing accessible, affordable, and integrated housing;
  • Provided Assistive Technology to 129,000 people with disabilities;
  • Provided employment services to 87,000 people with disabilities;
  • Provided transportation services to over 79,000 people with disabilities, and;
  • Served over 43,000 youth with disabilities.

Additional information on S. 1356 can be found at

Please take this opportunity to let your Senators know that they should support WIA and how it would affect you!

Tell your Senator it is time to move S. 1356 to the Senate Floor and pass it! 

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Data Gathered So Far on CILs Serving Veterans

In January of 2014, the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee posted an online survey to gather some basic data on serving Veterans. While we are still collecting data, here are some results thus far.

  • 11 CILs reported they track Veterans-served separate from I&Rs
  • 9 CILs reported they track Veterans, but include I&Rs in their total.
  • 3 CILs reported they serve Veterans but do not separately track Veterans-served.

Eleven CILs that track Veterans-served separate from I&Rs:

  • Served 376 Veterans in the past year
  • Have 10 Veterans on staff and 9 Veterans are Board members
  • 10 CILs reported one of the following in the counties they serve:
    • Military Base
    • VA Medical Center
    • VA Clinic
    • Regional VA Office

Nine CILs that track Veterans-served and I&Rs together:

  • Reported 539 Veterans combined served and I&Rs
  • Have 10 Veterans on staff and 8 Veterans are Board members
  • 7 CILs reported one of the following in the counties they serve:
    • Military Base
    • VA Medical Center
    • VA Clinic
    • Regional VA Office

While this is a small sampling, it shows CILs are providing services to Veterans.

As new data is submitted, the summary will be updated. CILs are providing a variety of services for Veterans based on local need, in collaboration with state and federal veteran agencies, working with local county Veteran Service Officers, VFWs, American Legions, and of course the four core IL services.

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on Section 503: Connecting Job Seekers with Disabilities and Federal Contractors through the Workforce Development System

LEAD Center LogoThere are new challenges and opportunities for federal contractors as a result of requirements of the Section 503 final rule. Building an inclusive workforce provides new opportunities for American Job Centers (AJCs) and the workforce development system to provide assistance to federal contractors and job seekers with disabilities. What role can AJCs play to create a talent pool? What services needed by federal contractors can AJCs offer? What do other community partners need to know to promote employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities? Learn more about Section 503 requirements and value added opportunities for all key stakeholders.

Target Audience: workforce development professionals, policy makers, individuals with disabilities, and related stakeholders.  [Read more...]

NCIL Joins Broad Disability Coalition Joint Letter on Combating Autism Act Reauthorization

NCIL has joined a broad coalition of advocates urging substantive changes to the Combating Autism Act. The following letter was sent to Senator Menendez, Representative Smith, and Representative Doyle, and outlines common-sense recommendations that will ensure that federal funds are better used to benefit the community that this legislation is designed to serve, including:

  • Rebalance the Autism Research Agenda
  • Increase representation of services-oriented agencies and autistic adults on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
  • Stop the use of language that stigmatizes autistic individuals.

Read the letter and see a list of supporters.

Visit ASAN’s #StopCombatingMe web page to find out how to take action on this issue.

Call for Volunteers!

Dear NCIL Advocates, Family, Friends and Long-Time Supporters,

Prevail - 2014 Conference LogoAs you are aware, the 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living is coming right up! The Annual Conference Committee and NCIL staff works tirelessly throughout the year planning the Annual Conference on a limited budget, and we are very committed to keeping costs low to make the Conference as affordable as possible for our attendees and the organizations supporting them. To make this Conference affordable for all, we need your help!

IL supporters from across the country will provide significant assistance at the 2014 Annual Conference, and we have incentives for those who volunteer!

We know some IL staff must attend all Conference activities, but if there are others that may not normally get to come to the Conference, incentives for volunteering may be the perfect opportunity for them. For anyone who completes more than 5 volunteer hours during the Conference, half of the registration fee will be waived. For anyone who completes 10 or more volunteer hours, the full registration fee will be waived.

If you are interested in signing up to volunteer, please fill out a volunteer sign-up form by June 16, 2014. Volunteer spaces are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  [Read more...]

Nominate for the NCIL Board of Directors by May 23, 2014!

April 14, 2014

Dear NCIL Members:

2011 NCIL Board of DirectorsNCIL members have an opportunity to nominate an individual to run for each of the following positions on the NCIL Board:

  • Vice President,
  • Secretary,
  • Diversity Chair,
  • three (3) Member At-Large positions,
  • and Representatives of Regions 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

If you or someone you know would be interested in running for the NCIL Board, please fill out the nomination form.

Please carefully review the position descriptions and memorandum, as it will help in considering potential nominees. Also, make sure to share these resources with the individual you are nominating so that s/he has a clear understanding of what will be expected should s/he be elected.

Nomination Deadline: May 23, 2014.  [Read more...]