the advocacy monitor

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

Deadline Extended: DIA Children’s Art and Young Adult Essay Contests

The deadline to submit content for the Disability Integration Act Children’s Art Contest and Young Adult Essay Contest has been extended to Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAll submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on June 26. Please visit our website for complete details, guidelines, and contest rules:

Good luck to all contest participants!

The Future of the Independent Living Movement Depends on You

Dear Friends of NCIL,

In 2016, while interning in DC, I received a youth scholarship to attend NCIL’s Annual Conference. I attended the conference and was struck by the sheer amount of power and passion contained in that space. I felt privileged to be among friends, fellow advocates, and disability rights legends – an experience that would not have been possible without the scholarship.

Now, two years later, I work at NCIL, helping to ensure that every person with a disability has the choice to live in the community, no matter what their needs. That’s why I’m writing to you today.

Mobilize - Resistance through Action: 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Graphic features an arrow striking a heart over the letters "IL" and a target that replaces the "o" in "Mobilize"Two years ago, your support made it possible for me to attend the NCIL conference. Now, I’m asking for your support again, to enable other young people to attend our conference. Times are hard and budgets are tight for everyone. Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the funds to extend scholarships to all the deserving youth that have applied.

That’s where you can help. Make a donation to the Youth Scholarship Fund. Your contributions will provide scholarships to youth with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to attend the conference. With your help, we’ve already accepted nearly 30 youth this year. You can help us accept even more.

Now more than ever, in these times of upheaval and uncertainty for disabled people, you need to invest in our young leaders – because they will be the ones shaping disability rights for decades to come. Help transform other young people’s lives as mine was transformed. The future of the Independent Living Movement depends on you.

Lead on!

Cara Liebowitz
NCIL Development Coordinator

Take Action for MFP on the Olmstead Anniversary!

This Friday, June 22, 2018, is the 19th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision cementing the ADA’s integration mandate. To commemorate the day, NCIL is joining other national disability organizations in hosting a National Call-In Day for the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 2227 and H.R. 5306).

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingSince Money Follows the Person (MFP) began in 2005, over 75,000 disabled people have been liberated from institutions, and CILs have played a critical role in that. But MFP expired on September 30, 2016, and states are starting to scale back and end their programs. In fact, last year was the first time the number of people transitioned into the community declined. We need your advocacy to get the House and Senate to pass the EMPOWER Care Act to reauthorize and fund MFP!

Take Action!

Congress must save and fund MFP, and they need to hear from us! Please urge your Senators and Representative to continue the Money Follows the Person program by co-sponsoring the EMPOWER Care Act!

  • Participate in the National Call-In Day! Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act! All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Find more information, including talking points, at the Facebook event. RSVP and share widely!
  • Use Social Media! Post on Facebook and Tweet at your members of Congress. Find your Members’ Twitter handles and other contact information on Contacting Congress. Make sure to use the hashtag #FundMFP in your posts. You can find more information, including sample Tweets, at the Facebook event.
  • Email your members of Congress! Customize a message to your Members of Congress online.
  • Continue sharing your stories with us! See our previous alert for more details about the stories we’re looking for. Our original deadline passed, but we’re still looking for your stories about the importance of community living!

HCBS Business Acumen Center Toolkit – Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It

HCBS Business Acumen Center Toolkit – Disability Network Business Strategies: A Roadmap to Financial and Programmatic Sustainability for Community-Based Organizations

Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) is pleased to announce the release of the first module of the HCBS Business Center Toolkit, “Disability Network Business Strategies: A Roadmap to Financial and Programmatic Sustainability for Community-Based Organizations”. This resource is a “how-to’ guide designed to help Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) evaluate, plan, develop and implement strategies to help build and sustain their organizations in various business climates.

HCBS Business Acumen Center LogoThe first module, Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It provides guidance to CBOs serving people with disabilities on the information, data and people needed to inform the development of their strategic plan. This module will help the CBO identify and/or refine their vision and mission, conduct an environmental scan and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, and identify champions. This user-friendly resource includes a collection of templates that CBOs and their teams can use to document their findings and ideas.

You can access the first module of the toolkit in PDF or plain text[Read more…]

Action Alert: Attend Webinar on Advocating for Increased Accessibility with Additional HAVA Funds

On June 14, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, this REV UP Campaign webinar will explain the recently released Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding meant to help states to improve their election security and election accessibility. Mark Abbott from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will explain what funding is available, how it can be used, and how states can apply for it. Michelle Bishop from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) will discuss how to advocate to state election officials to consider election accessibility as part of the overall plan to increase election security. Participants will have multiple opportunities to ask questions.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWe encourage all people who care about election accessibility, from individual advocates to organizational staff, to attend.

Before the webinar, make sure to visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s page on 2018 HAVA Election Security Grants to learn how much your state was awarded from these grants.

Announcing: The 2018 NCIL Policy Briefing

Wednesday, June 27, 2018; 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern

NCIL is happy to announce our 13th Annual Policy Briefing.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis important presentation will to bring advocates up-to-date on national issues and federal policies that affect people with disabilities and provide participants with question and answer sessions with national leaders to ensure you have in-depth information on the issues you care about most.

The Policy Briefing will ensure that we are fired up and prepared for NCIL’s 2018 Day on the Hill! For those of you who will not be at the 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living, this will provide you with valuable and timely information that you can use in your community. Please share this training announcement far and wide so that our issues reach many people.

This teleconference is free for NCIL Members. There is a $25.00 registration fee for Non-Members, per call-in site. Fee does not apply per participant in group, provided the group uses the same conference line.

The Policy Briefing will be available via teleconference and CART (captioned) webcast. You must register by 12:00 Noon Eastern on June 27 to participate in the call.

  • Materials: This call will address the issues covered in NCIL’s Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet, which is available in PDF, Word, or plain text.

Please contact Tim Fuchs at with any questions.

Reminder – Call for Stories: Snapshots of Our Lives

The National Organizing Project, a collaboration between ADAPT and NCIL, is asking for your help in collecting stories that we can use on the Hill talking with legislators.

Stories about Community Living

We are looking for are stories depicting the importance of Community Living. We would like to be able to use these stories when talking about the Disability Integration Act, the Empower Care Act, the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule, Money Follows the Person, and other related legislation and policies aimed at ending the institutional bias. We are looking for:

  • Stories from people stuck in facilities waiting to get out
  • Successful transitions out of nursing homes or other institutional facilities to the community (please include specific programs that were used, including HCBS Waiver programs, Money Follows the Person, etc.)
  • Successful diversions from facilities through use of HCBS Waivers and related services, and
  • Stories from people on waiting lists for services.

Stories about the ADA

We are also looking for stories about the Americans with Disabilities Act. We are looking for:

  • Stories about persistent access barriers that are preventing full participation, and
  • Stories about how the ADA has allowed folks to live fully included lives in the community.

While we recognize that there are many areas of access that need addressing, currently we are focusing on Title III (physical access to public spaces) because of the recent threats to Title III of the ADA with “notice and cure” type bills. If you are sending a story about physical access barriers, please send a picture with your story if possible.

Our goal is to get at least three stories for each topic per legislator. You can help us reach that goal!

Please send stories by June 15, 2018 to Please include your first name (or initials), your city and state, the names of your Senators and Representative, a photo (preferred but optional), and 2-3 paragraphs concisely telling your story. Please also note that we are regularly meeting with legislators and may contact you for stories before the 15th in order to bring those stories into meetings with us.

Take Action on the Disability Integration Act Over the Recess!

Members of Congress are back home this week for recess, so it’s the perfect time to meet with them about the Disability Integration Act (DIA)! If your Senators or Representative have still not signed on to the DIA, take action over the recess by urging them to become a cosponsor!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe Disability Integration Act (S. 910 and H.R. 2472) is a critical bill that would reverse the institutional bias and help disabled people stay in our homes and communities. The DIA is the next logical step in our fight for disability rights and the only piece of legislation that will protect our community from institutionalization. We need ALL of our Members of Congress to support the DIA!

We know the disability community has the power to make things happen, and every meeting, email, call, and action counts. Use this recess to educate your Senators and Representative on the DIA and urge them to become a cosponsor! Tell them that living in our own communities and making choices about our lives is our right, and as our elected officials, it’s their responsibility to protect that!

Learn more about the DIA at

Final Week: Participants Needed for the National Survey on Health Reform & Disability

The NIDILRR-funded Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL) is looking for adults aged 18-62 with disabilities to complete an online survey about getting and using health insurance and health care services – the National Survey on Health Reform & Disability.

Why? We want to know how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is affecting your life. If you have private insurance, insurance from an employer, Medicaid, Medicare, or no insurance please take the survey.

Who? Adults ages 18 to 62 with any type of disability, chronic health condition or mental illness.

How? The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete and your responses are anonymous.

During the week of May 27th – June 2nd the last of 2 drawings to win a $100 gift card will be held. The online survey is fully accessible for mobile devices and screen readers, but if you prefer to take the survey over the phone or have any questions about participating, please call toll-free 1-855-556-6328 (Voice/TTY) or email For more information about CHRIL, go to:

Assistive Technology for the Future: An Update from the NCIL Assistive Technology Subcommittee

Every day, we hear about new assistive technology (AT) that can help us do almost magical things – from being able to hear or see when we couldn’t before, communicate with our friends when we couldn’t speak or write before, enjoy new recreational activities when we couldn’t use our arms or legs before, or control our environment when all we could control was our voice before. These devices are “cool” and many of us want them.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHow can you find out about these devices? All states and territories have a state AT program. These programs are charged with telling the residents in their state about AT devices by providing demonstrations, equipment lending libraries, and reuse programs. After you figure out what AT devices you want, the state AT program may be able to help you find a way to pay for them. The Program should also refer you to your state’s Alternative Financing Program (AFP). Many states have an AFP – a program that provides low-interest or no-interest loans for people with disabilities and their families for the purchase of assistive technology.  [Read more…]