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independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Confirmed as 2014 NCIL Conference Keynote Speaker

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Join us at the 2014 NCIL Conference Keynote address as U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx shares his vision about how the U.S. transportation system, billed as the “safest, most efficient transportation system in the world” will continue to provide access to communities and serve people with disabilities around the nation.  Viewing transportation as a lifeline of opportunity for all people, Secretary Foxx advocates for the U.S. transportation system to become increasingly accessible to people with disabilities, including expanding transit access, improving pedestrian connectivity, rebuilding rail stations to ADA standards,  and enacting regulations to make air travel more accessible.

The former Charlotte, North Carolina mayor was confirmed by the Senate in July 2013. Secretary Foxx, in his time as mayor of Charlotte, made transportation central to the city’s job creation and economic recovery efforts.  Such investments included extending the LYNX light rail system, the largest capital project ever undertaken by the city, which will build new roads, bridges, transit as well as bicycle and pedestrian facilities; also expanding Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and collaborating with North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue to accelerate the I-485 outer belt loop using a creative design-build-finance approach; the first of its kind in North Carolina.  Before becoming mayor, Foxx served on the Charlotte City Council. As a Council Member, Foxx chaired the Transportation Committee, where he helped shepherd the largest transportation bond package in the city’s history.

Foxx is an attorney and has spent much of his career in private practice. Foxx also served as a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and staff counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. Foxx holds a law degree from New York University, received on the distinguished Root-Tilden Scholarship for public service. He lives with his wife and two children.

CRPD Disability Treaty on the Move

By Alexa Wohlfort, Summer NCIL Policy Intern

First, a big thank you to all those who called their Senators, especially in the last few days! You made a difference that was felt. Thanks to all of your incredible support, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez called for a markup in order to hear and give the chance for Senate Committee members to approve amendments or changes to the treaty to make its meaning clearer (also called Reservations Understandings and Declarations – RUDS). Many Committee members emphasized that, as a leader and example in disability rights legislation, the fact that 147 countries have already ratified the treaty before the US discredits our reputation as a human rights leader among nations.

Alexa Wohlfort - NCIL Policy InternIssues brought up concerned the language of the CRPD and its intended meaning, and continue to revolve around the same main concerns. First, the Committee heard and voted on an amendment / RUD to clarify the treaty’s language on education to say that it expressly does not prohibit parental rights to home school children but only ensures that children with disabilities be afforded the same right to an accessible public education that children without disabilities have.

Other Senators debated strongly whether the treaty should expressly state that it is not meant to denigrate the authority of, or as was bantered about in the meeting yesterday, “diminish the sovereignty of” any country that ratifies it. However, the treaty is simply a document that establishes that the countries that ratify it believe that people with and without disabilities should have the same rights and access to goods and services as those without disabilities. It is not meant to be an avenue for the United Nations to take away anyone’s access to education or healthcare; to force unwanted procedures on people with disabilities; or to prevent someone from seeing a healthcare provider of their choice. The treaty simply states that the undersigned countries agree that persons with disabilities should have the same access to all aspects of healthcare as people who do not have disabilities. It should not be used as a vehicle to publicize and debate hot-button issues such as abortion rights and parental rights to make healthcare and educational decisions for their children.

Amid much debate, the treaty was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 12-6, which could result in a full vote by the Senate next week. The passage of CRPD at this time would be a great way to celebrate the 24th Anniversary of the ADA next week. Let’s take the treaty to the finish line. Contact your Senator. Tell them to stop the antics of unnecessary debate that is holding up passage of this important document and inhibiting this important step toward equitable rights for persons with disabilities across the world. We must unite to make ourselves heard. Tell your Senator to let the US remain a role model for disability rights and to ensure victory for the international disability community. “VOTE YES. Ratify CRPD NOW!”

ADA Legacy Tour Kicks Off This Friday, July 25, 2014!

On July 25th, 2014, the ADA Legacy Tour officially kicks off in Houston, 1 year and 1 day from the 25th Anniversary of ADA in 2015 (ADA25).

ADA Legacy Project LogoThe long-anticipated ADA Legacy Tour will kick off at Abilities Expo Houston on July 25, 2014 at NRG Center. An 11:30 a.m. press conference will be led by Lex Frieden, renowned disability rights activist and one of the chief architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the press conference, the Office of the Mayor Annise Parker will bestow a proclamation to memorialize the occasion.

The ADA Legacy Tour is a traveling exhibit designed to raise public awareness and generate excitement about ADA25 and is produced by The ADA Legacy Project, Disability Rights Center, ADA National Network, and the Museum of disABILITY History. The year-long, nationwide tour will culminate in Washington DC on July 26, 2015, exactly 25 years after President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law.

For additional information and updates, regularly visit

Follow NCIL on Instagram @ncilgram!

instagram logoYou can now find us on Instagram at Please tag us in your IL and 2014 Annual Conference Instagram photos with @ncilgram!

Example: “Marching to the US Capitol in support of #CRPD with @ncilgram #NCIL2014”.

CRPD Passes Out of Foreign Relations Committee; Community Call Today at 1:00 Eastern

Source: US International Council on Disabilities (USICD)

Join advocates from across the country for a final national call to learn what you can do to help pass the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)!

CRPD Logo - Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesNational Call on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • Wednesday, July 23rd, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Dial: 1-800-920-7487
  • Code: 4837166#
  • CART

Big News

CRPD Successfully Passed Out of the Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, July 23!

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted the Disability Treaty out of committee! We’ve crossed this difficult hurdle but we are running out of time!

We need a floor vote now! Senator Menendez and the disability, veterans, business, and faith communities are not willing to throw in the towel, but your actions in the next week are crucial to gaining the support we need.

Take part in three events this week to help us cross the finish line!

Veteran Press Conference: Join Senators Dole, McCain, Ayotte, Kirk and Harkin as well as leading veteran organizations to hear why veterans support the disability treaty!

  • Wednesday, July 23rd, 10:30 a.m. Eastern
  • Dirksen 430

National Call on CRPD: Join advocates from around the country for a final national call to learn what you can do to pass the CRPD!

  • Wednesday, July 23rd, 1:00 p.m. Eastern

National Rally on CRPD: Join advocates from across the country for a rally on the National Mall for CRPD! Watch for more details coming soon. If you’re not located in DC, you can take part by visiting your Senators in-state offices and expressing your support!

  • Tuesday, July 29th, 12:45 p.m. Eastern

Your Senators need to continue to hear from you and understand that you support the CRPD! Show the community is behind this treaty and that we want the process to keep moving forward to a Floor vote!

Senator Reid also needs to hear from us that we want a floor vote now!

Visit USICD’s citizen action portal:, to call your Senators! They must hear from the Independent Living Movement now or we will not succeed.

Action Alert: Invite Your Senators & Representative to Learn About the Discrimination Facing Parents with Disabilities and Their Children this Friday!

On Friday, July 25th from 9:00-11:30 a.m. Eastern, NCIL Disability and Aging Specialist Lindsay Baran will provide testimony at the National Council on Disability’s Congressional Forum: “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children” at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-318, in Washington, DC.

2014 marks the 24th anniversary of the passage of the ADA. Many members of the “ADA generation” are now at the age where they want to start families of their own, but find themselves faced with a different kind of discrimination, one that hinders or even prevents adults with disabilities from beginning or raising their own families.

With an increasing number of people with disabilities taking advantage of protections to obtain an education and go to work, combined with a large number of service members returning from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with newly-acquired disabilities — parents with disabilities continue to be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain and sometimes gain custody of their own children without any other cause.

NCIL was responsible for bringing the issues surrounding parenting with a disability to the attention of NCD, which prompted their 2012 report “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children”. It is extremely important that we keep elected officials informed and build on our momentum.

Take Action

Please contact your Representative and both your Senators and encourage them to send members of their staff to this forum on one of the most pressing and emerging issues of importance to the disability community in recent years.

More Information

Summer 2014 NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet Now Available!

The summer edition of NCIL’s Legislative & Advocacy Priorities is now available at the NCIL website.

This document contains specific information on the national legislative and policy priorities identified biannually by the NCIL membership, including funding for the Independent Living Program, healthcare and long-term care, housing, transportation, education, and more.

Please share this document with your Center or SILC staff, board, and the Senators and Representatives who serve your districts.

Contact NCIL for further information on the issues discussed in this document.

Breaking News: President to Sign WIOA at White House Signing Ceremony!

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will be signed by the President at a White House signing Ceremony on Tuesday!

As we previously reported, the House and Senate have passed the bipartisan and bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The Senate passed WIOA by a vote of 95-3 and the House Passed it by a vote of 415-6. Now, with the President’s signature WIOA becomes the law of the land!

It is time to celebrate, and to come together as advocates from across the nation to learn exactly what these changes will mean for IL at the Federal level.

The best place to accomplish both is at NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living next week. We will be hosting some amazing speakers and presenters, including Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee, Senate HELP Committee staff, RSA Commissioner Janet LaBreck, and Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Disability Policy and ACL Principal Deputy Administrator of ACL Sharon Lewis.

The Rehabilitation Act is contained in WIOA. Specifically, improvements to Independent Living in this bill include:

  • The establishment of the Independent Living Administration in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Transition will be added as a fifth core service
  • SILC activities will be improved and include resource development
  • SPIL sign-off will now include CIL Directors
  • States will choose their ‘designated state entity’ (formerly known as the DSU). The DSUs will remain the same for the “723 states” of Massachusetts and Minnesota.

NCIL will be present at the White House during the Signing Ceremony on Tuesday morning.

Senator Menendez Schedules Senate CRPD Mark-Up for Tuesday, July 22!

Source: US International Council on Disabilities (USICD)

You made a difference! Now is the time to get the CRPD Ratified!

CRPD Logo - Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesThank you to everyone who called their Senators this month and expressed support for the CRPD! Based on your incredible show of support, Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has scheduled a mark-up of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for Tuesday, July 22, 2014!

Treaty opponents continue to use scare tactics to frighten people over fictitious dangers. We must each share the truth with our Senators!

Your Senators need to continue to hear from you and understand that you support the CRPD! Visit USICD’s citizen action portal,, to call your Senators!

They need to hear from the Independent Living Movement now, or we will not succeed. We must show that our community is behind this treaty and that we want the process to keep moving forward to a floor vote!

We cannot stop now. The word is watching.

NCIL Member Survey on the Impact of the US DOL & ACA Regulations Governing Self-Directed PAS

By Mike Oxford and Lee Schulz

Dear NCIL Members,

We have both been very involved with advocacy related to the newly-released regulations amending the “companionship exemption” of the Fair Labor Standards Act and with the Affordable Care Act regulations requiring provision of health insurance to certain employees. We have been selected to present a workshop at NCIL’s upcoming 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living about the impact of these regulations on both self-directed programs and on individuals that self-direct their Personal Assistance Services (PAS).

While it is as yet unclear what the final impact will be on the various states’ programs and the individuals they serve, we thought it would be helpful to NCIL to collect input from members about concerns they might have at this point. Based on anecdotal input that we have received from around the country, we have designed a basic True/False survey to begin the process of gathering data about the impact of these regulations on an extremely fundamental area of independent living – self-directed PAS.

Please take a few moments to answer and return the survey via email or fax by Monday, July 21, 2014, if at all possible.


Mike Oxford & Lee Schulz

Fax: 785-233-1561