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independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

Subminimum Wage Protest: Americans with Disabilities Protest SourceAmerica for Blatant & Egregious Discrimination

  • Date: August 28, 2014
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Place: SourceAmerica / 8401 Old Courthouse Road / Vienna, VA 22182

Interview opportunities for the media:

  • Workers who have received subminimum wages
  • Parents of children with disabilities
  • Leaders of disability organizations participating in the protest
  • Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder (former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration)

On Thursday, August 28, members of the National Federation of the Blind, the National Council on Independent Living, ADAPT, the Association of People Supporting Employment First, Little People of America, and TASH will participate in a protest outside of the headquarters of SourceAmerica. The informational protest will raise awareness of SourceAmerica’s discrimination against workers with disabilities. SourceAmerica discriminates against workers with disabilities by permitting its qualified nonprofits to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage – in some cases only pennies per hour.

Remembering Justin…

In honor of Justin Dart Jr.’s upcoming 84th birthday on August 29, 2014, here are a few items on the ItsOurStory.com site you may want to share with your networks.

Farewell Speech by Justin Dart Jr.

Graphic for Justin Dart Jr Farewell Speech - featuring photos of Justin with Yoshiko and leading the NCIL MarchMr. Dart’s final message to the disability rights community, narrated by the late Max Starkloff (5 minutes)

Watch Video

A Vote for Justice

Between 1986 and 1990, Justin Dart Jr. made multiple trips to all 50 United States, eager to document the ongoing struggles of people with disabilities to assert their civil rights.

By bringing these impassioned testimonies before Congress, Dart effectively convinced policy-makers of the need for legal protection of the rights of people with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was born.

To date, more than 150 people have helped bring the voices residing in the It’s Our Story archives one step closer to being published in an “accessible to all” format.

View your state’s contributions and consider transcribing a document or two to be published for the 25th Anniversary of the ADA on July 26, 2015.

View Galleries

The 1% ADA 25 Campaign

Beginning on Justin’s birthday, new video vignettes will be released every few days via the It’s Our Story Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube Channel.

Visit the Gallery of New Releases

As part of the It’s Our Story project tireless effort to share and expand the stories of people with disabilities across the United States and the world, It’s Our Story aims to publish 1,000 minutes of some of its most memorable footage on July 26, 2015 — the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On July 26, 2014, The It’s Our Story (IOS) project debuted a new mobile-friendly site that introduces users to thousands of resources, links, and culture. Please take a few moments to experience the power, passion, and pride of our abilities.

View Site: www.itsourstory.com

Information Alert: RSA Requests Input on WIOA Implementation

When the President signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on July 22, 2014, it became effective on that date.

The Rehabilitation Act is contained in WIOA and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has announced an opportunity for you to directly inform the discussion surrounding the implementation of WIOA. RSA has developed an open email box (RSA.WIOA@ed.gov) that will receive all WIOA inquiries and comments. Your comments to RSA need to be submitted before 5:00 p.m. Eastern on September 12, 2014.

Today, NCIL submitted the following comments to RSA and encourages you to submit your comments as well.

We expect RSA to:

  • Provide a seamless, transparent and non-disruptive system when transferring the Independent Living program, Assistive Technology (AT) program, and NIDDR to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) / the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
  • Ensure all contracts and grants remain in place and are paid in a timely manner.
  • Ensure ALL parts of the Assistive Technology (AT) Act; Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT), Alternative Financing Programs (AFP) and the AT Act programs are transferred together. This also includes the Telework Programs, which were developed with the AFP programs.
  • Permanently suspend all site reviews of CILs and SILCs until the transfer of Independent Living to ACL is complete.

Changes to Independent Living Contained in WIOA 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 is added as a fifth core service
  • SILC activities can now include resource development and advocacy
  • 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.

An Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee

Some members of the Housing Subcommittee attended the NCIL Conference in July, and met for the first time. It was fun to put faces to names! Janet Wilkinson from REACH of Dallas accepted the request to become Co-Chair of the Subcommittee along with Brian Peters of IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee. Both Mr. Peters and Darrell Christenson of ABIL in Phoenix were also elected to the NCIL Board as At-Large Members.

United for Homes Campaign

United for Homes - Camapign for the Nationaal Housing Trust FundNCIL has been requested by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition to encourage the CILs, SILCs, and other organizations to be an endorser of the United for Homes Campaign. NCIL is an endorser of this campaign.

The United for Homes campaign is centered on the proposal to fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) through revenue generated by modifications to the mortgage interest deduction (MID). The changes are simple: Reduce the size of a mortgage eligible for a tax break to $500,000, and convert the deduction to a 15% non-refundable tax credit. This means that more people would benefit from it, not just those taxpayers with enough income to itemize their deductions. Currently, only 24% of all taxpayers claim the MID. By converting to a credit, all homeowners with mortgages would get a tax break, not just those who have enough income to file itemized tax returns.

The NHF was established in 2008, but never received funding. This would generate approximately $230 billion over the next ten years for the NHTF that would be used to build and rehabilitate affordable rental housing for the lowest income Americans.

By law, 90% of the funds would go to rental housing, with the remainder to homeownership. All funds would need to benefit Low-Income Households, and 75% of funds must benefit households at or below 30% of Area Median Income. This makes the Trust Fund an extremely valuable resource of housing financing for people with disabilities who, as a population, have very low income.

Join NCIL in endorsing the United for Homes Campaign!

Disaster Relief for People with Disabilities: NCIL + Portlight Strategies

Portlight Strategies logoAs of today, we are just a few days shy of being halfway through the 2014 hurricane season. So far, it’s been a quiet one for the U.S. mainland, with Hawaii mostly dodging what could have been a devastating one-two punch from Iselle and Julio, had they not downgraded in strength. As we know all too well, though, we can’t afford to get complacent.

This season, Portlight Strategies hopes to deploy a new disaster shelter trailer, which will help assist shelter operators in making their facilities fully accessible to people with all types of disabilities. This will include ramping, railings, cots, dinner and drinkware, and assistive technologies for those with vision, hearing, cognitive and developmental delays. As with previous relief efforts, Portlight Strategies will also bring durable medical equipment to replace any that may be lost to storm damage or flooding. This trailer would be deployed to your area if needed during a disaster to assist your consumers.

Portlight Strategies recently signed a memorandum of understanding with NCIL, to work together to better serve the disability community during times of disaster. Portlight also serves on the NCIL Emergency Management Subcommittee, which is led by Christy Dunaway. Portlight is excited to continue and grow our relationship with NCIL and its members through projects like this. If you would like more information about this project, please visit www.portlight.org.

Petition: Wheelchair Access on Commercial Airlines

By: Vicki Jurney-Taylor, Community Organizer, All Wheels Up Inc.

All Wheels Up, Inc., a nonprofit organization that advocates secure and comfortable seating for wheelchair users on commercial airlines, has created a petition to make airline travel more accessible and wheelchair-friendly for passengers by allowing them to remain in their chairs during flights. The campaign already has the blessing of the FAA and is now focusing on getting Congress to amend the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 to make this a reality. Six days ago, we created a MoveOn.org petition to urge Congress to do this, and we now have over 6,000 signatures.

Organizers are hoping to reach as many people with disabilities as possible with the help of CILs across the country, so please share this message.

Wrap Up: NCIL 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living

Prevail - 2014 Conference Logo

Contents

Introduction

NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living was epic. Stalwart leaders and energetic new voices came together from across the nation to celebrate recent victories and plan for the future of America’s Independent Living Program. Seven hundred Conference participants were joined by hundreds of additional fierce and fired-up advocates as we marched to the US Capitol to thank Congress for establishing a new Independent Living Administration and demand that the Senate act now to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

We chose the conference theme of Prevail almost a year ago, when the Independent Living Administration was still only a glimmer of hope. Celebration was in the air this year, as the Independent Living Administration is becoming a reality in just a few short months.

NCIL members interacted directly with Administration officials who have the power to influence the issues we care about most, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator for the Administration for Community Living Kathy Greenlee; Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner Janet LaBreck; Administration for Community Living Principal Deputy Administrator Sharon Lewis; and Senate staff members Bill Knudsen, Michael Gamel-McCormick and Lee Perselay.

While Senator Harkin joined us for several events as usual, his speeches were anything but. He told the crowd of advocates that although 2014 is his last year as a Senator, he will never leave us and that he will now fight by our side, “shoulder to shoulder”. At the Awards Luncheon, he tossed his script aside and told the audience stories of his favorite times with NCIL and ADAPT.

We want to thank each and every one of the 725 advocates that registered and attended NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living. This year’s conference was outstanding because of your presence and participation.

Please read on for further details. If you attended the Conference but did not submit an evaluation on-site, please take a few moments to tell us about your experience.

Photos Now Available!

We are very happy to announce that all 4,870 pictures from NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living are now available on Flickr.

We apologize that we do not have the capacity or knowledge to caption every picture. If you see a picture of yourself or others you know, please caption it for the benefit of all.

New this year: we’ve created an album of select (captioned) photos that capture the overall feel of the 2014 Annual Conference. If you would like a specific photo added to this collection, please caption the photo in the comments or email eleanor@ncil.org with the image number and a description. You can comment on photos using a Flickr / Yahoo account, with an option to comment via Google or Facebook.

Special thanks to Tom Olin for his amazing photos and dedication to our Movement and its documentation. And, as always, thanks to our members, who made these photographs what they are: the story of our people gathering in our nation’s Capital to bring about equality and freedom for people with disabilities!

NCIL March, Rally, and Hill Visits

On Tuesday, July 29, hundreds of advocates from across the country marched through Washington to the reflecting pool of the Capitol Building for the National Council on Independent Living’s 2014 Annual March and Rally. NCIL advocates marched through the streets making our voices heard and bringing attention to our community’s demand for civil rights and equality. In addition to remarks from incredible advocates, some of the rally speakers from the Hill included:

  • Representative Rob Barber (D-AZ02)
  • Representative Ander Crenshaw (R-FL04)
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Whip (Second Ranking Democrat in the Senate)
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and author and chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI02), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus
  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL09), House Chief Deputy Whip
  • Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL10)
  • Representative Glenn “GT” Thomas (R-PA05)

The 2014 Rally was one of the most successful in NCIL’s history, with amazing speakers and a huge turnout of dedicated advocates. There was a lot of excitement and celebration around the recent accomplishments of our movement, including the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). But there was also a call for action on other issues important to the disability community, including access to community living in accordance with the Olmstead decision, ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), further inclusion of youth in the IL Movement, and the ABLE Act.

After the rally, NCIL members stormed the hill to visit their elected officials. Nearly every member of Congress was visited by NCIL advocates from their home districts to push for action on pressing legislation that impacts people with disabilities nationwide. The NCIL March, Rally, and Hill visits are always at the heart of the NCIL Conference, and 2014 exceeded all expectations. NCIL thanks our advocates for making this year such a huge success!

Youth Update

National Youth Transitions IL Scholar, Kyia Smallwood, poses for a close up with Allie Cannington, NCIL Youth Transitions Fellow. Both are smiling and are excited to be at the 2014 Rally.This year’s NCIL Conference served as an empowering space for young people with disabilities to gather together, create connections, and begin dialogue. With gratitude, NCIL received 25 scholarships jointly funded by the HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, through the Youth Transitions Collaborative. The National Youth Transitions Collaborative IL Scholars and other young people were able to meet three times throughout the Conference. These meetings, explicitly for youth, provided opportunities to build community, share experiences about disability identity, transitioning, and advocacy, in addition to discussing the Conference’s various workshops and events. The final meet up was specifically for youth to voice their needs and dreams for NCIL and the wider disability community. Therefore, much of the conversation centered on the successes of the Conference and areas in need of improvement. Some of the youth suggestions included:

  • Youth-specific track and wrap-up sessions
  • An accessible terms and definitions document for community members who are new to IL and disability rights
  • A workshop for understanding the basics of government and legislative structure
  • Request for gender neutral bathrooms
  • Visibility of LGBTQ young people with disabilities

The youth presence went beyond the three meet ups, as many of the youth leaders attended NCIL workshops, events, legislative meetings, and the rally and march. And regardless of where or when, the youth voices were profound and passionate; probing difficult questions and sharing creative ways to better the disability community and Independent Living.

As the Conference came to a close and the youth leaders went back home, they are getting ready to join the Youth Caucus and other NCIL Committees. Keep a look out for what the Youth Caucus has in store for 2015!

Youth and CareerACCESS: The Taste Test

By Justin Harford

During our week at NCIL’s 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living advocating for CareerACCESS, a series of programs and supports designed to make it easier for young adults with disabilities to find and hold a job, it was evident that it had the support of those for whom it was designed. In fact, a group of approximately 10 such young adults, with backgrounds in law, advocacy, the nonprofit sector, and research enthusiastically joined up with the CareerACCESS initiative when they learned what it was about. Yet based on many conversations that the CareerAccess team had with directors of government agencies, think tanks, and nonprofits it was also evident that the higher-ups would need to hear from those supporters before anything could move forward.

Young adults’ stories exchanged over the course of the conference gave the designers of CareerACCESS and those for whom it was created a sense of the imperative nature of the problems created by the present Social Security system. I listened with interest as they recounted their own challenges with the way things are, and noted how much I could relate from personal experience. A disability rights attorney from Florida reflected on how many more paid internships she would’ve had as a law student, if she was not living under the fear of losing access to Medicare, which at the time was providing her with much needed and irreplaceable medical support. Another individual expressed concerns for how his new state of residence would pull his health care upon finding out about the modest income from his nonprofit job. By the end of the week, the initiative was invigorated with the youthful energy of those who had pledged their unique abilities and skills toward its passage.

Now, the conference is over, but the youth team continues to work toward the implementation of CareerACCESS. Twenty-year-old Tailor, a student at American University and intern at 2Gether-International is interested in researching and compiling a policy report, which will make the case for CareerACCESS. Daniel, an employee of Paraquad, a Missouri Center for Independent Living, spoke about the importance of CareerACCESS at a meeting involving key leaders of federal agencies including the Department Of Education, Social Security, and Health and Human Services, and is now connecting with young adults in his area to garner more support. Systems Change Advocate Andy Arias of Orange County California spoke with several representatives from his state, inspiring many to ask how they could help. He has also volunteered to help raise funds for CareerACCESS to move forward. I also spoke to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s staff, and defended my resolution, calling upon NCIL to advocate for the elimination of the inability to work test in determining Social Security eligibility, which ultimately got adopted.

CareerACCESS has passed the taste test, but it cannot go forward without public support, so we need people like you to lend a hand. Our blog at www.ourCareerACCESS.org, where young adults with disabilities write about the barriers that the current system has placed in their path to economic self-sufficiency always needs more entries. Please contact us if you are interested in sharing your story. Members of Congress also need to know that their constituents support these kinds of reforms. Finally, the initiative always needs more supporters, so make sure that your friends and family know about the issues in Social Security for young adults with disabilities and the solutions proposed by CareerACCESS.

Annual Council Meeting

Elections for officers to NCIL’s Governing Board were first on the agenda. Mark Derry of Morgantown, West Virginia, longtime Chair of NCIL’s Civil Rights Subcommittee, was re-elected to the position of Vice-President. Ann McDaniel, Executive Director of the West Virginia SILC, was elected to serve as Secretary. Stan Holbrook of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was re-elected to serve as the Diversity Chairperson. The Diversity Chair is a member of NCIL’s Governing Board and Executive Committee.

Regional Representatives are elected in shifts, according to the year; even-numbered regions elect their representatives in even-numbered years and odd-numbered regions elect their representatives in odd-numbered years. This year, the following individuals were elected by the members in their region to represent them on NCIL’s Governing Board:

  • Cliff Perez, Systems Advocate at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy, NY was re-elected to represent Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands).
  • Pat Puckett, Executive Director of the Georgia SILC was elected to represent Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee).
  • Diana Garrett, Executive Director of Dynamic Independence, a CIL in Bartlesville, OK, was elected to serve as the Region 6 representative (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas).
  • Tami Hoar, Program Director at the Montana Independent Living Project (MILP), in Butte, MT was re-elected to represent Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming).
  • Doug Toelle, Advocacy Director at Access Alaska, was re-elected to continue his service as the representative of Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington).

In addition, there were three Member-at-Large positions up for election at this year’s Annual Meeting. The following individuals were elected to serve as Members-at-Large on the Governing Board through the 2016 Annual Council Meeting:

  • Darrel Christenson, Director of Community Integration at Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL) in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Paula McElwee, Technical Assistance Coordinator for ILRU in Houston, Texas.
  • Brian Peters, Housing Advocate at IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Awards

The Awards Banquet is a very special event at the NCIL Conference every year. The banquet is our opportunity to come together as a community and thank advocates and allies that have fought tough battles during the past year to advance the rights and independence of people with disabilities.

Regional Advocacy Awards

  • Region 1: Eileen Healy
  • Region 2: Brad Williams
  • Region 3: Elver Ariza-Silva
  • Region 4: Portlight Strategies
  • Region 5: Kelli Brooks, Lake County Center for Independent Living
  • Region 6: Austin ADAPT
  • Region 7: Roger Frischenmeyer
  • Region 8: Lloyd Sparks
  • Region 9: Jim Click
  • Region 10: Art DeLaune

National Awards

  • Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award: The Honorable Anthony Coelho
  • President’s Award: Senator Lamar Alexander and Lee Perselay
  • Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award: Bruce Darling
  • Frank Harkin Memorial Award: Senator Barbara Mikulski
  • Diana Vietz Award: Sukhwa Glick, and Danny Raede and Hayden Mears of www.aspergersexperts.com.

Resolutions

Two Resolutions were approved by the NCIL Membership:

Join Our Partner, the LEAD Center, for a Webinar on Best Practices in Employee Retention and Return-to-Work: Lessons Learned from Employers

LEAD Center Logo - www.leadcenter.orgDisability management and prevention is an important component in retaining talented employees and reducing turnover costs. In 2013, the LEAD Center studied a large successful U.S. Corporation to learn about and document effective retention and return-to-work policies and practices. This is a major focus for the U.S. Business Leadership Network as well as the Families and Work Institute, which just published their 2014 National Study of Employers. Join us for a review of lessons learned including:

  • Employer retention and return-to-work best practices.
  • How workforce professionals can partner with employers to promote employee retention and return to work.
  • How to identify employers with policies that support customized employment.
  • Target Audience:
  • Workforce development professionals, employers, policymakers, individuals and related stakeholders

Please note: This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org within 48 hours of the webinar.

Tomorrow: Organizer’s Forum on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

You are invited to an *urgent* National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) Organizer’s Forum call to discuss a state-based action for the Disability Treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) during the August recess. Please join us to take action during this final push for September floor time! It’s now or never; people must get involved now for the CRPD to succeed!

  • Tuesday, August 19; 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Call in number: 213-342-3000
  • Code: 193134#
  • RSVP
  • Accommodations: The call will have real-time captioning (CART). Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the NDLA for sponsoring captioning. If you need additional accommodations to participate, please email the Co-Chairs using the addresses below as soon as possible.

Speakers:

  • David Morrissey, United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD)
  • Kelly Buckland, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)

So you can mark your calendars now, Organizer’s Forums are held on the Third Tuesday of every month. If you have suggestions for call topics or presenters for upcoming topics, please email them to jlehman7@gmail.com or dcoleman@notdeadyet.org[Read more...]

An Update from the NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee: 2014 Annual Conference Activities

The 2014 Annual Conference on Independent Living concluded an interesting year in advocacy for the NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee. Co-Chairs Mike Bachhuber and Dara Baldwin were present for the entire conference and participated in the Legislative & Advocacy Update held on the day prior to the March, Rally & Hill Visits. In this session, they brought forth the information worked on throughout the 2013-2014 advocacy year. This information can be found in the NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priority Booklet: Summer 2014 (PDF or plain text).

The Co-Chairs started with appreciations to all the Subcommittee members and the Task Force Co-Chairs. The Mental Health Task Force, Voting Rights Task Force, and Violence and Abuse Task Force are part of the advocacy work being done by NCIL through the ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee. After hearing about this work, the Co-Chairs presented a strategy about what to discuss with members of Congress and discussed how to report back what happened in the meetings.

At the Conference, the Co-Chairs of this Subcommittee were available to discuss issues at the Regional Caucuses. They also attended the March, Rally and went to meetings on the Hill with members of Congress with other NCIL members. The message delivered to members of Congress was “thank you for the work done so far on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but we need more!”

We know that we have much work to do with the Administration implementing the ADA, such as getting the US Department of Justice to better enforce many laws affecting people with disabilities. One area of concern is in the enforcement of voting rights for people with disabilities. We also encouraged Congress to continue to fund the many programs used to assist with enforcement and the civil rights of people with disabilities.

On the final day of the 2014 Conference, the Legislative & Advocacy report-out was done, and NCIL members went on 49 Senate visits and 145 House visits. This is amazing advocacy work! NCIL has a huge presence here in DC and we must continue this legacy.

If you are passionate about any of these issues, we welcome you to join the ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee. Mike and Dara will remain as Co-Chairs and look forward to working with past and new members for the 2014 -2015 advocacy year. To join the Subcommittee, you must become an individual member of NCIL, then fill out the online form to join one of our committees.

One of the Co-Chairs will reply and get you involved. We want to thank all NCIL members for your great advocacy and we look forward to another year of continued work.

Dara Baldwin & Mike Bachhuber
Co-Chairs of the NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee